Sunday, April 25, 2010
“An infallible method of conciliating a tiger is to allow oneself to be devoured.” - Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Adenauer (1876 – 1967), long-time mayor of Cologne and an opponent of the Nazis, was seventy-three when he became the first Chancellor of an economically and culturally devastated West Germany in 1949. He restored the fortunes and the reputation of the shattered nation, and became one of the architects of European unity. He faced down many tigers in his career, including Hitler and Stalin, and was recognised in a 2003 television poll as “The greatest German of all time”.
It seems that we could use more Konrad Adenauers today – in business and the professions, as well as in politics and the bureaucracy. The propensity for tolerating bullying and intimidation in the workplace seems stronger than ever in spite of the widespread belief that society is more “egalitarian” and “fair-minded” than in the benighted past. Moreover, too many people in the West today are constantly cowed into silence by political correctness, never saying what needs to be said for rational debate to proceed.