The people of «Hour Zero»: A socio-psychological portrait of the first generation of West German politicians

Belinsky A.V.


There is no shortage of biographies of leading German public officials and politicians of the post-war era in both foreign and domestic historiography. At the same time, one of the lacunae of modern academia remains a certain lack of research on the phenomenon of generations in socio-political life. This article, based on the theory developed by W. Strauss and N. Howe, the latest achievements of historical research, as well as new sources just introduced into academic circulation, attempts to recreate a social and psychological portrait of the first post-1945 generation of West German politicians. A study of the biographies of heads of state, ministers, and burgomasters of cities clearly shows that the vast majority of them belonged to the so-called «Weimar» generation: a group of people who began their political and professional path back in the 1920s, and in some cases even under the Kaiser. Their return to politics was prompted by a desire to prevent a repetition of the events of 1933–1945, the political uncertainty in which the middle generation found itself, and a sense of responsibility for the catastrophe that befell their country. Although this generation advocated a democratic state, they themselves were often models of authoritarian rule, as reflected in the existence of so-called «kitchen cabinets », harsh confrontation with political opponents, etc. At the same time, it built a new political system in West Germany and instilled democratic values in German youth.


K. Adenauer; K. Schumacher; T. Heuss; Germany; CDU / CSU; SPD; FDP.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2023.03.12

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