Karl Arnold

(b. 1901)

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(b. Herrlishöfen, Württemberg, 23 Mar. 1901; d. Düsseldorf, 29 June 1958)

German; Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia 1947–56 For many years Arnold was seen as the potential challenger to Adenauer on the left of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Arnold was a shoemaker who rose to lead the Christian trade unions in Weimar Germany. He was persecuted by the Nazis and imprisoned after the abortive bomb plot against Hitler on 20 July 1944. He survived the war and took part in founding the CDU and the trade unions. In 1946 he was elected chief mayor of Düsseldorf and led the CDU to victory in 1947 in the first postwar elections in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and was elected Minister-President.

Against the opposition of Adenauer he was elected the first President of the Bundesrat, the upper chamber of the German parliament, in 1949. Although Arnold respected Adenauer's leadership qualities the two men did not see eye to eye. Arnold sided with the trade unions against Adenauer on the issue of industrial codetermination which was introduced in spite of government opposition. He also put more weight behind efforts to restore German unity. However, after winning the NRW elections again in 1950, he bowed to Adenauer's view that he should not enter into another coalition with the SPD. With an increased vote he formed a third administration after the election of 1954. It was a bitter blow to him that he was turned out of office in 1956 when the Liberal FDP withdrew their support and joined a coalition with the SPD. Arnold turned down Adenauer's offer that he join the federal government as Deputy Chancellor, preferring to fight on in regional politics. He died from a heart attack in 1958 just before his party once again won the regional elections this time with an absolute majority.

Subjects: Politics.

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