First German chancellor wins TV search for greatest German

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The Independent Online

Konrad Adenauer, who served as Germany's first chancellor after World War II was named on Friday the "greatest German" of all time by popular vote in a survey conducted by a public television station.

Following the former West German leader for second place was Martin Luther, the monk who sparked the Reformation in 1517, ZDF television said in announcing the results of its months-long survey. Karl Marx – a favorite among former East Germans – was placed third.

Adenauer, who served from 1949 to 1963, is credited with pulling postwar Germany out of the ashes and earning it a place on the world stage.

"A politician must not only be knowledgeable and realistic, with the capability to contemplate things, he must also be courageous," Adenauer once said, commenting on his years in power.

The channel invited Germans to vote over the telephone, by text message, Internet and mail to determine the overall winner. It said more than 3 million votes were placed in the more than three months of the survey.

Johann Sebastian Bach and Albert Einstein were among 10 finalists, along with the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; printing pioneer Johannes Gutenberg and Hans and Sophie Scholl, siblings who were beheaded by the Nazis in 1943 for opposing Adolf Hitler's regime.

Former West German chancellor Willy Brandt, who promoted detente with eastern Europe and served from 1969 to 1974. and Otto von Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor" who unified the nation, were also among the finalists.