May 9, 1955: West Germany Participates in North Atlantic Council for First Time


When national leaders from NATO’s 28 member nations gather in Brussels on May 25 for the alliance’s summit meeting, Germany will be a key participant.

But that wasn’t always the case. Almost 10 years to the day after the end of World War II in Europe, what was then West Germany formally participated in its first session of the North Atlantic Council in Paris.

The inclusion of West Germany, formally known as the Federal Republic of Germany, within NATO had taken place just three days prior, the organization writes. The country became the 15th member of the Atlantic Alliance three days earlier.

At the council meeting, Dr. Konrad Adenauer, then-chancellor of West Germany, said the nation was an “able and reliable [NATO] partner,” according to a May 12, 1955 article in the Central Queensland Herald in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia. Adenauer also stated that NATO’s defensive tactics in particular aligned with the country’s interest.

Then-US Secretary of State John Dulles lauded West Germany’s entry into NATO, characterizing it as a “capacity of the Atlantic peoples to submerge ancient differences in order better to secure the values of Western civilisation.” However, not every nation was in agreement. According to the US State Department, the entry of West Germany to NATO was met with retaliation from the Soviet Union, resulting in the latter nation forming its own regional alliance, known as the Warsaw Treaty Organization, or Warsaw Pact, with other Eastern European nations.   

West and East Germany were reunified in 1990.

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