Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of West Germany, was virulently opposed to Soviet expansion.
Ludwig Erhard, his economics minister, is often credited with the ‘Economic Miracle’. The first Grand Coalition, where the two largest parties shared power, was overseen by Kurt Georg Kiesinger, but his short tenure was ended with the election of Willy Brandt.
The first SPD politician to be elected chancellor since the war, Brandt was most famous for his Ostpolitik. He resigned when it was revealed one of his closest aides was an East German spy.
Helmut Schmidt was then elected. His time in office was overshadowed by the terrorism of Black September, but Schmidt also refused to lessen West Germany’s social programs.
Helmut Kohl, the longest-serving chancellor, was instrumental in the reunification of East and West Germany. He was followed by Gerhard Schroeder, remembered for Hartz IV reforms that tackled social welfare excess. He lost to Angela Merkel, who has led Germany since 2005