About the Statesman


Willy Brandt

(statesman, born December 18, 1913, Lübeck, Germany; died August 10, 1992, Unkel on the Rhine)

Willy BrandtWilly Brandt (born Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm) was the fourth Federal Chancellor (first social democrat) of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1969 to 1974.

Politically active as a young person, Brandt became a member of the socialist labour party (SAP) in 1931. In 1933 he fled the Nazi regime and went to Scandinavia (Oslo, Norway) where he worked as a journalist (under the pen name Willy B.). The Nazis revoked his German citizenship and he took Norwegian nationality in 1938. After World War II, in 1947, he returned to Berlin as a Scandinavian correspondentand renewed his German citizenship. He became active in the Democratic Socialist Party (SPD) executive committee in the divided city of Berlin and thus began his political postwar career. In 1957 he became governing mayor of Berlin, a post he held until 1966. Confronted with the Soviet Berlin ultimatum in 1958 and the building of the Wall in 1961, he worked tirelessly for the liberty of West Berlin and was a commanding presence on the stage of international policy. In 1963 he obtained a first success in his efforts with the Access Pass Agreement with East Germany (the GDR) to resolve the east-west block confrontation by a new East policy. As vice-chancellor and minister of foreign affairs of the large coalition under Federal Chancellor Kurt George Kiesinger (1966-1969) he improved relations with Germany’s East European neighbours. As Federal Chancellor, he supported treaties with the Soviet Union and Poland (1970), the quadripartite treaty of Berlin (1971), and a non-agression pact with the GDR (1972).

His reputation as a peace-maker reached its high point in 1971 when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But Brandt remained a controversial figure in his native Germany. In 1972 he received a vote of no confidence in the Bundestag, mainly because of his policies for dealing with the East.

After leaving office, he remained active on the international stage and welcomed the union of the two German states. Brandt died August 10, 1992 in Unkel on the Rhine.

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