Willy Brandt

Willy Brandt
Source: Bundesarchiv, 1980

Karl Herbet Frahm, known as Willy Brandt, was born on 18th december, 1913, in northern Germany. He changed his name in the early 1930s and fled to Norway to avoid being arrested by the Nazis. After the German occupation of Norway, in 1940, he fled to Sweden where he lived until 1945, then he returned to Germany after the end of World War II. Willy Brandt began his political career in 1948 and held various positions within the Social Democratic Party (SPD). He was Mayor of West Berlin between 1957 and 1966. During this period, he became internationally known, at the same time the Berlin Wall was being built. Brandt was the party’s leading figure and Chancellor candidate of the Federal Republic of Germany; However, he did not hold this role until 1969. He was Chancellor from 1969 to 1974, when he resigned due to a political scandal with one of his personal assistants who proved to be an East German spy.

As a Chancellor, Willy Brandt was invested on foreign policy and sought to reconcile and strengthen the relationship between West Germany and East Germany, as well as Poland and the Soviet Union, raising a policy known as “Ostpolitk”. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 due to this work. Despite his resignation as a Chancellor, Willy Brandt remained the Party leader until 1987 and became his honorary President until his death. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in the end of 1989, Willy Brandt promoted the reunification of both parts of Germany and the union of Europe. He died after prolonged illness in October 1992.