Willy Brandt

Willy Brandt in Europe

Life and Work of Willy Brandt (1913-92)

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes willy brandt (1913-92) in the following terms: [1] Willy Brandt’s pedigree as a young socialist, who had escaped the Nazis and fled to Norway in 1933, spending the war (under his real name, Herbert Frahm, or under the pseudonym Felix Franke) partly in the Norwegian Resistance and partly as a ‘journalist’ in Sweden, fitted him well to lead a peacetime Germanywhich had reacted against the past with a strong predilection for social democracy. By 1947 he had assumed the name of Major Willy Brandt. After serving in the Bundestag from 1949 to 1957, he was mayor of West Berlinduring the Berlin crisis of 1961, when the Wall was built almost overnight. Elected chairman of the Social Democrats in 1964, within two years he had become foreign minister, a position he held until becoming chancellor in 1969. Having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his contribution to East-West relations, he resigned in 1974 after a spy scandal in which a close aide was revealed as an agent of the Stasi, the East German secret police.

Brandt had established his liberal credentials under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, criticising the ‘Hallstein doctrine’ of refusing diplomatic relations to states that recognised East Germany. An advocate of détente, he cultivated friendship with the Iron Curtain countries, allaying Soviet suspicions of West Germany’s strategic role in NATO by his commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. Following the signature of treaties with the USSR and Poland, which settled the disputed East German border, Brandt was able in 1970 to ease the restrictions on contact between East and West Berlin. His Ostpolitikmade him a welcome guest in the Warsaw Pact countries, but won him few friends in NATO circles or among his Christian Democrat opponents at home. He counterbalanced suspicions of a lack of attachment to the West by his support for enlarging the EC, in particular by bringing in the UK. But he resented the Common Agricultural Policy and annoyed the French, among others, by rejecting the general assumption that Germany should pay for every EC extravagance.

After his resignation, Brandt served as an MEP from 1979 to 1983 and continued to play a role on the international political scene as president of the Socialist International and a champion of aid to developing countries.

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Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

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