West Germany Chancellor, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. He was born Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm in Lübeck, Germany, and in 1933 he left the country for Norway to escape persecution by the Nazis. A year later he took the pseudonym Willy Brandt, which became his official name in 1947. His German citizenship was revoked in 1938, and he applied for the Norwegian citizenship, which he received in 1940. After the war he returned to Germany, where he worked as a journalist for Scandinavian newspapers and got his German citizenship back in 1948. In 1949 he became a member of the first German Bundestag and was elected mayor of West-Berlin in 1957, which he stayed until 1966. In 1961 he was candidate for chancellor, but lost against Konrad Adenauer. Three years later, he became chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which he stayed until 1987. At that point, he again ran for chancellor and lost against Ludwig Erhard, retiring for some time from politics. After Erhard had to resign a year later, he joined the government under Kurt Georg Kiesinger as foreign minister and vice chancellor. He ran for chancellor for a third time in 1969, and after three weeks of negotiations formed a coalition with the FDP, and was elected chancellor. He started a new policy toward the states of Eastern Europe, known as "Ostpolitik," that relaxed the tension between Western and Eastern European states. During his visit in Poland in December of 1970, he visited the Monument to the Victims of the Ghetto Uprising from 1943 in Warsaw. During the visit there, the famous "Kniefall von Warschau" (kneefall of Warsaw) occurred. He signed non-aggression pacts with the Soviet Union, the GDR and Poland. He also singed a treaty that allowed unimpeded flow of traffic between East and West Berlin. For this work, he was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 1971. Despite recognition he received in the world, he was often criticized in Germany and in his Party. In May of 1972 the opposition believed to have a very small majority in the Bundestag and demanded a vote of no confidence but the motion failed by two votes. It was later revealed that the Ministry for State Security in the GDR had paid of at least one member of the opposition to vote for Brandt. He believed that the coalition did not have the majority in the country anymore, and he opened the way to premature elections, which the SPD won with its best-ever federal election result. In 1973 it became known that his personal assistant Günter Guillaume was a spy for the GDR. Brandt was asked to continue his work as usual and the Guillaume family even accompanied the Brandt family to a private vacation. Guillaume was arrested on April 24, 1974 and Brandt resigned two weeks later. Today, it is assumed that Guillaume was only the trigger for his resignation. Other reasons might have been his depression and the criticism from his own party. His Minister of Interior, Helmut Schmidt succeeded him. Even after his resignation, he stayed member of the Bundestag and was member of the European Parliament from 1979 until 1983. In 1991 he underwent the first surgery against cancer. A second surgery in May of 1992 was stopped after 10 minutes when it was revealed that the metastatic cancer was wide spread.
Bio by: Lutetia
Rut Hansen Brandt