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Brandt, Willy (Germany)

Reference work entry

Introduction

Willy Brandt was West German Chancellor from 1969–74 and leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) from 1964–87. He was Mayor of West Berlin (1957–66) and Vice Chancellor (1966–69). A pragmatist, he sought to improve ties with the Soviet Union and the rest of the Eastern Bloc, a policy which came to be known as Ostpolitik. He was criticized by some for what was perceived to be bowing towards the communist East, but Brandt believed that long term European peace and development would be most easily secured by recognition of a divided Germany. He resigned as Chancellor after a spying scandal in 1974, but remained a high-profiled and widely respected statesman for the next 18 years.

Early Life

Brandt was born Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm in Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein on 18 Dec. 1913, the illegitimate son of a shop assistant. As a teenager he joined the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) before defecting to the more radical Socialist Workers’ Party. He was in the early stages...

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