Willy Brandt ist one of the outstanding statesmen of the 20th century. His name is synonymous with democracy and freedom, understanding between nations and peace, justice, solidarity and social responsibility.
Born in 1913, Willy Brandt was raised in the working class milieu of Lübeck which deeply influenced him. Already at an early age he engaged politically. After the Nazis seized power in Germany in 1933, he promptly offered resistance against the dictatorship. He was forced into exile to Norway. From Scandinavia Brandt continued his resistance against Hitler's Germany.
After the Second World War Willy Brandt returned to Germany in order to support the reconstruction of a democracy. In Berlin his political ascent in the Social Democratic Party of Germany started. As Governing Mayor of West Berlin he led the Berliners through the crisis after the erection of the Berlin Wall. World-wide he became a symbol for the struggle for freedom of Berlin.
Willy Brandt became the first social-democratic Federal Chancellor (1969-1974). His government advanced domestic reforms. In foreign affairs, it promoted the unification of Europe and implemented a new Ostpolitik. For his initiatives toward reconciliation with the Eastern neighbors Willy Brandt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971.
Willy Brandt remained chairman of the SPD until 1987. In addition he became President of the Socialist International in 1976 and engaged himself worldwide for peace, democracy and human rights. In 1980 the North-South Commission, which he chaired, presented a report that made path-breaking recommendations for global development policy.
He always remained a committed European and German patriot. When the Communist dictatorships collapsed in 1989, Willy Brandt enthusiastically promoted the coalescence of Europe. With all his strength he supported Germany's unification in 1990 for which his policies laid the necessary groundwork.
In 1992 Willy Brandt died after a serious illness at his home in Unkel near Bonn. He found his final resting place in Berlin.
If you want to learn more about Willy Brandt, please visit our online biography.