The Exhibition "Willy Brandt. A Political Life"
With a wide variety of impressive objects, documents, pictures, films, and original recordings, the permanent exhibition evokes the memory of Willy Brandt's life and achievements. It shows how the working-class boy and Nazi adversary from Lübeck became Mayor of Berlin, then Federal Chancellor and a highly respected international statesman. It is the exciting life journey of a unique politician who left a definitive mark on the development of Germany and of Europe.
Have a look at the individual chapters of the exhibition, which are also described
in the leaflet "Willy Brandt. A Political Life".
Youth in Lübeck and Exile in Scandinavia
Willy Brandt's life begins in 1913 in the workers' neighbourhoods of Lübeck. He joins the SPD at the early age of sixteen. In 1933, when the National Socialists eradicate democracy in Germany, Brandt flees to Norway. From there he carries on his resistance to the Nazi regime, which revokes his citizenship in 1938. During the Second World War he finds asylum in Sweden where he continues his political struggle against Hitler's dictatorship.
Politics in Divided Berlin
After his return to Germany, Willy Brandt's political ascent begins in 1948 in Berlin's SPD. In 1957 he becomes Governing Mayor. He passionately defends the freedom of West Berlin and leads the city out of its crisis following the construction of the Wall in 1961. In the Bundestag elections of 1961 and 1965, Brandt runs as the SPD's Chancellor candidate. In 1964 he takes on the national chairmanship of the party. Again and again political opponents defame him because of his family background and his role in exile.
Governing in Bonn
In late 1966 Willy Brandt becomes Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of the Grand Coalition. After the Bundestag election in 1969 a change of power comes about. SPD and FDP elect Brandt Federal Chancellor. His government implements internal reforms and wants to dare more democracy. It promotes European integration and inaugurates a new policy for Eastern Europe and Germany. For these efforts, Brandt is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971. In 1972 a vote of no confidence against him fails, and in the subsequent early Bundestag election Brandt achieves a clear victory. Because of the Guillaume espionage affair, he steps down as Chancellor in May 1974.
Statesman without Public Office
Willy Brandt remains chairman of the SPD until 1987. In addition he becomes President of the Socialist International in 1976 and engages himself worldwide for peace, democracy and human rights. In 1980 the North-South Commission, which he chairs, presents a report that makes path-breaking recommendations for global development policy.
Committed European and German Patriot
In the interest of peace, Willy Brandt opposes the nuclear arms race in the 1980s. When the Communist dictatorships collapse in 1989, the SPD chairman enthusiastically promotes the coalescence of Europe. With all his strength he supports Germany's unification in 1990 for which his policies laid the necessary groundwork. In 1992 Willy Brandt dies after a serious illness at his home in Unkel. Honoured with a state ceremony, he finds his final resting place in Berlin.