Willy Brandt

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Brandt, Willy

Brandt, Willy (vĭlˈē bränt), 1913–92, German political leader. His name originally was Karl Herbert Frahm. Active in his youth in the Social Democratic party, after Adolf Hitler came to power (1933) he fled to Norway and began a journalistic career, soon becoming a Norwegian citizen. When Norway was invaded (1940), he was imprisoned briefly by the Germans but escaped to Sweden. Returning to Germany after World War II, he resumed (1947) German citizenship. He served (1949–57) in the Bundestag and (1957–66) as mayor of West Berlin. In 1964 he became chairman of the Social Democratic party and was named foreign minister (1966) in the Christian Democratic–Social Democratic coalition government headed by Kurt Kiesinger. After Brandt's party won the federal elections he became chancellor (1969–74) with the support of the Free Democratic party. His government initiated peace talks with Eastern European countries and with East Germany, resulting in nonaggression treaties with the USSR and Poland (1971) and the signing of a treaty with East Germany in 1972. Brandt was awarded the 1971 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. He resigned on May 6, 1974, following revelations that a close aide was an East German spy, but remained chairman of the Social Democratic party until 1987. President of the Socialist International in 1976, and Socialist member of the European Parliament (1979–83), he became honorary President of the East German Social Democratic party in 1990: after campaigning unsuccessfully for it in that year's elections, he remarked that the “so-called Socialist countries gave socialism a bad name.”


See his North-South: A Program for Survival (1980).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Brandt, Willy


(pseudonym of Herbert Karl Frahm). Born Dec. 18, 1913, in Lübeck. Statesman of Federal Republic of Germany (FRG).

After graduating from the Gymnasium, Brandt worked for a newspaper in Lübeck. As a young man he was a member of the social democratic youth movement. In 1930 he became a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. In 1933 he emigrated to Norway, and later to Sweden (1940), where he worked as a journalist.

Brandt returned to West Germany in 1945. In 1948 the administrative board of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) of West Germany appointed Brandt its representative in West Berlin. Between 1958 and 1962 he was chairman of the administrative board of the SDP of West Berlin. From 1957 to 1966 he was governing mayor of West Berlin. Since 1964 he has been chairman of the administrative board of the SDP. From December 1966 to October 1969, Brandt was vice-chancellor and minister of foreign affairs of a coalition government (Christian Democratic Union and SDP). Since October 1969 he has been federal chancellor of the FRG coalition government (SDP and Free Democratic Party).

The Brandt government has taken a stand in favor of developing relations with the USSR and other socialist countries. On Aug. 12, 1970, the Brandt government signed a treaty between the Soviet Union and the FRG. The treaty made an important contribution to the reduction of tension in Europe, and it created a basis for the development of relations between the USSR and the FRG.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.