Willy Brandt

In December 1913, the german politican Willy Brandt was born. Working in office as both chancellor, and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, he turned out to become one of the greatest non-fictional heroes of our time...

Childhood and youth
A hero in the making

Actually, Willy Brandt was just an alias, taken to protect himself from nazi persecution. His real name was Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm, and he was born and raised in Lübeck, a city in north Germany. he never got to see his father (John Möller), and his hard-working mother (Martha Frahm), never really provided the best youth opportunities for the young, persistant boy. But in the age of 16, he joined the "Socialist Youth", and that changed many things in his life. He also joined a more left-oriented party the year after, called the "Social Democratic Party". But he soon left it, to join the very left winged "Social Workers Party".

Working Undercover

When Hitler in 1933 was elected Chancellor of Germany, the social parties were persecuted, and many fled the country. This was were Herbert changed his name to Willy Brandt, to protect himself. He also did it to secure safe passage to Norway, which was the country he fled to.The year after his escape, in 1934, he took part in creating the International Bureau of Revolutionary Youth Organizations, and was with Heinz Epe, and a member of the Swedish Socialistic Party, a member of the Secretariat. And hiding the best he could, he started presenting his politics to the world. But when Willys German citizenship was deleted in 1938, he tried to acclaim a Norwegian citizenship. He first recieved it 2 years later, when the war had forced him to Sweden for hiding.

Returning to Germany

When the war ended in 1945, and many parts of germany were left in ruins, Willy Brandt finally returned to his home country. He then joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany, and legally took the name "Willy Brandt" (which had been his pseudonym till then). In 1957, Willy was elected to be the Mayor of West Berlin. This was a big leap in his life, and in this stressfull time after the war, he was just what the germans in Berlin needed. This was where we saw the first signs of a real hero in the making - as his popularity grew. It was this determined state of mind, and his idea of what freedom he should bring to the country, that got him this far. Also, it is important, for understanding Willys work, that you know about the separation between East and West Germany. To learn more about this seperation, click here . But the trail of Willy Brandt goes much further than this. He soon went from Mayor, to the most important position in German politics. Chancellor of the country. And his politics would turn the troubled country upside down, with his so called "Ostpolitik".

When East meets West
Richard Nixon & Willy Brandt

In 1969, after many hard years work, Willy Brandt was elected Chancellor of Germany. This gave him time and opportunity to bring his biggest plan to life. A plan to make the relashionship between east and west good again. He called it the Ostpolitik.

"Willy Brandt is in effect seeking to end World War II by bringing about a fresh relationship between East and West. He is trying to accept the real situation in Europe, which has lasted for 25 years, but he is also trying to bring about a new reality in his bold approach to the Soviet Union and the East bloc." - Time Magazine.
The Ostpolitik was, in short terms, about creating freedom and wellness between the east and the west. After the war, the russian federation took their part of Berlin, saying it was there right to claim it. Since the rest of Europe ment it belonged to all the allies, it led to the building of the Berlin Wall. Willy Brandt was against this, so he tried to make a politic, that would change these terms, for the good of both sides. His goal was to "Change Through Rapprochement". This means neutralizing the bad relashionships between the eastern european countries, and the western, at the time.

The hero

So now knowing what the Ospolitik is, you know all you really have to know, to find out what made Willy such a great hero. Was it his person? Was it the time he lived in? We know. it was his moral. In his life, he did everything he could to get his opinions out to the world. And especially in Germany, he ment a lot to the country at the time. He gave Germany the feeling of being one country, and not two separated. And even though the Berlin Wall first fell in November 1989, his politic about gathering east and west again, was fabulous. And he also took credit for it in 1970, when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He got it according to the sentence "improving relations with East Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union." Even though the Ostpolitik was critisized by many, it helped Germany a lot. Both mentally, physically, and in ways, no laws or politics can explain. A feeling of a union. And how did he do it? It was hard. But that is what made him a hero. His courage to change - not to keep. A famous quote, by Willy Brandt himself: “It often takes more courage to change one's opinion than to keep it."

Quotes taken from real life Willy Brandt will not manke sence for people that do not speak the language, so we have decided to quote him in text instead.