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Willy Brandt


Willy Brandt's Speech

Willy Brandt was born in Lubeck in 1913. He joined the Social Democratic Party in 1930 and was active in the campaign against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

In 1933 he fled to Norway and after studying at Oslo University he worked as a journalist. With the invasion of the German Army in 1940 Brandt was forced to move to Sweden. For the rest of the Second World War Brandt gave support to the German resistance movement.

Brandt returned to Germany after the war and in 1949 was elected to the Bundestag. In 1957 Brandt became a mayor of West Berlin and campaigned in favour of the removal of the Berlin Wall.

A socialist, Brandt became chairman of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) in 1964. Two years later he joined the coalition government led by Kurt Kiesinger. Brandt, as Foreign Minister, developed the policy of Ostpolitik (reconciliation between eastern and western Europe).

In 1969 Brandt became Chancellor of West Germany. He continued with his policy of Ostpolitik and in 1970 negotiated an agreement with the Soviet Union accepting the frontiers of Berlin. Later that year he signed a non-aggression pact with Poland. This was followed by the Basic Treaty with East Germany. These acts led to him winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971.

Brandt was forced to resign as Chancellor in April 1974 after it was discovered that his close political aide, Gunther Guillaume, was an East German spy.

Brandt continued to be active in politics and between 1977 and 1983 was chairman of the Brandt Commission on economic development. Its report, North-South: A Programme for Survival, argued that the rich north should help countries in the poor southern hemisphere.

Willy Brandt died in 1992.

John Simkin


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