Biography

Willy Brandt’s biography is unique. Starting out in Lübeck, he made his way from Oslo and Stockholm to Berlin and Bonn and left his mark worldwide. Here, explore the stages of his life and learn more about its significant events and formative turning points.

Willy Brandt – Stations in his political life

Anti-Nazi, exile in Scandinavia, Governing Mayor, Foreign Minister, Federal Chancellor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, SPD chairman and President of the Socialist International. Here you will find the most significant dates in Willy Brandt’s life and career.

More information »

Working-class youngster in Lübeck 1913-1932

Born Herbert Frahm, Willy Brandt grows up in turbulent times. In Lübeck’s workers’ movement he soon manifests political and journalistic talents. At the age of 16 he is already a member of the SPD (Social Democratic Party). In 1932 he earns his university entrance certificate. More »

Resistance fighter in Norwegian exile 1933-1939

In 1933, Willy Brandt is one of the first to offer resistance to Hitler’s assumption of power. He goes into exile in Norway and continues the struggle against the Nazi dictatorship from there. The country becomes his second homeland. In 1938, German authorities revoke Brandt’s citizenship. More »

SPD Politician in divided Berlin 1947-1956

In 1947, Willy Brandt moves as a Norwegian to Berlin. One year later he regains his German citizenship. Strongly influenced by the Cold War, Brandt’s political ascent in the SPD begins. He takes a passionate stand against the division of Berlin and of Germany. More »

Governing Mayor and Candidate for Chancellor 1957-1966

Willy Brandt successfully leads West Berlin during difficult years of crisis. Yet, the building of the Wall in 1961 cements the city’s division whose consequences the Governing Mayor attempts to alleviate. In 1964, Brandt becomes SPD chairman. As Chancellor candidate, however, he is unsuccessful twice. More »

Foreign Minister and Federal Chancellor in Bonn 1967-1974

After three years as Foreign Minister in the Grand Coalition, Willy Brandt becomes Federal Chancellor in 1969. Domestic reforms and the “new Ostpolitik” are the hallmarks of the “Brandt Era,” which ends abruptly in 1974 with the Chancellor’s resignation because of an espionage affair. More »

International statesman without government office 1975-1982

As President of the Socialist International and as chairman of the North-South Commission, Willy Brandt becomes an advocate for peace, democracy and human rights worldwide. In Bonn, the SPD chairman supports the social-liberal coalition until it collapses in 1982. More »

Dedicated European and German Patriot 1983-1992

Willy Brandt fights energetically against the nuclear arms race. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communist dictatorships in 1989, a dream is fulfilled for him. With enthusiasm Brandt promotes the coalescence of Europe and the unity of Germany. More »

Back to top