Willy Brandt, New West German Chancellor, Was Long an Opponent of Nazis
Menu JTA Search

Willy Brandt, New West German Chancellor, Was Long an Opponent of Nazis

Download PDF for this date

Willy Brandt, the first Socialist to head a West German Government since the Nazi rise to power began in 1930, was elected Chancellor of the Federal Republic today. The Bundestag, West Germany’s lower house, elected him by 251 to 235 votes, only two votes over the 249 required for election.

Unlike his predecessor, former Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger who once belonged to the Nazi party, Mr. Brandt, 56, fought against the Nazis while still in his teens and was on the Nazis’ wanted list when World War II broke out. Mr. Brandt, head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), served as Foreign Minister in the Kiesinger coalition Government. His party won 224 Bundestag seats in last month’s elections. These, along with 30 won by the Free Democratic Party, were sufficient to form a new coalition depriving Chancellor Kiesinger’s Christian Democratic Union of power for the first time in 20 years.

Mr. Brandt was born in Lubeck in 1913 as Herbert Karl Frahm, the illegitimate son of a salesgirl, a fact that he has never concealed. He was a militant Socialist at the age of 17. He participated in street battles against Hitler’s Brown shirts and was once tried and acquitted for fighting the Nazi gangs. When Hitler took power in 1933, he fled to Norway where he assumed his present name. Mr. Brandt made his living as a journalist on Scandinavian newspapers. During the Nazi occupation of Norway, he was arrested but was mistaken for a Norwegian soldier, released and fled to neutral Sweden. After the war he covered the Nuremburg war crimes trials for Swedish newspapers. He reentered German politics shortly after the war and was Mayor of West Berlin before joining the Kiesinger Cabinet.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund