He revered it. He was an unapologetic social democrat who understood that Germany was more than a Cold War pawn. Under his influence and leadership Germany became an integral player in world affairs. He also led a number of domestic initiatives to open up the education system, improve social welfare services, and stabilize public pensions—all issues for which he never received credit, which is because his three most memorable, lasting contributions to the world were associated with international affairs.
He is one of the few mayors in world history who not only had a global stature, but also conducted a foreign policy. As foreign minister and chancellor his policy of Ostpolitik —interestingly, a term he disliked—destroyed the Hallstein Doctrine, a post-WWII West German policy that did not recognize the existence and legitimacy of East Germany, to engage with the nations behind the Iron Curtain. It also was integral in establishing West Germany as a world power to be reckoned with; it was no longer the defeated Hitler state. His substantive and symbolic acts, such as the famous Kniefall in Warsaw to repent for the sins of Nazi Germany, helped pave the way for the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall and the hegemony of the Soviet bloc.
Even his one of his harshest critics of the early s, Helmut Kohl, admitted after the fall of the Wall that Brandt was right with his long view of history and that the Christian Democrats who excoriated him were wrong. But his most important and least understood contribution to the world today came after the end of his short chancellorship. As the leader of the German Social Democratic Party and the Socialist International he influenced leaders in Europe and participated in commissions that paved the way for a unified Europe.
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Like most of the leaders of the German anti-Nazi resistance, he visualized a post-WWII world in which Germany would be integrated into and help lead a unified Europe. Initially it was less a matter of economics than of building mutual bonds to eliminate the possibility of future conflicts. Brandt recognized over the years, however, that economics were essential to creating an environment of peaceful stability.
There are a few things missing. There is no settling of scores with personalities he encountered in his life. His account of Guillaume scandal that brought down his chancellorship seems a bit antiseptic, especially since there is no acknowledgement of the role the potential unmasking of his marital infidelity played in his final decision. Nor is he big on background narrative: one must have a knowledge of mid-to-late 20th century history to fully appreciate his recollections.
Both filled in gaps Brandt chose to leave out or obscure. Brandt downplays his personal feelings in favor of describing the events in which he was a participant.
I think Brandt had two audiences in mind when he wrote his memoirs. The second, and surely most important to him, were young people—especially those in Europe and young social democrats throughout the world. Coincidentally, shortly after I finished this book, we all got to observe the debacle of a foreign trip taken by our Dear Leader Trump.
As Angela Merkel noted Europe and the rest of the world could not count on the U. S and that nations like Germany would have to take more responsibility for their own affairs, I wonder if she realized how much of debt she had to the life and works of Willy Brandt.
View all 6 comments. Emotionen wird man in diesem Buch nicht finden. Einfach um die Sicht eines Zeitzeugen kennenzulernen. Im Hinblick auf die selbsterlebte, eigene Vergangenheit geboren ist die Betrachtungsweise des Autors sehr interessant. Joseph Anton: A Memoir Apostolou Olympia rated it it was amazing Dec 29, Lars Fischer rated it really liked it Sep 23, Martine Devos rated it liked it Oct 26, Dieter Lavan rated it really liked it Dec 15, Marcus rated it liked it Aug 13, Angela rated it it was amazing Jun 18, Parents Guide.
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Erinnerungen (Spiegel-Edition, #15) by Willy Brandt
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