Willy Brandt grew up in the northern German city of Luebeck, immortalized in his fellow townsman Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks. Brandt’s Luebeck was much different, the Luebeck of the turbulence of the Weimar Republic and the coming of Nazism, of the old German working-class movement. Brandt experienced the movement’s divisions and sectarianism, its inability to recognize the threat of Nazism until it was too late—and, equally, its moral and pedagogic force.
In 1933, he chose exile in Norway, worked in the small Socialist Workers party (which sought vainly to mediate between the Communists and Social Democrats), and visited Germany on underground missions. He visited Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War and witnessed the depredations of Stalinism. After the German occupation of Norway, he fled to Sweden and there made new connections to the Social Democrats—and the 1944 plotters against Hitler. In Germany again as a Norwegian official, he reassumed German citizenship in 1948....
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