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, h...
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