Does Memory Matter in Politics?

The Impact of German History on Willy Brandt and the Impact of Willy Brandt on Germany's Foreign Policy

September 12, 2013
Lecture at the GHI
Speaker: Bernd Faulenbach (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Willy Brandt's activities as a young Social Democrat brought him into conflict with the Nazi regime. He was forced to flee the country to escape arrest and went to Norway. When the Germans occupied Norway he fled to Sweden. Shortly after the World War II, Brandt reported on the Nuremberg Trials as Norwegian journalist. After re-entering German politics, Brandt had to deal with communism, confronting a different version of totalitarian rule. How did Brandt's experiences of the Nazi dictatorship, in exile, and as a political leader committing himself clearly to social democracy reverberate in his political work? How did it influence his foreign policy both toward Eastern Europe ("Ostpoliitk") and toward the Western allies?

  • Exhibition: 150 Years of Social Democracy

    Germany-and more broadly Europe-cannot be understood without acknowledging the key contributions and sacrifices of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) in establishing a stable democracy and enhancing social justice. In May 2013, the German Social Democratic Party celebrated its 150th birthday. The exhibition, presented at the German Historical Institute in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, from Sept 9-13, 2013, will give an informative overview of the challenges the SPD has faced in its history-its many successes and some of its bitter defeats. The SPD pushed for the development of the German welfare state and democracy from the beginning. Banned during the Imperial time, the Nazi regime, and in the GDR, the Social Democrats fought constantly for human and social rights and not just for the core group of skilled workers. Even in the face of persecution from the Nazis and later the SED regime it has remained true to its fundamental values. The Weimar democracy and the transfer of post-war Germany to a modern and stable democracy weren't possible without the contributions of the SPD. The party history, however, was always shaped by factionalism and intense discussion on the profile of the party's goals. The exhibition will cover all these topics and will give a better understanding of the differences between the American and the German party systems.

Please RSVP (acceptance only) by Sept. 5. Tel: 202.387.3355 - Fax: 202.387.6437 -  E-mail