Like his contemporary John F. Kennedy, Willy Brandt was one of the great political icons of his time – and remains to many a representative of political modernity itself. As the first Social Democrat Chancellor of West Germany between 1969 and 1974, Brandt was at the forefront of some of Germany’s most definitive and controversial decisions. He famously fell to his knees in recognition of the atrocities committed by his countrymen in the Warsaw Ghetto, and received the Nobel Peace Prize for his policy of reconciliation toward Eastern Europe. As Chair of the “Brandt Commission” (Independent Commission on International Development Issues) in the early 80ties, Brandt drew much-needed attention to the growing need for international solidarity and a global perspective on the world’s most pressing issues.
Against this backdrop, the New York offices of the Goethe-Institut and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) were pleased to host a presentation and discussion on Hélène Miard-Delacroix’s newly translated biography "Willy Brandt – Life of a Statesman". Together with the audience and our distinguished panelists we explored the life and times of Willy Brandt in the context of a broader discussion on his lasting influence on modern political culture, international solidarity, societal change, and the rise of civil rights movements.