Willy Brandt grew up in reduced circumstances in the Hansa town of Lübeck, and in his youth became active on the left side in German politics. He engaged in illegal work against the Nazis, and had to go into exile in Norway in 1933. There he joined the Labor Party, and supported the campaign for a Peace Prize for Ossietzky. When Hitler invaded Norway in 1940, he fled to Sweden where as a journalist he campaigned for a free Norway and a democratic Germany.
After the war, Brandt engaged in the rebuilding of West Germany's Social Democratic Party (the SPD). He became Mayor of West Berlin, party chairman, and Chancellor.
As federal Chancellor, Brandt saw to it that West Germany signed the nuclear weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). He also concluded a nonviolence agreement with the Soviet Union and an agreement with Poland which entailed that West Germany accepted the new national boundaries in Eastern Europe that had become effective in 1945. These treaties laid the foundations for the Four Power Agreement on Berlin which made it easier for families from either side of the divided city to visit each other.