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New Left Review I/196, November-December 1992


Ernest Mandel

Willy Brandt and Petra Kelly

The deaths of Willy Brandt and Petra Kelly in a way mark the end of two successive generations of mass leaders, two eras of the West European Left, spanning more than fifty years. Willy Brandt, a man of very modest beginnings, identified from his earliest youth with the struggle of the organized labour movement for socialism. When resolute resistance to the rise of fascism was demanded in Germany, he broke with social democracy, joined the sap (Socialist Workers Party), became leader of its youth organization, and even participated in a conference with the Trotskyists to prepare a new revolutionary youth international. But from then on he moved steadily to the right. He supported the People’s Front policy in Spain, which led to defeat, refused to condemn the Moscow Trials, abandoned the feeble attempt to maintain a ‘21/2–31/2 International’ (the London Bureau), and dissolved his own party. He joined the social-democratic movement in Norway and then in Germany. As mayor of West Berlin, he identified with the Cold War. He became a staunch supporter of the international imperialist alliance, nato.

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