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Willy Brandt och Berlinfrågan : En studie i kontinuiteten i Brandts politiska tänkande


  • Lennart Hellström

Summary, in English

Willy Brandt is one of the most important charismatic leaders of the postwar era and his Ostpolitik is considered his great political achievement. The Berlin Question can be said to symbolize his political activities. Therefore, by concentrating on this issue I can explore and analyse his political thinking as a whole. My basic assumption in this dissertation is that a politician tends to stick to his beliefs and thus shows continuity in his thinking. If changes do occur they are usually slow and gradual. My first aim is to analyse Brandt’s arguing and reasoning in the Berlin Question in the 1948-1966 time frame. Employing a semantic method, I investigate how his evaluations i.e. his value judgements, and his analyses of various aspects of the Berlin Question are expressed. Next, I study his perceptions, i.e. the conclusions made from his evaluations. These manifest themselves as recommendations and requests to the different actors; the Western Powers, the Soviet Union, the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR. After that I endeavour to analyse the entire semantic structure of Brand’s political thinking. My conclusion is that Brandt’s evaluations and prescriptions are logical and that his reasoning show no contradictions. I finally refer to Brandt’s operational code, attempting to capture his complete sphere of ideas in political matters, and examine whether his reasoning in the Berlin Question is consistent with his political arguing in general. It turns out that most of his arguments in the Berlin Question can also be found in his political expressions in general. My second aim is to investigate whether there is continuity in Brandt’s thinking in the Berlin Question during the years 1948-1974 on the international, national and local levels. I try to establish whether or not Brandt’s perceptions and beliefs change over time and if they do, for what reason. I demonstrate that to a great extent Brandt’s thinking shows continuity on all levels during the entire period. I have noted only three shifts of ideas or accents, and these can be explained by the overwhelming impact of the Berlin Wall on Brandt’s views. The Wall turned out to be a catalyst for a complete revision of foreign policy, and a realization of personal ideas, some of which he had harboured since World War Two. After the establishment of the Wall, Brandt tried to attain a modus vivendi in Berlin in order to ease the inhabitants’ difficult situation. This was partly accomplished by the Passierschein agreement in December 1963, which also pointed to his future Ostpolitik. My third aim is to explore whether Brandt’s experiences from the Berlin years (1948-1966) may have had an impact on his later activities as Foreign Minister (1966-1969) and Chancellor (1969-1974). My theoretical assumption is that a politician is influenced by his historical knowledge and his experiences. It is evident that many of Brandt’s experiences as a local politician in West Berlin influenced his future actions when he attained positions of power in Bonn. They formed his Ostpolitik and there is a clear connection between Brandt’s Berlin period and his Chancellorship in Bonn.

Publishing year





Lund Political Studies



Document type



Department of Political Science, Lund University


  • Political Science


  • Berlin Question
  • Willy Brandt
  • Berlin Wall
  • semantic method
  • Operational Code
  • belief system
  • Political and administrative sciences
  • historical lessons
  • Statsvetenskap
  • förvaltningskunskap




  • [unknown] [unknown]


  • ISSN: 0460–0037
  • ISBN: 91-88306-47-X

Defence date

11 November 2004

Defence time


Defence place



  • Tom Bryder (Professor)