US covertly financed Germany's Willy Brandt: historian

10th June 2016, Comments 0 comments

Washington bankrolled Willy Brandt in an internal party tussle that the politician finally won before eventually becoming the chancellor of West Germany, according to a historian, Der Spiegel magazine reported Friday.

The Americans provided Brandt, then a Bundestag MP with 200,000 marks in the 1950s, Scott Krause said, citing the results of his research at the Berlin state archives.

The sum was equivalent to about a third of the annual membership subscription fees that Brandt's Social Democrats received in Berlin, the magazine said.

Washington had picked Brandt because he favoured closer integration with the US, at a time when many in his Social Democratic Party were against the transatlantic alliance.

The historian however said that Brandt was not bought by the money to pursue closer ties with the US, rather, he had accepted it as he shared the vision of "a common political project" with Washington.

The financial help was disguised as an inflated price paid for two six-page inserts in the Berliner Stadtblatt newspaper, which Brandt edited, according to Krause's research.

In the special inserts, Brandt and others promoted the Marshall Plan -- the US aid package to rebuild Europe after World War II.

Nevertheless, the US financial help was not pivotal to Brandt becoming leader of the SPD, as he lost the campaigns for the party top job twice after the payments, before finally securing it.

Rumours of US aid for Brandt had been swirling for decades, including in a Spiegel report in 1977 which also carried a denial from both the former West German leader and then US president Jimmy Carter.

Brandt, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his efforts to achieve reconciliation between West Germany and the nations of the Soviet bloc, served as West German chancellor from 1969 until 1974. He died in 1992.

© 2016 AFP

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