Raised in the family of his grandfather, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), 17-year-old Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm, later known as Willy Brandt, joined the SPD in 1930. A year later he became an activist of the Socialist Workers' Party, a left-splitting of the SPD. When the Nazis came to power, he had to flee to Norway and then to Sweden under the name of Willy Brandt. He returned to Germany as a Norwegian citizen and for a time was press attaché at the Norwegian mission in Berlin. On 1 Jul 1948 Brandt returned his German citizenship and was elected a member of the Bundestag in 1949. In 1955-1957, Brandt occupied the post of president of the Berlin House of Representatives. Then he became governing mayor of West Berlin (3 Oct 1957 - 1 Dec 1966), a post in which he achieved world fame. He showed great moral courage when the Soviet Union demanded (1958) that West Berlin be given the title of a demilitarized free city and when the Berlin Wall was built in 1961. In 1957-1958, Brandt served a one-year term as president of the Bundesrat. He succeeded Erich Ollenhauer as chairman of the SPD in 1964 and campaigned for the office of Federal Chancellor three times - in 1961, 1965, and 1969. When the grand coalition government of Kurt Georg Kiesinger was formed in 1966, Brandt became foreign minister and vice-chancellor (1 Dec 1966 - 21 Oct 1969). His party improved its performance at the federal election in 1969 capturing 42.7 percent of the votes. Brandt was elected Federal Chancellor on 21 Oct 1969 and formed a coalition government with the Free Democratic Party (FDP). The first major decision of his government was to revalue the West German mark, and the second, to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Brandt concentrated on foreign affairs, and he particularly sought to improve relations with East Germany, other Communist nations in eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union, formulating a policy known as Ostpolitik. His efforts led to a treaty with the Soviet Union in 1970 calling for mutual renunciation of force and the acceptance of current European borders; to a nonaggression treaty with Poland in 1970 recognizing the Oder-Neisse line as Poland's western boundary; and to the Big Four agreement in September 1971 on the status of Berlin. Brandt received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his continuing work toward reconciliation between West Germany and the Soviet bloc. The treaty with Poland and the contacts with East Germany were a controversial point in Brandt's politics and Christian Democrats decided to return to power with the support of the wavering FDP deputies, who might join them in a constructive vote of no confidence. However, on 27 Apr 1972 the Bundestag declined the proposal to elect the CDU deputy Rainer Barzel as Federal Chancellor.  Though the Brandt's government remained in power, it could no longer rely on parliamentary majority and the leaders of the SPD-FDP coalition agreed to proceed with constitutional procedures, which would lead to new elections. On 20 Sep 1972 Brandt placed the question of confidence in the Bundestag, and as expected the government received only 233 of the necessary 249 votes during the vote held on 22 Sep 1972.  The elections held in November 1972 brought even more successful results for the coalition than three years ago (SPD - 230 votes, FDP - 41). Brandt was reelected Federal Chancellor on 14 Dec 1972 by a wide margin of votes. After his close aide Gunther Guillaume was unmasked as an East German spy, Brandt sent his resignation (about 10 p.m. 6 May 1974) to the Federal President Gustav Heinemann, who was on a business trip to Hamburg. The president accepted the resignation and on his return to Bonn on 7 May 1974 formally discharged Brandt and entrusted the deputy chancellor Walter Scheel with handling government affairs until the election of Brandt's successor.  Brandt remained the chairman of the SPD until 1987 and was also head of the Socialist International from 1976 to 1992. From 1979 he also headed the Independent Commission on International Development Issues, known as the Brandt Commission, a prestigious independent panel that studied world economic policies. Biography source: 
||Despite the provisions of the German Basic Law (article 69, part 3) enabling the Federal President to ask the Federal Chancellor to carry out governmental businesses until the election of his successor, President Heinemann conceded to the request of Brandt to discharge him immediately as stated in the text of the Brandt's resignation letter:
Gleichzeitig bitte ich darum, diesen Rücktritt unmittelbar wirksam werden zu lassen und meinen Stellvertreter Bundesminister Scheel, mit der Wahrnehmung der Geschäfte des Bundeskanzlers zu beauftragen, bis ein Nachfolger gewählt ist.