Kniefall

The “knee fall.”

Willy Brandt (whose birth name was Herbert Frahm), had a difficult childhood and fled as a young socialist to Oslo in 1933, tasked with starting an underground cell there to fight Hitler. He was able to start studying history in Oslo, after never being able to afford college in his native Germany. In 1936 he briefly returned to Nazi Germany posing as a war reporter with a Norwegian accent. He also reported from the Spanish Civil War. In 1940 he was arrested in occupied Norway but managed to flee to Sweden, where he founded a Norwegian-Swedish press agency that supplied news to 70 dailies.

In 1940, Brandt had a daughter in Stockholm who was named Ninja.

Brandt returned to Germany in 1945 to report on the Nuremberg Trials. He assumed a cover name he had been using since 1934, “Willy Brandt,” and moved to Berlin because it was a bit more cosmopolitan.

After becoming a Bundestag member (SPD), the mayor of West Berlin, foreign minister, and the Chancellor of Germany (slogan: “Dare more democracy”), Willy Brandt traveled to Poland in 1970 and fell to his knees to demonstrate sorrow at a monument commemorating the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943. This is called the Kniefall in German and was made with great respect.

(Derk NEE foll.)

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