In 1969, Willy Brandt became chancellor as West Germany veered to the left with the Social Democrats. His main interest was foreign policy–Ostpolitik–which led to the rapproachment with the East; however, he was less successful in dealing with domestic matters. At the end of 1970 he signed a treaty with Poland that recognized Poland’s rights to the German territories Poland had annexed after the war. Brandt also visited Moscow that year to sign a treaty with the Soviet Union in which Germany agreed to respect the frontiers and territories of all states in Europe. By this act Germany renounced all claims to Polish and Czechoslovakian territory and recognized the boundary between West and East Germany. However, Brandt refused to recognize fully the claim of East Germany to be a sovereign, independent state, as this would put the stamp of approval on the partition of Germany. Both Germanys, however, joined the United Nations separately in 1973.
The gesture of humility was not favorably viewed by Germans but was welcomed by the West. Willy Brandt, on holiday in Kenya, finds himself named Time’s Man of the Year (1971). Later, he would win the Nobel Peace Prize. Eventually, Brandt’s Ostpolitik would help his reelection.