Guillaume Affair
The Guillaume Affair was an espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 scandal in the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 history of Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. The scandal revolved around the exposure of an East German spy within the West German
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 government and had far-reaching political repercussions in Germany, the most prominent being the resignation of West German Chancellor Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt, born Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm , was a German politician, Mayor of West Berlin 1957–1966, Chancellor of West Germany 1969–1974, and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany 1964–1987....

 in 1974.

Around 1973, West German security organizations received information that one of Brandt's personal assistants, Günter Guillaume
Günter Guillaume
Günter Guillaume , was an intelligence agent of East Germany's secret service, the Stasi.Guillame was born in Berlin. During the Hitler era, he was a member of the Nazi party NSDAP. In 1956, he and his wife Christel emigrated to West Germany on Stasi orders to penetrate and spy on West Germany's...

, was a spy for the East German state. Brandt was asked to continue work as usual, and he agreed, even taking a private vacation with Guillaume. Guillaume was arrested on April 24, 1974. The West German government blamed Brandt for having a spy in his party: Guillaume had indeed been a spy for East Germany, supervised by Markus Wolf
Markus Wolf
Markus Johannes "Mischa" Wolf was head of the General Intelligence Administration , the foreign intelligence division of East Germany's Ministry for State Security . He was the MfS's number two for 34 years, which spanned most of the Cold War...

, head of the Main Intelligence Administration of the East German Ministry for State Security
The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), commonly known as the Stasi (abbreviation , literally State Security), was the official state security service of East Germany. The MfS was headquartered...

. Brandt resigned as Chancellor on May 6, 1974 (although he remained the Chairman of his party, the Social Democrats, until 1987).

According to Vasili Mitrokhin
Vasili Mitrokhin
Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin was a Major and senior archivist for the Soviet Union's foreign intelligence service, the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, and co-author with Christopher Andrew of The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, a massive account of Soviet intelligence...

, when the KGB found out about Guillaume, they ordered Wolf to pull him out because Brandt had been a good friend to the Soviet Union and they wanted him to stay in power.

Brandt resignation

Brandt was succeeded as Chancellor by fellow Social Democrat
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 Helmut Schmidt
Helmut Schmidt
Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt is a German Social Democratic politician who served as Chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982. Prior to becoming chancellor, he had served as Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance. He had also served briefly as Minister of Economics and as acting...

, who unlike Brandt belonged to the right wing of his party. For the rest of his life, Brandt remained suspicious that his fellow Social Democrat and longtime rival Herbert Wehner
Herbert Wehner
Herbert Richard Wehner was a German politician. A former member of the Communist Party, he joined the Social Democrats after World War II...

 had been scheming for his downfall, but evidence for this seems scant.

Aside from internecine intrigue within the Social Democrats, the finger of blame for Brandt's fall was also pointed at the East German leadership. Some speculated that the East German regime under Erich Honecker
Erich Honecker
Erich Honecker was a German communist politician who led the German Democratic Republic as General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1971 until 1989, serving as Head of State as well from Willi Stoph's relinquishment of that post in 1976....

 had intentionally used Guillaume to engineer Brandt's downfall. Brandt's policy of Ostpolitik
Neue Ostpolitik , or Ostpolitik for short, refers to the normalization of relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Eastern Europe, particularly the German Democratic Republic beginning in 1969...

had made him a hero and symbol of hope for national and family reunification
Family reunification
Family reunification is a recognized reason for immigration in many countries. The presence of one or more family members in a certain country, therefore, enables the rest of the family to immigrate to that country as well....

 in the East. Therefore, from Honecker's view, Brandt's popularity in East Germany represented a threat to the regime. In his memoirs, Brandt noted Honecker's denial of complicity in his downfall, adding "whatever one may think of that." However Stasi-head Markus Wolf stated after German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 that the resignation of Brandt had never been intended, and that the affair had been one of the biggest mistakes of the East German secret service.

The affair is in any case widely considered to have been merely a trigger for Brandt's resignation, not a fundamental cause. Instead, Brandt, dogged by scandal relating to serial adultery, and struggling with alcohol and depression as well as the economic fallout of the 1973 oil crisis
1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the...

, almost seems simply to have had enough. As Brandt himself later said, "I was exhausted, for reasons which had nothing to do with the process going on at the time."


Guillaume was eventually released and sent to East Germany in 1981 in exchange for Western intelligence agents caught by the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

. Back in East Germany, Guillaume was celebrated as a hero, worked in the training of spies, and published his autobiography Die Aussage ("The Statement") in 1988.

The story of Brandt and Guillaume is told in the play Democracy
Democracy (play)
Democracy is a play by Michael Frayn which premiered at the Royal National Theatre on September 9, 2003, directed by Michael Blakemore, starring Roger Allam as Willy Brandt and Conleth Hill as Günter Guillaume...

by Michael Frayn. The play follows Brandt's career from his election to Guillaume's imprisonment. It examines Guillaume's dual identity as trusted personal assistant to the West German chancellor and Stasi spy and examines his conflict as his duty to West Germany's enemies clashes with his genuine love and admiration for the chancellor.

In 2003, Willy's son Matthias Brandt took the part of Guillaume in the film Im Schatten der Macht ("In the Shadow of Power") by German filmmaker Oliver Storz. The film deals with the Guillaume Affair and Brandt's resignation. Matthias Brandt caused a minor controversy in Germany when it was publicized that he would take the part of the man who betrayed his father and made him resign in 1974. Earlier that year - when the Brandts and the Guillaumes took a vacation to Norway together - it was Matthias, then twelve years old, who was the first to discover that Guillaume and his wife 'were typing mysterious things on typewriters the whole night through'.
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