1939: The Balance Sheet: Paradoxes and Imponderables -- Part 34
Since the creation of the Federal Republic, Brandt has become Germany's most popular chancellor.
The domestic reforms he could entertain were limited by his alliance with the Free Democrats.
The Christian Democratic Party was replaced as Germany's largest party by the SPD, but it still fell short of an absolute majority of popular votes.
In 1974 the term as chancellor came to an abrupt halt.
One of his advisers was a spy for East Germany, and he felt obliged to resign.
He had been accused of infidelity, problems with alcohol, and bouts of depression.
The spy scandal seems to have led to his resignation.
He was no saint in his personal life, he had worked himself to a state of exhaustion in his foreign-policy initiatives, and the mounting economic repercussions of the oil crisis of 1973.
After he resigned as chancellor, he retained his seat in the Bundestag.
Brandt was replaced as chancellor by a younger man who was closer to the political center of the party but also a more capable manager.
His hard work and efficiency were appreciated even by his opponents, despite his sharp tongue and sometimes patronizing tone.
He was in office for eight years and gave West Germany competent leadership.
German social democracy's high point has been the years in which Brandt and Schmidt were chancellors.
Its domestic achievements were more in the direction of effectively managing modern welfare capitalism, as opposed to the older social-democratic goals of fundamental economic reorganization and social egalitarianism.
Germany made it through the 1970s in better economic shape than other countries where socialist parties had been in power because of the management skills of Schmidt.
The rising percentage of the country's gross national product going to social services, as well as the power of trade unions, came to be a focus of complaint in Britain.
The Conservative and Labour Party prime ministers of the 1970s were frustrated with Britain's trade unions and wanted to rein them in to improve the country's economic performance.
By the end of the 1970s, anti-union sentiment had spread to parts of the population that had previously been sympathetic to Labour, which is why voters turned to the Conservative Party and Margaret Thatcher in 1979.
The appearance of a remarkable personality had implications that appeared decisive, making possible what previously had been considered unthinkable.
Brezhnev ruled for eighteen years, longer than any other Soviet leader.
The Era of Stagnation was the name of most of his rule from 1982 to 1985.
How a man like Gorbachev could assume power in such a country has intrigued many observers.
After a long day in New York, Gorbachev and his wife Raisa are still smiling as they attend a reception in their honor.
Gorbachev had an assertive, fashionably dressed "modern" wife, who was also an intellectual companion to him, in striking contrast to the spouses of Soviet leaders since Stalin's time.
Both professed to be followers of Leninism, yet both put the principles of party rule into question.
Gorbachev was the youngest member of the politburo when he was chosen to lead it in 1985.
Most of the other top members were in poor health.
Communism was supposed to be out-produced capitalism, but the United States and most western European nations were steadily increasing the distance of their already significant lead in production and productivity.
Industrial pollution in the Soviet Union was reaching catastrophic levels.
The nuclear accident at the Chernobyl plant, in Soviet Ukraine, in late May 1986 - a year after Gorbachev had assumed power - took on great importance.
Millions of people were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation because of the initial cover-ups surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power accident.
The Chernobyl catastrophe was the result of the lack of it.
Free thought and open access to information for the general population had long been dismissed by party leaders as naive and even dangerous, as was "formal" majority rule unguided by Leninist leadership.
Free expression of opinion within the higher party ranks had long been circumscribed.
After Stalin's death and Khrushchev's reforms, the party operated bureaucratically.
The routines and work habits of generations of ordinary Soviet citizens were disrupted by it.
Gorbachev believed that glasnost would increase popularity for Communist rule and that perestroika would improve its economic performance.
His beliefs were found to be wrong on both counts.
The enthusiasm for greater openness detracted from the support for Communist rule.
The initial enthusiasm for reforms got out of control like Dubcek's Communism.
The peoples of most non Russian Soviet republics preferred independence from the Soviet Union when offered a genuine free choice.
In Russian-speaking areas, the Communist Party was unable to get a majority in open elections and a free press.
By the late 1980s, the Soviet Union was facing severe shortages of basic food supplies, and Gorbachev's economic reforms proved less effective than Khrushchev's.
"openness" meant not only open discussion of current affairs but also filling in the many " blank spaces" of Soviet history, as Gorbachev termed them, and that was a large order.
It meant going back over the show trials and mass arrests of the late 1930s, as well as the murders of Polish officers during World War II, which Khrushchev had dubbed the crimes of the Stalin era.
There was a lot of blank space in the history of the Soviet Union that did not correspond to what was being done by the Germans, French, or Italians by the 1980s.