Rut Brandt - Life

Life

Born as Rut Hansen in Hamar, Norway, she worked initially in a bakery in Norway and then as a tailor's apprentice. At age 16, she joined a socialist youth group, which conducted political activities against the German occupation during the Second World War. In 1942, she fled to Sweden with one of her sisters.

In Sweden, she married her Norwegian friend, Ole Olstadt Bergaust, who died in 1946. In 1944, Hansen had met Willy Brandt, the later German Chancellor, who had fled Germany. After Bergaust's death, Brandt and Hansen married in 1948.

When Willy Brandt became Chancellor in 1969, Rut Brandt was at his side as a very successful and popular First Lady. However, when Brandt in 1979 started an affair with Brigitte Seebacher (later his third wife), Rut Brandt asked for a divorce. After the divorce had been granted (in 1980), Rut and Willy Brandt went their separate ways. When Brandt died in 1992, Brigitte Seebacher-Brandt did not allow Rut to attend the funeral – a decision which did not meet with acceptance in the German population.

Rut Brandt died on 28 July 2006 in Berlin, aged 86, from undisclosed causes.

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