1989


2 May

Hungary begins dismantling the fortifications on the border to Austria


7 May

Local elections in the GDR. Opposition groups prove that the results have been falsified. From this point onwards, people demonstrate against the election rigging in East Berlin on the seventh day of every subsequent month.

4 September

First Monday Demonstration in Leipzig. 1,200 people gather outside St. Nicholas’ Church. Their demands include freedom of travel and democracy.


9 /10 September

New Forum’s initial call-out becomes a signal for change. Further grassroots movements follow. 


11 September

Hungary officially opens its western border for GDR citizens, risking a breach in its diplomatic relations with East Berlin.


30 September

West Germany’s foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher informs the East German refugees in the Prague embassy that they will be allowed to leave the GDR


3 October

The GDR government bans travel to Czechoslovakia without passports and visas, to stem the mass exodus. Special trains transport people from the Prague and Warsaw embassies to the West, through the GDR. There are violent clashes with police along the railway line, including in Dresden.


Demonstranten
© Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Nikolaus Becker

7. October

40th anniversary of the GDR. Several thousand people, mainly young, demonstrate in Berlin outside the Palace of the Republic. As in Berlin, protests in numerous East German towns and cities are broken up by force on this and the following day.

Montagsdemonstration von oben
© Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Aram Radomski

9 October

Despite fear of military repression of the Monday Demonstration, 70,000 people take to the streets in Leipzig. The police, military and civilian forces do not intervene

11 October

The single ruling SED party calls for people to stay in the GDR, offering a “dialogue” concerning the country’s further development.


16 October

The number of people at the Monday Demonstration in Leipzig doubles. The security forces do not intervene.


18 October

Erich Honecker is forced to resign after 18 years in office. Egon Krenz is made the new secretary general of the SED. He uses the term “turn around” for the first time in his televised speech.


24 October

Krenz is also elected chairman of the State Council and the National Defence Council. 12,000 people demonstrate against his appointment in Berlin that evening.


30 October

300,000 people take part in the Leipzig Monday Demonstration


4 November

The largest demonstration in the history of the GDR takes place in Berlin.


7 November

The government of the GDR, the Council of Ministers under the leadership of Willi Stoph, collectively resigns.


8 November

The Central Committee Politburo, the highest body in the GDR, resigns. West German chancellor Helmut Kohl links economic and financial aid for the GDR to three conditions: the opposition must be legalised, free elections must take place, and the SED must renounce its claim to sole authority.


9 November

The Wall falls, prompted by a vague announcement of new travel regulations at a press conference. Tens of thousands of East Berliners rush to the checkpoints and force the border open.


17 November

Hans Modrow becomes the new prime minister of the GDR. He rejects reunification of the two German states and proposes a wide-reaching “union by treaty”.


28 November

Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl presents a 10-point plan for gradual convergence of the two German states.


4 /5 December

Demonstrators occupy Stasi buildings around the country, securing the files.


7 December

The Central Round Table convenes for its first meeting and suggests 6 May 1990 as the date of the first free People’s Chamber elections.


19 /20 December

West German chancellor Kohl and Prime Minister Modrow meet in Dresden for negotiations on a union by treaty. Crowds at a CDU rally in Dresden greet Kohl with rapturous cheers and applause.


Menschen reißen die Absperrung am Brandenburger Tor ein
More than 100,000 people cheer on as the Brandenburg Gate is reopened on December 22, 1989—28 years after the erection of the Berlin Wall. © Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Andreas Kämper

22 December

The Wall is opened at Brandenburg Gate. The first concrete section is removed from its supports at 0.30 a.m.

23 December

The offices issuing passes for the GDR in West Berlin close for good. West Germans no longer need a visa or have to change a certain amount of money to enter the East.


1990


Mauerer mauert den Eingang zu
© Matthias-Domaschk-Archiv/Rolf Walter

15 January

A demonstration by several thousand Berliners outside the Stasi headquarters in Berlin-Lichtenberg ends with an occupation. The last bastion of the SED’s power is toppled.

1 February

On his return from Moscow, Prime Minister Modrow presents his ideas on German unification under the title “Germany, United Fatherland”. In a four-stage plan, the two German states are to be merged in the form of a “German Federation”.


10 February

The West German chancellor and foreign minister visit Moscow. President Gorbachev declares that the Soviet Union will accept the Germans’ decision to live in a single state.


12 March

At its 16th and final meeting, the Central Round Table once again rejects the GDR joining the Federal Republic through a simple adoption of the West German Basic Law. They suggest that the unification process should be structured so that citizens of both states retain their right to self-determination and both states remain equal.


18 March

The “Alliance for Germany” wins the People’s Chamber elections with just under 50 percent of votes.


1 July

The currency union is complete: the West German deutschmark becomes the sole currency in the GDR.


31 August

The Unification Treaty is signed in East Berlin.


One of the last Stasi-strongholds comes to a crumble: protesters occupy the Ministry of State Security (of the GDR) headquarters in East Berlin (January 15, 1990). © Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Andreas Kämper

Sept. /Oct. 1990

By occupying the Stasi files archive, civil rights activists force the files to be opened.

3 October

Germany celebrates the “Day of German Unity”.


2 December

First Bundestag election and first election for the Berlin parliament in reunified Germany.