UCSB Hist 133C, Winter 2006
Germany since 1945

Prof. Marcuse
HSSB 4221, marcuse@history.ucsb.edu
Office hours: M & T 1-2pm

Events leading up to the "Turn" (Wende) in East Germany
(pdf for printing)(accompanies 133c L20-23, 24-26)(links to other timelines)


3 May

Erich Honecker (b. 1912) succeeds Walter Ulbricht (b. 1893) as First Secretary of the SED



Honecker recognizes the Lutheran Church of East Germany as an independent organization


11 Mar.

Election of Gorbachev as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union


8 June:

[for example:] GDR parliamentary elections: 99.74% turnout, 99.94% for National Front parties.


7 June:

GDR police clash with youths wanting to hear rock concert near wall


9 June:

3000 demonstrate in E. Berlin for demolition of wall, in support of Gorbatchev.


12 June:

US Pres. Reagan speaks at the Berlin Wall: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
[see LATimes 11/11/04 editorial & letters on Reagan's role in the fall of the wall]


7 Sept:

Honecker in West Germany, agreement to promote exchange of experts


12 Oct:

Broad amnesty in E. Germany: 24,612 prisoners released; 1 Nov. easing of import restrictions


17 Jan:

100 arrested during official commemoration of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht's murders; members of E. Berlin Church of Zion protest restrictions on speech and travel.



Sputnik, popular Soviet news magazine, banned in GDR


15 Jan:

80 arrested at demonstration during Lux-Lieb. anniversary commemoration. RL 1918: "Freedom is always the freedom of those with dissenting opinions." vs. GDR: "Freedom is the insight into necessity"


2 May:

Hungary begins demolition of fences at Austrian border


17 May:

98.85% reported voting for National Front candidates at local elections.
Widespread allegations of fraud by opposition and church leaders monitoring elections.


5 June:

Neues Deutschland (SED newspaper) defends 3 June massacre at Tiananmen Square in China


15 July:

First reports of GDR citizens taking refuge in W. German embassies in Budapest, Prague, E. Berlin


13 Aug:

W. German embassy in Budapest closed (181 sought sanctuary)(130 emigrés in E.Berlin, 8 Aug.)


19 Aug:

During pan-European scientific conference in Hungary ca. 100 GDR citizens cross to Austria


26 Aug:

Initiative for Social-Democratic Organization started at human rights seminar


4 Sept:

Hundreds demonstrate in Leipzig (periphery vs. center) for freedom of travel


7 Sept:

80 arrested in East Berlin in demonstration against election fraud


10 Sept:

First call for public reforms by New Forum


11 Sept:

Hungary voids agreement with GDR to enforce visa restrictions of GDR citizens; in 3 days ca. 15,000 GDR citizens cross to West; New Forum "founded" (Havemann, Bohley, Reich)


18 Sept:

100 people arrested at Leipzig Monday demonstration


24 Sept:

80 representatives of various reform groups meet in Leipzig

25 Sept:

ca. 8,000 demonstrate in Leipzig (for legalization of New Forum, freedom to travel); 12 arrests


2 Oct:

Police break up Leipzig demonstration of 10,000-25,000 persons; 3 Oct: visas for refugees in Prague


4 Oct:

Train on way to W. Germany with 10,000 GDR emigres from Prague stormed by Dresden residents


7 Oct:

Gorbachev arrives in E. Berlin for 40th anniversary celebration, suggests change.
"Danger threatens only those who can't react to life's challenges." Mass arrests to suppress mass protests.


9 Oct:

ca. 50,000 demonstrate in Leipzig, police do not intervene (Honecker vs. Masur or Krenz?)
web bonus: 2002 sermon giving some background and narrative about the Nikolai Church


16 Oct:

over 100,000 demonstrate in Leipzig, 10,000 in Dresden, 3,000 in Berlin. Police do nothing


18 Oct:

Erich Honecker is relieved of all of his offices


23 Oct

250,000 demonstrate in Leipzig


24 Oct:

Egon Krenz succeeds Honecker, meets w/ New Forum leaders on 26 Oct.


27 Oct:

Travel to Czechoslovakia w/o visa possible again (prohibited since 3 Oct.)


30 Oct

500,000 demonstrate in Leipzig, 80,000 in provincial capital Schwerin (for example)


1 Nov:

Krenz in Moscow, says unification of two Germanies is not "on the agenda of history"


4 Nov:

Demonstration of 750,000-1 million people in Berlin organized by Union of Artists; for freedom of expression, travel, association, and free elections. Criticism of SED; Stefan Heym, Christa Wolf


6 Nov

500,000 demonstrate in Leipzig; aged politburo resigns (Hager/Ideology is 77; Mielke/Stasi is 81)

9 Nov:

Border to W. Berlin is opened, tens of thousands cross (role of media: Schabowski vs. Brokaw)


20 Nov:

Demonstrations in many cities against leading role of SED, Krenz meets with W. German officials


28 Nov:

Kohl releases 10-point plan for new all-German structure, a "confederation leading to a federation"


3 Dec:

Party Central Committee, Politburo, General Secretary Krenz resigns


7 Dec:

Gov't and opposition parties meet at Round Table; demand dissolution of Stasi, elections in May


8 Dec:

Extraordinary SED Congress elects Gregor Gysi chair, Modrow and Berghofer vice-chairmen.


19 Dec:

Kohl in Dresden, agrees with Modrow to form a "contractual community"
"We are the people"-> "We are one people/nation" ["Wir sind das Volk" -> "Wir sind ein Volk"]

31 Dec:

New Year's celebration at Brandenburg Gate: now primarily demand for unification

Web Bonus: Links (back to top)

  • detailed timeline (in German) at zeitgeschichte.de, a site by the Berlin-Brandenburg Bildungswerk, e.V.
  • amazing timeline (in German) with scads of originals texts, unfortunately only of official documents, at 2plus4.de; their USA documents has lots of primary materials in English

page by H. Marcuse, prepared for web March 1, 2004, updated 3/14/06, 12/9/08
back to top, to UCSB Hist 133c homepage, accompanies lectures 20-23, 24-26