1900 Berlin has a population of almost 1.9 million; including the population of the 23 suburbs, a total of 2.5 million people live in the greater metropolitan area. According to a 1903 housing survey, Berlin is the world’s largest tenement city. It has a total of one million apartments, 400,000 of which have only one room; another 300,000 are two-room apartments.
1902 Berlin’s first U-Bahn (underground railway) line goes into operation between Warschauer Brücke and Knie (today’s Ernst-Reuter-Platz).
1906 A cobbler named Wilhelm Voigt dons a soldier’s uniform and, disguised as the “Captain of Köpenick," orders real soldiers to occupy the Köpenick Town Hall, arrest the mayor, and confiscate the town treasury.
1907 The department store Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) opens at Wittenbergplatz in the city’s “new west.”
1911 The Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Promotion of Science (now the Max Planck Society) is founded. In addition to the sciences, culture, business, and research flourish. Figures like Max Liebermann and Walter Leistikow (Berlin Secession 1898), Max Reinhardt, Rudolf Virchow, Adolf von Harnack, Max Planck, and Theodor Mommsen enhance Berlin’s international reputation.
1911-1912 Berlin joins with Charlottenburg, Schöneberg, Wilmersdorf, Lichtenberg, Spandau, and the Niederbarnim and Teltow districts to form Greater Berlin. The population within the city boundaries climbs to more than two million.
1914-1918 During the First World War, it becomes more and more difficult to feed the millions of people living in Berlin. Hunger and war-weariness lead to massive strikes in Berlin towards the end of the war.
1918 November 9 Wilhelm II (1859-1941), abdicates his throne as king and emperor of the German Reich. He is the last of the House of Hohenzollern to rule Germany.
1918 November 9 Revolution breaks out in Berlin: Chancellor Prince von Baden declares the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and hands over the government to Friedrich Ebert (SPD). The Social Democratic politician Philipp Scheidemann proclaims the “Free German Republic” from a balcony of the Reichstag, while Karl Liebknecht proclaims the “Free Socialist Republic of Germany” from a balcony of the Berlin Palace.
1918 November 11 The First World War comes to an end with an armistice, after Kaiser Wilhelm II is ousted and flees into exile in the Netherlands. The Social Democrat Friedrich Ebert becomes chancellor.
1918 December 30 Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and Wilhelm Pieck found the German Communist Party (KPD) in Berlin in the grand hall of the Prussian House of Representatives.
1919 January 15 The Spartacist uprising of the KPD and Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) is crushed in Berlin. Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg are arrested and murdered in the Tiergarten by Freikorps troops.
1919 February 29 A new Berlin city assembly is elected – for the first time not according to the three-class electoral system. The USPD, which had split off from the SPD in 1917, receives 47 seats, while the SPD receives 46, giving the two parties 93 seats out of a total of 144. In another first, 25 women are represented in the city parliament. Gustav Böß becomes lord mayor.
1920 March 13 Parts of the army and other military organizations attempt to stage a coup in response to orders that they disband, a requirement of the Treaty of Versailles. They declare the overthrow of the elected government and proclaim the right-wing politician Wolfgang Kapp the new chancellor. The Kapp putsch collapses on March 17 as a result of a general strike organized jointly by the SPD and KPD.
1920 October 1 The Greater Berlin Act incorporates 7 towns, 59 rural communities, and 27 estate districts into Berlin and divides the city into 20 boroughs. The city’s population is now 3.8 million, and the municipal area is now thirteen times its previous size, growing from 6,500 hectares to 878 square kilometers. Now the continent’s largest city, Berlin becomes a legendary cultural metropolis in the 1920s. Artists like Otto Dix, Lionel Feininger, Bertolt Brecht, and Arnold Zweig live and work in the city, as do the Nobel Prize winners Albert Einstein and Fritz Haber.
1921 After eight years of construction, the world’s first highway is officially opened in Grunewald as the “automobile traffic and test route (AVUS).”
1922 June 24 The German foreign minister Walter Rathenau is murdered by right-wing soldiers in front of his house. The Treaty of Rapallo he had negotiated in April initiated cooperation between the German Reich and the state that was to become the Soviet Union, officially founded on 30 December 1922.
1923 October 8 Berlin's Tempelhof Airport goes into operation.
1923 November 22 Inflation in Berlin reaches its peak. A kilo of rye bread costs 3.6 million marks and a streetcar ticket 150,000 marks.
1924 The first “Grosse Deutsche Funkausstellung,” a radio exhibition, is held at the trade fair grounds, and the foundation stone for the radio tower is laid. A speech by Albert Einstein opens the third exhibition in 1926.
1925 The city councilor for construction Martin Wagner and the architect Bruno Taut start building the “Hufeisen” (horseshoe) housing estate in Britz, conceiving of it as a new synthesis of public housing construction and “a home of one’s own.” The estate was finished in 1931 and is considered a first, outstanding example of the “new living” concept in Berlin.
1925 The population of Berlin increase to 4,024,165.
1926 February The first “Green Week” is held in Berlin.
1928 August 31 “Die Dreigroschenoper” (Threepenny Opera) premieres at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. A total of 147 daily and weekly newspapers are published in Berlin.
1928 Television is introduced to the public for the first time at the fifth “Grosse Deutsche Funkausstellung.”
1929 Berlin is hit by the Great Depression. The city sees 664 businesses go bankrupt, while 450,000 people are unemployed in February. Demonstrations and violent unrest follow; more than 30 people are killed and several hundred injured in the “bloody May” of 1929.
1929 November 17 In the elections to the city assembly, the National Socialist party (NSDAP) receives 5.8 percent of the vote and, for the first time, has 13 representatives with seats in the city’s parliament.
1932 The number of people out of work in Berlin climbs to 630,000 by December. The streets of Berlin are the scene of increasingly violent clashes between left- and right-wing groups that leave many people dead or injured. While the NSDAP experiences some losses (from 37.4 to 33.1 percent) in the Reichstag elections on November 6, it still ends up as the strongest party in parliament, just as it did in July. It receives 25.9 percent of the vote in Berlin.
1933 January 30 Adolf Hitler’s rise to power leads to the National Socialist takeover and the end of democracy in Germany and Berlin.
1933 March 14 The Prussian minister of the interior and prime minister Hermann Göring (NSDAP) designates a “state commissioner for the capital city” to assist Heinrich Sahm, the elected lord mayor; the commissioner takes over as the real authority in Berlin.
1933 March 20 All Communist members of parliament are removed; in July, the same thing happens to the Social Democrats.
1933 March 21 The first concentration camp in the Berlin area is opened just outside the city in Sachsenhausen near Oranienburg for regime opponents who have been arrested.
1933 April 1 The first organized boycotts of Jewish businesses, doctors, and lawyers take place.
1933 May 10 The National Socialists stage a book-burning on the square (now called Bebelplatz) outside the Alte Bibliothek, or Old Library, as part of a campaign against a so-called “un-German spirit.” A memorial at the site now recalls the events of that day.
1934-1935 All of the city’s elected bodies are disbanded, and the city administration is “forced into line.” More than 1,300 civil servants, one out of three salaried employees, and one out of ten wage earners are fired. In December 1935, Heinrich Sahm, now lord mayor in name only, resigns.
1935 March 22 Berlin starts the world’s first television broadcasting service.
1936 August 1-16 The XI Summer Olympics take place in Berlin from During the Games, all of the anti-Semitic placards and slogans in the city are taken down.
1937 The 700th anniversary of the founding of Berlin is marked for the first time by a huge celebration.
1938 March 12 The annexation of Austria makes Berlin the capital of what is called the “Greater German Reich.”
1938 November 9 During the pogrom known as the “Night of Broken Glass” (“Kristallnacht”), members of the SA and the SS set fire to nine of the twelve synagogues in Berlin, loot Jewish-owned shops, and terrorize Jewish citizens, arresting 1,200 of them. Most of those arrested are taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Of the 160,000 Jews living in Berlin in 1933, roughly 90,000 were able to emigrate before 1941, while more than 60,000 were killed or died in National Socialist concentration camps by the end of the war. Around 1,400 Jews survived by living in hiding with the help of Berliners, the “unsung heroes.”
1939 September 1 The Second World War starts in Berlin when Germany declares war against Poland.
1940 June 7 Shortly before the surrender of France, French fighter planes bomb Berlin in a series of desperate, but ineffectual attacks on government buildings in the Mitte borough.
1940 June 18 The British RAF begins bombing German targets in Bremen, Hamburg and other cities, and a number of German civilians are killed in the attacks.
1940 August 24-29 British RAF aircraft bomb the city of Berlin for the first time, in retaliation for the accidental bombing of London the night before when a dozen German bombers, unable to locate their targets during an unusual night attack, had scattered their bombs aimlessly on South London despite strict orders from Hitler forbidding attacks on civilian targets, especially the city of London. British bombers attacked Berlin several more times during the following week without causing major damage.
1940 September 4 Adolf Hitler issues a warning to Britain that if the RAF continues to bomb Berlin, he will have no choice but to level their cities. Although the British bombing raids on the civilian population of Berlin had caused only negligible damage and slight loss of life in the German capital, the loss of face greatly angered and embarrassed Hitler. The following day he and Goering decided to concentrate Luftwaffe air attacks on the city of London.
1942 January 20 The Wansee Conference on the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" is held at an SS villa (Interpol headquarters) in Wansee, a quiet Berlin suburb. Reinhard Heydrich, head of the SS-Sicherheitdienst, presents a plan for the mass transportation of all of Europe's Jews to concentration camps in the east, and as most historians believe, the systematic annihilation of European Jews.
Adolf Eichmann, also in attendance at the meeting, was in charge of the SS department responsible for the execution of this plan. Today the Wansee villa houses an internationally renowned holocaust memorial and educational center. Visitors can examine the documentation for themselves.
1943 February 18 Following the catastrophic defeat of the German army at Stalingrad in January, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels makes an impassioned speech stressing the necessity for what he calls “total war” at the Berlin Sportpalast. This historic building was razed in 1973.
1943 In the fall, Anglo-American forces begin large-scale bombing of Berlin. Around one million residents are evacuated up until the end of the war, and more than 50,000 die.
1944 July 20 Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg’s attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler fails, and mass arrests and summary executions follow. Stauffenberg and his closest co-conspirators are shot in the building of the army high command, the Bendlerblock (today’s German Resistance Memorial Center). Another 89 executions follow at the National Socialist prison Plötzensee. Around 2,500 death sentences overall were carried out until 1945 at this execution site (now the Plötzensee Memorial Center).
1945 April 21 The Red Army crosses the city boundaries of Berlin for the first time, and the Battle for Berlin begins.
1945 April 30 Adolf Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun commit suicide in his bunker under the chancellery building on Friedrichstrasse.
1945 May 2 The Berlin garrison capitulates, six days before the end of the Second World War in Europe. Large parts of the city are in ruins. Much of Berlin is nothing but rubble: 600,000 apartments have been destroyed, and only 2.8 million of the city’s original population of 4.3 million still live in the city.
1945 May 8 The capitulation treaty for all of Germany is signed in the presence of representatives of all the Allies on the night of May 8 in the officers’ dining hall of an army facility in the Berlin suburb of Karlshorst. In accordance with an agreement signed by the Allies, the city is divided into four sectors and administered jointly by the occupying powers, the United States of America, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.
1946-1949 Growing conflicts of interest between the victorious powers with regard to the postwar order in Europe in general and Germany in particular put an end to the Allies’ joint administration of the city. Berlin becomes a Cold War hotspot.
1946 April The unification in the Soviet occupied zone and East Berlin of the KPD and the SPD to form the Socialist Unity Party (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands – SED), pushed through by the Soviet military administration and the KPD, leads to severe conflicts between the Allies and between local party organizations.
1946 October 20 With voter turnout of 92.3 percent, Berlin elects its first city assembly since the end of the war. The SPD receives 48.7 percent of the vote, the CDU 22.2 percent, the SED 19.8 percent, and the LDP 9.3 percent.
1947 July 21 The former Prussian province of Brandenburg becomes a state.
1948 June Conflicts over currency reform, among other things, trigger a Soviet Union blockade of the western sectors from June 1948 to May 1949. The western Allies respond with the Berlin Airlift, an unprecedented operation supplying the entire city by air. The western victorious powers become protecting powers and friends. The Soviet blockade soon puts an end to the joint administration of Berlin.
1948 September 6 Increasing harassment by SED supporters forces the city assembly to begin convening its sessions in the western half of the city.
1948 September 9 Ernst Reuter gives a speech to more than 300,000 Berliners gathered in front of the ruins of the Reichtag building, appealing to the “people of the world” not to abandon “this city and its people.”
1948 November 30 A Magistrat, or city council, headed by Lord Mayor Friedrich Ebert and dominated by the SED is formed in East Berlin. The city government has now been split in two.
1948 December 4 The Free University of Berlin (Freie Universität Berlin) is founded in West Berlin in opposition to the old Friedrich Wilhelm University (known as Humboldt University starting in 1949) in the city’s eastern half.
1949 The elected city assembly and lord mayor move into temporary quarters at the town hall of the western borough of Schöneberg. This temporary arrangement was to last for more than 40 years. The difficulties caused by the blockade give rise to the first comprehensive package of financial aid measures for the isolated city, funded by an emergency levy. One visible expression of these measures is the two-pfennig “Notopfer Berlin” stamp introduced in the western occupied zones on April 1 and used until 1956 to raise money for Berlin.
1949 May 10 The Parliamentary Council names Bonn the provisional capital of the new Federal Republic of Germany, commonly called West Germany.
1949 May 12 The Soviet Union ends the blockade of Berlin’s western sectors, and the western Allies respond by dropping their economic sanctions against the Soviet occupied zone. Access to West Berlin through the Soviet occupied zone remains difficult, however. Until reunification in 1990, travel is permitted only on transit routes designated by the eastern side and via the air corridors agreed on by the Allies during the war.
1949 May 23 The Federal Republic of Germany is founded in Germany’s western sectors. Berlin retains its special status as a territory under Allied supervision. It will keep that status until reunification on 3 October 1990.
1949 October 7 When the German Democratic Republic (GDR) is founded in the Soviet sector, East Berlin becomes its capital. In the years that follow, the two halves of the city become intricately linked with the social systems of their respective state governments.
1949 October 7 The state of Brandenburg becomes part of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany).
1950 September The demolishing of the old City Palace in East Berlin starts in September with the goal of erasing a symbol of “Prussian feudalism.” It is currently scheduled to be rebuilt starting in 2006
1950 October 1 The constitution adopted already in 1948 by the elected city assembly for the entire city goes into force. The city’s division, however, restricts the constitution’s practical validity to the three western sectors (the federal state of Berlin). East Berlin remains without a constitution until 1990.
1951 January 18 The House of Representatives, which meets at the Schöneberg Town Hall, elects Ernst Reuter (SPD) the first Governing Mayor of Berlin. He remains in office until his death on 29 September 1953.
1951 August In East Berlin, the 3rd World Festival of Youth and Students takes place with 26,000 people from 104 countries in attendance. The sector’s borders are still open, and West Berlin, too, is visited by many foreign visitors and members of the Free German Youth (FDJ).
1952 January 4 A law (Gesetz über die Stellung Berlins im Finanzsystem des Bundes [Drittes Überleitungsgesetz]) passed by the West German parliament gives West Berlin a legal claim to the financial assistance needed to ensure its survival.
1952 February In East Berlin, within the framework of the “national building program for Berlin,” construction begins to transform Stalinallee (called Karl-Marx-Allee as of 1961) into “Germany’s first socialist street.” The apartment houses built in the “gingerbread style” of the Soviet Stalinist era are today classified as historical monuments and are still very much in demand as housing.
1952 March 29 The English Garden is opened by the British foreign minister Anthony Eden in West Berlin’s Tiergarten park.
1952 July 23 The state of Brandenburg is dissolved into the districts of Potsdam, Frankfurt, and Cottbus.
1953 June 16 Construction workers on East Berlin’s Stalinallee go on strike in protest against a state-mandated rise in work quotas.
1953 June 17 The strike of construction workers in East Berlin becomes an uprising that spreads to many other cities in the GDR and culminates in the demand that the SED regime be removed and free elections held in all of Germany. The uprising is brutally crushed by Soviet troops, and several hundred people are killed, more than a thousand injured, and many arrested.
1953 August 4 The West German parliament declares June 17 a national day of remembrance, the “day of German unity.”
1953 August 22 The refugee transit camp Marienfelde opens in West Berlin to take in people fleeing the GDR.
1954 The “Berliner Ensemble” headed by Bertolt Brecht moves into a theater of its own, the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in East Berlin’s Mitte borough.
1955 July 2 East Berlin’s Tierpark zoo opens at Schlosspark Friedrichsfelde.
1955 September 16 The airline “Deutsche Lufthansa der DDR” (known as Interflug after 1959) puts the Schönefeld airport, taken over from the Soviet occupying power, into operation as the GDR’s first commercial airport.
1955 November 30 The Berlin Town Hall, rebuilt after the war, is officially handed over to East Berlin’s lord mayor, Friedrich Ebert.
1956 Construction of the city expressway begins in West Berlin.
1957 The new construction in the city center in the 1950s culminates with the International Building Exhibition (Interbau) held in West Berlin. Core pieces of the exhibition are the Hansaviertel area, designed by many different international architects and in conscious opposition to the socialist housing erected along Stalinallee, and the Congress Hall (Kongresshalle) in the Tiergarten park.
1957 June 21 The hundred-thousandth apartment to be constructed in West Berlin with public funding since 1945 is officially handed over.
1957 August The restored New Guardhouse (Neue Wache), built in 1818 by Karl Friedrich Schinkel on the avenue Unter den Linden in East Berlin, reopens. From 1960 to 1990 it serves as a GDR “Memorial for the Victims of Fascism and Militarism.” Since 1993 it has been a “central memorial” of the Federal Republic of Germany.
1957 October 3 Willy Brandt (SPD) is elected Governing Mayor of Berlin in West Berlin. He holds this office until December 1966.
1958 September In one of the few joint projects to take place during the Cold War, the restoration of Brandenburg Gate, badly damaged during World War II, is concluded when the quadriga (restored in West Berlin) is returned to the top of this historic monument (located in East Berlin).
1958 November 27 Soviet party and government head Nikita Khrushchev responds to the constant stream of refugees leaving the GDR for the West via Berlin by issuing an ultimatum to the three western Allies, demanding that they withdraw from Berlin and that West Berlin be turned into a “demilitarized free city.” Khrushchev’s ultimatum is the first grave threat to West Berlin’s survival since the blockade of 1948-1949.
1959 June 18 West Germany’s president Theodor Heuss (FDP), takes Bellevue Palace (Schloss Bellevue), located in the Tiergarten park, as his official seat in Berlin.
1960 January-December In response to forced collectivization and increasingly coercive measures in the GDR, almost 200,000 GDR residents flee to West Berlin over the course of the year via the sector’s open borders.
1961 July 1-July 31 At least 30,415 GDR residents leave the country for West Berlin, the highest number in a month since 1953.
1961 July 25 U.S. president John F. Kennedy announces that the western protecting powers have three essential interests in Berlin: 1. the right of the Allies to be in Berlin, 2. their right of access to Berlin, and 3. the survival and right of self-determination of West Berlin.
1961 August 13 The GDR starts construction on a wall that runs along the sector border and seals the two parts of the city off from one another.
1961 August 19 U.S. vice-president Lyndon B. Johnson and retired general Lucius D. Clay arrive in Berlin to take a look at the GDR barricade.
1961 August 22 West Germany’s chancellor, Konrad Adenauer (CDU), visits Berlin.
1961 August 25 The first Internationale Funkausstellung, an electronics exhibition, to be held since 1939 opens at the trade fair grounds around the radio tower.
1961 December 17 The new building of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Gedächtniskirche), designed by Egon Eiermann, is consecrated in Charlottenburg by Bishop Otto Dibelius.
1962 The city center of East Berlin, as the capital of the GDR, is outfitted with large representative buildings around Alexanderplatz and Marx-Engels-Platz. Large housing estates are built in West Berlin on the city outskirts until the end of the 1970s. Construction on Gropiusstadt also begins in 1962 and on Märkisches Viertel and Falkenhagener Feld in 1963.
Alexanderplatz is given the “Haus des Lehrers” (House of the Teacher) and the Kongresshalle (Congress Hall) in 1964, the “Haus der Elektroindustrie” (House of the Electronics Industry) in 1969, the department store Centrum-Warenhaus (today’s “Kaufhof”) and the hotel “Stadt Berlin” (today’s “Park Inn”) in 1970, and the “Haus des Reisens” (House of Travel) in 1971, while the Staatsratsgebäude, a government building (today’s European School of Management and Technology), is completed at Marx-Engels-Platz in 1964, the foreign office in 1967 (torn down in 1995), and the television tower in 1969. Apartment houses are also built during these years on Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse and at the Rathauspassagen (1968-1972), as well as on Karl-Marx-Allee as far as Strausberger Platz (1959-1965).
1963 January 17 Soviet party and government head Nikita Khrushchev visits East Berlin.
1963 June 26 U.S. president John F. Kennedy visits the city on and in his famous speech in front of the Schöneberg Town Hall assures the people of Berlin of his solidarity with them.
1963 December 17 The signing of the first entry permit agreement allows West Berliners to visit relatives in the eastern part of the city and is valid for the period from 19 December 1963 to 5 January 1964. More than 1.2 million West Berliners take advantage of this opportunity to visit family. Further agreements follow in 1964,1965, and 1966.
1965 April 7 The German Bundestag holds a plenary session in Berlin’s Congress Hall (Kongresshalle). In protest against this “unlawful” involvement of West Berlin in the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany, the GDR issues an order forbidding Bundestag members to use its transit routes to Berlin. Soviet military aircraft disrupt the session with low flights over the Congress Hall and the sonic boom of supersonic planes.
1965 May 2 The Europa Center opens at Breitscheidplatz in Charlottenburg.
1966 December 1 Willy Brandt resigns as governing mayor and assumes the office of deputy chancellor and foreign minister under Chancellor Kurt-Georg Kiesinger.
1967 January 1 The GDR’s first industrial collective, VEB Kabelwerke Oberspree (KWO), is established in the East Berlin industrial area of Oberschöneweide.
1967 June 2 The Berlin student Benno Ohnesorg is shot by a policeman during a student protest against the visit of the Shah of Iran to West Berlin. His death and the clashes that followed focus public attention on the student movement in Berlin. A commemorative relief can be seen today at the Deutsche Oper opera house.
With their opposition to the universities’ outdated traditions and hierarchies, the paralysis of the grand coalition government, and the injustice of a global order based on oppressing and exploiting the Third World, this movement becomes the nucleus of the later ausserparlamentarische Opposition (APO), a left-wing movement dedicated to promoting opposition to the government from outside the parliament.
1967 October 2 The streetcar era comes to an end (for the time being) in West Berlin when Line 55 between Charlottenburg and Spandau is shut down. Streetcars remain in service in East Berlin until reunification: afterwards, some lines are extended back into western boroughs.
1968 April 11 The attempt to assassinate the Berlin student leader Rudi Dutschke on the avenue Kurfürstendamm marks another dramatic climax in the conflicts surrounding the student movement in Berlin.
1968 July 20 On the 24th anniversary of the failed attempt to overthrow Adolf Hitler, 20 July 1944, the Stauffenbergstrasse Memorial and Educational Center (today the German Resistance Memorial Center) is opened at the Bendlerblock. Later that same year. the New National Gallery (Neue Nationalgalerie), designed by Mies van der Rohe, opens at the Kulturforum in West Berlin.
1969 February 27 U.S. president Richard Nixon visits West Berlin.
1969 October 2 The world clock at Alexanderplatz goes into operation.
1969 October 21 Willy Brandt (SPD) is elected chancellor and indicates his interest in pursuing negotiations between the two German states.
1969 December 16 The western Allies propose talks to the Soviet Union aimed at solving problems related to Berlin.
1970 January Construction on 11- to 25-story apartment houses on Leipziger Strasse in East Berlin’s Mitte borough begins.
1970 March 26 Negotiations over Berlin between the four former Allies, the Second World War’s victorious powers, begin in the building of the Allied Control Council in West Berlin.
1970 April 19 A 19-meter-high Lenin monument is unveiled at Leninplatz (known as Platz der Vereinten Nationen starting in 1992) in the East Berlin borough of Friedrichshain. It is dismantled in 1991.
1971 January 31 Ten direct telephones lines are reconnected between West and East Berlin for the first time since 1952.
1971 June 3 Negotiations on “issues of interest to both sides” begin between the Berlin Senate and the GDR government.
1971 September 3 The ambassadors of the four victorious powers sign the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin in the building of the Allied Control Council in West Berlin. It clarifies the ties between Berlin and the Federal Republic of Germany, thereby facilitating a number of practical arrangements benefiting the people of the city. It goes into force on 3 June 1972, along with subsequent agreements on transit traffic and travel and visitor possibilities.
1971 September 3 The initialing of the Berlin agreement makes possible a number of practical arrangements benefiting the people.
1971 December 17 The Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR sign a transit agreement improving the flow of traffic on the access routes to West Berlin.
1971 December 20 The Berlin Senate and the GDR government sign an “arrangement concerning the facilitation and improvement of travel and visitor traffic” and an “arrangement on the regulation of the enclaves question by exchange of territory.”
1972 June 3 In Berlin, the four foreign ministers sign the Final Quadripartite Protocol to the Berlin agreement of 1971, which also puts the subsequent agreements into force. Half a year later, the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR conclude the Basic Treaty. West Berlin becomes part of the détente process.
1974 November 1 Tegel Airport opens in West Berlin.
1975 On the basis of an agreement between the GDR federation of Protestant churches and the GDR government, reconstruction work begins on the Berlin Cathedral, heavily damaged by the war, located on the Spree island in East Berlin’s Mitte borough (completed in 1993).
1976 Work on the largest apartment-construction project in the history of the GDR begins in the spring in Marzahn, an area in East Berlin. By 1990, 62,000 apartments will have been built in pre-fabricated high-rises.
1976 April 23 The Palace of the Republic (Palast der Republik) is opened on the grounds of the former City Palace in East Berlin’s Mitte borough. Starting in 1990, the building remains empty for years until the work of demolishing it begins in 2006. It is making way for the construction of a building that will be a replica of the City Palace torn down by the Soviets in 1950.
1978 December 15 The State Library (Staatsbibliothek), designed by Hans Scharoun, opens near the Kulturforum in West Berlin.
1979 January With the new Marzahn development at its center, the borough of Marzahn is established as the first of three new boroughs in East Berlin, followed by Hohenschönhausen (1985) and Hellersdorf (1986).
1979 April 2 The International Congress Center (ICC) opens at the trade fair grounds in West Berlin.
1980 Construction begins in Hellersdorf, an area in East Berlin, on another new housing estate for 90,000 residents.
1982 November 20 The new transit highway to Hamburg is officially opened.
1984 January 9 West Berlin’s public transportation company BVG takes over the operation of the S-Bahn suburban railway in West Berlin from the GDR’s Reichsbahn.
1984 February 8 The GDR’s party and government head lays the foundation stone for the new development area in East Berlin’s Hohenschönhausen. By 1990, 30,000 apartments housing 100,000 people will have been built there.
1984 October 1 The reconstructed Schauspielhaus theater, originally designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and badly damaged during World War II, reopens at Platz der Akademie in East Berlin’s Mitte borough (now known as Konzerthaus Berlin am Gendarmenmarkt).
1985 April-October The 18th Bundesgartenschau horticultural exhibition takes place in the West Berlin borough of Neukölln at what is today the BUGA Park in Britz.
1986 April 4 The Marx-Engels Forum is officially opened in the heart of East Berlin.
1986 April 5 A terrorist bomb explodes at the West Berlin disco “La Belle” killing two people and injuring 193 others.
1987 All attempts to hold a joint celebration of the 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin fail, and the two halves of the city each pay tribute to the anniversary with events of their own.
1987 Construction highlights in East Berlin include the inauguration of the reconstructed Nikolaiviertel, rebuilt around the oldest church in Berlin’s city center in a style reminiscent of the area’s historic past, and the reconstruction of Husemannstrasse in the Prenzlauer Berg borough in the style of the 19th century.
1987 The International Building Exhibition takes place in West Berlin. Under the heading of “The inner city as a residential area,” it explores issues like “careful urban renewal” in Kreuzberg and “critical reconstruction” in new development, as with the construction of townhouses and energy-efficient housing in the Tiergarten borough.
1987 June 12 U.S. president Ronald Reagan gives his famous speech at Brandenburg Gate: “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
1988 January 17 More than a hundred members of independent peace and human rights groups are arrested in connection with the annual state-sponsored demonstration in East Berlin on the anniversary of the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.
1988 February 11 West Berlin’s governing mayor Eberhard Diepgen (from the conservative CDU) meets with GDR head of government Erich Honecker at East Berlin’s Schloss Niederschönhausen. They discuss easing restrictions on travel and visitor traffic, the exchange of emissions data, territorial exchanges, opening additional border crossing points, and railway traffic.
1988 November 10 The symbolic laying of the foundation stone for the reconstruction of the New Synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse in East Berlin’s Mitte borough takes place.
1989 The growing GDR people’s movement, with its calls for reforms in the GDR along the line of the Soviet Union’s “glasnost” and “perestroika,” puts the GDR leadership increasingly on the defensive.
1989 October 6 More than 2,500 people gathered in East Berlin’s Church of the Redeemer (Erlöserkirche) approve a joint declaration drafted by various groups connected to the organization New Forum (Neues Forum) that calls for, among other things, free elections in the GDR.
1989 October 7 The GDR celebrates the 40th anniversary of its founding in East Berlin. Guests include the Soviet Union’s party and government head Michail Gorbachev, who makes the famous remark “Life punishes those who come too late.” Demonstrations on the street from Alexanderplatz to the Palace of the Republic and the Gethsemane Church in Prenzlauer Berg call for freedom of speech and reforms in the GDR. In the evening, security forces break up the demonstrations by force, arresting many of the demonstrators.
1989 October 18 At the 9th meeting of the SED Central Committee, Erich Honecker resigns as SED general secretary, head of the GDR Council of State, and head of the National Security Council “for health reasons.” He is succeeded by Egon Krenz.
1989 November 4 More than 500,000 East Berliners gather at Alexanderplatz for a demonstration, demanding that the nominal rights to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly be honored. The SED leadership promises that restrictions on travel to the West will be eased.
1989 November 9 The conflicts over the new travel regulations escalate to the point that the GDR gives way to public pressure and opens the Wall in Berlin and along the German-German border. The Berlin Wall has fallen.
1990 March 18 The first and only free elections to the East German parliament are held on March 18, followed in May by the first free elections to the East Berlin city assembly since 1946.
1990 September 12 The Second World War’s victorious powers and the two German states sign the “Two Plus Four” Treaty in Moscow, arranging for unification under international law. Germany is given full sovereignty, and Berlin’s Four-Power status expires.
1990 October 3 The unification of Germany enters into force with a state ceremony in Berlin, after which the Berlin House of Representatives and the German Bundestag hold new elections. Brandenburg is reconstituted as a state of the Federal Republic of Germany.
1991 January 11 The House of Representatives elects the first Senate responsible for governing all of Berlin.
1991 June 20 The German Bundestag in Bonn decides to move the seat of the German government and parliament to Berlin, Germany’s new capital. That same year, Berlin’s governing mayor and Senate Chancellery move from Schöneberg Town Hall to the Berlin Town Hall (“Red Town Hall”) in the Mitte borough.
1993 The House of Representatives, Berlin’s state parliament, moves its seat to the same building once occupied by the Prussian State Parliament.
1994 Summer American, British, French, and Russian troops bid farewell to the people of Berlin with ceremonies and parades.
1994 September 8 The German armed forces perform a Grand Tattoo (“Grosser Zapfenstreich”) at Pariser Platz in honor of the former protecting powers.
1995 April 19 The German Bundestag holds its first session in the newly redesigned Reichstag building. Parliamentary and ministry staff start working in new or remodeled office buildings in Berlin, and the Bundesrat also moves from Bonn to Berlin. Many countries move their embassies to Berlin, while the individual German states, the Länder, open offices that will represent them in the capital.
1995 October 22 Berlin’s new constitution is approved with 75.1 percent of the votes cast in a referendum. It is in large part a continuation of the constitution adopted in 1950, with some important new elements: actionable fundamental rights are reinforced and new state goals (such as the right to employment, education, and adequate housing) are added.
It also gives constitutional status to environmental conservation and the protection of privacy. Instruments of direct democracy like popular initiatives, petitions, and referendums enhance citizens’ rights to participation in the political process. Berlin’s constitutional court monitors compliance with the constitution.
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