Germany: Divided and reunited

Click to follow
The Independent Online

* 1949, May: Konrad Adenauer becomes Germany's first post-war chancellor, of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), a new state with a new constitution, the Grundgesetz. He will remain in his seat until 1963.

* 1961, 13 August: The government of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) erects the Berlin Wall overnight. It becomes a symbol for the Cold War. About 190 people will die at the wall over the next 28 years, most of them East Berliners desperate to escape to the West.

* 1963: US President John F Kennedy makes his ground-breaking speech in West Berlin, offering solidarity to the people in West Germany. "Two thousand years ago the proudest boast in the world was 'civis Romanus sum'. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner'. "

* 1969: Willy Brandt becomes the first Social Democrat (SPD) chancellor of the post-war era after the 1969 elections when the SPD left the "grand coalition" in favour of an alliance with a smaller party, the FDP. Brandt wins the 1971 Nobel Peace Prize for his policy of rapprochement with Communist East Germany and the Soviet bloc, known as Ostpolitik.

* 1974: Brandt resigns after one of his aides is exposed as an East German spy. Helmut Schmidt, also a Social Democrat, becomes chancellor. He will be replaced by Helmut Kohl in a renewal of the CDU/FDP coalition.

* 1989: As Hungary opens its borders with Austria, many East Germans escape. Mass demonstrations in the East follow, which lead to the resignation of its leader, Erich Honecker, who ordered the building of the Berlin Wall.

* 1989, 9 November: A momentous day. The Berlin Wall, for decades an almost insurmountable barrier between East and West, is pulled down. Communist rulers give permission for gates to open; thousands of jubilant East Germans cross over the border so long forbidden to them.

* 1990, 3 October: The former GDR is incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany.

* 1998: After 16 years under the reign of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the Social Democrat, Gerhard Schröder, takes over.