history - Timeline of Berlin: 1871 - Present

1/18/1871 Founding of the German Kaiserreich (“Empire”) by Kaiser (“Emperor”) Wilhelm I in Versailles; Berlin, with approximately 800,000 inhabitants, becomes the capitol of the new empire; France’s war reparation payments facilitates an economic boom.
1/1/1876 Introduction of the German “Mark” as currency by the new Reichsbank
1878 Two assassination attempts on Wilhelm I’s life; the so-called “Socialist Law” is passed, whereby the social-democrats are condemned as propagators of social unrest; Chancellor Bismarck passes resolutions regarding a new order in the Balkans
1882 Berlin Stadtbahn (“city transit”) opens
1888 Wilhelm I and his successor, Friedrich III, die; Wilhelm II becomes Kaiser
1890 Chancellor Otto von Bismarck is dismissed by Wilhelm II; “Socialist Law” is repealed; beginning of Wilhelminismus (“Wilhelminianism”), a conservative, nationalist political and social period under the leadership of Kaiser Wilhelm II
1905 Berlin’s population reaches 2 million
7/28/1914 WWI begins when Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia
2/23/1915 Berlin is first German city to issue bread-ration cards
5/28/1915 Approximately 2000 women protest the war in front of the Reichstag
3/1916 Food supply shortages affect many Berliners; full-scale rationing begins
12/1917 150,000+ Berliners forced to rely on food assistance from the government during the winter (Steck-/Kohlrübenwinter or “Turnip Winter”) especially thru soup kitchens; massive worker strikes take place
11/9/1918 Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicates; parliamentary democracy model of government proposed by Philipp Scheidemann; November Revolution
11/11/1918 Armistice ending WWI signed
12/1918 Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and members of the Spartakusbund (“Spartacist League”) form the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands or KPD (“Communist Party of Germany”)
1/5-12/1919 Communist "Spartacus" uprising in Berlin: Workers went on strike and participated in armed fighting on the streets of Berlin; suppressed by the Freikorps under direction of Weimar Chancellor Friedrich Ebert; Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were captured and executed on January 15 for advocating the overthrow of Ebert and his government
5/7/1919 Terms of the Treaty of Versailles presented to German delegation
6/28/1919 German Foreign Minister Hermann Müller and Transport Minister Johannes Bell sign the Treaty of Versailles after Chancellor Scheidemann and Paul von Hindenburg, head of the army, resign instead of signing it
1919 General political unrest; recently elected Reichstag (“congress” or “parliament”) representatives move to Weimar (hence “Weimar Republic”)
1/10/1920 League of Nations ratifies the Treaty of Versailles
3/1920 Kapp-Putsch (“Kapp Coup”): Wolfgang Kapp, leader of the Deutsche Vaterlands-Partei (“German Fatherland Party”), attempts to seize the government in Berlin but fails
10/1/1920 Berlin is organized into 20 districts with 878 sq. km and 3.8 million inhabitants, making it the 3rd largest city in Europe (after London and Paris) by way of the Groß-Berlin-Gesetz (“Greater Berlin Act”)
6/24/1922 Walter Rathenau, Foreign Minister of the Weimar Republic and strongly criticized for his position on the Treaty of Versailles, is assassinated by right-wing army officers
11/20/1923 Highest inflation of the Mark is reached: 1 billion “Papiermark” = 1 “Rentenmark”
1932 Highest point of the economic crisis with 636,000 unemployed
1/30/1933 Adolf Hitler is named Chancellor
2/27-28/1933 Reichstag building is set on fire
3/10/1933 Parliament passes the Ermächtigungsgesetz (“Enabling Act”) in an attempt to give Hitler the power to counter the perceived “Bolshevistic” threat to the country, but which effectively transfers governing powers to Hitler’s regime (i.e. Hitler himself)
3/21/1933 Establishment of the first concentration camp in Oranienburg- Sachsenhausen, north of Berlin; political prisoners are first to be interned there
4/1/1933 Appeals made for the boycott of Jewish businesses through Reich’s Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels; Jews released from civil service jobs and forced to surrender property
5/10/1933 Book burning by members of the Sturmabteilung (“SA” or so-called “Storm Troopers”) at the Opernplatz next to the Friedrich-Wilhelms- University (now Humboldt University) on Unter-den-Linden-Straße in Berlin-Mitte; ca. 20,000 books classified as authored by “degenerate” writers were burned
6/30/1934 Nacht der langen Messer (“Night of Long Knives”; aka. Kolibri [„Operation Hummingbird“]): an operation carried out by the Schutzstaffel (“SS”) and the Geheime Staatspolizei (“Gestapo”) to rid Hitler of SA elements and its leader Ernst Röhm – as well as other political targets – as a means to solidify his political position and power
8/4/1934 Two days after President Paul von Hindenburg’s death, Hitler consolidated the Office of the President with the Chancellorship and declared himself Chancellor and Führer (“Leader”)
8/1/1936 Opening of the XI Olympic Summer Games in Berlin, which were used by Hitler as a means to garner international sympathy for the Third Reich
11/9-10/1938 Reichskristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”): a pogrom against the Jews in Germany organized by Goebbels in which many synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses were burned down, and many Jews were killed and arrested
9/1/1939 The Wehrmacht (German Army) invades Poland which starts WWII
10/18/1941 Mass deportations of Berlin Jews to concentration and “work” (death) camps begins
1/20/1942 Wannsee Conference (takes place at a villa in Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin): the “Endlösung der Judenfrage” (“Final Solution of the Jewish Question”) is organized by Richard Heydrich, Adolf Eichmann and other top military and government leaders; the plans were thereby set in motion for the extermination of the Jews in Europe
2/2/1943 Battle of Stalingrad ends in German surrender amidst heavy casualties; marks the turning point in the war on the eastern front
2/18/1943 Goebbels calls for “total war” in his speech given at the Berlin Sportpalast (“Sports Palace”); the speech acknowledged publicly for first time that Germany’s situation was becoming desperate, and it called for defending Europe against the “Bolshevist threat”
7/20/1944 Attempted assassination of Hitler led by group of high-ranking military officers in an attempt to bring an end to the war
10/18/1944 Hitler establishes the Volksturm (“People’s Storm”), a last defense measure which required women to serve and extended the draft for males to ages 16-60
4/30/1945 Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin, followed by Goebbels on May 1, 1945
5/2/1945 Capitulation of Berlin
5/8/1945 Unconditional surrender of Germany at Berlin-Karlshorst; Berlin is divided among the four Allies: USA (Zehlendorf, Steglitz, Wilmersdorf, Schöneberg, Tempelhof, Neukölln), France (Reinickendorf, Wedding), UK (Spandau Charlottenburg, Tiergarten, Kreuzberg) and USSR (Mitte, Friedrichshain, Lichtenberg, Prenzlauer Berg, Pankow, Weißensee, Treptow, Köpenick)
4/22/46 Forced consolidation of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands or SPD (“Social Democratic Party of Germany”) and the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands or KPD (“Communist Party of Germany”) to create the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands or SED (“Socialist Unity Party of Germany”) in the Soviet sector
10/20/1946 Berlin elections result in the SPD as most powerful party with 48.7% of the vote, whereas the SED receives only about 20% of the vote
6/20/1948 Currency Reform initiated in the three West-Allied occupation zones (introduction of the Deutsche Mark or DM)
6/24/1948 In response, Soviets blockade land and water routes to the western sectors of Berlin
6/26/1948 Luftbrücke (“Air Bridge”): under orders of General Lucius D. Clay (military governor of the American sector of Berlin), western sectors of the city are provided with food and supplies via numerous flights
9/9/1948 300,000 citizens of Berlin protest in front of the ruins of the Reichstag building; Ernst Reuter calls for the world to witness what is happening in Berlin
11/30/1948 Political division of Berlin via a magistrate's proclamation at a SED meeting
12/4/1948 Inaccessibility of the Humboldt University leads to founding of the Freie Universität-Berlin (“Free University”) in Dahlem-Dorf (Berlin-Steglitz) in West Berlin
5/12/1949 Soviet blockade of West Berlin is lifted; 278,228 flights had supplied the western sectors with 2,326,406 tons of provisions
5/23/1949 Constitution of the Bundesrepublik Deutschlands or BRD (“Federal Republic of Germany” or “FRG”) announced in Bonn
10/7/1949 Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR (“German Democratic Republic” or “GDR”) established; East Berlin named the capitol
5/27/1952 Telephone connections between East and West Berlin are severed by the GDR; West Berliners denied the right to travel in GDR excepting East Berlin
6/17/1953 Revolt in East Berlin: more than 250 demonstrators and 100 policemen killed; roughly 5,000 arrested; caused initially by increased work quotas without extra compensation; June 17 declared a holiday in the FRG in remembrance for those who challenged the legitimacy of the GDR
6/15/1961 SED leader Walter Ulbricht denies the plans to build a wall around Berlin
8/13/1961 Building of the Berlin Wall begins; GDR claims it to be a means of “fascist” containment
8/17/1961 Peter Fechter shot to death while attempting to cross over into Kreuzberg
6/26/1963 US President John F. Kennedy visits West Berlin, indicating American steadfastness on keeping West Berlin; famous quote “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
7/1/1965 Over 10,000 students protest the education crisis in West Berlin
6/2/1967 Student protest in front of Rathaus Schöneberg leads to the death of one student (Benno Ohnesorg), triggering violent actions by the Außerparlamentarische Opposition or APO (“Extraparliamentary Opposition”) in Berlin and West Germany after the acquittal of the officer who killed him
2/17-18/1968 Massive demonstrations against the US-led Vietnam War
4/11/1968 Attempted assassination of APO spokesman Rudi Dutschke by right-wing fanatical Josef Bachmann; Springer media concern blamed for the deed; protests against Springer concern into May 1968
10/3/1969 GDR finishes construction of the tallest building in all of Germany at Alexanderplatz – the Fernsehturm (“Television Tower”) – as a prestigious demonstration of technical prestige in the East
9/3/1971 Signing of the Four Power Agreement on Berlin in which a status quo for living conditions (etc.) was formalized and intentions of non-violence or "détente" were decreed; ratified on June 2, 1972
12/11/1971 Transit restrictions defined as part of phasing-out of East-West commuting
7/25/1974 National Environmental office of the FRG opened in Dahlem
4/23/1976 Dedication of the Palast der Republik (“Palace of the Republic”) in East Berlin along the Spree River on the site of the old Berliner Stadtschloss
1979 Creation of a new district in East Berlin: Marzahn
1/9/1984 West-Berliner S-Bahn travels from the GDR Deutschen Reichsbahn to West-Berlin
1987 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin
10/28/1987 In conjunction with the 750th anniversary, the Deutsches Historisches Musuem (“German History Museum”) is opened in the Reichstagsgebäude in East Berlin
1988 Berlin named the Kulturstadt Europas (“Cultural City of Europe”)
1/19/1988 Democratic-socialist critics of the GDR hold an “alternative” celebration at the grave of Rosa Luxemburg in East Berlin, resulting in an opposition group striving for reforms similar to those instituted in the USSR under the rubric of “Perestroika”
5-6/1989 Increased protests after the discovery of manipulated election results; further denials for liberal reform in the GDR
Summer 1989 Vacation passes to Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia used by East Berliners to escape to the West
10/7/1989 40th Anniversary of the GDR
10/18/1989 Erich Honecker steps down as Chairman of Council of State and General Secretary of the SED in the GDR and is replaced by Egon Krenz
11/4/1989 Demonstration of approximately 1,000,000 East Germans at Alexanderplatz seeking reforms in the GDR
11/9/1989 East Berlin Communist Party District Secretary Schabowski, while speaking at a press conference, announces – mistakenly – that all East German citizens are allowed to travel outside of the GDR effective immediately; this leads to tens of thousands citizens crowding around border checkpoints and the opening of the Berlin Wall around 11:30 PM, followed by parts of the Wall being torn down
11/10/1989 Over 600,000 GDR citizens cross over into West Berlin; the fall of the Berlin Wall occurs without any shots fired, although a plan to occupy West Berlin and stop the flood of East Germans there (Operation Zentrum or “Operation Center”), to be carried out by GDR troops, is formulated
11/11/1989 “Operation Center” as a means to stop East-West defections is cancelled
12/1989 SED is renamed the Partei des demokratischen Sozialismus or PDS (“Party of Democratic Socialism”); Hans Modrow is named Chairman of the Council of Ministers for the GDR
10/3/1990 GDR and FRG are reunited under the auspices of the West German constitution; East- and West Berlin are reunified as the new capitol Berlin
11/14/1990 Räumung der Mainzer Straße (“Clearing of Mainzer Street”) – ca. 4000 police officers storm 12 buildings taken over by squatters despite being targeted by rocks and Molotov cocktails; 10,000 protesters gather the following evening
6/21/1991 Official seat of government relocated to Berlin
7/29/1992 Erich Honecker is arrested and charged with crimes committed as Chairman of Council of State and General Secretary of the SED of the GDR
11/8/1992 About 350,000 demonstrators take to the streets of Berlin to demonstrate against animosity towards foreigners
1/13/1993 Erich Honecker is released from custody after court decides to stop proceedings out of humanitarian reasons
11/14/1993 Dedication of the Neue Wache (“New Guard”) in Berlin-Mitte as the Central Monument of the Bundesrepublik (“Federal Republic”); the history of the Neue Wache leads to an extended debate on memory and representation of victims and perpetrators
3/17/1994 The Unabhängige Kommission zur Umbenennung von Strassen (Independent Commission for the Renaming of Streets) publishes their report recommending the renaming of East Berlin streets named after Communists
8/31/1994 Russian troops complete their total withdrawal from Berlin
9/8/1994 The last Allied troops are withdrawn from Berlin after 49-year presence
5/8/1995 Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII celebrated at the Konzerthaus (“Concert House”) at Gendarmen Markt in Berlin-Mitte
6/23/1995 Unveiling of the new Reichstag designed by Christo and Jeanne-Claude
7/13/1996 First annual Berlin “Love Parade”: a techno-/house-/acid music festival; more than 750,000 visitors flock to Berlin for the festivities
9/7/1999 Bundestag (lower house of German Parliament) makes Berlin its official seat
9/29/2000 Bundesrat (upper house of German Parliament) officially moves to Berlin
6/16/2000 Berlin Bank scandal results in the removal of Mayor Eberhard Diepgen from office
5/10/2005 Unveiling of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin-Mitte
11/22/2005 Angela Merkel becomes first woman Chancellor of Germany