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German History Timeline

Basic German History Timeline 

  • 1701-1890
  • 1701 — The elector Frederick III of Brandenburg crowned himself King Frederick I of Prussia in Koenigsberg
  • 1717 — Introduction of general compulsory education in Prussia
  • 1740-1742 — First Silesian War between Prussia and Austria
  • 1744-1745 — Second Silesian War
  • 1756-1763 — The Seven-Year War (Prussia against Austria, France, Russia, Sweden and most of the imperial electors). The peace of Hubertusburg (1763) established the Dualism of Prussia and Austria
  • 1792 — Beginning of the war against revolutionary France
  • 1803 — Redistribution of Germany
  • 1806 — Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation
  • 1807 — Peace of Tilsit between France and Prussia
  • Beginning of the Stein-Hardenberg reforms in Prussia
  • 1813-1815 — Liberation wars against Napoleonic France
  • 1815 — Founding of the German Confederation
  • Holy Alliance between Russia, Austria and Prussia to suppress liberal movements
  • 1834 — Founding of the German Customs Union
  • 1835 — First German railway between Nuremberg and Furth
  • 1848 — Revolution in Germany;
  • Frankfurt National Assembly
  • Dissolution of the Prussian National Assembly
  • granting of a constitution
  • 1849 — Campaign for a constitution for the Reich
  • Uprisings in Saxony, Breslau and Baden are violently repressed
  • Three Kings' Alliance between Prussia, Saxony and Hanover;
  • Passing of the 'Erfurt Reich Constitution' based on the Prussian policy of union
  • 1850 — Implementation of the Prussian Constitution
  • Introduction of the three-class electoral system in Prussia
  • 1861 — Founding of the German Progress Party
  • Death of Frederick William IV
  • accession to the throne of William I
  • 1862 — Bismarck became Prime Minister of Prussia
  • 1863 — Founding of the General German Workers Association (predecessor of Social Democracy) in Leipzig under the leadership of Ferdinand Lasalle
  • 1864 — Prussian-Austrian victory over Denmark
  • 1866 — War between Prussia and Austria; dissolution of the German Confederation
  • 1870-1871 — Franco-German War
  • 1871 — Founding of the German Empire with Bismarck as Reich Chancellor
  • Coronation of Emperor William I in Versailles
  • 1872-1880 — Bismarck's "Kulturkampf" (cultural struggle) against the Catholic Church
  • 1878-1890 — Persecution of the Social Democrats (Anti-Socialist Act)
  • 1882 — Tripartite alliance with Austria and Italy
  • 1883-1889 — Enactment of progressive social security legislation
  • 1888 — Deaths of Kaiser William I and Frederick III
  • Accession to the throne of William II
  • 1890 — Dismissal of Bismarck
  • 1900-1948
  • 1914 — Outbreak of World War I
  • 1918           Oct. 28            Mutinies by sailors and soldiers begin in the home garrisons in Germany, followed by the formation of workers' and soldiers' councils.
  •        Nov. 9 Revolution in Germany: The Empire collapses, the Kaiser abdicates, and a republic is proclaimed.
  •        Nov. 10 - Feb. 6          A provisional government of socialists is established, nominally responsible to the workers’ and soldiers' councils; until Dec. 29 it includes the radical USPD as well as the moderate SPD.
  •        Nov. 11           Armistice: The end of the war.
  • 1919           Feb. 6  The National Assembly (elected on Jan. 19) meets in Weimar because Berlin is too violent. A government of the "Weimar Coalition" (SPD, DDP, Center) is formed with Philipp Scheidemann as Chancellor.
  •        Feb. 11            The National Assembly elects Friedrich Ebert (SPD) as first President of the Republic.
  •        April 4 - May 1            A Soviet Republic in Bavaria is the most dramatic of a series of revolts and military conflicts during the spring between government troops and radical workers.
  •        June 23            Versailles Treaty: The Treaty, drafted by Britain, France, and the United States, is imposed on the protesting German government. Germany is forced to yield up territory to France (Alsace-Lorraine), Poland (the Polish Corridor, Silesia), Denmark, and Belgium, and is forbidden to unite with Austria. Germany is also forced to limit its army to 100,000 men; forbidden to keep troops in its Western provinces (the "demilitarized" Rhineland); required to make heavy reparations payments for damage caused in the war; and barred from the League of Nations.
  •         July 31            Weimar Constitution: The National Assembly, sitting in Weimar, adopts a constitution for the Republic.
  •        Sept.    Adolf Hitler joins the tiny German Workers Party (later renamed the National Socialist German Workers Party, NSDAP, or Nazi Party) in Munich.
  • 1920           March 13 - 17  The Kapp Putsch, an unsuccessful military revolt against the Republican government. It is followed over the next two weeks by armed radical revolts in the Ruhr and elsewhere, also unsuccessful.
  •        June 6  The parties of the "Weimar Coalition" lose their Reichstag majority in national elections; they never again have enough seats to form a majority coalition.
  • 1921           May 11            The German government (under duress) accepts the Allies claims for reparations, the amount of which was left open in the peace treaty.
  •        Oct. 12            After a plebiscite, the League of Nations partitions Upper Silesia and awards a large part to Poland.
  • 1922           April 16           The Treaty of Rapallo between Germany and Soviet Russia opens a diplomatic back door for Germany.
  •        June 24            Foreign minister Walter Rathenau is assassinated by right-wing anti-Semites. In reaction to this outrage, Republican institutions are consolidated for a time.
  • 1923           Jan. 11 Occupation of the Ruhr and Great Inflation: Germany’s main heavy industrial area is occupied by French and Belgian troops in an attempt to force payment of reparations. The local population practices passive resistance, subsidized by the German government; these expenditures lead to rapid escalation of the already steep inflation in Germany.
  •        Aug. 12 - Nov. 23       A "Great Coalition" government (SPD, DDP, Center, DVP) led by Gustav Stresemann (DVP) ends the passive resistance and the inflation. Stresemann remains as foreign minister in every succeeding government until 1929.
  •        Nov. 8 - 11      "Beer Hall Putsch": Hitler’s failed coup d'état takes place in Munich. Afterwards Hitler flees, is arrested and spends about a year in prison during 1924-25.
  •        Nov. 15           The currency is stabilized on terms that bankrupt many savers: each new Mark is worth one trillion of the old ones.
  • 1924           April 9 The Dawes Plan eases Germany's reparations obligations and leads to an influx of American loans.
  • 1925           April 26           Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg is elected as President of the Republic, following the death of Ebert.
  •        Oct. 16            Germany signs the Locarno Treaties are signed, voluntarily guaranteeing her Western borders. This restores normal relations with the Western powers.
  • 1926           Sept. 8 Germany is admitted to the League of Nations.
  • 1928           June 13            A "Great Coalition" government (the first since 1923) is formed under Hermann Müller (SPD), after national elections that seems to confirm the stabilization of the Republic. This cabinet survives until March 1930.
  • 1929           June 7  The German government accepts the Young Plan, which further eases German reparations obligations. In the ensuing nationalist campaign to force rejection of the Young Plan (unsuccessfully) Hitler gains his first national prominence.
  •        Oct.     The Wall Street crash, symbolic start of the Great Depression, finds the German economy already in decline, and leads to the withdrawal of American short-term loans.
  • 1930           March 27         Brüning cabinet: After the collapse of the Great Coalition government, a minority government of the center and right-wing parties is formed under Heinrich Brüning (Center). When the Reichstag fails to cooperate with his program, Brüning resolves to rely on President von Hindenburg's powers of emergency decree. He remains Chancellor until May 1932.
  •        Sept. 14           National elections, called by Brüning to strengthen his position in the Reichstag, result in a big surge in the Nazi and Communist vote. The "Great Coalition" loses its ability to form a majority coalition, and Brüning now has no way to legislate except by Presidential decree.
  • 1931           May 11            The collapse of the Austrian Credit-Anstalt starts a banking crisis in Germany that accelerates the slow decline of the German economy and makes it clear that the depth and duration of the depression will be extraordinary.
  • 1932           April 10           Hindenburg is reelected President by a small margin over Hitler.
  •        May 31            Franz von Papen becomes Chancellor after Brüning loses Hindenburg's confidence and resigns.
  •        June     An international conference effectively ends German reparations obligations.
  •        June 16            The Papen government lifts a ban on the SA.
  •        July 20 The Papen government takes over the government of Prussia, Germany's largest federal state, dismissing the Weimar Coalition government that had ruled there until this point.
  •        July 31 National elections, called by Papen to strengthen his position in the Reichstag, result in doubled Nazi representation. Now no coalition government of any kind is possible without either the Nazis or the Communists.
  •        Aug. 13            Hitler declares that he will not serve in the government in any office other than as Chancellor.
  •        Nov. 6 National elections fail to resolve the deadlock; the Nazis lose some seats, but the Communists gain.
  •        Dec. 2  General Kurt von Schleicher becomes Chancellor.
  • 1933           Jan. 30 Nazi "seizure of power": Hitler becomes Chancellor with a cabinet numerically dominated by conservatives.
  •        Feb. 27            Fire partly destroys the Reichstag building. The government takes the occasion to step up persecution of the opposition parties.
  •        March 5           In national elections the NSDAP wins 44%, the Nationalists 8%, for a majority between them; after the Communist deputies are arrested or forced underground the Nazis themselves have a majority.
  •        March 23         Enabling Act: This bill, which receives the necessary two-thirds majority with the aid of the Center Party, grants full legislative powers to the cabinet without requiring the assent of the Reichstag. It is the formal basis of Hitler’s power for the remainder of the Third Reich.
  •        April 1 An official national boycott of Jewish businesses, which lasts only a few days because of public resistance.
  •        April 7 The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service provides for the dismissal of all Jews and opponents of the regime from the civil service.
  •        May - July        All political parties other than the Nazis are disbanded and all trade unions are absorbed into the Labor Front.
  •        June     Inauguration of the Reinhardt Plan of expanded public works expenditure, including construction of superhighways (Autobahns).
  •        Oct. 14            Germany withdraws from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations. In a referendum 93% of the voters approve of these actions.
  • 1934           Jan. 26 A non-aggression treaty with Poland begins Hitler's display of peaceful intentions; it also serves to undercut France’s policy of defensive alliances against Germany.
  •        June 30            Röhm Purge ("Blood Purge", "Night of the Long Knives"): Hitler uses the SS to assassinate the leaders of the SA, representing the radical wing of the Nazi party, who had come to seem a threat to his plans; there are also a number of other well-known victims.
  •        Aug. 2  President von Hindenburg dies, and Hitler assumes the Presidency as well as the Chancellorship. 88% of the voters endorse this step in a plebiscite.
  • 1935           March 16         Hitler repudiates the disarmament clauses of the Versailles Treaty and Germany begins to rearm openly.
  •        June 18            Britain signs Naval Agreement with Germany, a sign that the Western powers will try to tame Hitler by accommodation ("appeasement").
  •        Sept. - May 
  • 1936           Crisis over the Italian invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), during which Germany supports Italy and thereby cements a habit of mutual support.
  •        Sept. 15           The Nuremberg Laws deprive Jews of citizenship rights.
  •  1936          March 7           Reoccupation of the Rhineland:  Hitler repudiates the demilitarization clauses of the Versailles Treaty and the Locarno Treaties (1925), and German troops march into the demilitarized Rhineland.
  •        July      The Spanish Civil War begins. German and Italian forces support the insurgent Nationalist (Franco) side, the ultimate victors (in 1939).
  •        Oct. - Nov.      German treaties with Italy (the "Rome-Berlin Axis") and Japan (the "Anti-Comintern Pact").
  •        Oct. 19            Inauguration of the Four-Year Plan intended to make Germany economically self-sufficient.
  • 1937           Nov. 24           Hjalmar Schacht loses his post as Minister of Economics.
  • 1938           Feb. 4  Hitler dismisses the two top military commanders, Blomberg and Fritsch, and assumes direct personal command of the armed forces. He also replaces Foreign Minister von Neurath and other leading conservatives. This amounts to the last stage of dissolving the Nazi alliance with the conservatives.
  •        Mar. 12 - 13     Anschluss: Germany abruptly invades and annexes Austria.
  •        Sept. 12 - 29    Munich: A crisis over the Czechslovak Sudetenland ends in the Munich Agreement and German annexation of large areas of western Czechoslovakia; this is the peak of Western appeasement.
  •        Nov. 9 - 10      Kristallnacht ("night of broken glass"): Nazis burn synagogues, destroy Jewish property, and beat and arrest thousands of Jews. This is the start of the harsher phase of persecution.
  • 1939           March 15         Germany violates the Munich agreement and suddenly occupies the rest of western Czechoslovakia, turning Slovakia into a client state.
  •        Aug. 23            The Nazi-Soviet Pact (or Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) provides that Germany and Russia will observe benevolent neutrality towards each other if either becomes involved in a war.
  •        Sept. 1 Outbreak of World War II: German armies invade Poland, followed two days later by declaration of war on Germany by Britain and France.
  • 1940           April 9 German armies invade Denmark and Norway.
  •        May 10            German victory in the West: German armies invade the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, and two days later enter France. Thoroughly defeated, France signs an armistice on June 22.
  •        Aug. - Nov.     The Battle of Britain, consisting of sustained air attacks intended as a prelude to invasion. In the end no invasion is attempted.
  •        Oct. - Nov.      The Jews of Warsaw are herded together into the Warsaw Ghetto.
  • 1941           April 6 German armies invade Yugoslavia and Greece.
  •        June 22            Invasion of Russia: German armies sweep into the Soviet Union, making vast gains at first.
  •        Summer           Start of the Holocaust: The Einsatzgruppen begin operating behind the advancing German armies in Russia, rounding up and killing various undesirables, principally Jews, by the tens of thousands.
  •        Aug. 28            Hitler ends the euthanasia program for the mentally deficient in Germany as a result of public protest mainly from Catholic quarters.
  •        Nov.    Death camps: Chelmno, considered the first of the death camps, goes into operation, followed within months by Belzec, Sobibor, Majdanek, Treblinka, and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
  •        Dec. 11            Hitler declares war on the United States, four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • 1942           Jan. 20 The Wannsee Conference, called to coordinate "the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem" under the direction of the SS.
  •        Feb. 8  Albert Speer is put in charge of German war production, which is only just beginning to organize for a long war.
  •        Oct. 23            El Alamein: British forces push back the German armies at El Alamein; the turning point of the war in North Africa.
  •        Nov. - Feb. 
  • 1943           Stalingrad: Soviet forces counter-attack at Stalingrad on the Volga, surround a large German army, and force its surrender. This is the turning point of the war in Russia.
  •        Nov. 8 American forces land to join the war in North Africa.
  • 1943           April 19 - 
  • May 16        The Warsaw Ghetto is destroyed by military action when the inhabitants offer armed resistance.
  •        July 10 Allied forces land in Sicily.
  •        Sept.    Allied forces land on the Italian peninsula and begin their slow advance northwards.
  • 1944           Feb. 13 - 15     Allied aircraft fire-bomb Dresden, an open city.
  •        June 6  D-Day: Allied armies land in Normandy.
  •        July 20 An attempt is made on Hitler's life by a group of mainly upper-class conspirators with army or government connections. It fails, and wide-spread executions follow.
  •        Aug. 1 - Oct. 2            Warsaw uprising: Polish partisans revolt, but are eventually crushed by German armies while nearby Russian armies fail to intervene.
  •        Dec. 16 - 25    German forces mount a briefly successful counter-offensive against American forces in the Ardennes (Belgium), the so-called Battle of the Bulge.
  • 1945           Jan. 12 Russian armies begin their final attack, which within a week takes Warsaw and crosses the Vistula.
  •        March 7           American forces cross the Rhine.
  •        April 30           Hitler commits suicide.
  •        May 8  End of the war: The remnants of the Nazi government surrender unconditionally.
  • 1945 — Hitler's suicide; unconditional surrender and occupation of Germany
  • Potsdam Conference on Germany
  • 1946-1948 — Constitutions adopted by the German Länder (states)
  • 1948 — End of Allied administration; separate currency reforms in East and West Germany
  • 1948-1949 — Blockade of West Berlin by the Soviet Union, Berlin Airlift
  • 1949-1989
  • 1949 — Founding of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic
  • Proclamation of the Basic Law (Constitution) of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Election of the first Bundestag
  • Theodor Heuss Federal President (1949-1959)
  • Konrad Adenauer Federal Chancellor (1949-1963)
  • 1950-1971 Walter Ulbricht leader of the SED (Communist Party of East Germany)
  • 1951 — Federal Republic of Germany becomes member of the Council of Europe and of the European Coal and Steel Community
  • 1953 — Uprising in the German Democratic Republic (GDR)
  • 1955 — Accession of the Federal Republic of Germany to NATO and of the GDR to the Warsaw Pact
  • 1957 — The Saarland becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • 1959-1969 — Heinrich Lubke Federal President
  • 1961 — The government of East Germany builds the Berlin Wall
  • 1963-1966 — Ludwig Erhard Federal Chancellor
  • 1966-1969 — Kurt Georg Kiesinger Federal Chancellor (Grand Coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD)
  • 1968 — Student unrest and "extra-parliamentary opposition" in the Federal Republic of Germany
  • 1969-1974 — Willy Brandt Federal Chancellor
  • Gustav Heinemann Federal President (1969-1974)
  • 1970 — The Federal Republic of Germany concludes treaties with the Soviet Union and Poland and begins negotiations with the GDR
  • 1971 — Four Power (Quadripartite - US, Great Britain, France, and USSR) Agreement on Berlin
  • Chancellor Willy Brandt receives Nobel Peace Prize
  • Removal of Walter Ulbricht
  • Erich Honecker becomes leader of the SED and, in 1976, Head of State of the GDR
  • 1972 — Basic Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR
  • 1973 — East and West Germany become members of the United Nations
  • 1974-1979 — Walter Scheel Federal President
  • Helmut Schmidt Federal Chancellor (1974-1982)
  • GDR deletes all references to the German nation from its constitution
  • 1977 — Escalation of extreme left terrorism by the Red Army Faction in the Federal Republic of Germany
  • 1979-1984 — Karl Carstens Federal President
  • 1982 — Vote of no-confidence against Chancellor Schmidt
  • Helmut Kohl Federal Chancellor (1982-1998)
  • CDU/CSU and FDP form government coalition
  • 1984 — Richard von Weizsaecker Federal President
  • 1987 — Official visit by Erich Honecker, Chairman of the Council of State of the GDR, to the Federal Republic of Germany
  • 1989 — Richard von Weizsaecker re-elected Federal President
  • Pressure by East Germans for greater freedom and reform in the GDR
  • Exodus of East Germans and mass demonstrations in GDR
  • Opening of the Berlin Wall
  • Meeting between Chancellor Kohl and GDR Prime Minister Modrow in Dresden
  • 1990-1999
  • 1990 
  • February — The foreign ministers of the Four Powers and of the two German states begin formal talks ("Two-Plus-Four") on German unity
  • March — First free elections in the GDR
  • May — Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, establishing a Monetary, Economic and Social Union, signed in Bonn
  • July — Treaty enters into force
  • Visit by Chancellor Kohl to the Soviet Union to reach an agreement with President Gorbachev that united Germany shall have full sovereignty
  • August — Unification Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR signed in Berlin
  • September — Treaty on the Final Settlement with respect to Germany ("Two-Plus-Four Treaty") signed by the US, British, French, Soviet and two German foreign ministers in Moscow
  • October — Document suspending Four Powers rights signed in New York
  • GDR accedes to the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Berlin becomes the capital of unified Germany
  • December — First all-German elections to the Bundestag