Brief Timeline of Major Events Highlighted in the Text

Spring/Summer 1989: Hungary dismantles the fortifications on its border with Austria, but Hungarian security forces still prevent East Germans from crossing, in accordance with treaty obligations with East Germany.

Sept. 11, 1989: Hungary begins allowing East Germans to leave for the West; in response, East Germany soon takes steps to prevent its citizens from traveling to Hungary in the first place, with the result that many instead seek refuge in the West German embassies in Prague and Warsaw.

Late Sept. 1989: Erich Honecker, the party leader and de facto head of East Germany, returns to his post after an extended sick leave.

Sept. 25, 1989: The first major attempt by Leipzig Monday marchers to circle the city’s ring road.

Sept. 30, 1989: West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and chancellery official Rudolf Seiters travel to Prague to inform the East Germans on the embassy grounds that, per a one-off agreement with the ruling regime in East Berlin, they may exit for the West, but only if they travel in sealed trains through GDR territory. A similar agreement is reached for the East Germans at the Warsaw embassy.

Oct. 1, 1989: The first set of sealed trains begins travel through the GDR to West Germany, but soon after more East Germans seek refuge in the embassy in Prague.

Oct. 3, 1989: East Germany effectively seals its own citizens in by requiring multiple forms of state permission for exit to any neighboring country, including to fellow Warsaw Pact states, which had previously been accessible with minimal paperwork.

Approximately Oct. 3–8, 1989: Violent encounters between protestors and security forces rock the region of Saxony and the city of Dresden in particular as another set of sealed trains makes its way through the GDR; protests continue even after some of the trains have passed and others are rerouted away from Dresden.

Oct. 7, 1989: The fortieth anniversary of the founding of the GDR; celebrations are marked by violence between security forces and protestors throughout the country.

Oct. 9, 1989: At least 70,000 people participate in the Monday march in Leipzig; party leaders estimate the number to be 100,000. The march successfully circumnavigates the ring road.

Oct. 17, 1989: At a Politburo meeting, Egon Krenz overthrows Honecker to become the leader of the party. The change is announced publicly the next day as Honecker’s “resignation.”

Nov. 1, 1989: Under threat of strikes, the East German regime allows travel to Czechoslovakia to resume, resulting in a new wave of East Germans seeking refuge in the West German embassy in Prague.

Nov. 4, 1989: An estimated half million people attend a massive demonstration in the heart of East Berlin.

Nov. 6, 1989: The East German regime publishes a draft of a new travel law; the draft is widely condemned, including by roughly half a million marchers in Leipzig that night.

Nov. 9, 1989: The Berlin Wall opens.

Mar. 18, 1990: Free elections take place in the GDR.

Oct. 3, 1990: Germany reunifies when the territory of the GDR is converted into five new FRG states; as part of the FRG, these states immediately come under the jurisdiction of both the EC and NATO, thereby extending those organizations eastward beyond their 1989 borders for the first time in the post-Wall era.

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