Skip to main content

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any ad blockers are switched off, or add to your trusted sites, and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us.

From pariah to powerhouse… Germany’s turnaround

How Germany's influence has grown in the world since the end of World War II.

Germany was reunited as a country in 1990. Photograph: Patrick Piel/Getty Images.

Rebuilding starts of a nation in ruins. The Nuremberg trials of senior Nazi figures get under way; they end the following year with the execution of 10 of the defendants

Thomas Mann publishes Doctor Faustus, reshaping the legend as an allegory for the rise of the Nazi party

Germany is divided into the Federal Republic of Germany, under Konrad Adenauer, right, and communist German Democratic Republic, led by Walter Ulbricht, left

Start of rapid economic growth in West Germany, a phenomenon known as the Wirtschaftswunder – economic miracle

An uprising in East Berlin is suppressed by Soviet tanks

2-0 down after nine minutes to a Hungary team unbeaten in four years, West Germany stage the ‘Miracle of Bern’ to win the World Cup – the first of four won by Die Mannschaft; Mercedes-Benz cause a sensation with their 300SL Gullwing, boasting the first-ever production fuel injection engine

West Germany joins Nato; East Germany joins the Warsaw Pact

West Germany joins the European Economic Community; Adenauer wins the largest-ever victory in a German federal election under the slogan “Keine Experimente” (“No Experiments”) – a motto German post-war politics has mostly stuck to.

Publication of Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum. Twenty years later an Oscar-winning film version is produced, and 40 years later Grass wins the Nobel prize for literature

The steady flight of people from East to West leads to the construction of the Berlin Wall. Within days, the first fatality occurs

Porsche launch the 911

Joseph Beuys makes his breakthrough with performance piece How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare

Gerhard Richter creates photorealistic painting Cathedral Square, Milan. In 2013 it briefly becomes the most expensive artwork by a living artist, selling for $37.1m

Social Democrat Willy Brandt becomes chancellor and seeks better ties with the Soviet Union and East Germany under Ostpolitik (eastern policy)

First of Uwe Johnson’s four-volume Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl is published

Walter Ulbricht is succeeded in the East by Erich Honecker; first use of the term ‘Krautrock’ to describe experimental music produced by German bands including Neu!, Faust and Ash Ra Tempel. Can release their seminal Tago Mago album

The Olympic Games in Munich – the first in the country since Hitler’s games in 1936 – are marred by Black September’s massacre of Israeli athletes, coaches and officials

East and West Germany join the UN

Brandt resigns after spy revelations surrounding one of his aides. New chancellor Helmut Schmidt continues Ostpolitik; 1974 Kraftwerk’s Autobahn album is a top 10 hit in both the US and UK. West Germany win the World Cup on home soil in Munich. VW launches the Golf, now Europe’s favourite car

The activities of terror group Rote Armee Fraktion, also known as the Baader–Meinhof Gang, peak in a national crisis known as the ‘German Autumn’ as the organisation carries out a series of killings, kidnappings and hijackings. Producer Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer create groundbreaking disco single I Feel Love at a studio in Munich. Kevin Keegan joins SV Hamburg from Liverpool, winning the Ballon d’Or in two of his three seasons

Boney M. – the project of producer/singer/songwriter Frank Farian, with hired Afro-Caribbean performers, release hit-packed album Nightflight To Venus

First use of the term ‘Neue Deutsche Welle’, which broadens to include artists as diverse as D.A.F., Trio and Nena

Berlin Alexanderplatz, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s epic 14-hour TV series, is broadcast to huge acclaim

Klaus Maria Brandauer is hailed around the world for his starring role in Mephisto

Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl becomes chancellor

Katarina Witt wins gold in both the Olympic and World figure skating championships

Unseeded 17-year-old Boris Becker wins the Wimbledon men’s singles

Honecker pays first official visit to West; 1987 former West Berlin resident David Bowie returns to perform a concert near the Reichstag. Huge crowds gather on the East side to listen. Claudia Schiffer is spotted and signed by a top US model agency

Steffi Graf wins the ‘golden slam’ – all four majors and Olympic gold in a single year

Mass exodus of East Germans as neighbouring Soviet bloc countries
relax travel restrictions. Protests across East Germany lead to rapid collapse of communist rule. Germans from East and West tear down Berlin Wall. In other news.. as German techno goes overground, DJ Dr. Motte launches the first Love Parade in Berlin, attended by just 150 people. A hard drive fails on stage at a gig by Frank Farian’s Grammy-winning soul act Milli Vanilli, revealing that they do not sing in their own records

Germany is reunited, with the former GDR becoming part of the Federal state. For political and diplomatic reasons, West German politicians avoided the term ‘reunification’ for what Germans frequently refer to as die Wende, ‘the turning point’

The Scorpions’ Wind of Change sells the first of 14m copies worldwide; 25,000 women enter a contest to find a German supermodel, won by Heidi Klum

Michael Schumacher records the first of his 91 Grand Prix wins. He goes on to win seven world championships

General election victory for Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder leads to a coalition with Greens

WG Sebald publishes Austerlitz in November, dying a few weeks later

Euro replaces Deutsche Mark; singer/actor Herbert Grönemeyer releases Mensch, the best-selling album in the country’s history

Film-maker Wolfgang Becker releases Good Bye Lenin!, a tragicomedy about an East German son who conceals the fall of communism from his mother when she emerges from a coma

Christian Democrat Angela Merkel becomes chancellor in a ‘grand coalition’ with Social Democrats

The Lives of Others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s movie about Stasi surveillance, wins best foreign-language film at the Oscars

Germany’s 22.4bn euro bail-out to debt-ridden Greece prompts widespread public anger. A second huge bail-out follows

Merkel responds to the migrant crisis by allowing more than a million refugees into Germany, saying: “Wir schaffen das” – “We can do this!”

Tunisian migrant Anis Amri kills 12 people by driving a hijacked lorry into a crowded Berlin Christmas market

First series of Weimar Republic-set police drama Babylon Berlin – the most expensive TV series in German history

Germany elects its first new leader after 16 years of Merkel’s reign

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any ad blockers are switched off, or add to your trusted sites, and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us.

See inside the 16 September: Germany after Merkel edition

As other global leaders look on, Angela Merkel leads a debate with then US president Donald Trump at the 2018 G7 summit in Canada. Photo: Jesco Denzel / Bundesregierung

What will be Angela Merkel’s legacy?

Lauded abroad but not always loved at home. What will be the legacy of the chancellor who has ruled Germany since 2005?

Younes Zarou. Photo:

Germany returns to the forefront of European youth culture

A 22-year-old from Frankfurt has become one of TikTok’s biggest stars. SOPHIA DEBOICK explains the simple charm behind his success.. and what it says about his country.