On this day of his passing it is good to look back at his biggest legacy, although he was not solely responsible for it, he did play a major and decisive part in it.
There were two, very moving developments that led to the reunification of Germany: the democratization of the east, especially made possible by Mikhail Gorbachev, and the courage of thousands of people who fought for their freedom. At the end of 1989 these events came together and ended up a new state – the Federal Republic as we know it today.
8 August 1989130 people flee from the German Democratic Republic, the GDR, to the Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic in East Berlin.
They are a few of the many thousands who want to leave their home country via Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland.
4 September 1989 This date is considered to be the start of the so-called Monday demonstrations. Around 1000 people gather in Leipzig and demand more rights and freedom. On the following Mondays there are ever more people who defy the brutal excesses of the security forces.
11 September 1989 Hungary opens its borders to Austria. Within only three days 15,000 people flee.
At the end of September the Soviet and East German government gave 6,000 refugees staying in the German Embassy in Prague permission to leave East Germany.
7 October 1989 The Government of the GDR decrees celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the founding of the state. As a reaction to this, people in many cities demonstrate against the regime of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschland, the SED, [Socialist Unity Party of Germany]
9 October 1989 Over 70,000 people march through Leipzig city centre and call for non-violent demonstrations for freedom of opinion and political reforms. One week later they are followed by 120,000 from the whole GDR
18 October 1989 Erich Honecker resigns as Secretary-General of the SED and head of state.
3 November 1989 The GDR endorses to leave the country directly via the border to Czechoslovakia. Two days later around 15,000 GDR citizens have arrived in the Federal Republic via this route.
8 November 1989 The SED gives up its power in the politburo and resigns.
9 November 1989 The symbol of the separation of the two German states, the Berlin Wall, falls to the jubilation of people from east and west.
18 March 1990 In the spring free elections are held in the still extant GDR for the first time ever. The people elect a new Chamber of the People, the main aim of which was to prepare for accession to the Federal Republic.
5 May 1990 The Two-plus-Four talks start, in which the victorious powers of the Second World War and the Foreign Ministers of the two German states discuss removal of the rights of the Allies in Germany.
18 May 1990 The FRG and GDR sign the Treaty on the Creation of an Economic, Currency and Social Union.
1 July 1990 The GDR adopts large parts of the economic and legal order of the Federal Republic. The deutschmark becomes the sole means of payment.
23 August 1990 Before the end of the negotiations on a Unification Treaty between the two German states, the Chamber of the People decides on accession of the GDR to the Federal Republic for 3 October 1990.
12 September 1990 The Foreign Ministers of the United States of America, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and France sign the Two-plus-Four Treaty and thus grant Germany full sovereignty.
3 October 1990 In the night of 2/3 October 1990 the official celebrations for German Unity Day are held. Fireworks light up the sky, bells accompany the joy of the people.
2 December 1990 The Germans elect a pan-German parliament. It is the first free election since 1933.
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