1 January: The European Community (EC) now consists of nine countries following the entrance of Great Britain, Denmark and Ireland.
1 January: With an eye to the negotiations due to start in October 1973 in Vienna between NATO and Warsaw Pact countries on a "Mutual Reduction of Forces and Armaments and Associated Measures in Central Europe" (Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR) talks), the SED detaches the GDR border troops from the National People’s Army to gain more scope for negotiating.
January/February: As a consequence of the ostpolitik and the policy of détente, the GDR achieves international recognition: more than ten countries, including Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Great Britain, take up diplomatic relations with it.
26 January: At a joint conference of the GDR Cultural Association, the presidents of artists’ associations and the Academy of Arts, the chief SED ideologue, Kurt Hager, rejects the idea of a single German culture and espouses that of an independent cultural tradition in the GDR.
27 January: Signing of the Paris Agreement on the ending of the Vietnam War; US soldiers withdraw by the end of March 1973.
17 February: The West German government passes a "stability programme" chiefly intended to combat inflation. It is based around a more restrained budgetary policy. A second stability programme follows on 9 May.
20 February: Agreement between the GDR and the Soviet Union on oil supplies to the GDR for an unlimited period of time.
1 March: The GDR Council of Ministers issues a ruling regarding the activity of Western press correspondents in the GDR. West German broadcasters ARD and ZDF and news agencies, daily newspapers and magazines in the Federal Republic all send correspondents to East Berlin.
The Council also agrees to set up four new border crossings on the inner German border for inner German "minor border traffic".
8 March: The GDR rejects the payment of any reparations to Israel.
13 March: Spring trade fair in Leipzig: in 1972, German-German trade hits a new high at over five billion DM.
15/16 March: At an international conference of the SED Central Committee, the SED’s chief ideologue, Kurt Hager, speaks of an "irreconcilable difference" between the "socialist nation in the GDR" and the "capitalist nation" in West Germany.
26 April: The DEFA film "The Legend of Paul and Paula" by director Ulrich Plenzdorf opens in the GDR.
18-22 May: First visit by the Soviet party and state leader Leonid I. Brezhnev to West Germany.
30 May: The "minor border traffic" as laid out in the Basic Treaty is heavily restricted by the GDR: of the 694 border municipalities, 315 remain closed of and 274 are partly excluded.
In June, the Bergen/Salzwedel border crossing, which was closed in 1952, is reopened.
21 June: The German-German Basic Treaty comes into force.
2 July: An agreement between the two German sports associations DSB and DTSB collapses over the issue of the inclusion of West Berlin.
3-7/8 July: In Helsinki, the "Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe" opens, attended by the foreign ministers of the 35 participating countries from East and West, including USA and Canada. The two German foreign ministers, Otto Winzer and Walter Scheel, meet on the sidelines of the conference.
28 July – 5 August: In East Berlin, the 10th World Festival of Youth and Students takes place.
30/31 July: Third Crimea conference attended by leaders of Warsaw Pact countries. The unanimity over Brezhnev’s attitude to the global situation, particularly with regard to the policies of the Chinese communist party, is considerably disrupted by Romanian leader Nicolae Nicolae Ceausescu. While Brezhnev condemns the "scrupulous conspiracy" of Beijing with the bourgeois countries as a "justification of the hegemonic ambitions of the Chinese leaders to attain leadership in the ‘Third World’", Ceausescu praises the normalisation of relations between China and the USA as a "contribution to reducing tensions". His proposals for working towards dissolving the Warsaw Pact while NATO was simultaneously disbanded, and for a cessation of criticism and condemnation of other parties, are vehemently rejected by Brezhnev in his final speech as "lacking in principle" and "opportunistic".
1 August: The former GDR party and state leader Walter Ulbricht dies at the age of 80.
10 August: A commentary by the SED’s main mouthpiece, "Neues Deutschland", sharply condemns people assisting others to escape on transit routes.
8 September: At an improvised press conference with foreign journalists, the Soviet physicist Andrei D. Sakharov criticises political repression in the Soviet Union and warns the West not to be na"ve in its policy of détente.
18 September: East and West Germany are admitted to the United Nations as the 133rd and 134th member countries.
21 September: Following the military putsch in Chile (11 September), the GDR breaks off its diplomatic relations with Chile. In the ensuing period, numerous Chilean refugees are offered refuge in the GDR. The daughter of Erich Honecker, Sonja, marries an exiled Chilean politician.
1 October: Soviet natural gas starts being delivered to West Germany.
2 October: The SED Central Committee agrees on an ambitious programme of residential housing construction. By 1990, 2.8 to 3 million apartments are to be built or modernised in order to remove the "problem of housing as a social issue".
3 October: Willi Stoph becomes chairman of the GDR Council of State; Horst Sindermann becomes chairman of the GDR Council of Ministers.
6 October: Israel is attacked by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). A resolution by the UN Security Council of 22 October leads to a ceasefire.
The Yom Kippur war triggers an oil-price crisis. OPEC decides to cut back its oil production until the territories occupied by Israel are freed. Oil prices climb dramatically; West Germany, which meets 55 percent of its energy consumption with imported oil and receives 75 percent of its oil imports from Arab countries, is particularly affected. On 9 November, the Bundestag passes an energy security law that imposes, among other things, a driving ban for four Sundays in November and December 1973.
30 October: MBFR negotiations are launched in Vienna between twelve NATO and seven Warsaw Pact countries.
15 November: The GDR doubles the minimum exchange per person and day to 10 DM for visits to East Berlin and to 20 DM for visits to the GDR.
19 December: GDR citizens are allowed to go shopping in "Intershops" with foreign currency.