1 January: Founding of the human rights group "Charta 77" in Czechoslovakia. Artists and intellectuals – including Václav Havel, Jiri Hájek and Jiri Dienstbier – as well as politicians connected with the Prague Spring join forces to draw attention to violations of human rights that go against the Helsinki Final Act, which the CSSR also signed.
11 January: The People’s Police restrict access to the West German Permanent Mission in East Berlin, mainly to hold back GDR citizens wanting to leave the country.
16 February: The Central Committee administration of the SED advises the GDR state authorities that the legal provisions of the GDR do not "include any right to move to non-socialist states". Any reference to the Helsinki Final Act or other documents concerning international law is made punishable by law. The Central Committee administration says that permission to migrate could be given only in exceptional cases and for humanitarian reasons to citizens who were not able to work – pensioners and invalids – and to spouses for the purposes of reunification if their husband or wife had already moved to the West with state permission. The secret resolution of the Central Committee administration forms the basis for drawing up corresponding internal administrative regulations by the GDR Council of Ministers.
17 February: In an interview with the newspaper "Saarbrücker Zeitung", Erich Honecker confirms that there have been some 10,000 applications by GDR citizens to leave the country. At the same time, he calls on the West German government to recognise GDR citizenship, saying that this was the only way that travel and leaving the GDR could be made easier.
24 February: While filming in West Berlin, the GDR comedian Eberhard Cohrs says he does not want to return to East Germany.
14 March: In a joint letter written to SED General Secretary Erich Honecker, GDR head of planning Gerhard Schürer and Central Committee Economics Secretary Günter Mittag sound the alarm about the GDR’s Western debt. It says, "We are having acute payment problems for the first time." The trivial nature of the reason behind the letter – the rise in the price of coffee and cocoa – underlines the precarious economic situation into which the GDR has been driven mainly because of large grain imports from the West.
When Honecker vehemently rejects the criticisms by his two economics experts, the State Security, in November 1977, also advises a change of course: "For some years we have been consuming more than we effectively produce and banking on the national income of the coming years in advance. (…) The responsible officials from the State Planning Commission and the relevant departments of the Central Committee are of the unanimous opinion that Comrade [E. Honecker] is making a serious mistake with regard to the GDR economy."
29 June - 2 October: Art from the GDR is shown for the first time at the Kassel "documenta 6" exhibition.
12 June: As agreed in CSCE resolutions taken in Helsinki, Western observers take part in manoeuvres of the Warsaw Pact for the first time.
19 July: Meeting between CPSU leader Leonid Brezhnev and SED General Secretary Erich Honecker in the Crimea: the party leaders agree to take measures to prevent the SPD/FDP government under West German Chancellor Schmidt from being succeeded by the CDU at parliamentary elections in 1978. The Soviet party leader once more voices concern that the stream of travellers from West Germany to the GDR has not been stemmed; the West German government, he says, is singing "the same old song" about a rapprochement between the GDR and the FRG. He adds that attempts are also being made to "falsify our clear position" under the flag of Eurocommunism.
23 August: Rudolf Bahro, author of the book "The Alternative. A critique of real-existing socialism", which has come out in West Germany, is arrested in East Berlin and, almost a year later, on 30 June 1978, is sentenced to eight years in prison for "betrayal of secrets" among other things. On 18 December 1979, Bahro is granted an amnesty and leaves for West Germany.
26 August: The author Jürgen Fuchs and the musicians Christian Kunert and Gerulf Pannach, who were arrested at the end of 1976 by the State Security because of protests against the expatriation of Biermann, are released and deported to West Berlin.
5 September: "German Autumn" ("Deutscher Herbst"): RAF terrorists kidnap the president of the employers’ association, Hanns Martin Schleyer; his driver and three of his companions are murdered during the abduction. The kidnappers demand the release of all of their comrades from the Stammheim Prison in Stuttgart. – On 13 October, four terrorists hijack the Lufthansa plane "Landshut" and divert it to Mogadishu. During a stopover in Aden, the pilot Jürgen Schumann is murdered. On 18 October, a "GSG 9" commando frees the hostages; three of the hijackers are killed. On the same day, Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin are found dead in their cells in the Stammheim Prison in Stuttgart, while Irmgard Möller and Jan-Carl Raspe are found severely injured in theirs. Raspe dies a few days later. When news of the suicides in Stammheim gets out, Schleyer is murdered by his kidnappers.
22/23 September: The USA and the Soviet Union agree to extend the SALT I treaty (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Agreement). However, this applies only to strategic carrier systems and their warheads; tactical nuclear weapons are not part of the treaty. The Soviet Union exploits this loophole and develops the SS 20 medium-range missiles, to which the USA responds with the development of the Pershing II.
12 September: After the SED Politburo reduces coffee imports because of the price rise on the global market in summer and restricts coffee consumption in canteens and restaurants, the Ministry for Security warns internally of a storm of protest from the population. "The prosperity of workers in the GDR is coming slowly but steadily to an end," is how Mielke’s informers summarise public opinion in a hastily written memo. It says that many workers are of the opinion "that the ‘loyal’ worker without contacts in the West who supports the policies of our government is losing out, while people who are less aware or unstable and negative elements purchase luxury goods in the ‘Intershop’." – Intershops are "naturally not a permanent accompaniment to socialism," Honecker responds in a public speech, but at the same time he stresses that they are essential for the GDR for the time being as a source of foreign currency.
30 September: The GDR National Defence Council has been given a secret review, carried out by the SED Central Committee, of the effectiveness of border security measures. It contains the information that SM-70 mines have been installed along the border fence to West Germany for 271 km, and Type 66 landmine barriers, which have an effectiveness of only 20 percent, for a further 271 km. According to the report, the automatic firing device SM-70 has proven to be the "most effective barrier element" and is therefore to be used more and more comprehensively until it becomes "the main element of the border security systems" by 1981.
4 October: Start of the 1st CSCE follow-up meeting in Belgrade, where further disarmament issues and the topic of human rights are to be negotiated. However, the meeting takes place primarily to affirm and uphold the concept of the Conference; substantial progress is not achieved until the 2nd CSCE follow-up meeting in Madrid (1980-1983) and the 3rd CSCE follow-up meeting in Vienna (1986-1989).
7 October: In Alexander Square in East Berlin, there are severe clashes between young protesters and the People’s Police; the crowd repeatedly chants the slogan "The Wall must go!"
28 October: In a speech in London, West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt accuses the Soviet Union of "pre-arming itself" since 1974/75, mostly with atomic medium-range missiles, despite all its avowals of a policy of détente. He says that this is causing an increasing imbalance in Europe with regard to tactical nuclear weapons and conventional arms – creating a military and political supremacy of the Warsaw Pact over NATO.
October: The "Medal of the Border Troops of the GDR", awarded for "outstanding services and personal dedication" in securing the GDR national border, is created in the classes Bronze, Silver and Gold.