1 January: The GDR becomes a member of the UN Security Council for two years.
10 January: US President Jimmy Carter imposes a grain embargo on the Soviet Union because of its intervention in Afghanistan. The conditions for Western technology exports (CoCom agreement) to the Soviet sphere of influence are also tightened.
14 January: The UN General Assembly calls for the immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in a resolution.
26 January: In a speech to SED District Secretaries, SED General Secretary Erich Honecker speaks of a promising development in German-German relations, which, he says, could however be easily damaged by increased tensions in the international situation and the "torpedoing of the détente".
In the GDR weekly magazine "Horizont", the West German government is called upon to take action against Western "escape assistance" organisations; otherwise, the magazine says, GDR "measures" affecting transit traffic from and to Berlin were to be expected.
February: The "GENEX-Geschenkedienst-GmbH" ("GENEX Present Service Co. Ltd."), based in Mauerstrasse in East Berlin, publishes a new mail-order catalogue. GENEX enables GDR citizens to obtain goods that are rare in the GDR, or even selected Western products. The products can, however, only be purchased in the West by friends or relatives at higher DM prices and sent to the GDR as "present parcels".
22 January: The Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov is arrested along with his wife, Yelena Bonner, and exiled to a camp near the city of Gorky.
30 January: The meeting between West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and SED General Secretary Erich Honecker scheduled for spring is postponed.
30 January: On the Berlin sector in Bernauer Strasse, engineer units of the GDR border troops remove the ruins of apartment-house façades that still form the wall here. They replace them with the "Border Wall 75", which consists of pre-fabricated concrete segments 3.60 metres in height.
4-6 March: In the United States, West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt meets with US President Jimmy Carter.
18 April: In Moscow, representatives from the GDR State Security are told by the KGB that the complex policies of Western states towards socialist countries, especially in the economic field, are intended "to create dependency and to split the socialist camp". The KGB goes on to say that there are representatives in the GDR as well "who, whether deliberately or not, create strong dependencies on imperialist countries through increased loans and cooperation deals with Western corporations." CPSU General Secretary Brekhnev had already drawn Erich Honecker’s attention to this fact during the Crimea meeting in 1979. The new warning is apparently prompted by the visit by Central Committee economics secretary Günter Mittag to West Germany (14-16 April), which focused on the continuation of German-German economic relations.
22 April: After a meeting of the SED Politburo, in which Central Committee economics secretary Günter Mittag reports on a visit to West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, the SED Politburo members Stoph and Krolikowski compile a dossier in which they accuse Mittag of a conspiratorial "contact with the enemy, from which consequences must be drawn regarding the maintenance of security within the GDR leadership." The dossier says that Honecker and Mittag are not interested in upholding the overall interests of the socialist community of states with regard to West Germany; it claims that Mittag did not behave towards Schmidt "as a representative of the solid socialist community of states and its unified foreign policy, but as a participant in a German-German flirtation."
8 May: Helmut Schmidt and Erich Honecker meet in Ljubljana on the sidelines of the funeral ceremonies for the deceased Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito.
22 June: The "Greens", who established themselves as a federal party on 13 January, decide to take part in Bundestag elections in October.
27 June: Ahead of the annual meeting between SED General Secretary Erich Honecker and CPSU leader Leonid Brezhnev in the Crimea, the SED Politburo resolves to halve GDR debt to the West by 1985.
30 June - 1 July: Helmut Schmidt travels to Moscow for talks with the Soviet leadership. The points at issue include the NATO resolution to stock up on arms and the Soviet invasion of Aghanistan.
19 July - 3 August: The 22nd Summer Olympic Games take place in Moscow. In protest at the invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet troops, 30 mainly Western-oriented countries, including the USA and West Germany, do not take part.
11 August: Meeting between CPSU leader Leonid Brezhnev and SED General Secretary Erich Honecker in the Crimea. There are many indications that the CPSU leader calls vehemently on Erich Honecker to dissociate himself from West Germany and to finally break away from economic reliance on Bonn.
So far, no minutes of this meeting could be found. Central Committee economics minister Günter Mittag recalled later that after returning to the SED Politburo, Erich Honecker reported that Brezhnev had asked questions about the reliability of two people in the SED leadership. He said that the General Secretary had told him confidentially that he (Mittag) himself was one of them.
14 August: Strike by 17,000 workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland. They combine their strike with political demands.
25 August: The autobiography of Erich Honecker is published in East Berlin. It says that the construction of the Wall had "rescued peace and laid the cornerstone for the continued prosperity of the German Democratic Republic." The British publisher Robert Maxwell obtains the global distribution rights for his series "Leaders of the World".
31 August: The leader of the strike at the Gdansk shipyards, Lech Walesa, and the Polish Deputy Prime Minister Mieczyslaw Jagielski sign the "Gdansk Agreement". The agreement guarantees the right to strike and to found independent, self-administered unions.
17 September: Founding of the independent Polish union NSZZ "Solidarnosc" ("Solidarity"), which is officially registered and thus recognised. Within a short space of time, it gains some ten million members. "Solidarity" marks the first time that the power monopoly of the Party has been broken in a communist state.
20 September: War breaks out between Iran and Iraq (1st Gulf War). The war over the control of the border river Shatt al-Arab, an important oil-export route, leads to a new oil crisis with drastic price rises.
5 October: The Bundestag elections have been preceded by an emotional and polarised election campaign (CDU/CSU slogan "Freedom or Socialism"). The CDU/CSU receives 44.5 percent of votes with its candidate for chancellor, Franz Josef Strauss, the SPD 42.9 percent and the FDP 10.6 percent; the "Greens" receive 1.5 percent of votes. West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt is reappointed on 5 November.
9 October: The compulsory currency exchange for Western visitors is raised to 25 DM per person per day. The number of visits from West to East Germany falls suddenly by more than forty percent.
13 October: In a speech in Gera that draws a sharp dividing line to West Germany, SED General Secretary Erich Honecker announces four conditions for a further normalisation of relations: the recognition of GDR citizenship and an end to the issue of West German passports for GDR citizens; the dissolution of the "Registration Centre for Human Rights Violations in the GDR" in Salzgitter; the transformation of the Permanent Missions into embassies; and the establishment of the position of the national border in the middle of the Elbe River.
However, a few days later, Honecker assures Günter Gaus, Bonn’s Permanent Representative in East Berlin, that his comments "by no means put the relations between the GDR and the FRG into reverse" – "a change of course is out of the question."
16 October: The GDR author Christa Wolf, a member of the GDR Writers’ Association, receives the Georg Büchner Prize in the West German city of Darmstadt.
17 October: The USA and the Soviet Union start talks in Geneva about a limitation of medium-range missiles in Europe.
30 October: The GDR suspends passport and visa-free travel to and from Poland, introduced in 1972, owing to the growth of the "Solidarity" movement. It fears that the GDR could be infiltrated.
4 November: In the United States, the film actor Ronald Reagan wins the presidential election for the Republicans over Democrat Jimmy Carter.
11 November: Start of the second CSCE follow-up meeting in Madrid.
12 November: A memorandum by the SED Politburo member Werner Krolikowski, probably meant for Soviet diplomatic channels, states that Central Committee economics secretary Günter Mittag is willing "to help out EH [Author’s note: Erich Honecker] in any dirty business. (…) EH and GM [Author’s note: Günter Mittag] have the same attitude to their own party, to the working class and to the people – they made common cause with one another in the big price swindle in autumn and in fact to this day. (…) The GDR is already up to its neck in debt to the NSW [Non-Socialist Economic Territory]! EH concealed the call by L.I. Brezhnev in the Crimea to remove GM from this position from the PB (…). EH and GM have a considerable foreign currency account with Schalck – several billion VM – for which they do not account to anyone, not even the PB. This is the worst kind of arrogant abuse. (…) These are criminal actions whose extent must be examined more closely."
9-19 November: "Decade of Peace" of Protestant youth in the GDR, which takes place decentrally under the motto "Make peace without weapons".
15 November: Representatives of the "Greens", the DKP (German Communist Party), church and union groups and members of the SPD issue the "Krefeld Appeal", in which the West German government is called upon to withdraw its agreement to allow the stationing of American medium-range missiles. At the start of the 80s, the fear of a nuclear war leads to the creation of a peace movement in many Western states, and even in the GDR.
24 November: A strictly confidential report by the State Security on the economic situation of the GDR concludes that decisive measures are needed to overcome the crisis. The report finds that the investment quota is too small, while production down times have risen. It says that only trade between the GDR and the Soviet Union is profitable and that trade with the West is mostly ineffective. Nonetheless, it states, the GDR is reliant on Western imports.According to the report, a "second guidance system" for the economy has been established within the SED Central Committee alongside the government, in which questions that the Council of Ministers are to decide upon are "pre-decided". It goes on to say that the plan is manipulated so that it balances on paper, while the products were not really available. It says that the continuity and stability of supply to the people is not guaranteed, and that the capitalist consumer ideology is having an impact on large parts of the GDR population, rousing desires that cannot be met.
At the same time, the report warns, the D-mark has become established as a "second currency", which is leading not only to speculation, but also produces negative effects such as "falling work morale and discipline, a lack of willingness to work and rising white-collar crime".
26 November: SED General Secretary Erich Honecker asks CPSU leader Brezhnev to convene a meeting of general secretaries in Moscow "to come up with collective measures to help our Polish friends overcome the crisis."
5 December: The leaders of the Warsaw Pact countries meet in Moscow to discuss the tense situation in Poland. They decide against a military intervention.
16 December: In another memo by the SED Politburo member Werner Krolikowski, he writes: "It would be good if Comrade L. I. Brezhnev were to speak with EH to make him listen to reason. (…) EH is pursuing an irresponsible, two-faced, zig-zag policy in GDR-FRG relations, which is leading to unease and growing uncertainty. (…) We suggest to the Soviet side that it carefully analyse EH’s actions in foreign affairs with regard to the FRG and speak with him about the mistakes that have been made so that the basis for a fundamentally clear course of foreign policy towards the FRG can be established and presented to the 10th Party Conference as a draft resolution."
16 December: More than 500,000 people gather in front of the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk to remember the workers killed at demonstrations in 1970.