1 January: Bärbel Bohley and Ulrike Poppe, members of the GDR peace movement who were arrested on 12 December 1983, go on hunger strike because they do not want to be deported to the West.
9 January: The West German municipal transport services (BVG) take over the running of the suburban train service in West Berlin from the GDR.
16 January: The United States and the Soviet Union reach out to one another. In a speech, US President Ronald Reagan says that the year 1984 will bring opportunities for peace. After a meeting of foreign ministers from both sides, George Shultz says on 18 January that the ice has been broken. And in a "Pravda" interview of 24 January, CPSU leader Andropov also strikes a conciliatory tone towards the United States.
17-19 January: As was decided at the CSCE follow-up meeting in Madrid, the Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe in Europe (CDE) begins in Stockholm.
20 January: Six GDR citizens ask for political asylum in the US embassy in East Berlin. On 22 January, they are allowed to leave for West Berlin. On 24 January, twelve GDR citizens who have fled to the West German Permanent Mission also leave for West Berlin.
2 February: The National Defence Council of the GDR decides to remove the menacing spiked obstacles known in the West as "Stalin Lawns" (altogether 38,000) and the "dragon’s teeth" anti-tank obstacles (total length: 19 kilometres) on the Berlin border because of their negative appearance.
9 February: The Soviet party leader Yuri W. Andropov dies after only 15 months in office. Konstantin U. Chernenko becomes the new General Secretary of the CPSU. Helmut Kohl and Erich Honecker meet personally for the first time on the sidelines of the funeral ceremonies.
February: After the loan of billions of DM to the GDR engineered by Franz-Josef Strauss in 1983, the SED leadership suddenly allows many more people to move to West Germany. By the end of 1984, some 35,000 migrants from the GDR will arrive in West German reception centres (1983: around 8,000). Although the Ministry for Security hopes to end the "nightmare of migration" by letting people go to decrease the internal pressure, the opposite effect occurs; the wave of migrations creates an enormous desire to follow suite and more than ever encourages many people to apply to migrate.
8 March: Members of the SPD parliamentary party visit the GDR Volkskammer.
13 March: Military engineer units from the border troops begin putting up a second wall at the Brandenburg Gate a hundred metres behind the first one.
20 March: The niece of GDR Prime Minister Willi Stoph, Ingrid Berg, arrives in the Giessen Reception Centre after seeking refuge in the West German embassy in Prague with her family.
6 April: Thirty-five GDR citizens who have been staying at the West German embassy in Prague for five weeks return to the GDR after receiving a guarantee that they can soon migrate.
8 Mary: A planned tour of the GDR by the West German rock musician Udo Lindenberg is cancelled after he refuses to adapt his programme to conform with the wishes of SED officials.
15 May: In a strictly confidential "guideline", Stasi minister Mielke orders that applicants for migration who visit West German embassies or keep up contacts to the West to speed up procedures are no longer to be prosecuted for "treasonous transmission of information" or "treason" (§§ 99, 100, 2. Chapt. Penal Code), but at the most for "illegal contacts" (§ 219, 8th Chapt. Penal Code), which entails milder penalties. Mielke says that the "enemy" – meaning West Germany and the international community – should not be given "any opportunities [for criticism] in this area." The Stasi boss obviously feels forced to reduce his "organ’s" powers of action because too severe repressive measures would endanger further loans from West Germany.
23 May: Richard von Weizsäcker (CDU) is elected as new the West German president.
26 June: West German Economics Minister Otto Graf Lambsdorff steps down after the authorisation of charges made against him in the wake of the Flick donations scandal. The party funding scandal has shocked West Germany since 1982. Since 1975, Friedrich Karl Flick has given illegal party donations to the SPD and FDP in return for tax concessions on investments worth billions. Bonn state prosecutors bring charges of bribery and corruption against leading politician including former Economics Minister Hans Friderichs (FDP), the Flick managers Eberhard von Brauchitsch and Manfred Nemitz, and finally against Lambsdorff. On 26 February, Lambsdorff and Friderichs are acquitted of the corruption charge, but have to pay fines for tax evasion.
27 June: Fifty-five GDR citizens have gained admittance to the West German Permanent Mission in East Berlin to force their migration to the West. The Permanent Mission temporarily shuts its doors to visitors. It does not open again until 31 July under tighter security measures.
29/30 June: Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme visits the GDR, meeting with SED General Secretary Honecker. The two statesmen issue a joint statement in which they call for a continuation of the policy of détente.
25 July: Press conference by Minister of State at the Chancellery, Philipp Jenninger. He announces that the Deutsche Bank has granted the GDR a new loan to the tune of 950 million DM via its subsidy in Luxembourg, which the West German government has again guaranteed. He says the GDR has decided on eleven measures, acting "on its own sovereignty", which contribute to the improvement und facilitation of travel in both directions. For example, the compulsory money exchange is reduced to 15 DM per day for pensioners and the length of time West German pensioners can stay in the GDR is raised from 30 to 45 days, while GDR pensioners have their permitted length of stay in West Germany doubled to 60 days.
28 July – 12 August: Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. All Eastern Bloc countries with the exception of Romania refuse to take part. The boycott is a reaction to the previous games in Moscow, in which Western states refused to participate in protest at the invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet troops.
11 August: Another setback for Soviet-American relations: US President Reagan, believing he is speaking off the record, warms up for a radio address with the following remarks, which are however recorded by the sound engineers: "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."
17 August: CPSU leaders summon the SED leadership to Moscow. Honecker, Hager, Axen and Mielke are confronted by Konstantin Chernenko as interim General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev, who is still the agriculture secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, Defence Minister Dmitri Ustinov and KGB head Viktor Chebrikov. Chernenko severely condemns Honecker’s remarks about "damage limitation" and the "coalition of rationality", which he says are used by those "who try to disguise their policies and to deceive people with phrases that show no class awareness."
Chernenko attacks the travel concessions made in return for the billion-DM loans. He says they are "dubious from the point of view of the inner security of the GDR and represent unilateral concessions to Bonn. You [Honecker and his companions – Author’s note] receive financial benefits, but these are really only apparent benefits. This creates additional financial dependencies of the GDR on the FRG. The events in Poland are a serious lesson from which one should draw conclusions." Chernenko gives the SED leadership a parting "request" as a warning by the CPSU: Honecker should refrain from visiting West Germany, for "if there is a rapprochement with the FRG based on a weakening of socialist positions caused by the unintentional encouragement of Bonn’s claims on the GDR, it would do us all great damage."
On 4 September Honecker cancels his visit to West Germany.
18/19 August: In an interview with the SED’s central mouthpiece, "Neues Deutschland", Erich Honecker takes a stand on alleged "revanchists and extremists" in West Germany: "Socialism in the GDR is irrevocable. Merging socialism and capitalism is as impossible as merging fire and water."
23 September: At the General Assembly of the United Nations, Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko criticises – as if he were reading from NSDD-32 – the American strategy of weakening the Soviet Union by intervening in Poland, by pressurising European states to reduce their trade ties with socialist countries and by stepping up the arms race.
4 October: After more than 150 GDR citizens who want to migrate stay in the West German embassy in Prague, the embassy is temporarily closed because of overcrowding. GDR citizens seeking to migrate have also sought refuge in diplomatic missions of Western states in Warsaw, Budapest and Bucharest.
30 October: The body of the priest Jerzy Popieluszko, who is a known "Solidarity" sympathiser, is found in a reservoir near Wloclawek. The priest of Warsaw’s St. Stanislaus Kostka Church was abducted and murdered by the Polish intelligence service. Hundreds of thousands bid farewell to the priest at his funeral on 3 November; he becomes a martyr figure.
October 1984: Election campaign in the United States. A 32-second-long Republican election advertisement for Ronald Reagan is shown on US television. A frightening brown bear is padding through the woods. The commentary runs: "There is a bear in the woods. For some people, the bear is easy to see. Others don't see it at all. Some people say the bear is tame. Others say it's vicious and dangerous. Since no one can really be sure who's right, isn't it smart to be as strong as the bear? If there is a bear...." – On 6 November, Ronald Reagan is reappointed.
30 November/December: The last automatic firing devices on the inner German border are removed.
1 December: The 20-year-old carpenter Horst-Michael Schmidt is shot dead by GDR border soldiers while trying to escape at the Berlin sector border. The two soldiers who delivered the fatal shots are commended; only the large consumption of ammunition (50 shots) is criticised. Each of the two border soldiers receives a reward of 200 marks and a medal for exemplary border service.
In 1990/1991, two television journalists from German broadcaster WDR, Werner Filmer and Heribert Schwan, spoke with Horst Schmidt, the father of Michael Schmidt, and recorded his memories of his son’s attempted escape and the way the Stasi treated the family.
13 December: Forty GDR citizens who want to migrate and have sought refuge in the West German embassy in Prague go on hunger strike. After they are promised a favourable review of their applications for departure, they return to the GDR in January 1985.