14 January: In accordance with the Hallstein Doctrine, which requires Bonn to cut ties with states that recognise the GDR, West Germany breaks off relations with Cuba. The move comes after Fidel Castro recognises the GDR and announces an exchange of ambassadors.
17 January: With Walter Ulbricht, the Soviet party and state leader Nikita S. Khrushchev visits the Wall on Friedrichstrasse on the eastern side of Checkpoint Charlie. His visit is occasioned by the 6th SED Party Conference. Speaking at the conference, Khrushchev explains that, because Fritz in the East Germany still earns less than Hans in West Germany, the SED has the tasl of "organising production better and raising productivity to a higher level than that in capitalist countries. (…) If we consume more than we produce, we will not become richer but poorer; we will use up the original capital and be reduced to poverty – that’s how it is, comrades!"
7 February: A bus fitted with a snowplough, disguised as a mobile workshop and armoured with steel plating breaks through the Berlin Drewitz/Dreilinden checkpoint with eight escapees on board – and makes it to the other side.
18 February: The West Berlin SPD wins the parliamentary elections with its leading candidate Willy Brandt and extends its absolute majority with 61.9 percent of all votes (1958: 52.6 percent).
14 March: Thirteen GDR citizens succeed in escaping to West Berlin through a self-built tunnel.
1 April: The 16-year-old East Berliner Wolf-Olaf Muszynski, who drowned in the Spree while trying to escape, is recovered dead by West Berlin policemen.
1 April: In West Germany, the television network “Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen” (ZDF) starts broadcasts.
17 April: A 19-year-old civil employee of the National People’s Army, Wolfgang Engels, tries to break through the Berlin border between Treptow and Neukölln in a stolen Soviet armoured personnel carrier, but becomes stuck in the Wall.
While getting out, he is hit by several bullets, but manages to crawl over the Wall from the vehicle’s bonnet under covering fire from a West Berlin policeman. He is transported to a West Berlin hospital, badly injured.
12 May: A spectacular escape attempt fails at the Invalidenstrasse border crossing point: a bus with more than ten people on board tries to break through the checkpoint facilities, is shot at from all sides and stopped shortly before the final boom gate. Several people are badly injured. Also in May, an Austrian man manages to escape by driving under the boom gate at the Friedrichstrasse border crossing point in a sports car. His fiancée is hidden on the back seat, his mother-in-law in the boot. – After this successful escape, the boom gates are fitted with suspended iron rods.
21 June: The GDR Council of Ministers issues a regulation on “Measures to Protect the State Border between the GDR and West Berlin”. Defence Minister Heinz Hoffmann adds an order regarding “The Establishment of a Border Zone on the State Border of the GDR to West Berlin”.
After this, the border area in Berlin consists of a “protective strip” that is 100 metres wide; in the district of Potsdam it is 500 metres wide. To enter the border area, it is necessary to obtain permission.
26 June: During his German trip from 23 to 26 June, US President John F. Kennedy visits West Berlin on 26 June. His words at a rally at the Schöneberg Town Hall – "All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words: Ich bin ein Berliner" – provoke a storm of applause. - At the Berlin Free University, Kennedy voices his conviction that reunification will one day be a reality. For the great powers, he says, there is a necessity to work together "to preserve the human race, or otherwise we can be destroyed."
June/July: The start of actually paying ransom for prisoners: after another trial run with eight prisoners, where both partners successfully test whether the other side is willing and able to guarantee the confidentiality of this trade, the GDR shows itself prepared to sell between 500 and 1,500 political prisoners to West Germany each year.
At first, the ransom is agreed individually according to professional training and the length of the sentence; at the end of the eighties, a ransom of 95,847 marks per prisoner was standard. In return for recompense worth over 3.5 billion marks, the West German government gained the premature release of 33,755 prisoners, the relocation of 2,000 children to rejoin their parents, and some 250,000 family reunions between 1964 and 1989.
4 July: For the 70th birthday of Walter Ulbricht, the Soviet party and state leader Nikita Khrushchev visits East Berlin once again. "The time is no longer far off," he says, "when the GDR will overtake West Germany in all important economic indicators." The best way to resolve the question of the reunification is "the removal of capitalism in West Germany and the creation of a unified German state on a socialist basis."
13 July: West German passports are confiscated from West Berliners travelling between zones by GDR border guards, who say the passports are illegal because West Berlin does not belong to West Germany.
15 July: In view of the economic crisis in East Germany, the GDR State Council issues a guideline for a "New Economic System for the Planning and Management of the Economy" (NÖSPL). Total production costs, prices, turnover and profits, as well as personal material interest, are in future to be used as "economic levers".
15 July: In a speech at the "Evangelische Akademie Tutzing", Egon Bahr, the head of the Press and Information Office of the Land of Berlin, proposes a strategy of "change through rapprochement" with regard to the Eastern Bloc and the GDR in particular, saying that every policy aimed at directly overthrowing the GDR regime is pointless. He says that any policy providing relief to the people in the GDR has to be cautious and gradual "so that it does not give rise to a revolutionary change that would of necessity trigger a Soviet intervention to protect Soviet interests." Bahr's speech is later seen as the start of the SPD's ostpolitik.
9 September: Two border soldiers who are meant to be doing earthmoving work with a bulldozer on the border to Spandau manage to escape to West Berlin: they jump from the bulldozer over the barbed-wire fence.
30 September: Albert Norden, a member of the SED Politburo and Central Committee, tries to persuade the Berlin Border Brigade to give up their scruples about killing people: "You are rapping the knuckles of all the people who want to stick their pig's snouts into our socialist garden. (...) So you're not shooting at brothers and sisters when you use weapons to stop border violators. How can someone be a brother who is leaving the Republic, who is betraying the power of the people, who is infringing upon the power of the people? Showing humanity to traitors means being inhuman to the population as a whole."
15 October: Konrad Adenauer gives up the office of West German Chancellor. His successor is the former economics minister, Prof. Erhard Ludwig.
23 November: US President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. A RIAS reporter at Checkpoint Charlie recalls the visit of the US president just five months ago.
6 December: The GDR State Council elects Walter Ulbricht as the chairman of the GDR National Defence Council. No information is given about its tasks and other members.
17 December: The first border-pass agreement between the West Berlin Senate and the East Berlin authorities makes it possible for West Berliners to visit their East Berlin relatives at Christmas and New Year 1963/64 for the first time since 13 August.
Seven hundred and thirty thousand people put up with long waits to apply and use the agreement to make around 1.2 million visits in East Berlin. Other pass agreements for periods of two to three weeks follow in the years 1964, 1965 and 1966.