22/27 February: US President Richard Nixon visits West Germany and West Berlin.
2 March: The Soviet Union and China begin hostilities lasting several weeks on the border river, the Ussuri. The conflict with China motivates the Soviet Union to bring peace to its front against Western Europe. On 17 March, the Warsaw Pact states propose a European security conference to the West.
5 March: In West Berlin, the West German Federal Assembly elects the Social Democrat and previous Federal Minister of Justice Gustav Heinemann as federal president.
9 April: In the evening at around 9.50 p.m., the 28-year-old Johannes Lange is shot dead while trying to escape at the sector border between the Berlin districts Mitte and Kreuzberg. The shots are heard in the Western sector, but the name of the dead man remains unknown at first.
28 April: At the Hanover Trade Fair, a deal on gas pipes is engineered between West Germany and the Soviet Union. As a result, West Germany becomes the Soviet Union’s most important Western trading partner.
20 July: The American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin become the first people to land on the moon. Neil Armstrong enters the annals of history with his sentence: "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." The spacecraft is called "Apollo 11", the lunar module "Eagle".
September: In West Germany this month, a large number of workers hold "wildcat strikes" for more pay without union support, because although economic conditions have improved, the unions are bound by the "concerted action" and wage agreements.
3 September: Near the Springer tower block in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg, a construction worker succeeds in escaping from East to West Berlin.
28 September: At elections for the West German Bundestag, the CDU/CSU gains 46.1 percent of votes: SPD (42.7 percent) and FDP (5.8 percent) form a social-liberal coalition with a bare majority. The new Chancellor is Willy Brandt (SPD); Foreign Minister is Walter Scheel (FDP).
In his government statement of 28 October, Brandt stresses his willingness to recognise the existence of a second state in Germany and to treat with the GDR government on the basis of equality. The main focus of the statement is the announcement of domestic reform measures.
7 October: On the 20th anniversary of the GDR, searchlights in East Berlin project two crosses into the night sky. A joke question in the GDR runs: "Why will the 30th anniversary be cancelled?" The answer: "Because you’d have to make three crosses then" [A German expression denoting relief]. Because of the poor supply of food, a verse also makes the rounds: "No coal in the cellar, no spuds in the pantry, hoorah for the 20th anniversary [Ger: "Keine Kohlen im Keller, keine Kartoffeln im Sack, es lebe der 20. Jahrestag!"]
The state-owned Cottbus textile collective combine creates "Präsent 20". This 100-percent polyester material for outer garments makes GDR fashion history, being used for women’s clothing, men’s suits and uniforms. – Rumours that the Rolling Stones were to give a concert on the Springer tower block on 7 October attract young people to East Berlin. Several hundred of them who look suspiciously like beat fans are arrested by the GDR state security.
22 December: Several thousand political prisoners are locked up in the prisons of the GDR. Two prisoners released to West Germany report on the conditions in the much-feared Cottbus gaol.