February: 15th CPSU party conference in Moscow. On 27 February, SED General Secretary Erich Honecker, who heads the SED delegation, visits "Star City", where the Soviet cosmonauts live and work. In the "Yuri Gagarin" cosmonauts-training centre, the East German guests meet with Soviet space travellers.
23 March: In the GDR, the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16.12.1966" comes into force. Article 12, Paragraph 1 of the agreement states: "Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own."
30 March: In Bonn, an agreement is signed between the GDR and West Germany on improvements in the postal and telephone system between the two German states.
April: After a trial phase in 1975, the construction begins of the 4th generation of the Berlin Wall (Grenzmauer-75 [Border Wall – 75]). It consists of industrially produced vertical wall elements with an asbestos pipe on the top.
14 April: The regime critic and physicist Andrei D. Sakharov and his wife Yelena Bonner are arrested in the western Siberian city of Omsk. Sakharov is the leading figure in the civil and human rights movement in the USSR. He was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1975 for his commitment in helping politically and religiously persecuted people.
23 April: The "Palace of the Republic" is opened on the grounds of the former Berlin City Palace in Marx-Engels Square in East Berlin. The building is intended among other things as the seat of the GDR Volkskammer.
1 May: Michael Gartenschläger, a political prisoner in the GDR ransomed by the West, fights the GDR by dismantling automatic firing devices (SM-70). After successfully taking apart such devices on 30 March and 24 April 1976, he is shot dead in an ambush by a Stasi special unit during a third attempt.
9 May: The RAF terrorist Ulrike Meinhof is found hanged in her cell in Stammheim Prison in Stuttgart. According to the prison authorities, she has committed suicide. Her death provokes protests and violent demonstration in Germany and abroad because of a rumour that she was murdered.
8-22 May: At the 10th SED Party Conference, the population is told that the "main task" has been successfully implemented: the minimum wages and pensions have been raised and the supplementary pensions improved, full-time working mothers have received a number of concessions ranging from a reduction in working hours and an extension of paid maternity leave to birth premiums. The residential housing programme, as the "core of the main task", has begun with the objective of building three million apartments by 1990; at the same time, rents have remained low. The party conference resolves that the implementation of the "main task" will remain the focus of SED policy in the future.
28 May: In Moscow, representatives from the USA and USSR sign an agreement on civilian underground atomic tests that also envisages mutual supervision.
1 July: In West Germany, the law on co-determination comes into force. It applies to companies with a legal personality (such as joint-stock companies, limited partnerships, limited liability companies) with more than 2,000 employees. The supervisory boards in these companies contain equal numbers of employer and employee representatives; in the event of a tied vote, the supervisory chairman, who is usually a shareholder, casts the deciding vote.
5 August: The Italian truck driver Benito Corghi, who notices when already on the Western side of the Rudolphstein/Hirschberg border crossing that he has forgotten his papers on the GDR side, goes back on foot to fetch them and is shot dead by GDR border guards.
13 August: The SED leadership celebrates the 15th anniversary of the construction of the Wall with a military rally ("Kampfappell") and a parade of the "Combat Groups of the Working Class".
18 August: In the marketplace in the Thuringian town of Zeitz, the Protestant minister Oskar Brüsewitz sets himself on fire in protest at the repression of churches in the GDR. He dies of his severe injuries four days later.
19 August: Meeting between CPSU leader Leonid Brezhnev and SED General Secretary Erich Honecker in the Crimea: Brezhnev repeats his concerns about the growth in inner German travel: "Erich, I have already told you that the GDR has 17 million inhabitants. A lot of people come to the GDR. They make propaganda for capitalism. The District Secretary of the party can’t know everything that is said, not even Comrade Mielke." The increasing debt of the socialist states in the West causes Brezhnev to advise moderation in this regard. Honecker promises to gradually pay off GDR obligations in the West. He says, however, that this requires Soviet grain deliveries to be made to the amount agreed.
23 September: Founding of the Workers’ Defence Committee (KOR) – an organisation of dissident intellectuals and activists in Poland.
6 October: The chairman of the GDR State Planning Commission, Gerhard Schürer, internally warns of the increasing and unplanned debt of the GDR in the West. He says additional imports of grain and feed, price hikes for raw materials and imports of consumer goods from the West had led in the past to a trade deficit of almost nine billion West German marks for which Western loans had to be taken out to a corresponding amount. Schürer urges an increase in exports to the non-socialist economic area and at the same time to reduce imports from the West.
11 October: In order No. 101/76 by the GDR Defence Minister and all subsequent "101 orders", it is no longer mentioned that "border violators" are to be destroyed. The order is made to arrest them. Nonetheless, firearms continue to be used to prevent escapes up until 1989.
3 November: The GDR author Rainer Kunze is thrown out of the GDR Writers’ Association federation after the publication of his novel "Die wunderbaren Jahre" ("The Wonderful Years") by a West German publisher.
2 November: Following a resolution by the SED Politburo, the Commercial Coordination (KoKo) department headed by Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski is put under the charge of Günter Mittag and thus under Erich Honecker’s direction. Under strict secrecy and isolation from all other Central Committee departments, the Planning Commission as well as the SED Politburo, the KoKo department is henceforth answerable only to Honecker and Mittag.
16 November: The songwriter Wolf Biermann is expatriated from the GDR during a concert tour of West Germany. Thirteen well-known GDR artists and intellectuals demonstrate their solidarity with Biermann and publish a protest declaration on 17 November. In the ensuing days, there are several arrests, including that of Jürgen Fuchs. After Biermann’s expatriation, prominent authors, artists and actors leave the GDR, such as Rainer Kunze, Manfred Krug and Armin Müller-Stahl.
26 November: The GDR regime critic Professor Robert Havemann is placed under house arrest. He is no longer allowed to leave his house in the Grünheide district of Berlin. However, he continues to succeed in creating contact with the outside world and smuggling his writings to the West.
22 December: The ARD television correspondent Lothar Loewe is expelled from the GDR "for gross violation of the law". In a report for the current affairs programme "Tagesschau", Loewe had said people were being shot at "like rabbits" on the inner German border.