Cold War Timeline

Military-politico events in Europe and elsewhere between the United States and the Soviet Union often tempered relations between Soviet and US forces in Germany during the Cold War. US Military Liaison Mission and other Allied Liaison Missions personnel experienced first hand Soviet and East German Communist recriminations during tense times. The pulse of East-West relations could be felt at any time in our daily face to face interaction and Liaison activities with the Soviets in East Germany (DDR). Indeed, the intent of these web pages is not to over accentuate the exclusive importance of the East-West military liaisons, but to provide one perspective on the Cold War. Similar notable exchanges occured during the Cold War on air, land, sea and space wherever the East and West interests converged. This section highlights but a few activities of the USMLM in East Germany presented in contrast to international events purely for the readers indulgence.

1940s

  • 4-11 February: Yalta Conference between Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin. The Yalta conference is often cited as the beginning of the Cold War.
  • 7 May: German military leaders surrender unconditionally to Eisenhower at Rheims, France. World War II ends in Europe. Staffs are exchanged between US and Russian military forces meeting on the Elbe river and later Berlin.
  • 26 June: The United Nations Charter is signed at San Francisco.
  • 3 July: Allied troops complete occupation of Berlin.
  • 6 August: Explosion of Hiroshima atom bomb.
  • 9 August: Explosion of Hiroshima atom bomb.
  • 14 August: Japan surrenders.
  • 5 November: Hungarian election: Communist party wins only 17 percent of the vote. Stalin moves to eradicate opposition and to consolidate the Soviet position in Hungary.
  • 1945-1946: America and Great Britain withdraw their troops from Iran; the Soviet Union does not.
  • 28 February: Russia policy: Secretary of State James F. Byrnes introduces new “get tough with Russia” policy at Overseas Press Club, New York.
  • 5 March: Winston Churchill, in a speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, says an “iron curtain” has come down across Europe.
  • 14 June: Baruch Plan: Bernard Baruch presents Truman’s international atomic energy control plan to U.N. Plan would place fissionable materials under control of a U.N. agency equipped with inspection powers and exempt from the great-power (Security Council) veto. Soviet Union objects to American domination of any U.N. agency and is unwilling to surrender their veto or accept inspection within the Soviet Union.
  • 30 June: Poland: National referendum approves Communist reforms.
  • 16 September: British Commanders’-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany (BRIXMIS) was set up under the Robertson-Malinin Agreement between the chiefs of staff of the British and Soviet forces in occupied Germany.
  • 19 January: The Soviet-sponsored Communist “Lublin-Committee” monopolises power in Poland.
  • 12 March: President Truman urges the United States “to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressure” (Truman Doctrine).
  • March: Huebner-Malinin Agreement signed on creating military liaison missions, SOXMIS and USMLM, accredited to the Soviet and United States Commander in Chief of the Zones of Occupation in Germany. (See April 7, 1947.)
  • 12 March: Truman Doctrine: Truman asks Congress to support “free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures.” Congress grants $400 million in aid to Greece and Turkey to defend against Communist guerrillas.
  • 7 April: US Military Liaison Mission (USMLM) stands up under General Order 17 subsequent to the Huebner-Malinin Agreement signed in March 1947 on creating military liaison missions accredited to the Soviet and United States Commander in Chief of the Zones of Occupation in Germany. USMLM staff headquartered in Potsdam, near Berlin. Soviet Mission (SOXMIS) headquartered in Frankfurt. (See March, 1947.)
  • 31 May: Hungary is taken over by Communist government.
  • 5 June: Marshall Plan: Secretary of State George C. Marshall calls on European nations to draft plan for European economic recovery, offering aid in planning and “later support.” Eastern Europe walks out of initial Paris meeting at Soviet behest. The following March, Congress votes to fund the Marshall Plan to aid 16 European nations.
  • 26 July-17 September: National Security Act creates DoD, and several new agencies, including the National Military Establishment with three separate departments of the Army, the Navy and the new U.S. Air Force, National Security Council (NSC), CIA, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • 5 October: Establishment of Cominform, the organisation for the ideological unity of the Soviet bloc, following rejection of Marshall Aid by the Soviet Union and its allies.
  • 30 December: Eastern Europe: Rumania’s monarchy is replaced by a Communist regime.
  • 22 February: The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia gains control of the government in Prague through a coup d’Etat.
  • 17 March: Signature of the Brussels Treaty of Economic, Social and Cultural Collaboration and Collective Self-defense by the Foreign Ministers of Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
  • 11 June: The United States Senate adopts the “Vandenberg Resolution”.
  • 24 June (until May 12, 1949): Beginning of the Berlin blockade by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union blockades all highway, river, and rail traffic into Western-controlled West Berlin to force the Western powers out of Berlin. USMLM allowed to continue travel throughout Eastern Germany but with some restrictions on access to Berlin and travel corridor. USMLM attempts to monitor Soviet forces buildup and intentions around Berlin.
  • 28 June: Formal expulsion of Yugoslavia from Cominform.
  • 6 July: Talks on North Atlantic defense begin in Washington between the United States, Canada and the Brussels Treaty Powers.
  • 15 August: Republic of South Korea is founded.
  • 9 September: The Korean People’s Democratic Republic is founded.
  • 27-28 September: The Defense Ministers of the Brussels Treaty Powers decide to create a Western Union Defense Organisation.
  • 25-26 October: The Consultative Council of the Brussels Treaty Powers announces “complete agreement on the principle of a defensive pact for the North Atlantic”.
  • 10 December: Negotiations on the North Atlantic Treaty open in Washington between the representatives of the Brussels Treaty Powers, Canada and the United States.
  • 15 March: The negotiating powers invite Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway and Portugal to adhere to the North Atlantic Treaty.
  • 2 April: The governments concerned repudiate Soviet assertions that the North Atlantic Treaty is contrary to the United Nations Charter.
  • 4 April: The North Atlantic Treaty is signed in Washington by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kindgom and the United States. Later joined by Greece, Spain, Turkey, and West Germany. In 1955 Soviet Union forms competing Warsaw Pact.
  • 8 April: The Brussels Treaty Powers, Denmark, Italy and Norway, request United States military and financial assistance.
  • 9 May: The Berlin blockade is lifted.
  • 24 August: The North Atlantic Treaty enters into force.
  • 17 September: First session of the North Atlantic Council in Washington.
  • 21 September: German Federal Republic established as Allied High Commission relinquishes control of the administration of the American, British, and French occupation zones.
  • 23 September: Truman announces that the Soviet Union exploded an atomic bomb sometime during the latter half of August.
  • 1 October: People’s Republic of China is established.
  • 6 October: Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949 is signed by President Truman.

1950s

  • 5 May: The Federal Republic of Germany becomes a member of NATO.
  • 14 May: Warsaw Pact signed, calling for the mutual defense of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, and the Soviet Union.
  • 29 June: B-52 intercontinental bomber deployment begins in the United States.
  • July: Fear of a “Bomber Gap” ensues after Soviets fly Bear and Bison long-range bombers multiple times past American visitors at an air show, causing an exaggerated assessment of Soviet inventories.
  • 18 July: Geneva Summit Conference: Eisenhower, Khrushchev, and Eden discuss disarmament and European security. Eisenhower proposes “Open Skies,” which would allow aerial reconnaissance of each other’s territories.
  • 18-23 July: First Conference of NATO Parliamentarians (since November 1966, the North Atlantic Assembly) in Paris.
  • 14 February: Khrushchev denounces Stalin in “secret” speech.
  • 18 April: Dissolution of Cominform.
  • 28 June: Anti-regime riots erupt at Poznan in Poland.
  • 26 July: Egypt nationalises the Suez Canal.
  • 23 October-4 November: Hungarians revolt against Communist rule and make futile pleas for U.S. assistance as Soviet forces crush the resistance.
  • 4 November: Soviet suppression of Hungarian people’s rebellion.
  • 17 November: “We will bury you” statement made by Khrushchev to Western diplomats.
  • 16 May: Paul-Henri Spaak (Belgium) succeeds Lord Ismay as Secretary General of NATO.
  • 26 August: Moscow announces its first successful ICBM test.
  • 4 October: Soviet Union launches Sputnik, first satellite to orbit Earth.
  • 3 November: Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2, which carries the first living creature (a dog) into space.
  • 17 December: First successful test of US Atlas ICBM.
  • December: Gaither Report to the NSC states Soviet Union has achieved superiority in long-range ballistic missiles leading to fears of a “missile gap.”
  • 1 January: Entry into force of the Treaty of Rome setting up the European Economic Community.
  • 31 January: First U.S. satellite, Explorer I, is launched into orbit.
  • 27 March: Khrushchev becomes Soviet Premier in addition to being First Secretary of the Communist Party.
  • 30 March: Soviet Union suspends atmospheric nuclear testing.
  • 15-17 April: Defense Ministers of the NATO countries meeting in Paris reaffirm the defensive character of the NATO strategy.
  • October: United States and Britain suspend atmospheric testing.
  • 1 January: Overthrow of the Batista regime in Cuba by Fidel Castro.
  • 24 July: Nixon visits the Soviet Union, takes on Khrushchev in the “kitchen debate” on the merits of capitalism vs. communism.
  • 9 September: Atlas ICBM becomes operational.
  • 13 September: Soviet spacecraft reaches the moon and crashes there.
  • 15 September: Khrushchev visits United States, meets Eisenhower at Camp David, agrees to summit meeting in Paris, May 16, 1960.
  • 15-22 December: Inauguration of the new NATO Headquarters at the Porte Dauphine in Paris.
  • 15 February: Sino-Soviet Pact creates a bilateral defense commitment, settles historic territorial issues between China and the Soviet Union, and initiates modest program of Soviet aid to China.
  • April: NSC 68 Reappraisal of America’s strategic position by the NSC. The definition for the Cold War shifted from political to military, postulating a Soviet “design for world domination.” NSC 68 called for both a build-up of nuclear weapons and for enlarged capacity to fight conventional wars whenever the Russians threatened “piecemeal aggression.” It also called for a reduction of social welfare programs and other services not related to military needs and for tighter internal security programs.
  • 25 June: North Korean troops cross the 38th parallel in a surprise invasion of South Korea.
  • 24 October: French Prime Minister, Rene Pleven, outlines his plan for a European unified army, including German contingents, within the framework of NATO.
  • 19 December: The North Atlantic Council appoints General Dwight D. Eisenhower to be the first Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
  • 20 December: The Brussels Treaty Powers decide to merge the military organisation of the Western Union into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
  • 2 April: Allied Command Europe becomes operational with Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) located at Roquencourt, near Paris.
  • 8 September: Peace treaty with Japan is signed. United States retains military presence for defense of Japan. United States also negotiates mutual security agreement with Philippines, Australia, New Zealand (ANZUS Pact).
  • 17-22 October: Signature in London of the protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the accession of Greece and Turkey.
  • January 16: Soviet Union restricts mobility of all foreign diplomats in Moscow to a 25-mile radius.
  • 18 February: Greece and Turkey accede to the North Atlantic Treaty.
  • 21 February: The Council establishes a Channel Command, and appoints Admiral Sir Arthur John Power as the first Commander-in-Chief Channel (CINCHAN).
  • 12 March: Lord Ismay (United Kingdom) is appointed ViceChairman of the North Atlantic Council and Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
  • 10 April: Supreme Allied Command Atlantic (SACLANT) becomes operational, with headquarters at Norfolk, Virginia, USA.
  • 16 April: NATO opens its provisional headquarters at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris.
  • 28 April: First meeting of the North Atlantic Council in permanent session in Paris.
  • 5 March: The death of Josef Stalin.
  • 27 July: Korean Armistice signed at Panmunjon.
  • 14 August: Soviet Union explodes a hydrogen bomb.
  • 1 May: Soviet Union unveils M-4 its first jet-engine propelled long-range bomber.
  • 7 May: The United Kingdom and the United States reject the USSR’s bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
  • 24 August: Communist Party outlawed in United States as Eisenhower signs Communist Control Act.
  • 29 August: The French National Assembly decides against ratification of the Treaty setting up the European Defense Community (EDC).
  • 7 September: SEATO: Australia, Britain, France, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, and the United States form an anti-communist alliance against “massive military aggression.”
  • 23 October: Signature of the Paris Agreements. West Germany is invited to join NATO and becomes a member on May 5, 1955.

1960s

 
  • 24 December: Vietnam: U.S. forces number 184,300 in Vietnam.
  • 10 March: President de Gaulle announces France’s intention of withdrawing from the integrated military structure of the Alliance.
  • 31 March: Official opening ceremony of SHAPE at Casteau near Mons, Belgium.
  • 6-7 April: First meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group in Washington.
  • 21 April: Military regime takes over power in Greece.
  • 14 June: The North Atlantic Council meeting in Luxembourg reviews the Middle East situation following the Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
  • 16 October: Official opening of new NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
  • 13-14 December: The North Atlantic Council approves the Harmel Report on the Future Tasks of the Alliance. The Defense Planning Committee adopts NATO’s new strategic concept of flexible response and approves the establishment of a Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT).
  • 20-21 August: Soviet, Polish, East German, Bulgarian and Hungarian troops invade Czechoslovakia.
  • 12 September: Albania renounces its membership of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation.
  • 13-14 November: Formation of the Eurogroup.
  • 28 May: Establishment of the naval on-call force in the Mediterranean (NAVOCFORMED).
  • 8-10 December: First meeting of the Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society (CCMS).
  • 1 May: American U2 aircraft is shot down over Soviet territory. Pilot Gary Powers is held by the Soviet Union. Incident is announced by Khrushchev on May 5. (See Francis Gary Powers Jr. web site http://www.coldwar.org)
  • 16 May: East-West summit conference in Paris collapses over U-2 incident.
  • 24 May: United States launches Midas II satellite for military reconnaissance purposes.
  • 20 July: United States fires first ballistic missile from a submerged submarine off Cape Canaveral.
  • 19 August: U-2 pilot Gary Powers sentenced by the U.S.S.R. to ten years in prison; he is exchanged for a Soviet spy in 1961. USMLM participated in the exchange for Gary Powers at the Glienecke Bridge.
  • 23 September: Khrushchev attends the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.
  • 8 November: Kennedy elected president.
  • 12 April: Soviet Major Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man orbited in space.
  • 21 April: Dirk U. Stikker (Netherlands) succeeds Paul-Henri Spaak as Secretary General of NATO.
  • 3 January: Cuba: Eisenhower Administration breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba over Castro’s unwillingness to hold democratic elections.
  • 1 February: BMEWS: Ballistic missile early warning system becomes operational.
  • 12 April: Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin is the first man to orbit the Earth.
  • 17 April: Bay of Pigs landing by more than 1,000 CIA-trained Cuban refugees fails in its attempt to “liberate” Cuba.
  • 5 May: First American in space, Alan B. Shepard, makes suborbital flight aboard a Mercury capsule.
  • 3 June: Vienna Summit:Khrushchev reissues ultimatum to begin talks on Germany within 6 months or face a permanent the division of Germany. Kennedy responds with call for military build-up, beginning of civil defense program.
  • 13 August: East Germany closes the Brandenburg Gate, sealing the border between East and West Berlin in preparation for building the Berlin Wall. USMLM team in East Germany report Soviet forces set up a ring several kilometers outside of and around Berlin prohibiting any traffic into the city.
  • 1 September: Soviet Union resumes atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.
  • 15 September: United States resumes underground testing of nuclear weapons.
  • 20 February: John Glenn is first American to orbit the Earth.
  • 10 April: Macmillan and Kennedy appeal to Khrushchev for agreement on a test ban treaty.
  • 25 April: United States resumes atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.
  • 4-6 May: Foreign Ministers and Defense Ministers of the North Atlantic Alliance review the circumstances in which the Alliance might be compelled to have recourse to nuclear weapons (Athens Guidelines).
  • October: Minuteman I becomes operational; ICBMs deployed in silos for blast protection.
  • 23 October: Cuban Missile Crisis: United States establishes air and sea blockade of Cuba in response to photographs of Soviet missile bases under construction in Cuba. United States threatens to invade Cuba if the bases are not dismantled and warns that a nuclear attack launched from Cuba would be considered a Soviet attack requiring full retaliation.
  • 28 October: Khrushchev agreesto remove offensive weapons from Cuba and the United States agrees to remove missiles from Turkey and end Cuban-exile incursions.
  • 21 November: United States ends Cuban blockade, satisfied that all bases are removed and Soviet jets will leave the island by December 20.
  • 18-20 December: President Kennedy and Prime Minister Macmillan confer at Nassau, Bahamas. They agree to contribute part of their strategic nuclear forces to NATO.
  • 20 June: Agreement on a “hot line” between Washington and Moscow is signed in Geneva by the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • 26 June: Kennedy visits Berlin,declares “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
  • 15-25 July: The United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union initial an agreement banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and underwater.
  • 10 October: The Moscow Treaty on a partial nuclear test ban comes into force.
  • 22 November: President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
  • 1 August: Manlio Brosio (Italy) succeeds Dirk Stikker as Secretary General of NATO.
  • 15 October: Khrushchev is removed from office. He is replaced by Leonid Brezhnev as General Secretary of the CPSU and by Alexei Kosygin as Prime Minister.
  • 16 October: China explodes its first atomic bomb.

1970s

  • 31 July-1 August: Final phase of CSCE. The Heads of State and Government sign the Helsinki Final Act.
  • 2 February: Establishment of the Independent European Program Group.
  • 10-11 May: North Atlantic Council meeting in London with participation of Heads of State and Government. Initiation of a long-term defense program.
  • 4 October: CSCE Follow-up Meeting in Belgrade (4 October 1977 – 9 March 1978).
  • 12 October: Establishment of NPG High Level Group on theater nuclear force modernisation.
  • 30-31 May: Meeting of the North Atlantic Council with participation of Heads of State and Government in Washington.
  • 31 October-11 December: CSCE Experts’ Meeting on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes, Montreux
  • 18 November: Third NATO communications satellite launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • 5-6 December: Approval of Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS).
  • 18 June: SALT II agreement signed in Vienna by President Carter and General Secretary Brezhnev. (The agreement was not ratified by the United States).
  • 4 November: Seizure of the United States Embassy in Tehran and 53 hostages by Islamic revolutionaries.
  • 12 December: Special Meeting of Foreign and Defense Ministers in Brussels. “Double-track” decision on theater nuclear force modernisation including the deployment in Europe of US ground-launched Cruise and Pershing II systems and a parallel and complementary arms control effort to obviate the need for such deployments.
  • 27 December: Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.
  • 5 March: Non-Proliferation Treaty on Nuclear Weapons comes into force.
  • 20 March: First NATO communications satellite launched from Cape Kennedy.
  • 16 April: Opening in Vienna of US-USSR negotiations on strategic arms limitations (SALT).
  • 2 February: Second NATO communications satellite launched from Cape Kennedy.
  • 1 October: Joseph Luns (Netherlands) succeeds Manlio Brosio as Secretary General of NATO.
  • 26 May: President Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev sign the SALT I agreement, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
  • 3 June: Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin signed by Foreign Ministers of France, United Kingdom, United States and the USSR.
  • 21 November: Opening of SALT II in Geneva.
  • 21 December: Signature in East Berlin of the “Basic Treaty” between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic.
  • 1 January: Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom join the European Economic Community (EEC).
  • 11 May: Inauguration of Standing Naval Force Channel (STANAVFORCHAN).
  • 3-7 July: Opening of Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Helsinki.
  • 6-24 October: Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War.
  • 30 October: Conference on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR) opens in Vienna.
  • 25 April: Military coup d’Etat in Portugal.
  • 26 June: NATO Heads of Government meeting in Brussels sign a Declaration on Atlantic Relations approved and published by the North Atlantic Council in Ottawa on 19 June.
  • 23 July: Konstantinos Karamanlis becomes Prime Minister of Greece following the resignation of the military government.
  • 14 August: Withdrawal of Greek forces from integrated military structure of NATO.
  • 23-24 November: President Ford and General Secretary Brezhnev, meeting in Vladivostok, agree on steps towards limitation of US-USSR strategic nuclear arms.

1980s

  • 11 March: Mikhail Gorbachev becomes General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
  • 12 March: The United States and the USSR begin new arms control negotiations in Geneva, encompassing defense and space systems, strategic nuclear forces and intermediate-range nuclear forces.
  • 24 March: USMLM Army officer Major Arthur D. Nicholson, Jr. is killed by a Russian soldier near Ludwigslust, East Germany. Maj Nicholson, Jr. and Army Sergeant Jessie Schatz were performing official liaison functions, as allowed in the Huebrner-Malinin Agreement, in a non-restricted area when he was shot in cold blood by a Soviet conscript. Senior Soviet officers debated their predicament in a cowardly fashion, and with their usual disregard for human life, at the site while disallowing anyone to provide first aid treatment to Major Nicholson. Frequent requests by Sergeant Schatz to provide medical treatment to his officer were repeatedly denied. Nick was promoted posthumously to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and is buried in Section 7-A of Arlington National Cemetery.
  • 26 April: The 1955 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, establishing the Warsaw Treaty Organisation, is extended for 20 years by leaders of the seven member states.
  • 19-21 November: Geneva Summit meeting between United States President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
  • February: USMLM personnel participate in US-Soviet prisoner exchange on Glienecke Bridge (Freedom Bridge) site of many exchanges during Cold War. Soviet-Jewish dissident Anatoly Sharansky “Natan” is released to the West after nine years of Soviet inprisonment including in the notorious Moscow Lefortovo prison and Siberia. The Israeli Ambassador, escorted by US State Department and USMLM personnel, met Sharansky on the bridge transfer.
  • 12 March: In a referendum organised by Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, Spanish voters support the continued membership of Spain in the Atlantic Alliance without participation in NATO’s integrated military structure.
  • 26 April: Nuclear accident at the Chernobyl power station in the Soviet Union. USMLM personnel travelling throughout East Germany notice a complete East German Government news blackout on the Shernobyl nuclear accident. Radioactive fallout detected over Western Europe prompts Western authorities to issue safety & health warnings that include frequent showering and limiting outside activities. No such warning is ever issued by East German Communist authorities.
  • 22 September: End of Stockholm Conference on Confidence and Security Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe (CDE). Concluding document (dated 19 September) includes mandatory measures for notification, observation and on-site inspection of military manoeuvres of participating countries.
  • 11-12 October: Reykjavik Summit Meeting between United States President Reagan and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
  • 4 November: The third CSCE Follow-up Conference opens in Vienna.
  • 17 February: Talks open in Vienna between NATO and Warsaw Treaty countries on a mandate for negotiations on conventional forces in Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals.
  • 22 July: Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announces Soviet readiness to eliminate all intermediate-range nuclear weapons including those deployed in the Asian part of the Soviet Union in the context of a United States-Soviet INF treaty.
  • 17 September: USMLM USAF non-commissioned officer is wounded (shot) by a Soviet soldier while he and a USMLM USAF officer were conducting routine liaison functions in a non-restricted area.
  • 5-7 October: Soviet inspectors attend NATO exercises in Turkey, the first such inspection to take place in an Alliance country under the provisions of the September 1986 Stockholm Document.
  • 27 October: Foreign and Defense Ministers of the seven member countries of the Western European Union adopt a “Platform on European Security Interests”.
  • 25 November: Presentation of NATO’s annual Atlantic Award to Pierre Harmel (Belgium) author of the 1967 Harmel Report.
  • 8 December: US President Reagan and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev, meeting at the beginning of their 3-day summit talks, sign the Washington INF Treaty, eliminating on a global basis land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
  • 9 December: The United States and the Soviet Union reach agreement on measures allowing the monitoring of nuclear explosions at each other’s test sites.
  • 10 December: At the end of their 3-day summit meeting in Washington, US President Reagan and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev pledge deep cuts in strategic arms.
  • 11 December: The North Atlantic Council marks the 20th anniversary of the Harmel report. The Secretary of State of the United States and the Foreign Ministers of Belgium, Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom sign bilateral agreements relating to the implementation of the INF Treaty.
  • 22 January: Establishment of a Joint Security Council by the Governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and of France. The two Governments also sign an agreement relating to the formation of a joint Franco-German Army Brigade.
  • 2-3 March: Summit meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels emphasises Allied unity and reasserts the common objectives and principles and the continuing validity of Alliance policies. A Statement on Conventional Arms Control is issued calling for significant steps to bring about progress in eliminating conventional force disparities through negotiations on conventional stability.
  • 15 May: Beginning of Soviet troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.
  • 31 May: During a five-day Summit meeting in Moscow, President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev exchange documents implementing the recently ratified December 1987 INF Treaty and sign bilateral agreements on nuclear testing and in other fields.
  • 7 December: President Gorbachev, in the course of a major address to the UN General Assembly, announces unilateral Soviet conventional force reductions.
  • 19 January: Conclusion of the Vienna CSCE Follow-up Meeting and adoption of a Concluding Document including mandates for new negotiations on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) and new negotiations on Confidence and Security-Building Measures (CSBMs).
  • 15 February: The Soviet Union completes the withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan in accordance with the schedule announced by President Gorbachev.
  • 6 March: Foreign Ministers of CSCE states meet in Vienna to mark the opening of new negotiations on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) among the 23 members of NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organisation and on Confidence and Security Building Measures among all 35 CSCE participating States.
  • 27 March: The first multi-candidate elections to the new USSR Congress of People’s Deputies result in major set-backs for official Party candidates in many constituencies.
  • 12 May: President Bush proposes “Open Skies” regime to increase confidence and transparency with respect to military activities. The proposal envisages reciprocal opening of airspace and acceptance of overflights of national territory by participating countries.
  • 29-30 May: Summit Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels attended by Heads of State and Government. Announcement by President Bush of major new initiatives for conventional force reductions in Europe. Adoption of the Alliance’s Comprehensive Concept of Arms Control and Disarmament and publication of a Summit Declaration.
  • 31 May: During a visit to the Federal Republic of Germany President Bush outlines proposals for promoting free elections and pluralism in Eastern Europe and dismantling the Berlin Wall.
  • June: Peaceful demonstrations begin in Dresden, East Germany, and later Leipzig, calling for greater freedoms and reform in the DDR.
  • 3-4 June: Chinese leaders use armed forces in Peking to suppress unarmed student-led popular demonstrations in favour of democracy, causing large-scale loss of life and leading to major unrest in other cities, purges and infringements of basic rights throughout China.
  • 4 and 18 June: Free elections for the Polish Senate and partial elections involving 35 per cent of seats in the Sejm result in major electoral success for Solidarity.
  • 8-9 June: Ministerial Meeting of the Defense Planning Committee. Defense Ministers consider implications for defense planning of Western proposals for reduction of conventional forces in Europe.
  • 19 June: Re-opening of Strategic Arms Reductions Talks (START) in Geneva.
  • 24 August: Tadeusz Mazowiecki becomes Prime Minister of the first non-communist led government in Poland in 40 years. The Polish United Workers’ (Communist) Party retains four ministries.
  • 10 September: Hungary opens its Western border, enabling large numbers of East German refugees to leave the country for destinations in the West.
  • 3 October: Following the exodus of 6,390 East German citizens from Western embassies in Prague on 1 October, under arrangements made by the East German Government, some 20,000 East German emigrants congregate in the Prague and Warsaw embassies of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • 6-7 October: Mikhail Gorbachev, attending 40th Anniversary Parade in East Berlin, urges reforms in the GDR.
  • 8 November-18 October: Erich Honecker, General Secretary of the Socialist (Communist) Unity Party since 1971, is replaced by Egon Krenz as leader of the German Democratic Republic as East German citizens demonstrate for political reform and large numbers of refugees continue to leave the German Democratic Republic through Prague and Budapest.
  • 23 October: The new constitution adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on 18 October brings into being the Republic of Hungary as a “free, democratic, independent legal state” and opens the way for multiparty elections in 1990.
  • 7 November: Resignation of the East German Cabinet following rallies in many cities calling for free elections and the abolition of the Communist monopoly on power and calls from within the Party for major changes at the highest level. The move is followed the next day by the joint resignation of the ruling Politburo.
  • 9-10 November: The opening of the Berlin Wall. Following widespread demonstrations and demand for political reform, the government of the German Democratic Republic announces the lifting of travel restrictions to the West and sets up new crossing points.
  • 14 November: East German Parliament elects reformist Hans Modrow as Prime Minister.
  • 16 November: Removal of Todor Zhivkov, Bulgarian Communist Party leader since 1954, followed by further sweeping changes in the party leadership.
  • 17 November: Violent dispersal of Prague student demonstrations triggers popular movement against the government. Emergence of Civic Forum, led by Vaclav Havel.
  • 20 November: Mass demonstrations in Leipzig voice popular call for German unification.
  • 24 November: Resignation of the Czechoslovak Party leadership. Karel Urbanek becomes General Secretary and invites dialogue with Civic Forum.
  • 3 December: Resignation of new East German Politburo and Central Committee amid revelations of Communist leadership’s misrule and corruption.
  • 4 December: NATO Summit Meeting in Brussels. US President George Bush briefs NATO leaders on his talks with Soviet President Gorbachev at the US-Soviet Summit Meeting in Malta on 2-3 December, marking the beginning of a new era of cooperation between their countries. The Summit Meeting of leaders of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation in Moscow publishes a joint statement denouncing the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact forces and repudiates the Brezhnev Doctrine of limited sovereignty.
  • 7 December: Resignation of President Gustav Husak and formation of coalition government in Czechoslovakia. NATO’s Atlantic Award for 1989 is bestowed on Sir Michael Howard, President and cofounder of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
  • 11 December: Popular demonstrations in Bulgaria lead to the promise of free elections and renunciation of the leading role of the Communist Party.
  • 13 December: Vaclav Havel is elected President of Czechoslovakia.
  • 14-15 December: Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels. Foreign Ministers review accelerating political change in Central and Eastern Europe.
  • 19 December: Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze visits NATO Headquarters for talks with NATO Secretary General Manfred Worner and Permanent Representatives of NATO countries – the first such visit by a Minister of a Central or Eastern European government.
  • 20 December: Troops and police open fire on thousands of antigovernment protesters in the Romanian town of Timisoara.
  • 22 December: Fall of Ceausescu regime. Nicolai Ceausescu is arrested by the Romanian armed forces and executed on 25 December.
  • 29 December: The Polish Parliament abolishes the leading role of the Communist Party and restores the country’s name as the Republic of Poland.
  • 24 January: Members of the Alliance participating in the 12 December 1979 Special Meeting establish the Special Consultative Group on arms control involving theater nuclear forces.
  • 18 February-3 March: CSCE Forum on Scientific Cooperation, Hamburg.
  • 31 August: Gdansk Agreements, leading to establishment and official recognition of independent Polish trade union “Solidarity”.
  • 12 September: Turkish military leadership takes over the administration of the country.
  • 22 September: War breaks out between Iraq and Iran.
  • 20 October: Re-integration of Greek forces into the integrated military structure of the Alliance.
  • 11 November: Opening of CSCE Follow-up Meeting in Madrid.
  • 4 December: Polish LOT airliner Flight number 770, on routine flight from Zielena Gora, PL, to Warsaw hijacked to Tempelhof Central Airfield (TCA), landing at 0839A hours. The airliner was forced to land at TCA by a Polish citizen, Andrezy Perka, seeking asylum in the West.
  • 1 January: Greece becomes the 10th member of the European Economic Community.
  • 23 January: Abortive attempt by rebel civil guards to overthrow Spanish caretaker government.
  • 27 October: Soviet submarine grounded in Swedish territorial waters.
  • 18 November: President Reagan announces new arms control initatives including intermediate-range nuclear force negotiations (INF) and strategic arms reduction talks (START).
  • 30 November: The United States and the Soviet Union open Geneva negotiations on intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF).
  • 10-11 December: Signature of the Protocol of Accession of Spain to the North Atlantic Treaty.
  • 13 December: Imposition of martial law in Poland.
  • 11 January: Special Ministerial Session of the North Atlantic Council issues a Declaration on Events in Poland.
  • 2 April-14 June: The Falklands Conflict.
  • 30 May: Spain becomes the 16th member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
  • 10 June: Summit Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Bonn. Heads of State and Government issue the Bonn Declaration setting out the Alliance Program for Peace in Freedom.
  • 30 June: Opening of Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) in Geneva.
  • 23 March: President Reagan announces a comprehensive research program aimed at eliminating the threat posed by strategic nuclear missiles (Strategic Defense Initiative).
  • 22 July: Ending of martial law in Poland. New laws reinforce Government controls.
  • 1 September: A South Korean airliner with 269 people on board is shot down by Soviet air defense off the coast of Sakhalin.
  • 9 September: Conclusion of CSCE Follow-up Meeting in Madrid.
  • 25 October: Military intervention in Grenada by United States and East Caribbean forces.
  • 27 October: The Montebello Decision. Defense Ministers meeting in the NATO Nuclear Planning Group in Montebello, Canada announce their decision to withdraw a further 1,400 warheads from Europe, bringing the total of such withdrawals since 1979 to 2,400.
  • 23 November: Deliveries of GLCM components to the United Kingdom mark the beginning of NATO’s intermediate range nuclear force deployments (INF).
  • 23 November: Decision by the Soviet Union to discontinue the current round of negotiations in Geneva on intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF).
  • 8 December: Conclusion of the current round of US-Soviet Geneva negotiations on Strategic Arms Reductions (START) without a date being set by the Soviet side for their resumption.
  • 8-9 December: Foreign Ministers meeting in the Ministerial Session of the North Atlantic Council issue the Declaration of Brussels expressing their determination to seek a balanced and constructive relationship with the East and calling on the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Treaty countries to respond.
  • 13 December: Formation of a civilian government in Turkey following parliamentary elections under a new constitution.
  • 17 January: Opening of the Stockholm Conference on Security and Confidence-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe (CDE).
  • 22 March: A French Military Liaison Mission (FMLM/MMFL) tour vehicle is deliberately rammed head on by a GDR Ural-375 truck on the autobahn near Halle, East Germany. The FMLM driver, Mariotti, is killed instantly. The FMLM tour officer receives serious head injuries and a broken arm but remains on the scene to watch over his dead colleague. Stasi (MfS) files recovered after the collapse of the Berlin Wall reveal that this incident was no accident, but a planned premeditated murder. (Almost a year later, on 24 March 1985, a USMLM Tour Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur D. Nicholson Jr. is murdered in cold blood by a Soviet soldier.)
  • 12 June: Foreign Ministers of the seven countries of the Western European Union meeting in Paris decide to reactivate the WEU.

1990s

  • 8 January: Eastern bloc Council for Mutual Economic Assistance meets in Sofia. Members vote to adopt free-wade approach, including hard-currency deals and bilateral agreements with other nations.
  • 15 January: Bulgarian government abolishes the Communist Party’s 44-year monopoly on political power.
  • Several thousand East German protesters push their way into East Berlin HQ of state security service, where they destroy documents and break furniture and windows.
  • 1 February: East German Prime Minister Hans Modrow presents plan for gradual reunification of East and West Germany.
  • 5 February: Eight members of political opposition groups are added to East German cabinet; Communist Party assumes minority status in body, holding 16 of 35 seats.
  • 6 February: In an unprecedented speech to the Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Mr. Gorbachev addresses major aspects of his reform program including the abandonment of the leading role of the Communist Party and the introduction of political pluralism.
  • 13 February: On the margins of the “Open Skies” Conference in Ottawa agreement is reached by the Foreign Ministers concerned to hold discussions on external aspects of the establishment of German unity in a “Two Plus Four” framework. NATO and Warsaw Treaty Organisation Foreign Ministers also agree on steps to enable a CFE agreement to be concluded in 1990.
  • 24 February-8 March: West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl meets with President Bush at Camp David to discuss German unification. Kohl refuses to guarantee future German acceptance of Polish-German border. Kohl says any treaty guaranteeing German-Polish border should contain promise from Poland hot to seek WW II reparations, and should guarantee rights of ethnic Germans in Poland. Kohl retreats from demands following emergency cabinet meeting. West German Bundestag passes resolution renouncing all claims to Polish territory.
  • 26 Ferbruary: Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia sign document in Moscow calling for phased withdrawal of all Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia. Withdrawal, to commence immediately, is to be completed by July 1991.
  • 8 March: At a meeting attended by Chancellor Helmut Kohl, consultations take place in the North Atlantic Council on the position of the Government of the Federal Republic on developments in Germany and related security matters.
  • 11 March: The Lithuanian Parliament votes to break away from the Soviet Union and regain its independence.
  • Soviet troops begin complete withd rawal from Hungary; 50,000 troops are to be out of Hungary by July 1991.
  • 14 March: Middle-level diplomats hold first session of “two plus four” talks on German unification in Bonn; they announce agreement to allow Poland to participate in future talks.
  • 17 March: Warsaw Treaty Organisation Foreign Ministers meeting in Prague support the continuation in being of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
  • 18 March: In their first free elections in 40 years the citizens of the German Democratic Republic give an overwhelming majority to the conservative “Alliance for Germany”, marking a further key step in the process of the unification of Germany. Alliance for Germany, which favors speedy unification with West Germany, wins 48.1% of vote; main opponent Social Democratic Party finishes unexpectedly poor second with 21.8%; successor to Communist Party, Party of Democratic Socialism, captures 16.3% of votes. Conservative Alliance asks that SPD join in “grand coalition” government.
  • 19 March-11 April: CSCE Conference on Economic Cooperation in Europe, Bonn.
  • 26 March: The Czechoslovak Government orders border installations along its frontiers with Austria and the Federal Republic of Germany to be dismantled.
  • 7 April: Economic Ministers of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations meet in Paris; express concern over decline in value of Japanese yen; discuss impending unification of economies of East and West Germany and events in Eastern Europe.
  • Elections in Hungary result in a decisive victory for the Hungarian Democratic Forum (centre-right party).
  • 9 April: East Germany’s noncommunist parties agree to form “grand coalition” government; Party of Democratic Socialism is excluded. Lothar de Maiziere, leader of Christian Democrats, is installed 12 April as East German premier.
  • 12 April: The coalition government of the German Democratic Republic pronounces itself in favour of unification with the Federal Republic of Germany on the basis of Article 23 of the Basic Law and the membership of the unified country in the North Atlantic Alliance.
  • 23 April: West German government offers to exchange most East German marks for West German currency at 1-to-1 rate when 2 Germanys unify currencies; savings above 4,000 and corporate debt are to be exchanged at 2-to-1 rate. Terms of currency unification are finalized 2 May.
  • 2 May: West German President Richard von Weizsacker visits Warsaw; declares that Poland’s postwar borders are “inviolable.”
  • 3 May: NATO foreign ministers agree to permit reunified Germany full membership in Atlantic Alliance, to allow Soviet troops to remain in former East Germany and to station no Western troops there, to bar Germany from possessing its own nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, and to limit size and armaments of German military.
  • 5 May: “Two plus four” talks open first ministerial-level talks in Bonn. Soviets offer to allow unification to proceed before all international security issues are resolved. US Secretary of State Baker travels 6 May to Warsaw for talks with Polish Premier Tadeusz Mazowiecki.
  • 7 May: The Latvian Parliament declares the independence of the Baltic Republic.
  • 8 May: The Estonian Parliament modifies the Republic’s name and constitution and restores its pre-war flag and national anthem.
  • 16 May: Soviet Union is granted observer status in General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade organization.
  • 18 May: East and West German foreign ministers sign treaty in Bonn setting terms for country’s unification.
  • 20 May: Following elections in Romania, former Communist Government member Ion Iliescu is elected President despite opposition accusations of electoral irregularities.
  • 22-23 May: Hungary’s new Premier Josef Antall announces his government’s intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Treaty Organisation following negotiations.
  • 30 May: Boris Yeltsin is elected President of the Russian Republic in the third round of elections.
  • 30 May-2 June: US-Soviet Summit Meeting in Washington.

 

  • 7-8 June: At the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council at Turnberry in Scotland, Alliance Foreign Ministers publish a “Message from Turnberry” in which they express their determination to seize the historic opportunities resulting from the profound changes in Europe and extend to the Soviet Union and all other European countries the hand of friendship and cooperation.
  • 8 June: Parliamentary elections in Czechoslovakia. Civic Forum and allied parties win a majority in the Federal Assembly.
  • 10 and 17 June: Elections in Bulgaria result in a parliamentary majority for the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
  • 12 June: Soviet President Gorbachev proposes “transition period” during which German troops in western portion of unified Germany would remain fully under control of NATO, while German troops in eastern portion would continue “associate menbership” in Warsaw Pact.
  • 21 June: West German Bundestag approves by vote of 445-60 treaty creating unified economic and monetary system in East and West Germany; both Bundestag and East German Volkskammer separately approve joint resolution guaranteeing Poland’s exisitng borders. Volkskammer approves economic union treaty on 22 June by vote of 302-82. Distribution centers are opened throughout East Germany to allow citizens to exchange East German marks for West German currency.
  • 22 June: At second ministerial meeting of “two plus four” talks, Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze proposes that Big Four powers retain approval on size and makeup of German military for up to 5 years after German unification; also suggests staged withdrawal offoreign troops from Berlin; both proposals rejected by US Secretary of State Baker.
  • 25-26 June: EC leaders hold summit meeting in Dublin; agree to study possible financial aid to Soviet Union.
  • 26 June: Hungarian Parliament votes 232-0 to have government negotiate Hungary’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact.
  • 28 June: At the Copenhagen CSCE Conference on the Human Dimension Eastern European countries (excluding Albania, which joined the CSCE process in June 1991) commit themselves to multiparty parliamentary democracy and to the rule of law.
  • 2 July: Monetary union is established between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic.
  • 6 July: NATO Heads of State and Government meeting in London publish the “London Declaration” on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance. The declaration outlines proposals for developing cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe across a wide spectrum of political and military activity, including the establishment of regular diplomatic liaison between those countries and NATO.
  • 9 July: Leaders of Group of Seven nations meet in Houston, TX; agree to study feasibility and usefulness of possible economic aid to USSR.
  • 10 July: The Foreign Minister of the German Democratic Republic, Markus Meckel, visits NATO.
  • 13-17 July: NATO Secretary General Manfred Worner visits Moscow at the invitation of Foreign Minister Schevardnadze for talks with the Soviet leadership following publication of the London Declaration.
  • 16 July: Soviet President Gorbachev and West German Chancellor Kohl, meeting in Zheleznovodsk, southern Russia, announce agreement to allow unified Germany to belong to NATO; Soviet troops to remain stationed in eastern Germany for 3-4 years. West German’ pledges that German army will be cut to 370,000 troops by end of transition period, amid that Germany will not produce or possess nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
  • 17 July: Conclusion of the “Two Plus Four” Conference in Paris on the unification of Germany.
  • 2 August: Iraqi troops invade Kuwait following a dispute between the two countries on exploitation of oil rights in the Gulf.
  • 22 August: The legislature of the German Democratic Republic votes in favour of the unification of the GDR with the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990 and agrees to hold elections in the unified country on 2 December 1990.
  • 31 August: East amid West German representatives, meeting in East Berlin, sign treaty governing political reunification of Germany, settimig 3 October as the date of official unification; the treaty names Berlin national capital. Parliaments of East and West Germany ratify treaty 20 Septemnber.
  • 12 September: East and West Germany and Big Four powers, meeting in Moscow, sign Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, ending powers’ rights and responsibilities in Germany. Treaty sets 1994 deadline for Soviet troop withdrawal from eastern region of Germany; forbids stationing amid “deployment” of foreign troops in formner East Germnan territory; guarantees Oder-Neisse line as border with Poland. West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze sign Soviet-German friendship treaty 13 September.
  • 14 September: Initiation of Allied consultations in NATO’s Special Consultative Group on future negotiations on short-range nuclear forces as called for in the London Declaration.
  • 24 September: East Germany formally withdraws from Warsaw Pact.
  • 1 October: USMLM is deactivated. International media, British, French, Russian and diplomatic luminaries in attendance.
  • 3 October: East and West Germany unite as Federal Republic of Germany.
  • 2 December: Unified Germany holds first general elections; Chancellor Kohl’s governing Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union captures 44% of vote to take 319 seats in 662 -seat Bundestag (lower house); allied Free Democrats win 11% of vote and 79 seats. Opposition Social Democrats win only 3 3.5% of vote, giving them 239 seats in Bundestag; Party of Deniocratic Socialism (formerly Communist Party) wins 17 seats and East German Green Party receives 8.

SOURCES:

a. Timeline from the Cold War Legacy Project Timeline and Report on the Department of Defense Legacy Cold War Project
b. NATO Official Timeline Document 106
c. USMLM Histories & Personal Accounts
d. National Security Archive at George Washington University

 

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