In 1966, faced with an economic recession, the two major West German political parties--Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Christian Democrats (CDU)--came together to form what came to be known as the Grand Coalition. Their decision to allow Kurt Georg Kiesinger of the CDU serve as chancellor proved controversial, as Kiesinger played an active role in the foreign ministry under the Third Reich.
In 1988, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) had been under Soviet rule for more than 40 years, and the Berlin Wall had stood erect for nearly 30. Strict Socialist rule meant extreme limits on speech and action. Travel outside the country was prohibited, and many East German citizens were separated from family and friends living in West Germany. Dissenters to government of the GDR and Soviet rule led small protests throughout the years of Soviet rule, though in great fear of punishment from the Stasi, the secret police of the GDR.