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.
Amidst the omnipresence of violence during World War II, nonviolent protest is often overlooked or unheard of. However, there were several resistance campaigns that took place in Germany, led by its own citizens. One such campaign in the period of 1942-1943 was the resistance initiated by the White Rose society. Although they were ultimately unsuccessful, the members of the White Rose became an influential example of student resistance against repressive regimes.
“The pulling down of the Berlin Wall began in Sopron,” stated Lothar de Maiziere, East Germany’s last prime minister.
On the outskirts of Sopron, a small town on the border between Communist Hungary and democratic Austria, they had a picnic – a most unusual picnic. The organizers wanted to “act out the future in the present.”
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.