April 22nd, 1971: The Social Democratic coalition government of Willy Brandt collapses when the Free Democratic Party refuses to support his liberal policies. An election is called.
May 12th: Willy Brandt remains chancellor after a new election is held, but ends up relying on the German Communist Party (DKP) to get laws passed. East Germany, which had sought to subvert the campaign using its extensive spy network in West Germany, couldn't be more pleased with the result. East Berlin issues a communique offering "better relations" in light of "the social evolution of the people of West Germany."
June 20th: The leader of the DKP deliberately stalls parliament and demands Brandt seek rapproachment with East Germany if he wants to avoid another election. Brandt agrees to the ultimatum reluctantly.
July-September: Secret negotiations between East and West Germany take place, with the DKP acting as the officially unofficial representative of West Germany. Brandt, also in secret, asks president Nixon to guarantee West Germany's security militarily if the DKP and the East make a takeover bid. The East German press promptly exposes Brandt's "duplicity" using information gained from Stasi spies in the West, in order to gain the upper hand.
October 11th: The East Germans, with the help of the DKP, publish their first formal offer to West Germany: mutual recognition of each other as foreign states and removal of all foreign troops - both Soviet and American - from German soil.
Late October: In response to the political developments in Germany, the United States dramatically escalates the number of its soldiers stationed in West Berlin. The Soviet government responds in kind. Brezhnev secretly tells the East Germans to stop meddling in West German politics; progress on a West-East deal slows accordingly.
December 20th: As Christmas approaches, Brandt's government begins negotiating directly with the East Germans. The DKP is cut out of the loop, reducing their ability to interfere with the two governments' relations.
December 25th: Brandt and East Germany's General Secretary, Honecker, secretly meet over the holiday for face-to-face discussions. Both men come to an understanding that a normalization of relations is necessary for both states to join the United Nations and participate fully on the international stage. Honecker tells Brandt he will let the West use the name "Germany" exclusively if the two countries agree to exchange ambassadors, on the principle that "the German nation has migrated westward."
January 9th, 1972: Brandt and Honecker sign a treaty bringing about an "equal, normal" relationship between the two countries. East and West Germany agree to expel foreign military personnel from their territory, and repudiate each other's claims on the other's territory. The two countries also decide to consider each other's citizens foreigners. Lastly, the West and East agree that West Berlin is a "dependent territory" that is not part of Germany.
January 10th: The Soviet Union publicly threatens to topple Honecker if East Germany doesn't back down on its pledge to kick out the Soviet military. Honecker responds by claiming that the Soviet Union is "warmongering needlessly" and that "our friendship can be stronger" because of the treaty.
January 11th: President Nixon cancels his spoken security guarantee for Brandt and also threatens to "excercise Allied sovereignty" if Brandt throws out American, British, and French forces stationed in Germany.
January 19th: After several days of tense silence, East and West Germany simultanously petition the United Nations for membership as well as for a declaration by the General Assembly that theoretical four-power sovereignty is null and void. The UN agrees to grant membership, but does nothing about the soverignty question, as it is a matter for the Security Council.
January 22nd: The UN Security Council affirms the four powers' right to maintain troops in Germany. Nixon, though, says he will abide by West Germany's decision to remove American troops - but will do nothing to defend it from a communist invasion.
January 30th: American personnel in West Germany begin leaving on the planned date. British and French soldiers remain put. Soviet troops refuse to leave East Germany and a tense standoff between Honecker and Brezhnev ensues.
January 31st: West Germany threatens to forcibly evict the British and French. Brandt also promises to stand by Honecker if the Soviets try to use violence to stay in East Germany. Allied forces in West Berlin, cut off from those in West Germany due to the continuing crisis, go to their highest possible level of alert.
February 10th: After two weeks or so of stalemate on the international front, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands - SED) holds a special congress to rename itself the Socialist Unity Party of the German Democratic Republic (Sozialistische Einheitspartei der Deutsche Demokratische Republik - SEP-DDR). This is done to emphasize that the GDR's renunciation of any claim on Western territory.