The 1980s in Germany: an eventful decade
Cold War, shoulder pads and rubik's cubes
1980: German movie 'The Tin Drum' wins an Oscar
1981: The Rubik's Cube conquers the world
1982: Helmut Kohl becomes chancellor
1983: Nena and the Red Balloons
East and West Germany
1984: Mohawks...
... and seat belts
1985: Boris Becker wins Wimbledon
1986: Chernobyl
Protests against nuclear energy
1987: Ronald Reagan in Berlin
Tear down this wall!
Steffi Graf
1988: Bruce Springsteen in East Germany
1989: Communist leader of East Germany resigns
The wall is falling!
Hope for a better future
Germany in the 80s: its most important historical events
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The 1980s in Germany: an eventful decade

It's one of the high points of the Cold War but also the preamble to its end: the 1980s. Germany is divided into a free and a communist half, and American presidents like Ronald Reagan traditionally only visit the former. But change is in the air...

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Cold War, shoulder pads and rubik's cubes

Screaming colours, shoulder pads, protests, brilliant athletes, addictive toys and the end of the Iron Curtain: the 1980s are worth revisiting.

(Photo: a photo shoot of fashion company Bogner)

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1980: German movie 'The Tin Drum' wins an Oscar

The film, based on the 1959 Günter Grass classic of the same name, wins an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The director is Volker Schlöndorff.

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1981: The Rubik's Cube conquers the world

The three-dimensional toy invented by the Hungarian Ernö Rubik storms the market in 1981.

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1982: Helmut Kohl becomes chancellor

Helmut Kohl becomes Chancellor of (West) Germany. He will remain in that position for 16 years and is widely respected - among others by Margaret Thatcher, by his side in this picture.

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1983: Nena and the Red Balloons

The song '99 Luftballons' ('99 Red Balloons') first becomes a hit in Germany and then conquers the whole world.

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East and West Germany

The economies of the West German Federal Republic (FRG) and the East German Democratic Republic (GDR) are extremely different. In 1983, West Germany extends a credit of one billion Deutsche Mark to help close the East German foreign exchange deficit.

(In the photo: The Palace of the Republic and the Cathedral in East Berlin)

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1984: Mohawks...

The punk movement and its protests are increasingly present in German cities.

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... and seat belts

Starting in August 1984, everyone must wear a seat belt in the back seat of the car in Germany. If you are caught without a seat belt, you will have to pay a fine of 40 Deutschmarks. In East Germany, seat belts were already required for drivers and passengers in 1980.

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1985: Boris Becker wins Wimbledon

The 17-year-old becomes an overnight star.

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1986: Chernobyl

A reactor at the nuclear power plant in the Soviet state Ukraine explodes and the entire population of its vicinity has to be evacuated. In the rest of Europe, radioactivity is also observed.

See more images of the Chernobyl disaster

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Protests against nuclear energy

The disaster is followed in Germany (as in many other countries) by massive demonstrations against nuclear energy.

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1987: Ronald Reagan in Berlin

American President Ronald Reagan pays a historic visit to Berlin. He gives a speech about the Berlin wall that will be remembered for a long time.

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Tear down this wall!

In his speech, the president calls on Mikhail Gorbachev, head of state and party leader of the Soviet Union, to open the iron curtain. He says the famous words: "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

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Steffi Graf

Just like Boris Becker, Steffi Graf becomes a German tennis icon of the 1980s.

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1988: Bruce Springsteen in East Germany

A Bruce Springsteen concert in East Germany. A sensation! The rock star performs in front of 150,000 people with a ticket, but the total attendance of the party in and around the Weissensee cycling track is estimated at half a million.

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1989: Communist leader of East Germany resigns

On October 18, a little more than a week after the 40th anniversary of the GDR, its leader Erich Honecker resigns from all his positions. He calls on the Soviet head of state Gorbachev to reform.

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The wall is falling!

On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall becomes a thing of the past. Citizens can freely cross the boundary between East and West Berlin. There has never been a bigger party in the city.

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Hope for a better future

With the erasure of the East-West border, the eighties also come to an end. The decade has a finale of excitement and hope. What would the 90s bring for reunified Germany?

See also: Back to the USSR, photos of life in the Soviet Union

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