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1956

For the first time after the war, German soldiers in East and West salute the flags of their respective home countries. After the establishment of the West German Bundeswehr, it doesn’t take long for the GDR to officially convert  the troops of its Barracked Peoples Police into the new “National People’s Army.“

In February, a secret speech, soon to be world-famous, stirs the Soviet Union. The Soviet party leader Khrushchev openly speaks about what many people are thinking: “Stalin was no hero but a dictator.“ In Eastern Europe, including the GDR, hopes for a political thaw are raised, leading to the Hungarian Revolution. Tens of thousands of demonstrators demand unrestricted freedom of the arts, culture and the press. The uprising is violently suppressed by the Soviet Army.

What else happened?

The 45-hour workweek is introduced in West Germany. Until then, steelworkers had worked 56 hours a week.

Western intelligence agencies dig a secret tunnel under the city of Berlin.

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