3 October 1990

The German Democratic Republic is abolished and becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany; the event is afterwards celebrated as German Unity Day

German Unity Day, known as “Tag der Deutschen Einheit” in German, is a national holiday in Germany that commemorates the reunification of East and West Germany. It is celebrated on October 3rd each year and marks the official reunification of the country, which took place on October 3, 1990.

The reunification of Germany was a historic event that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which had divided East and West Germany for nearly 30 years. The wall’s collapse symbolized the end of the Cold War and the division of Europe into Eastern and Western blocs. The reunification process was a complex and challenging one, involving political negotiations, economic integration, and the blending of two very different systems and societies.

Fall of the Berlin Wall (November 9, 1989): This iconic event symbolized the end of the division between East and West Germany and marked the beginning of a peaceful transition towards reunification.

“Two Plus Four” Treaty (September 12, 1990): The reunification process was formalized through the “Two Plus Four” Treaty, which involved two German states (East and West Germany) and the four Allied powers (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union). The treaty affirmed Germany’s sovereignty and paved the way for the reunification.

Reunification (October 3, 1990): On this day, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) officially joined the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), becoming a single nation once again. This date was chosen for German Unity Day and has been celebrated as a national holiday ever since.

German Unity Day is a day of celebration and reflection in Germany. It is marked by various events and festivities throughout the country, including parades, concerts, and fireworks. Many people take the day off work to participate in these activities or spend time with family and friends.

10 August 1990

The Magellan space probe reaches Venus.

The Magellan spacecraft, also known as the Venus Radar Mapper, was a robotic space probe sent by NASA to study the planet Venus. It was named after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who was the first person to circumnavigate the Earth. Magellan’s primary mission was to map the surface of Venus using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology.

Launch and Mission Duration: Magellan was launched on May 4, 1989, aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-30). After its launch, the spacecraft performed a series of orbital maneuvers using its onboard propulsion system to eventually reach Venus. It entered orbit around Venus on August 10, 1990. The mission lasted until October 12, 1994, when Magellan was deliberately deorbited into Venus’s atmosphere to gather data before its destruction.

Mapping Venus: Magellan’s primary objective was to use its SAR system to map nearly the entire surface of Venus, which is shrouded in thick clouds that prevent direct visual observation from space. The spacecraft was equipped with a high-resolution radar system that could penetrate the clouds and provide detailed images of the planet’s surface features.

Radar Imaging: The SAR instrument aboard Magellan emitted radar signals towards Venus and then collected the echoes that bounced back from the surface. These echoes were used to construct detailed images of the terrain, revealing the topography, geological features, and surface composition of Venus.

Discoveries: Magellan’s observations revolutionized our understanding of Venus. The spacecraft revealed a vast array of geological features, including volcanoes, impact craters, mountains, valleys, and large plains. The data also helped scientists understand the planet’s tectonic activity and the presence of extensive volcanic activity, which had resurfaced much of Venus relatively recently.

Impact on Science: The data collected by Magellan significantly expanded our knowledge of Venus and helped reshape theories about its geology and geological processes. The mission provided important insights into the differences between Earth and Venus and offered a new perspective on the processes shaping planetary surfaces in our solar system.

End of Mission: After completing its primary mapping objectives, Magellan’s orbit was lowered gradually to allow it to gather atmospheric data during its descent into Venus’s atmosphere. This data contributed to our understanding of the planet’s composition and atmospheric conditions. The spacecraft eventually burned up in Venus’s atmosphere, ending its mission on October 12, 1994.

22 June 1990

Checkpoint Charlie is dismantled in Berlin.

Checkpoint Charlie was a famous Cold War-era border crossing point between East Berlin (controlled by the Soviet Union) and West Berlin (controlled by the United States, United Kingdom, and France). It was one of the main checkpoints along the Berlin Wall, which separated the two sides of the divided city.

Located on Friedrichstrasse, a major thoroughfare in central Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie became an iconic symbol of the divide between the communist East and the democratic West during the years of the Cold War. The checkpoint was established in 1961 after the construction of the Berlin Wall to control the movement of people and vehicles between the two sectors of the city.

Checkpoint Charlie consisted of a small wooden shed that served as the main control point, where border guards from the United States and the Soviet Union would verify documents and conduct inspections. The checkpoint was named “Charlie” by the Western Allies, using the NATO phonetic alphabet, to distinguish it from the other checkpoints.

Throughout its existence, Checkpoint Charlie was the site of several notable events and incidents. One of the most famous incidents occurred in October 1961 during the “Berlin Crisis,” when U.S. and Soviet tanks faced off at the checkpoint, escalating tensions between the superpowers. The standoff eventually de-escalated without any shots being fired, but it highlighted the potential for armed conflict in Berlin.

Checkpoint Charlie also gained significance as a symbol of the divided world during the Cold War. It represented the physical and ideological separation between East and West, and many attempted escape attempts were made from East to West Berlin at this checkpoint. Some successful escapes were executed through daring methods, such as hidden in vehicles or tunnels, while others ended tragically with individuals being captured or killed.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent reunification of Germany in 1990, Checkpoint Charlie lost its function as a border crossing. Today, a replica of the original guardhouse stands at the site, serving as a tourist attraction and a reminder of the city’s tumultuous past. The area around Checkpoint Charlie has been developed and transformed into a museum complex, featuring exhibitions that provide insights into the history of the Berlin Wall and the Cold War era.

Checkpoint Charlie remains an important historical landmark, attracting visitors from around the world who come to learn about the division of Berlin and the struggles endured by those living in a divided city. It serves as a poignant reminder of the consequences of the Cold War and the aspirations for freedom that prevailed during that era.