5000 BC - Germanic tribes spread over the continent.
2000 - 800 BC - German bronze age.
9 - The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest was a victory for the Germanic tribes over the Romans. The Roman General Quintilius Varus fell at the hands of Arminus. The Rhine (der Rhein) became the border between the Romans and the Germanic tribes and lasted almost three centuries. This border is now known as The Limes and is part of the German cultural heritage.
98 - The Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus published his history of the Germanic people, commonly known by the shorter title Germania. It is thanks to Tacitus and his Latin term for die Deutschen that we now call them "Germans" in English. (It is from the Alemanni [die Alemannen], a Germanic tribe in the region now known as Swabia [Schwaben], that Spanish and French took their names for Germany: Alemania/l'Allemagne.) The term 'Vandilii' is used by Tacitus in his Germania, completed in and seems to have been a general term applied to Eastern Germans. Hence the term Vandals (seemingly they did a lot of pillaging, looting and the like). You can read more about the Germanic tribes here.
406-410 - The Germanic Visogoths invaded Roman territory. They sacked Rome in 410 under the command of Alaric.
476 - Marked the end of the western Roman Empire when the Emperor Romulus Augustulus was deposed by German mercenaries at Ravenna. The German mercenaries then declared themselves to be the rulers of Italy.
800-1806 A series of holy Roman Emporors and Kings ruled the areas now known as Germany (Deutschland). See here for the chronology.
1871 - The rise of Prussian power in the 19th century, supported by growing German nationalism, eventually ended in the formation of the German empire in 1871 under the chancellorship of Otto von Bismarck. Political parties developed during the empire, and Bismarck was credited with passing the most advanced social welfare legislation of the age.
However, Emperor William II's dynamic expansion of military power contributed to tensions on the continent. The fragile European balance of power, which Bismarck had helped to create, broke down in 1914. World War I and its aftermath, including the Treaty of Versailles, ended the German Empire.
The postwar Weimar Republic (1919-33) was a peaceful, liberal democratic regime. This government was severely handicapped and eventually doomed by economic problems and the rise of the political extremes. The hyperinflation of 1923, the world depression that began in 1929, and the social unrest stemming from resentment toward the conditions of the Versailles Treaty worked to destroy the Weimar government.
The National Socialist (Nazi) Party, led by Adolf Hitler, stressed nationalist and racist themes while promising to put the unemployed back to work. The party blamed many of Germany's ills on the alleged influence of Jewish and non-German ethnic groups. The party also gained support in response to fears of growing communist strength. In the 1932 elections, the Nazis won a third of the vote. In a fragmented party structure, this gave the Nazis a powerful parliamentary caucus, and Hitler was asked to form a government. He quickly declined. The Republic eroded and Hitler had himself nominated as Reich Chancellor January 1933. After President Paul von Hindenburg died in 1934, Hitler assumed that office as well. Once in power, Hitler and his party first undermined and then abolished democratic institutions and opposition parties. The Nazi leadership immediately jailed Jewish opposition and other figures and withdrew their political rights. The Nazis implemented a program of genocide, at first through incarceration and forced labor and then by establishing death camps. Nazi revanchism and expansionism led to World War II, which resulted in the destruction of Germany's political and economic infrastructures and led to its division.
After Germany's unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945, the United States, the United Kingdom, the U.S.S.R. and, later, France occupied the country and assumed responsibility for its administration. The commanders in chief exercised supreme authority in their respective zones and acted in concert on questions affecting the whole country.
The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union agreed at Potsdam in August 1945 to treat Germany as a single economic unit with some central administrative departments in a decentralized framework. However, Soviet policy turned increasingly toward dominating that part of Europe where their armies were present, including eastern Germany. In 1948, the Soviets, in an attempt to abrogate agreements for Four Power control of the city, blockaded Berlin. Until May 1949, the Allied-occupied part of Berlin was kept supplied only by an Allied airlift. The Berlin airlift succeeded in forcing the Soviets to accept, for the time being, the Allied role and the continuation of freedom in a portion of the city, West Berlin.
The United States and the United Kingdom moved to establish a nucleus for a future German government by creating a central Economic Council for their two zones. The program later provided for a constituent assembly, an occupation statute governing relations between the Allies and the German authorities, and the political and economic merger of the French with the British and American zones. The western portion of the country became the Federal Republic of Germany.
On May 23, 1949, the Basic Law, which came to be known as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany, was promulgated. Conrad Adenauer became the first federal Chancellor on September 20, 1949. The next day, the occupation statute came into force, granting powers of self-government with certain exceptions.
The FRG quickly progressed toward fuller sovereignty and association with its European neighbors and the Atlantic community. The London and Paris agreements of 1954 restored full sovereignty (with some exceptions) to the FRG in May 1955 and opened the way for German membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Western European Union (WEU).
The three Western Allies retained occupation powers in Berlin and certain responsibilities for Germany as a whole, including responsibility for the determination of Germany's eastern borders. Under the new arrangements, the Allies stationed troops within the FRG for NATO defense, pursuant to stationing and status-of-forces agreements. With the exception of 45,000 French troops, Allied forces were under NATO's joint defense command. (France withdrew from NATO's military command structure in 1966.)
Political life in the FRG was remarkably stable and orderly. After Adenauer's chancellorship (1949-63), Ludwig Erhard (1963-66) and, Kurt Georg Kiesinger (1966-69) served as Chancellor. Between 1949 and 1966 the united caucus of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), either alone with the smaller Free Democratic Party (FDP), formed the government. Kiesinger's 1966-69 "Grand Coalition" included the FRG's two largest parties, CDU/CSU and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). After the 1969 election, the SPD, headed by Willy Brandt formed a coalition government with the FDP. Brandt resigned in May 1974, after a senior member of his staff was uncovered as an East German spy.
Helmut Schmidt (SPD) succeeded Brandt, serving as Chancellor from 1974 to 1982. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, a leading FDP official, became Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister, a position he would hold until 1992.
In October 1982, the FDP joined forces with the CDU/CSU to make CDU Chairman Helmut Kohl the Chancellor. Following national elections in March 1983, Kohl emerged in firm control of both the government and the CDU. He served until the CDU's election defeat in 1997. In 1983, a new political party, the Greens, entered the Bundestag for the first time.