Present

Reference to the past

 

The present tense can also refer to a past event which has already occured. In this case, it should be accompanied by a temporal adverbial, which will clearly indicate that it refers to a past event. It is often used in headlines* or historical lists**. 

 

Examples
Ich steige gestern in den Buss ein, da stoße ich auf einen alten Freund.
Amokläufer tötet mehrere Menschen (*)
1789 beginnt die Französische Revolution (**)

 

The present tense with reference to the past is used instead of the Präteritum; it is, however, more vivid than the Präteritum. That is why it is particularly used in literature.