Chronology of Jewish Persecution and the Holocaust, 1932-1945
Presidential election under Weimar Republic in Germany gives 30.1 percent of the vote to Adolf Hitler, head of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party, a.k.a. Nazis). The incumbent president, Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg, receives 49.6 percent.
Since a majority (over 50 percent) was required by German law for the election of a president, a runoff presidential election was held in which incumbent president Hindenburg wins with 53 percent of the vote. Adolf Hitler increases his popular vote to 36.8 percent.
German national elections for delegates to the Reichstag (Parliament) result in Nazis attaining 230 seats or 38 percent. Social Democrats received 21 percent, Communists 15 percent, Catholic Center 12 percent, several other parties constituted the remaining 14 percent.
Adolf Hitler is appointed Reichskanzler (Chancellor of Germany) by President Paul von Hindenburg.
Fire at the Reichstag Building in Berlin. Though the culprit was never identified, the Nazis saw it as a direct attack against them and claimed that the Communists were responsible.
In the wake of the Reichstag fire, Hitler is granted emergency powers by a presidential decree. The Reichstag passed the decree as a "defensive measure" for the people (Volk) and the state, which suspended many civil liberties and essentially outlawed direct opposition to the state under penalty of death or inprisonment.
The first concentration camp is established at Dachau, near Munich. Heinrich Himmler at the time described it as "the first concentration camp for political prisoners." The first prisoners would be Communists, Social Democrats and other opponents of the Nazi regime.
The Reichstag passes the Enabling Act, which allowed Hitler (and the Cabinet) to pass laws without the Reichstag's consent, effectively establishing a dictatorship in Germany.
Nationwide, government sponsored boycott of Jewish shops and businesses.
Law for the Restoration of the Civil Service. Jews are banned from working in the German government, an exception is made for WWI veterans. The first of more than one thousand anti-Jewish laws enacted by the Nazis, it is significant for its use of the "Aryan paragraph" to explicitly exclude non-Aryans (i.e., Jews) from employment in the German civil service. Its language would be repeated in similar legislation throughout Nazi rule.
Burning of books written by Jewish authors and other opponents of the Nazis at Unter den Linden (a main throughfare in Berlin) and at rallies across Germany.
The Law Regarding Revocation of Naturalization and the Annulment of German Citizenship results in the loss of German citizenship of Eastern European Jews and Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) living in Germany.
The Reichstag also passes the Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases. The law permits the forced sterilization of the physically and mentally handicapped and provides a precedent for later Nazi eugenics programs.
Establishment of the Reich Culture Chamber for the purpose of the coordination (Gleichschaltung) of German culture. This would result in the eventual ban of Jews and other opponents of the Nazis from broadcasting, journalism, art, music and theater.
A legal decree issued by Hitler declares that Germany and the Nazi Party are "indivisibly united," thereby eliminating any legal opposition to Hitler's agenda.
Night of the Long Knives. Hundreds of opponents of the Nazi regime, including many within the Nazi party, are murdered on Hitler's orders.
President Paul von Hindenburg dies. The positions of President and Chancellor are combined and Hitler becomes the sole leader of Germany, der Fuhrer, and Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces.
The Saar is reincorporated into Germany after a referendum in January. The territory had been under French and British control since the end of World War I.
Jehovah's Witnesses are banned in Germany because of their refusal to swear allegiance to the state.
The Defense Law was passed, which excluded Jews from being able to serve in the German military.
"Jews Not Wanted" posters begin to appear on restaurants, shops and village entrance signs.
The Nuremberg Laws were passed, these included:
The Reich Citizenship Law: Defines who may be a citizen of the Reich (German or "kindred blood").
The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor: Forbids marriage and other relations between Germans and Jews, Jews are forbidden from employing German female household help under 45 years of age, Jews are forbidden from flying the German flag.
The first supplementary decree pertaining the Reich Citizenship Law contained the following provisions:
Jews are forbidden from voting or holding public office.
Jews working in the civil service are retired as of December 31.
A Jew is defined as a person with at least 3 Jewish grandparents, or a person with 2 Jewish grandparents and who belongs to the Jewish community, is married to a Jew, or the child of a Jewish parent. It is significant that Jewishness is defined in racial rather than in religious terms.
Germany reoccupies the Rhineland. The Lack of French or British invervention is indicative of a growing policy of appeasement, allowing Germany to take territory with the hope that Hitler's expansionism may be sated, and war be avoided.
Construction begins at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, near Berlin. The camp would open on September 23.
The Olympic Games open in Berlin. The Nazis made every effort to portray Germany as a respectable member of the international community and soft-pedaled their persecution of the Jews. The Germans disguise any outward signs of antisemitism by removing anti-Jewish signs from public display restrained anti-Jewish activities. In response to pressure from foreign olympic delegations, Germany also included Jews or part-Jews on its Olympic team.
Hitler signs a treaty with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini creating the Rome-Berlin axis.
The beginning of Aryanization of the German economy. Jewish business owners were intimidated or forced to sell their busniesses, usually far below their real value.
Buchenwald concentration camp opens near Weimar. The first 300 prisoners arrive on July 16. By the end of the month, there were 1,000 inmates. Two years later, the number reached 8,634. That number climbed to over 37,000 in late 1943, 63,000 in late 1944, and 80,000 in March 1945.
At a top secret conference (now known as the Hossbach Memorandum), Hitler announces his plans to pursue Lebensraum (living space) for the German people by means of European domination. Several military officials who doubted the practicality of Hitler's plan were fired.
Romania revises its citizenship criteria, a result of which is that many Jews lose their citizenship.
The German invasion and annexation of Austria, known as the Anschluss. All anti-Jewish legistation that has been passed in Germany is immediately extended to Austria, this policy of immediate application would hereafter follow in every territory taken over by Germany.
Hungary adopts anti-Jewish legislation.
The Evian Conference is held in Evian, France to discuss immigration quotas for refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. It was attended by delegates from 32 nations, including the United States. However, most countries were unwilling to ease their immigration restrictions.
In an act of appeasement toward Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom sign the Munich Pact, which forced Czechoslovakia to cede its border regions, the Sudetenland, to Germany. German troops then occupied the Sudetenland beginning on October 1.
Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass). A nationwide pogrom in which the Nazis burned and desecrated thousands of synagogues and vandalized Jewish businesses and homes. At least 91 Jews were killed, and around 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and taken to Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen.
In the days and weeks following Kristallnacht, the Nazis decided on decrees to further remove Jews from German society, economy and culture:
German officials fine the Jewish community of Germany one billion Reichsmarks (about $400 million) to pay for the damage of Kristallnacht.
The Decree on the Elimination of the Jews from Economic Life forbids Jews from operating businesses, practicing trades and selling goods and services at any establishment.
Jews are prohibited from attending movies, concerts, and other cultural performances.
Reinhard Heydrich suggests that Jews be forced to wear identifying badges.
Jewish children are banned from attending public schools. From then on they could only attend Jewish schools funded and supported by the Jewish community.
Construction begins at Ravensbruck concentration camp.
A police decree pertaining to the appearance of Jews in public results in restrictions in the freedom of movement and travel.
Confiscation of Jewish driver's licenses.
Decree pertaining to the forced disposal of Jewish businesses.
Per a decree of August 17, 1938, Jewish men in must now adopt the middle name of "Israel." Women must likewise adopt "Sara."
The seizure of Jewish capital results in their effective elimination from the German economy, although some Jews continue to work for Germans.
Jews are no longer permitted to work as nurses, veterinarians, pharmacists and dentists.
Anti-Jewish legislation passed in Italy.
Jews are required to relinquish all their gold and silver.
Slovakia, under pressure from Germany, declares itself an independent state under Nazi protection.
German troops occupy Prague, Czechoslovakia and create the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Anti-Jewish laws already in effect in Germany are immeadiately introduced.
German troops enter Memel (Klaipeda), Lithuania, which had been under German control prior to World War I.
Anti-Jewish laws, which define Jewishness according to ethnicity, are passed in Slovakia.
Tenancy protection is revoked for German Jews, which allows for their forced relocation to "communal Jewish homes."
Ravensbruck concentration camp for women is opened, the first inmates would arrive in a transport three days later.
The German ship St. Louis leaves Hamburg. Most of the thousand or so passengers are Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. They have landing passes for Cuba as well as quota numbers that could eventually allow them entry into the United States. After arriving in Cuba, however, extortionate demands for money were made by the Cuban government, and the USS St. Louis departed Cuba and sailed along the east coast of the United States. President Roosevelt ordered the Coast Guard to prevent any of the passengers from landing in the U.S., even they jumped ship. After being denied access to Cuba and the United States, the USS St. Louis docked in Antwerp, Belgium. Belgium offered to take 214 passengers, the Netherlands 181, Britain 287, and France 224. Ultimately, the Nazis would murder most of the passengers except for those accepted by Great Britain.
Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact, known as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. The pact also secretly divided Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe into German and Russian spheres of influcence in antipication of "territorial and political rearrangements."
Germany invades Poland. World War II in Europe begins.
Shortly thereafter, the Germans commence Operation Tannenberg, in which 20,000 Polish Jews and Catholic intellectuals are murdered by SS Einsatzgruppen.
Great Britain and France declare war on Germany.
The Soviet Union invades eastern Poland and the Baltic States.
Confiscation of all radios owned by Jews in Greater Germany.
SS Security Service chief Reinhard Heydrich orders the establishment of Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland. He decreed that all Jewish communities in Poland and Greater Germany with populations under 500 are to be dissolved, that they are to be relocated and concentrated in major cities adjacent to rail lines and that the Jewish ghettos would be governed by Judenrate (Jewish councils) in conjunction with German authorities. The main goals of the ghettoization process were to isolate Jews, force them to manufacture items for Germany and to more easily facilitate their deportation to concentration camps and ultimately murder.
Poland surrenders and is partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union.
Hitler signs a secret authorization protecting physicans from persecution in carrying out euthanasia. This marks the beginning of the T-4 program, the state-sponsored murder of those with "mental or genetic disorders," the mentally and physically handicaped and some common criminals.
First ghetto established in Piotrkow Trybulanski, Poland.
The first deportations of Jews from Austria and Moravia.
Germany annexes the former Polish regions of Upper Silesia, Pomerania, West Prussia, Poznan and the independent city of Danzig. Those areas of Occupied Poland not annexed by Germany or the Soviet Union were placed under a German civil administration and were called the General Government (Generalgouvernement).
The Nazis began the deportation of Jews from Lodz, West Prussia, Poznan, and Danzig (in annexed Poland) to other locations in the General Government.
Introduction of the wearing of the Star of David badge in occupied Poland: Polish Jews over the age of 10 were ordered to wear white armbands with a blue Star of David beginning on December 1.
German authorities seize Jewish property in Poland.
The first deportations of Jews from Pomerania (Stettin, Stralsund and Schneidemuhl) to Lubin, Poland.
The first deporations of Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) from west and northwest Germany began.
Soviet troops massacred 26,000 Polish officers in Katyn Forest near Smolensk, Russia. Many Jews were among the victims.
Germany invaded Denmark and Norway. Both surrender by June 10.
The ghetto in Lodz, Poland was sealed off on German orders, trapping around 230,000 people inside.
Germany invades Holland, Belgium and France. When France surrenders on June 22, Germany has occupied all these territors except for southern (Vichy) France.
The SS established Auschwitz concentration camp near Oswiecim, Poland.
The concentration camp at Neuengamme, Germany, was upgraded to primary-camp status.
Italy entered World War II as Germany's ally.
Anti-Jewish legislation passed in Romania.
Anti-Jewish laws (Statut des Juifs) passed by the Vichy government in unoccupied France.
Beginning of Aktion Burckel: Deportation of Jews from Alsace-Lorraine, Saarland and Baden to camps in southern France. They would then be deported again in 1942 to Auschwitz.
Anti-Semitic legislation passed by German occupation forces in Belgium.
The Warsaw ghetto was sealed off by German authorities. At the time the ghetto contained 350,000 inhabitants confined to only 1.3 square miles. The ghetto's population would reach 500,000 before deportations began in 1942.
Hungary, Romania and Slovakia join the Axis powers
Dutch Jews are ordered to register with the German authorities.
Tens of thousands of Dutch citizens participate in a general strike in order to protest the deportation of Jews from their country--the only such strike in Europe in reaction to the first deportation of Jews.
Heinrich Himmer, in making plans for the expansion of Auschwitz concentration camp, orders construction of Birkenau (Auschwitz II).
Germany occupies Bulgaria.
The German High Army Command gives approval to RSHA and Reinhard Heydrich for the tasks of the Einsatzgruppen following the planned invasion of the Soviet Union.
Germany and other Axis forces (Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary) invade Yugoslavia and Greece.
Two separate ghettos are established in Radom, Poland. In Kielce, Poland, about 16,000 local Jews and 1,000 from Vienna are forced into a ghetto.
Natzweiler concentration camp, in Alsace, is established.
The government of Vichy France renounces the civil rights of Jews living in what is today Algeria and Tunisia and imposes many restrictions on them.
Operation Barbarossa begins, as a massive German force invades the Soviet Union
Special mobile killing squads--Einsatzgruppen--are assigned to a particular area of the Occupied Soviet Union. By the spring of 1943, more than a million Jews and an undetermined number of partisans, Gypsies, and officials of the Soviet state and Soviet communist party had been killed. In 1941-1942, some 70,000-80,000 Jews fled eastward, evading the first wave of murder perpetrated by the German invaders.
June 29-July 6
Violent pogrom in Iasi, Romania unleashed by governmental forces results in the death of more than 13,000 Jews.
Mass shootings of Jews begin in Ponary Forest, near Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania. More than 100,000 Jews will perish there by the war's end.
The Germans establish a ghetto in Minsk, Belorussia.
The killing center at Majdanek, Poland opens.
Ghetto established in Kishniev, Romania. An estimated 10,000 Jews had died in recent violence.
Hermann Goring instructs SS Reich Security Service chief Reinhard Heydrich by letter to evacuate and eliminate all European Jews presently in German-held territory. The letter mentions a “a final solution (Endlosung) of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe.” The "Final Solution" would become a euphemism for the murder of the Jews of Europe.
Ghettos established in Bialystok and Lvov, Poland.
Ghetto established in Riga, Latvia.
Jasenovac, a concentration camp in Croatia, begins operations.
At Kaments-Podolski, Ukraine, nearly 25,000 Hungarian-Jewish forced laborers are shot to death.
First gassing tests at Auschwitz using Zyklon-B. The victims were Soviet POW's and non-Jewish Polish inmates.
A ghetto is established at Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania with a population of 40,000.
150,000 Jews, many of them from Bukovina and Bessarabia, are deported to Transnistria, Ukriane.
Germans shoot 33,771 Jews to death in a ravine at Babi Yar, Ukraine (near Kiev). The massacre is masterminded by Sonderkommando 4a commander Paul Blobel. In the coming months, German units shoot thousands of Jews, Gypsies and Soviet prisoners of war at Babi Yar.
More than 16,000 Jews perish as the ghetto of Vitebsk, Belorussia, is liquidated.
Ghetto in Theresienstadt (Terezin), Czechoslovakia established.
After orders are given for the deportation of German Jews from Germany as defined by its 1933 borders, German authorities begin the deportation of Jews from the German Reich to the ghettos of Lodz, Riga and Minsk.
Thousands of Jews are massacred at Kraljevo and Kragujevac, Yugoslavia.
SS functionaries begin preparations for Einsatz Reinhard (Operation Reinhard or Aktion Reinhard), with the goal of murdering the Jews in the General Government. Preparations include construction of the killing centers at Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka in the territory of the General Government.
Construction of the killing center at Belzec begins.
Concentration camp opened in Hadjerat-M’Guil, Algeria.
The massacre of 30,000 Jews in Odessa, Ukraine.
Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The United States declares war on Japan.
Gassing operations begin at Chelmno. Situated in Polish territory annexed by Germany, Chelmno closed in March 1943 and resumed its killing operations during two months in the early summer of 1944. SS and German civilian officials killed at least 152,000 Jews and an undetermined number of Gypsies and Poles at Chelmno using special mobile gas vans.
Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.
Start of deportations from the Lodz ghetto to the killing center at Chelmno.
German leaders attend the Wannsee Conference to coordinate the implementation of the "Final Solution."
The ship SS Struma, flying a neutral Panamanian flag and carrying Jewish refugees fleeing from Romania, is sunk in the Black Sea after Britain pressures Turkey to turn the ship back from Istanbul. More than 700 Jewish passengers attempting to save their lives by reaching Mandate Palestine are drowned. Only one passenger survives.
The Nazis begin the construction of a new death camp at Sobibor, Poland. Gassings would begin in May and by October 1943, 250,000 Jews had been murdered there.
Extermination camp Belzec established. By the end of 1942, 600,000 Jews will be murdered there. From March 17 until April 14, nearly 30,000 Jews from the Lublin ghetto are deported to the Belzec death camp.
The first deportations of Jews from France to Auschwitz begin. By the end of 1944, the Germans had deported more than 75,000 Jews from France to camps in the East, many to the Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in Occupied Poland, where most of them perished.
This day’s deportations from Augsburg, Germany empty the town of Jews, ending a Jewish presence that was established in 1212. They are deported to the Belzec death camp.
First selection for gassing preformed at Auschiwtz-Birkenau. These were the weak, sick and “unfit” prisoners. They were housed in an isolation ward prior to being killed in the gas chambers. Between May 1940 and January 1945, more than one million people were killed or died at the Auschwitz camp complex. Close to 865,000 were never registered and most likely were selected for gassing immediately upon arrival. Nine out of ten of those who died at the Auschwitz complex were Jewish.
The I.G. Farben synthetic-rubber and petroleum plant opens at Monowitz (Auschwitz III), using Jewish forced laborers from the camp.
Treblinka extermination camp opened. Mass exterminations by gassing were started on July 23, 1942; 700,000 Jews murdered there by August 1943.
Introduction of the Star of David badge in France and Holland.
First deportation train from the Westerbork transit camp in Holland to Auschwitz. By September 13, 1944, over 100 trains had carried more than 100,000 people to killing centers and concentration camps in the German Reich and the General Government.
Himmler orders Operation Reinhard, the mass deportation of Jews in Poland to extermination camps which is to be completed by December 31.
Start of the “resettlement” of the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto to the extermination camps at Belzec and Treblinka. Personnel at the camp railway station are told to expect a “shuttle service” of Jews. Approximately 300,000 Jews were deported from Warsaw to the killing centers. Of that number, about 265,000 were sent to Treblinka where they were murdered.
Gassing operations begin at Treblinka. Between July 1942 and November 1943, SS special detachments at Treblinka murdered an estimated 750,000 Jews and at least 2,000 Gypsies.
First deportations from Belgium to Auschwitz. The first day’s deportees number 998. The Germans deported more than 25,000 Jews, about half of Belgium’s Jewish population, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in Occupied Poland, where most of them perished. The deportations continued until the end of July 1944.
“Resettlement” of the Lvov ghetto. 50,000 Jews are deported to extermination camps.
Deportations from Zagreb, Croatia, to Auschwitz.
Massacre of Jews near Kislowodsk, Caucasus
Order that German concentration camps are to be Judenfrei (free of Jews), all Jewish inmates would then be deported to Auschwitz.
Mass execution of 16,000 Jews in Pinsk, Belorussia.
First deportation of Jews from Bialystock to Auschwitz.
First deportation of Jews from Norway to Auschwitz.
A prisoner revolt at Lutsk concentation camp in the Ukraine is crushed.
The Allied Powers issue a condemnation of the German extermination of the Jews and promise to bring the perpetrators to justice.
First armed resistance to deportations in the Warsaw ghetto.
The Germans order that all Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) are to be arrested and sent to concentration camps.
The German Army surrenders at Stalingrad, marking the turning point of World War II in the east.
Deportations from Holland to Sobibor and from Prague, Vienna, Luxembourg and Macedonia to Treblinka.
Deportations from Salonika and Thrace, Greece to Auschwitz.
Representatives of the American and British goverments meet in Bermuda. Ostensibly convened to resolve the issue of wartime refugees, the real purpose of this conference was merely to quiet public outcry and in the end nothing was accomplished.
April 19-May 16
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Heinrich Himmler orders the liquidation of all Polish ghettos. By an order of June 21 this order is expanded to the Soviet Union and the Baltic states.
Revolt and destruction of the ghetto in Czestochowa, Poland.
Prisoner revolt at the killing center in Treblinka.
Revolt and destruction of the Bialystock ghetto.
The ghettos of Minsk and Lida, Belorussia are liquidated.
Liquidation of the Vilna ghetto.
Order for the expulsion of Danish Jews. Due to rescue operations by the Danish underground 7,000 Jews were evacuated to Sweden. Only 475 were captured by the Germans.
Revolt in Sobibor.
The Germans and their collaborators begin Operation Harvest Fesitval, the goal being to liquidate the camps near Lubin. As a result 42,000 Jews from the camps of Majdanek, Trawniki and Poniatowa are killed.
German invasion of Hungary.
The Hungarian government orders Jews to register and seizes their property.
May 15-July 8
Deportation of 438,000 Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz.
D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy.
The Germans conduct the first gassing in Ravensbruck. The gas chamber is relatively small, but by the end of the war 2,000 are murdered there.
Soviet troops liberate Majdanek. The camp was nearly intact.
The final liquidation of the Lodz ghetto begins. 74,000 Jews were deported and by September only a couple hundred Jews remain.
As the Allies advance, Jews in Dutch camps are transported to Germany. Renewal of deportations from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz.
American troops reach the German border.
Massacre of Jews in the concentration camp in Kluga, Estonia. Deportations from Slovakia resume.
A prisoner revolt at Auschwitz results in the demolition of creamtorium II.
14,000 Slovakian Jews deported to Auschwitz.
Gassing operations in Auschwitz are terminated.
Adolf Eichman orders the deportation of 38,000 Jews from Budapest to Buchenwald, Ravensbruck and other camps.
Heinrich Himmler orders the destruction of the crematoria at Auschwitz as the retreating Nazis attempt to conceal evidence of the killing centers.
Massacre of 81 American POW's at Malmedy, Belgium by Waffen SS.
The evactuation of Auschwitz. The death marches of prisoners begin.
Advancing Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz.
Death march of 40,000 prisoners from Gross-Rosen.
Yalta Conference. The United States, United Kingdom and the Soviet Union discuss the fate of Germany and the post war reorganization of the world.
Buchenwald is liberated by American troops.
Britsh troops liberate Bergen-Belsen.
American troops liberate Dachau.
Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin.
Ravensbruck is liberated by Soviet troops.
Berlin falls to the Soviets.
Representatives of the International Red Cross take over at Theresienstadt.
Mauthausen is Liberated.
Germany surrenders unconditionally -- the end of WWII in Europe.
Theresienstadt is liberated.
August 6 and 9
The United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.
"V-J Day" - Emperor Hirohito announces Japan's surrender in a radio address.
Japan offically surrenders -- the end of WWII in the Pacific.
The International Military Tribnal, better known as the Nuremberg Trials, begins in Nuremberg Germany. They ended on October 1, 1946, with 12 defendants sentenced to death, 3 to life imprisonment, 4 to various prison terms, and 3 acquittals.