The Holocaust was the systematic extermination and ethnic cleansing of six million European Jews and millions of others non-aryans. It was implemented and executed under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, who ruled Germany from 1933 to 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- Nazi Party). The incumbent president, Field Marshall Hindenburg, receives 49.6 percent.
Since German law requires a basic majority for the election of a president, a rerun presidential election is held in which incumbent president Hindenburg wins with 53 percent of the vote. Hitler increases his popular vote to 36.8 percent.
German national elections for delegates to the Reichstag (Parliament) result in the Nazi Party attaining 230 seats or 38 percent. Social Democrats received 21 percent, Communists 15 percent, Catholic Center 12 percent, numerous other parties combined 14 percent.
A pastoral letter of Austrian Bishop Gfollner of Linz states that it is the duty of all Catholics to adopt a “moral form of antisemitism.”
German Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher resigns.
German President Paul von Hindenburg appoints Adolf Hitler as Reichskanzler (German Chancellor). Franz von Papen is named vice-chancellor. The Nazis refer to this as Machtergreifung (“Seizure of power”).
Judische Jugenhilfe established in Berlin.
The weekly publication Der Stürmer, devoted primarily to antisemitic propaganda and promoting hatred against the Jews, published since 1923 as the organ of the Nazi Party, becomes the official organ of the party in power. The motto of the paper is “The Jews are our misfortune.”
Political demonstrations are banned within Germany.
Father Charles Coughlin, a Jew-hating priest--Canadian but working in the Detroit, Michigan, diocese--sermonizes on the radio that “Shylocks” (Jews) are causing the Depression. He receives 80,000 letters of support a week, about 70 percent from Protestants. His editorials often parallel those of the Nazi press. He is friendly with several U.S. senators and representatives.
Hitler wins over a group of leading German industrialists at a meeting designed for that purpose.
The Reichstag building (German parliament) is set ablaze. The Nazis are quick to blame the fire on Communists.
Hitler convinced President von Hindenburg to invoke an emergency clause in the Weimar Constitution. The German parliament then passed the Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the Nation and State (Reichstag Fire Decree). The decree suspended the civil rights of Nazi opponents in the German constitution. These rights included freedom of speech, assembly, press, and formed the basis for the prohibition of Nazi opponets to have judicial procceedings.
All 100 Communist Party members of the Reichstag are arrested. One Berlin man is given 50 lashes for being a Communist and 50 more for being a Jew.
The Nazis win 288 of 647 seats in the Reichstag election. During the last free election in Germany, ostensibly called to obtain a vote of confidence, the Nazi Party wins nearly 44 percent of the popular vote, more than twice as many votes as the next closest political party, the Social Democrats, with 18 percent. In a coalition with another rightwing party, Hitler takes full control of Germany. Individual German states are stripped of power.
The Jewish War Veterans of America announces it will boycott German goods and services.
Special Nazi courts are set up to deal with political dissidents.
The Day of Potsdam--the first opening of a Nazi-controlled Reichstag.
The SS, Hitler’s “elite guard,” establishes a concentration camp, outside the town of Dachau, in south Germany, for political opponents of the regime. It was the only concentration camp to remain in operation from 1933 until 1945. By 1934, the SS had taken over the administration of the entire Nazi concentration camp system. By 1945, the Nazis will build more than 1000 camps.
The Law for Removing the Distress of People and Reich, or Ermächtigungsgesetz, (commonly known as the “Enabling Act”) is passed by the Reichstag, giving Hitler’s government dictatorial powers. Hitler promises that Germany’s artistic growth will be fueled by “blood and race.”
A gigantic anti-Nazi protest rally, organized by the American Jewish Congress, is held in New York City. 55,000 people attend and threaten to boycott German goods if the Germans carry out their planned permanent boycott of Jewish-owned stores and businesses.
A boycott of all Jewish shops in Germany instigated by the S.A. This action was also directed against Jewish physicians, lawyers and merchants. Jewish students were forbidden to attend schools and universities. Due to international outrage and the apathy of many non-Jewish Germans, Hitler orders the boycott limited to a single day.
The article “Tragt ihn mit Stolz, den Gelben Fleck!” (“Wear it with Pride, The Yellow Badge!”) written by Robert Weltsch, is published in the German-Jewish newspaper Jüdische Rundschau. The article is the first in a series “To say ‘Yes’ to our Jewishness” and become slogans of the German Jewish resistance.
Hitler approves decrees banning Jews and other non-Aryans from the practice of law and from jobs in the civil service (Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service). Jewish government workers in Germany are ordered to retire. Exception made for frontline veterans of World War I.
The German government begins employment and economic sanctions against Jews that are widely perceived as being racially based. Decree issued defining a non-Aryan as “anyone descended from non-Aryan, especially Jewish, parents or grandparents. One parent or grandparent classifies the descendant as non-Aryan...especially if one parent or grandparent was of the Jewish faith.” The Lutheran Church opposes the sanctions.
The Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalten (National Political Educational Institutes) are established as training schools for Nazi Party cadets.
The Law for Preventing Overcrowding in German Schools and Schools of Higher Education takes effect; the law restricts enrollment of Jews. Similar extra-legal discrimination against Jews already exists in the United States.
Hitler meets with Bishop Wilhelm Berning of Osnabrück and Monsignor Steinmann, prelates representing the Roman Catholic Church in Germany. Hitler claims that he is only doing to the Jews what the Catholic Church has already done to them for 1600 years. He reminds the prelates that the Church has regarded the Jews as dangerous and pushed them into ghettos. Hitler suggests that his anti-Jewish actions are “doing Christianity a great service.” Bishop Berning and Monsignor Steinmann later describe the talks as “cordial and to the point.”
The German government prohibits the practice of ritual Jewish slaughter of animals for meat.
Dissolution of German trade unions.
The Institute of Sexual Studies in Berlin is destroyed by pro-Nazi students, likely because of its academic interest in homosexuality.
Books deemed of “un-German spirit,” most of them Jewish, are burned on Unter den Linden, opposite the University of Berlin, and throughout Germany. More than 20,000 volumes are destroyed, including works by John Dos Passos, Thomas Mann, Karl Marx, Ernest Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, Émile Zola, H. G. Wells, André Gide, Sigmund Freud, Maxim Gorky, Helen Keller, Friedrich Forster, Marcel Proust, Jack London, and Erich Maria Remarque.
A petition is submitted to the League of Nations by representatives of the Comite des Delegations Juives protesting Germany’s anti-Jewish legislation, called the Bernheim Petition, named for imprisoned Silesian Jew Franz Bernheim.
Germany introduces the Law for Reduction of Unemployment, which provides for marriage loans and other incentives to genetically “fit” Germans.
The Jewish organizations of Silesia hold a conference to discuss the safeguarding of rights of German Jews.
The Akademie für Deutsches Recht (Academy for German Law) is founded to rewrite the entire body of German law to NSDAP specifications.
London Jews hold a massive anti-Nazi rally.
In a speech to German newspaper publishers, Hitler describes the government’s new journalistic regulations.
The German government states that “Reich Chancellor Hitler still belongs to the Catholic Church and has no intention of leaving it.”
Germany enacts the Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases, which provides for sterilization of “unfit” parents and potential parents, as well as “euthanasia” of the “defective” and of “useless eaters.” The government terms these people lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”). The law is endorsed by the American Eugenics Society.
Nazi government signs Reich concordat with the Vatican. Pope Pius XI considers the treaty as protecting Catholic rights in Germany. However, by this action the Vatican helps legitimize the Third Reich in the eyes of the German Catholic hierarchy and laymen as well as of the international community. As a result, the concordat helps pave the way for the Nazi totalitarianization of German society and later German attacks on the European state system.
American Jewish Congress declares boycott against Nazi Germany.
Heinrich Himmler is appointed overseer of all police units in the Reich, except Prussia.
The Second World Jewish Congress is held in Geneva and resolves to organize an anti-German boycott throughout the world.
The Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden, the central representative body of German Jews emphasizing education, is established; it is led by Otto Hirsch and Rabbi Leo Baeck. It is the only organization officially allowed to represent German Jews.
The Reich Chamber of Culture is established. Reich’s Culture Ministry Law: Exclusion of Jewish writers and artists. German Jews are banned from the fields of journalism, art, literature, music, broadcasting, and theater.
Hitler approves the decree forbidding German Jews from the occupation of farming.
Editor Law: Exclusion of Jewish editors. The Editor Law calls for racially pure journalism and forces the dismissal across Germany of Jewish reporters and publishing executives. A codicil strips newspaper editors of power over content.
Germany leaves disarmament talks at League of Nations.
The German Finance Minister Publishes new anti-Jewish Economic Measures
Germany withdraws from the League of Nations.
The Deutsche Christen organization stages a rally in Berlin to honor “Christ the Hero.”
The first issue of editor A. Ristow’s antisemitic Blick in die Zeit (A Look at the Times) is published in Germany.
Nazi candidates win 93 percent of the vote in the Reichstag election. However, only the Nazi Party was permitted to nominate candidates.
The German Law Against Dangerous and Habitual Criminals allows for compulsory castration of “hereditary” criminals.
Kraft durch Freude (KdF; Strength through Joy) is established to tie leisure activities of the German Volk (people) to the aims of the Nazi Party.
The German News Bureau (DNB) is established to feed propagandistic “news” to Germany’s newspapers.
Other 1933 Events:
- Arrests for German citizens for sedition are up sharply from 1932.
- Concentration camps are established this year in Oranienburg, Esterwegen, Sachsenburg, and Dachau.
- Jewish Social Democratic politician Ernst Heilmann is arrested.
- The antisemitic Glaubensbewegung deutscher Christen (Movement of German Christian Believers) becomes the semiofficial religious organization of Germany.
- An antisemitic, anti-Communist organization, Gesamtverband deutscher anti-kommunistischer Vereinigungen (General Association of German Anti-Communist Societies), is founded.
- The Volksempfänger (People’s Radio Receiver) debuts in Germany.<
- Schlageter, a pro-Nazi play by Hanns Johst, premieres. It is a tribute to Nazi “martyr” Albert Leo Schlageter, who was executed by the French in 1923 after defying French authority in the Ruhr.
- German-Jewish physicist Albert Einstein criticizes the new Nazi regime: “I shall live in a land where political freedom, tolerance, and equality of all citizens reign.” Einstein subsequently takes his genius to the United States.
- The Silver Shirts, a Nazi-like political group, is founded in America.
- The first issue of the antisemitic National Worker is published in London by Colonel Graham Seton-Hutchinson.
- An antisemitic feature film entitled Pettersson and Bendel is produced in Sweden.
Youth members are turned loose throughout Germany to intimidate members of Catholic youth groups.
Jews are banned from the German Labor Front. A Lutheran minister opposed to the Reich Church is beaten by Nazi thugs.
Germany establishes the Volksgericht (People’s Court) to deal with enemies of the state; there is no trial by jury and no right of appeal.
Several thousand Americans attend a pro-Nazi rally in Queens, New York.
An extreme anti-Semitic group, Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny or the Radical Nationalist Organization (ONR), is established in Poland.
Julius Streicher’s Nazi periodical, Der Stürmer--one of Germany’s most popular periodicals and a favorite of Hitler--reminds its readers that during the Middle Ages, the Jews were accused of committing ritual murder of Christian children and of using their blood for religious ritual purposes.
German Jews are no longer entitled to health insurance.
At New York’s Madison Square Garden, thousands attend a pro-Nazi rally sponsored by the German-American Bund.
Hundreds of actual and presumed opponents of the Hitler regime, including many high-ranking officers of the Nazi Storm Troopers (SA), are rounded up and executed in what will come to be called the “Night of the Long Knives.” Victims include Ernst Röhm, chief of the SA, and Gregor Strasser, former Reich organization leader of the Nazi Party.
Nazi persecution of homosexuals begins in earnest.
An Inspectorate of Concentration Camps is established, headed by Theodor Eicke.
The Polish antisemitic organization Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny is banned by Polish leader Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, three months after its formation.
Nazi Putsch in Austria fails but Engelbert Dollfuss, the Austrian Prime Minister, is murdered.
President Paul von Hindenburg dies. Offices of President and Chancellor combined. Hitler declares himself Führer of the German state and commander-in-chief of Germany’s Armed Forces. Members of the Armed Forces must take a personal oath of allegiance to Hitler.
In a plebiscite on Hitler’s expanded powers, 89.9 percent of voters approve. Although an overwhelmingly Christian nation, most Germans will generally support Hitler’s actions until near the end of the war.
A massive Nazi Party Congress is staged at Nuremberg.
Hitler secretly orders expansion of the army, navy and the creation of the air force, breaking the Treaty of Versailles.
The Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany declare their political neutrality. Also affirm defiance of Nazi restrictions on the practice of their religion.
Other 1934 Events
- “Twenty-Five Points of the German Religion” are issued in Germany by Professor Ernst Bergmann. It holds that Christ was not a Jew but a Nordic warrior put to death by Jews, and whose death spared the world from Jewish domination; Adolf Hitler is the new messiah sent to Earth to save the world from Jews.
- Heinrich Himmler is given responsibility for police in Prussia, making him the chief of police forces throughout the Reich.
- The Institut für Erbbiologie und Rassenforschung (Institute of Hereditary Biology and Race Research) is founded at the University of Frankfort am Main by Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer to study racial and hereditary issues.
- Dorothy Thompson, an anti-Nazi American journalist whose 1932 book I Saw Hitler is critical of the Führer, is expelled from Germany.
- Restoration work begins at Wewelsburg, a 17th-century cliff-top fortress in Westphalia, Germany. When complete, the castle will be used by Heinrich Himmler and the Schutzstaffel (SS) as a mystical fortress, complete with a 12,000-volume Aryan library and a center for racial research.
- In the United States, the American Christian Defenders (the World Alliance Against Jewish Aggressiveness) is founded by antisemitic propagandist Eugene N. Sanctuary.
A plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the League of Nations brings the Saar region into Greater Germany.
Germany retakes the Saarland.
he Jehovah's Witness organization is banned because they refuse to swear allegiance to the state.
Anti-Jewish legislation in the Saar region is passed.
Jews may no longer display the German flag.
Polish dictator Jozef Pilsudski dies. From here on Jews will experience more antisemitism in Poland. The government and most Polish political parties will call for discrimination, economic boycott, expulsion, and physical violence against Jews. The Polish Catholic Church, most priests, the Catholic press, and schools will sanction discrimination and/or violence against the Jews.
Defense Law: “Aryan heritage” as a prerequisite for military duty. During the summer “Jews Not Wanted” posters start to appear on restaurants, shops, and village entrance signs.
Jews are banned from the German Armed Forces.
Anti-Jewish riots occur in Grodno, Poland.
The Anglo-German Naval Agreement permits the expansion of the German Navy.
“Jews Not Welcome” signs temporarily removed.
The Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases is amended to provide for compulsory abortion of “unfit” fetuses up to six months in utero.
Paragraphs 175 and 175a of the criminal code are revised to criminalize all homosexual acts between men. The provision provided the police broader means for prosecuting homosexual men.
The antisemitic Ahnenerbe Forschungs- und Lehrgemeinschaft (Society for Research into the Teaching of Ancestral Heritage) is founded to study the racial history of the German people.
Pastor Martin Niemöller, the leading Protestant anti-Nazi, sermonizes that Jewish history is “dark and sinister” and that the Jewish people are forever “under a curse“ because they not only “brought the Christ of God to the cross” but they also bear the responsibility for the “blood of all the righteous men who were ever murdered.”
During a special session, Parliament passed the anti-Semitic “Nuremberg Laws,” the “National Citizens Law,” and the “Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor.” These laws were the basis for the exclusion of Jews (as well as Gypsies and black people) from all public business life and for the reclassification of the political rights of Jewish citizens. The Jews are returned to the legal position they had occupied in Germany before their emancipation in the 19th century. Jews can no longer exist as German citizens or marry non-Jews.
The German government introduces the antisemitic Law for the Protection of the Hereditary Health of the German People.
First decree pertaining the “National Law of Citizenship”: Jews denied voting rights and forbidden to hold public office. Discharge of all Jewish civil service employees, including World War I front line veterans. Official definitions of “Jew” established for the first time (anyone who has two Jewish grandparents and is a member of the Jewish religious community, and anyone with three or more Jewish grandparents) and “Mischlinge” (mixed race; that is, part Jew). Anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 German citizens fall into the Mischlinge category. Marriages between Jews and second-generation Mischlinge are prohibited.
First decree pertaining to the “Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor”: Prohibition against the marriage of Jews to nonJews. Work possibilities for Jews narrowed to just a few professions. Jewish children were prohibited from using the same playgrounds as other children and from utilizing the same locker rooms.
The German Churches begin to collaborate with the Nazis by supplying records to the government indicating who is a Christian and who is not; that is, who is a Jew.
Anti-Jewish riots erupt in Polish universities. Jewish students restricted to special seats.
SS chief Heinrich Himmler orders the Race and Settlement Central Office (RuSHA) to establish the Lebensborn (Fountain of Life) network of maternity homes. The purpose of the homes is “to accommodate and look after racially and genetically valuable expectant mothers.”
Other 1935 Events:
- The Reichswehr (Reich military; the German force whose size was severely proscribed by the Treaty of Versailles) is renamed the Wehrmacht (Armed Forces) in brazen acknowledgment of Adolf Hitler’s military expansion and defiance of the treaty.
- Hitler mandates the creation of the state-controlled Union of Protestant Churches.
- German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, an epic documentary film of the 1934 Nazi Party Congress at Nuremberg and a deification of Hitler, is released.
- The Sturmabteilung (SA) is incorporated into the Schutzstaffel (SS).
- The first issue of the antisemitic Deutsche Wochenschau für Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur und Technik (German Weekly for Politics, Economy, Culture and Technology) is published in Germany.
- The first issue of the pseudoscientific, antisemitic Zeitschrift für Rassenkunde (Journal for Racial Science) is published.
- The American Jewish Congress joins with the Jewish Labor Committee to form the Joint Boycott Council, aimed at German purveyors of goods and services.
- The Nazi government forces the closure of Masonic lodges across Germany.
- Anti-Jewish riots occur across Romania.
- Poland adopts a new constitution that abolishes parliamentary democracy.
- America’s pro-Nazi Silver Shirts political group merges with the Christian Party.
- In Britain, the first issue of Sir Oswald Mosley’s Fascist Quarterly is published.
- The German government permits the publication of Martin Luther’s On the Jews and Their Lies, in which Luther advocates a program to arrest Jews, expropriate them, force them into the kind of labor the government determines, and, finally, to exile or murder them.
The German Gestapo is placed above the law.
ugust Cardinal Hlond, the head of the Polish Catholic Church, considered less antisemitic than many Polish clergy and a careful follower of Vatican policy, issues a pastoral letter advocating discrimination against Polish Jews “so long as they remain Jews.”" He writes that Polish Catholics “ought to fence themselves off against the Jews’ harmful moral influence of Jewry” and “ought to separate themselves from its anti-Christian culture.” He states that Polish Catholics “ought to boycott the Jewish press” and other “demoralizing Jewish publications,” although “Catholics should not assault Jews.”
Anti-Jewish pogroms occur in Poland. Polish Cardinal Hlond speaks out against Jewish “usury, fraud, and white slavery.”
Jewish doctors prohibited from practicing in German public health institutions.
In defiance of the Versailles Treaty and other international agreements, German troops occupy the Rhineland. Although publicly denouncing Hitler’s action, France, Great Britain, and the United States accept it--another important step in appeasing Hitler and in encouraging him to make further demands in Europe.
A Reichstag “election” is held. Hitler’s policies are approved by 98 percent of the voters.
French conservatives condemn French Socialist leader Léon Blum because of his Jewish ancestry and his strongly anti-Nazi orientation. A popular slogan at the time condemns the future French premier: “Better Hitler than Blum.”
>Italian army conquers Addis Ababa.
Heinrich Himmler is appointed Chief of the German Police.
Civil War erupts in Spain between General Francisco Franco’s Nationals and the Republicans of the government. Three years of bloody battles and changing fortunes for both sides ensue, with Franco claiming victory on April 1, 1939.
German and Italian military involvement in Spain begins.
Poland’s Ministry of Commerce orders all small businesses to display the owners’ names as the names appear on the birth certificates. The directive is intended to expose Jewish-owned businesses.
The Summer Olympic Games are held in Berlin, allowing the world its first (stage-managed) look at the Third Reich. The Olympic Games were a propoganda success for the Nazi state. 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. Avery Brundage, head of the United States National Olympic Committee, successfully fights against an American boycott of the Berlin Olympics, insisting that the Olympic boycott lobby is led by Jewish “special interests.” Once in Germany, Brundage is entertained by top Nazi official Hermann Göring.
A 25-percent tax is imposed on all Jewish assets in Germany.
Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels declares that film criticism is henceforth banned, freeing the Nazi-controlled German film industry to pursue its own agenda, which includes blatantly antisemitic films.
During the same period in the United States, Hollywood is self-censored in that it fears dealing with Jewish issues because of the high level of antisemitism existing at the time in the United States.
Other 1936 Events:
- A leading Jewish-German jurist, Gerhard Leibholz, is stripped of his position at the University of Göttingen.
- The first Lebensborn home for expectant Aryan mothers opens near Munich.
- The Institut der NSDAP zum Studium der Judenfrage (Institute of the NSDAP to Study the Jewish Question) is founded by Joseph Goebbels.
- The first issue of Forschungen zur Judenfrage (Research into the Jewish Question), a magazine devoted to the quasi-scholarly exposition of Nazi racial ideology, is published.
- The Nazis establish public television viewing rooms for the dissemination of government propaganda.
- Romania’s Iron Guard explodes a bomb in a Jewish theater in Timisoara, Romania, killing two Jews.
- The America-based German-American Bund funnels currency to the Reich.
- Following the same anti-Jewish path as German Lutherans during the Nazi regime, America’s foremost Protestant journal, Christian Century, argues that America is a Christian nation with a Christian culture and has to remain that way. Christians are indifferent to Jewish suffering because the Jews deserve God’s punishment due to their denial of Jesus. Judaism is a racial, religious, and nationalist prototype of Nazism. These attitudes are reflected in much of the American Protestant press during the Holocaust.
Start of the Aryanization of the economy — Jewish owners forced, without legal basis, to sell their businesses, in most cases considerably below the value of their goods.
The Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle (VOMI; Ethnic German Assistance Office) is founded to act as an intermediary between Berlin and ethnic Germans (from nations other than Germany) who are to be resettled in Eastern Europe.
Jewish film star Paul Muni receives an Academy Award for playing the title role in The Life of Emile Zola. Although the film deals with French antisemitism, the dialogue never mentions the word “Jew.”
Without justification, Jewish merchants in Germany lose their businesses.
Pope Pius XI issues an encyclical, “Mit brennender Sorge” (“With Burning Concern”), repudiating Nazi racism and totalitarianism. Pius XI respectfully chastises the Nazis for violating their concordat with the Church by attempting to control Catholic education. The wording of the encyclical implies that Pius is seeking a rapprochement with the Third Reich. The Pope does not denounce widespread German-Christian antisemitism. Indeed, Pius reminds his readers of the Jews’ crime of deicide.
Anti-Nazi rally by Joint Boycott Council is held in New York. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, whose mother was Jewish, condemns Nazism.
With the Neutrality Act of 1935 set to expire, the United States Congress resolves to enact futher neutrality legislation. The Neutrality Act of 1937 includes a concession to President Roosevelt. The compromise, eventually know as Cash-and-Carry, permits Allied nations to pay case for American goods at American ports and then transport the goods away in their own ships. The provision is limited to two years.
Neville Chamberlain becomes prime minister of Great Britain.
Secret order by SS Obergruppenfuehrer (Lt. General) Heydrich pertaining to protective custody for Race Violators following the conclusion of the normal legal process.
The Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibition of “unacceptable” artwork by Jews and others opens in Munich. A concurrent event of “approved” art held nearby attracts far fewer people than the Entartete Kunst exhibit.
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.
600,000 German troops parade before Hitler at Nuremberg.
Hitler declares the Treaty of Versailles invalid and ended.
Beginning of the systematic takeover of Jewish property.
At his most prescient, President Roosevelt tries to warn the world, in his Quarantine Speech, of the growing threat to international security. “The peace, the freedom, and the security of ninety percent of the population is being jeopardized by the remaining ten percent who are threatening a breakdown of all international order and law,” he announced. The speech caused an uproar. President Roosevelt was accused or trying to circumvent the neutrality laws of America.
Munich exhibition of “The Wandering Jew” depicting the Jew as financial exploiter.
Hitler chairs a secret conference in which he informs the High Command and others of his racial, geopolitical, and military plans to dominate Europe. The conference is recorded by Colonel Friedrich Hossbach and called after him.
The German Museum in Munich mounts the Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) exhibition. It links Jews with bolshevism.
Lord Halifax visits Hitler regarding Sudetenland; appeasement begins.
The Japanese Army launches the massacre of Nanking. In a period of six weeks, according to various estimates, over 300,00 people are brutally murdered. Over 20,000 cases of rape were reported.
Other 1937 Events:
- At the Nationalist Socialist Party rally at Nuremberg, Adolf Hitler announces the Third Reich will last a thousand years.
- Adolf Hitler Schulen (AHS; Adolf Hitler Schools) are established to educate and train future Nazi leaders.
- The Baum Group, a Jewish resistance organization, is established in Berlin by Herbert and Marianne Baum.
- The Central Conference of American Rabbis officially abrogates the Pittsburgh Platform of 1885, which declared that Jews should no longer look forward to a return to Israel. This new policy actively encourages Jews to support the establishment of a Jewish homeland.
- Stronnictwo Pracy (Labor Front), a right-wing labor and antisemitic party, is established in Poland.
- In Hungary, Ferenc Szálasi establishes the Nyilaskeresztes Part-Hungarista Mozgalom (Arrow Cross Movement), dedicated to antisemitism.
- Britain proposes an Arab and a Jewish state separated by a mandated area incorporating Jerusalem and Nazareth; Arabs demand a single state with minority rights for Jews.
- SS functionary Adolf Eichmann, posing as a journalist, visits Palestine to investigate the feasibility of mass deportations of German Jews to that area.
- The first issue of Die Judenfrage (The Jewish Question), edited by Georg Haller, is published in Germany.
- Poland investigates the possibility of deporting resident Jews to Madagascar.
In Holland, a collaborationist organization, National-Socialistische Vrouwen Organisatie (National Socialist Women’s Organization), is established.
The Swedish government institutes strict immigration standards.
Hitler names himself supreme commander of the Wehrmacht. Hitler’s Cabinet meets for the final time.
Austrian Nazis prepare to take over every Jewish business in the nation.
The German Army enters Vienna, Austria. Austria is annexed (the Anschluss) by Germany and is immediately subject to all antisemitic laws in effect in Germany. Jewish organizations and congregations are subsequently forbidden.
Law pertaining to the legal rights of Jewish cultural (ethnic) organizations. Jewish community organizations are no longer legal entities enjoying civil rights; instead, they can only be legally created associations.
Anti-Jewish riots spread across Poland.
Germany issues a decree that effectively eliminates Jews from the nation’s economy and provides for the seizure of Jewish assets.
The German government demands that all Jews register with the authorities all real estate and other assets exceeding 5000 marks. This is the first step toward expropriation of Jewish property; that is, Aryanization, a process whereby the Reich government seizes Jewish property and auctions it off to gentiles.
Following the Anschluss, Austrians force Jewish men and women to scrub the streets with small brushes and with the women’s fur coats.
Hungary adopts its first law restricting the rights of Jews. Hungary restricts the proportion of Jews holding jobs in commerce, industry, the liberal professions, and the Hungarian government to 20 percent.
Hitler announces to his general staff that he has decided to destroy Czechoslovakia. He says it is his “unalterable decision to destroy Czechoslovakia.” Chief of Staff General Ludwig Beck vehemently opposes Hitle’s ambitions and lobbies other top brass to put up a united front against aggression.
German legislation outlaws “decadent art.”
World-famous therapist Sigmund Freud flees Austria for England.
Nazis destroy the Munich Synagogue. They burn it to the ground.
Decree requiring the registration and identification of Jewish industrial enterprises. Creation of lists of wealthy Jews at treasury offices and police districts. All Jewish businesses that have not already been registered and marked must now comply with the Reich requirement.
“AsocialAction”: Arrest of all “previously convicted” Jews, including those prosecuted for traffic violations, and committing them to concentration camps (approx. 1,500 persons).
German-Jewish doctors are allowed to treat only Jewish patients.
Under a proposal called the Sosua Project, the Dominican Republic offers to accept 100,000 European Jewish refugees, to be settled in an area near Santo Domingo, in return for payment of millions of dollars from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). (Under the plan, only about 500 Jews will be admitted to the Dominican Republic before the country halts immigration in 1940.)
An international conference at Evian-les-Bains, France, is called by United States President Franklin Roosevelt to deal with the Jewish refugee problem. Roosevelt’s aims, some say, are to deflect American Jewish appeals to help the German Jews. Aside from Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, which want enormous sums of money to allow a small number of Jews to immigrate, the 32 nations attending the conference decide that they will not permit large numbers of Jews to enter their countries.
The first 50 inmates arrive at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, about 20 miles from Berlin. Following Kristallnacht, 1,800 Jews are jailed here and subsequently murdered. By September 1939, the camp held 8,000 prisoners. In April 1940, the first crematorium was built. In March 1943, a gas chamber was added. In April 1945, as the Soviet Army advanced, 33,000 prisoners began a Death March. The Soviet Army found 3,000 survivors in the camp.
American radio broadcaster Father Charles Coughlin calls for the establishment of an American Christian Front to combat Communists and Jews. The Christian Front, which will come to fruition, will consist of mostly working-class Irish and German Americans. The organization will adhere to the beliefs that America is a Christian nation and that Catholics should march along with Protestants in a united Christian Front against the Jews.
Decree for the cancellation of the medical certification of all Jewish physicians effective September 30. Thereafter, Jewish physicians are only allowed to function as nurses for Jewish patients.
Henry Ford, an American industrialist and a leading antisemite, accepts the Third Reich’s medal of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle. A year later, at the outset of World War II, Ford will claim that “the Jew bankers” are responsible for the war.
Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels introduces a new radio for the German people, the German Mini-Receiver also known as the Goebbels Schnauze (Goebbels’s Snout).
The first Austrian concentration camp is established at Mauthausen.
Destruction of the Great Synagogue in Nuremberg.
Decree to carry out the law pertaining to the change of first and last names. Effective January 1, 1939, all Jews must add to their name either “Israel” (for a Jewish male) or “Sara” (for a Jewish female).
The Swiss government denies entry to Jews. However, Paul Grüninger, local police commandant of St. Gall on the Austrian frontier, disobeys his superiors and allows 3600 Jews to pass the border from August through December 1938.
Unable to enlist General Staff into resigning en masse and unable to dissuade Hitler from carving up Czechoslovakia, Beck resigns as Chief of Staff. The conspiracy to overthrow Hitler has begun with Beck as the main architect of the plot. Throughout August, co-conspirators on the General Staff have been secretly sent by Beck and Abwehr Chief Admiral Wilhelm Canaris to London to persuade the British government to back their impending coup attempt by standing up to Hitler over Czechoslovakia.
The Berlin Putsch, with the aim of overthrowing Hitler and tossing him into an insane asylum, is planned by generals and influential civilians, but it never comes off because of poor organization and wavering leadership.
Pope Pius XII informally tells Belgian pilgrims that antisemitism is a movement in which Christians should not involve themselves. However, Pius says, each Christian has the right “to defend himself, to take means to protect himself against all that threatens his legitimate interest.”
Jews forbidden to attend public cultural events.
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain meets with Hitler at Berchtesgaden, Germany, to discuss the Sudeten crisis. Hitler has demanded that the Sudetenland, which was part of Austria up through the end of World War I, be ceded by Czechoslovakia to Germany.
Army Chief of Staff General Franz Halder with the full knowledge of General Walther von Brauchitsch (Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces) has a commando force assembled and on stand-by notice ready to launch the first coup attempt. Conspirators General Hans Oster and Major Wilhelm Heinz secretly agree to have Hitler killed. The conspirators await Britain’s and France’s next move.
British and French governments advise Czechoslovakia to accept Hitler’s terms.
Hitler promises that the Sudetenland will be his last territorial demand in Europe.
Decree for the cancellation of the license to practice for all Jewish lawyers, effective November 30. Thereafter, Jewish lawyers can only practice in special instances as “Jewish Consultants for Jews.”
Hitler threatens to march into Czechoslovakia without further delay. Halder anxiously expects Britain’s ultimatum to Hitler which will allow him to launch the coup. Major Heinz and 50 commandos are secretly cloistered in safehouses throughout Berlin waiting for orders to storm the Chancellory.
The Munich Conference is attended by French Premier Edouard Daladier, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and Hitler. Climaxing the Allies’ appeasement policy, France and Great Britain permit Germany to illegally annex the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. Most of Europe breathes a sigh of relief because war is averted. Daladier, observing the huge crowds awaiting him at the Orly airport near Paris, fears that they will tear him apart for betraying France’s Czech ally. After he lands, he is relieved when his people throw roses at him.
The Czech representatives to the conference, who had been forced to wait helplessly in the corridor outside the conference hall, break down into sobs after hearing the news of the Allied concessions to Germany. Also at the conference, Chamberlain signs a Friendship Treaty with Germany without informing his French ally. Arriving home, he triumphantly holds this scrap of paper up to the crowd that surrounds his airplane and promises “peace in our time.”
First coup attempt falls apart with Chamberlain’s decision to negotiate away the Sudentenland.
Civiltá Cattolica, the foremost Jesuit journal, which is published in Rome and controlled by the Vatican, calls Judaism sinister and accuses Jews of trying to control the world through money and secularism. The journal says that the devil is the Jews’ master; Judaism is evil and “a standing menace to the world.”
The German Wehrmacht occupies the Czech Sudetenland under stipulations of the Munich Pact.
Following a request by Heinrich Rothmund, head of the Swiss federal police, the German government recalls all Jewish passports and marks them with a large, colored “J.” This is to prevent German Jews from passing as Christians and smuggling themselves into Switzerland.
Germany expels Jews with Polish citizenship to the Polish border. Poles refuse to admit them; Germans refuse to allow them back into Germany. Seventeen thousand are stranded in the frontier town of Zbaszyn, Poland.
Father Bernhard Lichtenberg, a Roman Catholic priest in Berlin, condemns the German assault on Jews. One of the few German Catholics to denounce the immoral behavior of the government, Father Lichtenberg sermonizes: “Outside the synagogue is burning, and that also is a house of God.”
Germany anounces the “Vienna Award” in which Germany cedes large parts of Czechoslovakia to Hungary and Italy. Sections of Slovakia as well as the Transcarpathian Ukraine are annexed by Hungary. Hitler has now directly violated the Munich Pact.
A distraught young Jew named Herschel Grynszpan, whose family has just been deported to Zbaszyn, enters the German Embassy in Paris and mortally wounds Third Secretary of Legation Ernst vom Rath. Academics often cite this as the beginning of the Holocaust. The Nazis will exploit this event by instigating a long-planned terror campaign against all Jews in Germany and Austria.
Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) occurs across Germany and Austria. Ninety-one Jews are killed; others are beaten. Thirty thousand male Jews are sent to concentration camps (Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen), though most will be released in a few weeks. 267 synagogues are desecrated and destroyed (almost all of the synagogues of Germany and Austria). SS Security Service chief Reinhard Heydrich instructs security agencies to burn the synagogues unless German lives or property are endangered. Jewish businesses are looted and destroyed, including 7500 shops.
Hitler mentions to Hermann Göring that he would like to see all German Jews forcibly resettled on the island of Madagascar. Opportunistically chosen by the Nazi leadership, the date of the pogrom is of great symbolic importance. It coincides with two important national holidays, the Nazi Blood Witness Day of November 9 and Martin Luther’s birthday of November 10. Blood Witness Day commemorates the Nazi “martyrs” who died for their cause. Martin Luther advocated the destruction of Jewish homes and synagogues as well as the impoverishment, forced labor, exile, and death of Jews.
Hermann Göring leads a discussion of German officials that results in a one-billion-mark ($400-million) fine against the German-Jewish community to pay for Kristallnacht. Göring calls this extortion an “expiation payment.” Seizing the money German insurance companies were paying the Jews for their damages, the Nazis require the Jews to pay for the repair of their own properties damaged in Kristallnacht.
The Nazis decide on a decree to remove all Jews from the German economy, society, and culture. Reinhard Heydrich suggests that every Jew be forced to wear a badge. Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels suggests that Jews be kept from using public parks. Hermann Göring mentions that Hitler told him on the phone on November 9 that if war breaks out, Germany “will first of all make sure of settling accounts with the Jews. [Hitler] is going to ask the other nations: ‘Why do you keep talking about the Jews? Take them!’” In the Nazi Party’s principal newspaper, Goebbels writes: “We want only one thing, that the world loves the Jews enough to rid us of them all.”
Decree for the “atonement payments” by German Jews in the amount of one billion marks; decree for the elimination of German Jews from involvement in the economy; decree for the reconstruction of the facades of all Jewish shops (Jews have to pay for all damage caused during Kristallnacht); Jews prohibited from attending movies, concerts, and other cultural performances.
All Jewish children are expelled from German schools. From now on, they may only attend Jewish schools.
The American Virgin Islands Assembly offers the islands as a haven for Jewish refugees. The American government does not explore this possibility.
Using Nazi documents, American radio commentator Father Charles Coughlin contends that Jews are responsible for Russian communism and for Germany’s problems. All of Coughlin’s radio programs are approved by his archdiocese as not contradicting Catholic faith or morals. Some Catholics protest Coughlin’s broadcasts, including Chicago’s Cardinal George Mundelein, but most of the American Church is silent.
The British House of Commons objects to German persecution of minorities.
The SS transfers 500 male concentration camp prisoners to the village of Ravensbrück, north of Berlin, Germany. The prisoners begin the construction of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Ravensbrück will serve as the main camp for women prisoners in Germany.
Police decree pertaining to the appearance of Jews in public: Restrictions in the freedom of movement and travel, etc.
Reichsbank president Hjalmar Schacht travels to London to propose to George Rublee, of the Intergovernmental Committee for Political Refugees, an extortionate scheme: German Jews could emigrate if they put up cash assets that would be transferred to the Reich upon emigration. This Schacht-Rublee plan will be abandoned in January 1939, when Schacht will be dismissed by Hitler after Schacht objects to the high cost of Germany’s rearmament.
The British Cabinet allows 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children into Britain in an action called the Kindertransport. (Britain, however, refuses to allow 21,000 more Jewish children into Palestine.) The rescued children come from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia with the help of British, Jewish, and Quaker welfare organizations. Because of the Holocaust, most of the children will never see their parents again, and many of the Jewish children will be converted to Christianity.
onfiscation of Jewish drivers’ licenses. Creation of a “Ban Against Jews” in Berlin; decree pertaining to the forced disposal (Aryanization) of Jewish industrial enterprises and businesses; directives concerning the ousting of Jews from German economic life.
Thousands of Father Charles Coughlin’s followers take to the streets of New York City, chanting, “Send Jews back where they came from in leaky boats!” and “Wait until Hitler comes over here!” Many Christian policemen are sympathetic to the Coughlinites. The protests will last until April 1939. They are opposed by other Catholic organizations and by leftists and liberals.
Several members of the American Catholic hierarchy and leading Protestants sign a Christmas resolution expressing “horror and shame” in response to the Kristallnacht pogrom.
Other 1938 Events
- Of Germany’s 500,000 Jews in 1933, about 200,000 emigrate by the end of 1938.
- The first issue of Jüdisches Nachrichtenblatt (Jewish Newsletter), a Nazi-controlled publication, keeps German citizens abreast of Nazi regulations regarding Jews.
- Ludwig Schemann, a leading German advocate of racism, dies.
- In Romania, a Fascist and antisemitic government, established in December 1937 and headed by Octavian Goga, falls early in 1938.
- Right-wing Catholic priest Jozef Tiso becomes prime minister of Slovakia and establishes ties to Nazi Germany.
- Adolf Hitler tells Minister of Justice Hans Frank that he has come to fulfill the curse imposed by the Jews themselves in the New Testament: “His [Jesus’s] blood be upon us and upon our children.” Hitler, born and raised as a Roman Catholic, observes that had Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, been fully aware of the Jewish threat, he would not have criticized Catholicism; instead, he would have put all of his energy into attacking the Jews.
Jews are eliminated from the German economy; their capital is seized, though some Jews continue to work under Germans.
At the Buchenwald, Germany, concentration camp, Deputy Commandant Arthur Rödl orders several thousand inmates to assemble for inspection shortly before midnight. He selects five men and has them whipped to the melody played by the inmate orchestra. The whipping continues all night.
Decree pertaining to the expiration of permits for Jewish dentists, veterinarians, and pharmacists.
Nazi Generalfeldmarschall Hermann Göring orders Reinhard Heydrich to establish a Jewish Emigration Office, and informs him to speed up the emigration of Jews. Heydrich appoints Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller to head it.
On the sixth anniversary of his appointment as chancellor, Hitler threatens in the Reichstag that if war breaks out, the result will be the extermination of Europe’s Jews. Ridiculing the Western Allies’ lack of humanitarian action in regard to the Jews, he notes that “it is a shameful spectacle to see how the whole democratic world is oozing sympathy for the poor, tormented Jewish people, but remains hard-hearted and obdurate when it comes to helping them.”
he St. James Palace Conference is held in London to find a peaceful solution to the political stalemate in Palestine. Jewish delegates withdraw when Arab delegates refuse to meet with their Jewish counterparts--and when British delegates support the Arab position.
Anti-Jewish legislation is passed in Italy.
Pope Pius XI dies. His unpublished encyclical on racism and antisemitism does not go beyond the Vatican’s traditional policy concerning Jews. This policy is based on the doctrine of St. Augustine that the Jews are Cains who must not be killed but who must wander in suffering for all eternity, until they see the light and choose conversion to Roman Catholicism.
>The German-American Bund stages a rally in New York City. About 20,000 enthusiasts attend; they come mostly from Father Charles Coughlin’s Christian Front.
New York Democratic Senator Robert F. Wagner, a German American, and Massachusetts Democratic Representative Edith Nourse Rogers jointly propose the Wagner-Rogers Bill to permit 20,000 German children (specifically, Jewish children) into the United States over a two-year period. The bill is tagged with so many amendments that, after hearings, it never leaves the the House or Senate. The bill does receive considerable support from the press and certain churches, and many individuals and organizations testify for or against the bill. But the antisemitism rife in the American public and Congress--and the lack of support from President Franklin Roosevelt--sink the bill. The Wagner-Rogers Bill’s foremost opponent, Senator Robert Reynolds of North Carolina, has a secret relationship with German-American Nazi agent August Gausebeck. Gausebeck’s partner is Walter Schellenberg, the coordinator of Gestapo activities in the United States.
Asked for her opinion on the bill, Mrs. James Houghteling, wife of the commissioner of immigration, whispers that the only problem with the Wagner-Rogers bill is “that 20,000 ugly [Jewish] children would all too soon grow up into 20,000 ugly adults.” Mrs. Houghteling is Laura Delano Houghteling, President Roosevelt’s cousin.
Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli is elected as Pope Pius XII.
Hungary enacts a law permitting the establishment of the Hungarian Labor Service System (Munkaszolgálat). Under the law, Jews of military age will be employed in construction, mining, and fortification work for the military.
Nazi troops enter Czechoslovakia and occupy Prague. No nation takes forcible action against the move. Of roughly 50,000 Jews in the city, only 19,000 will escape from Europe. Tens of thousands of Jews are trapped when Nazi troops enter the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia.
Slovakia becomes a German satellite and declares itself an independent state under protection of Nazi Germany.
Hitler announces that Czechoslovakia has ceased to exist and declares Slovakia a protectorate of the Reich.
The French government passes legislation outlawing incitement to race hatred.
As 500,000 people watch, 20,000 protestors march in a “Stop Hitler” parade held in New York City.
The Spanish Civil War ends, with Francisco Franco’s Fascists the victors.
The Institut zur Erforschung des jüdischen Einflusses auf das deutsche kirchliche Leben (Institute for the Study of Jewish Influence on German Church Life) is founded.
Great Britain institutes conscription.
Italian forces occupy Albania.
Hitler offers a mocking response to United States President Franklin Roosevelt’s April 15 request to respect the independence of European nations. He renounces the Anglo-German Naval Pact and the Polish Non-Agression Pact.
>The SS transfers almost 900 women prisoners from the Lichtenburg concentration camp for women to Ravensbrück. Upon this transfer, Ravensbrück replaces Lichtenburg as the main camp for women prisoners in Germany.
The German refugee ship USS St. Louis leaves Hamburg. Most of the thousand or so passengers are Jewish escapees from Nazi Germany. They have landing passes for Cuba as well as quota numbers that could allow them entry into the United States three years hence.
The British government issues a White Paper (commonly called the MacDonald White Paper) that limits Jewish immigration to 10,000 a year for five years. The White Paper allows 75,000 Jewish immigrants (up to 10,000 per year, plus an additional 25,000 if certain conditions are met) to enter Palestine. The White Paper also restricts Jewish land purchases in Palestine. British government policy will succeed in keeping the actual numbers of Jewish immigrants far below the quotas for settlement in England and Palestine.
Ernst Toller, a German-Jewish playwright in exile in New York City, commits suicide.
The German refugee ship USS St. Louis reaches Cuba. But after extortionate demands for money are made by the Cuban government, the USS St. Louis departs Cuba and sails along the east coast of the United States. President Roosevelt orders the Coast Guard to prevent any of the passengers from landing in the U.S., even should they jump ship.
The Boston, Massachusetts, newspaper of the Christian Science Church attacks Jewish refugees as causing their own troubles, a position taken by many important Protestant journals of the time.
After being denied access to Cuba and the United States, the German refugee ship USS St. Louis docks in Antwerp, Belgium. Belgium offers to take 214 passengers, the Netherlands 181, Britain 287, and France 224. Ultimately, the Nazis will murder most of the passengers except for those accepted by Great Britain.
German Jews are denied the right to hold governmentjobs.
Reacting to German anti-Jewish policies and reflecting the attitude of many other officials in Great Britain and Western Europe, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain writes: “No doubt Jews aren’t a lovable people; I don’t care about them myself. But that is not sufficient to explain the pogrom.”
The Reich Ministry of the Interior publishes a listing of allowable first names Jewish parents may give their new babies.
Hitler’s speech to generals urges the liquidation of Poles in the forthcoming war in order to gain Lebensraum (“Living space”) for Germans.
The German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact) is signed in Moscow, freeing Hitler for the moment from the worry of an Eastern Front war. The pact contains a secret protocol on the disposition of Poland, which will be divided between the two larger nations. They also agree to divide up eastern Europe, including Poland, the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, and parts of Romania.
Hitler guarantees to respect the neutrality of Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Sweden.
The German economy shifts to a wartime footing. The Nazi government issues restrictive Lebensmittelkarten (ration cards) to Gypsies and resident aliens within the borders of the Reich. Ration cards for Jews restrict the holders to a starvation diet of 200 to 300 calories per day.
Because of a protracted shooting schedule in New York, popular Polish-Jewish film stars Leon Liebgold and Lili Liliana miss their ship back to Poland two days before the Nazi invasion of their homeland. The couple remains in New York.
Sixty German-Jewish children are shepherded by train and boat through Holland to safety in the British port city of Harwich.
German forces overrun western Poland, instigating World War II. Three thousand Jewish civilians die in the bombing of Warsaw. German troops enter Danzig, trapping more than 5000 Jews. Throughout Germany and Austria, Jews may not be outside after 8:00 p.m. in the winter and 9:00 p.m. in the summer.
September 1-October 25
Great Britain, France, India, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Germany. The British government cancels all visas previously granted to“enemy nationals”; one effect is that German Jews can no longer immigrate to safety in England.
At a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive, an organization informally recognized as the ad hoc Jewish government of Palestine, David Ben-Gurion vows that Jews will fight Hitler. A total of a million and a half Jews will fight in the armed forces of nations opposing Germany: 555,000 Jewish servicemen and women in the American Armed Forces; 500,000 for the Soviet Union; 116,000 for Great Britain (26,000 from Palestine and 90,000 from the British Commonwealth); and 243,000 Jews for other European nations.
German forces occupy Przemysl, Poland.
SS Security Service chief Reinhard Heydrich orders chiefs of Einsatzgruppen to establish, in cooperation with German civil and military authorities, Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland. He decrees that all Jewish communities in Poland and Greater Germany with populations under 500 are to be dissolved, so that deportations of Jews to urban ghettos and concentration camps can be accelerated. Further, Heydrich orders the establishment of ghetto Judenräte (Jewish councils). The main goals of the ghettoization process are to isolate Jews, force them to manufacture items for Germany, and provide easy Nazi access for murder and deportation.
The Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA; State Security Main Office) is founded.
After the German invasion of Poland earlier in September, the first Polish women prisoners arrive in Ravensbrück. By 1945 more than 40,000 women from Poland and the German-occupied eastern territories will have been deported to Ravensbrück.
On this Jewish Day of Atonement, Jews across Poland are publicly humiliated by SS troops: forced labor, coerced shavings of beards, destruction of property, beatings, and forced dancing. At Piotrków, Poland, Jews are compelled to relieve themselves in the local synagogue school, then use prayer shawls and holy books to clean up the mess.
Jewish prisoners of war kept at Zyardow Stadium in Poland for ten days without food are forced to clean latrines with their bare hands.
Poland surrenders, and the country is partitioned between Germany and the Soviet Union, as was outlined in a secret amendment to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. More than 2 million Jews live in the German area and 1.3 million in the Soviet-controlled territory.
German administrative divisions of Eastern Europe are established. They are Greater Danzig (northern Poland), West Prussia (northern Europe on the Baltic), Greater East Prussia (northern Europe on the Baltic), and the Warthegau (western Poland). Jews are forcibly expelled from these areas.
Hitler orders that selected physicians be authorized to administer “mercy deaths”--euthanasia--to incurably ill or undesirable German citizens. No legal justification for the killings is necessary. Health care professionals sent thousands of institutionalized mentally and physically diabled people to central “euthanasia” killing centers, where they killed them by lethal injection of in the gas chamber.
The Polish government-in-exile is formed in France. When hostilities escalate, the government will move to London.
In an address to the Reichstag, Hitler offers peace to England and France, but only if Germany’s former colonies are returned, Germany is allowed to join world trade, and Britain and France allow Germany to solve the “Jewish problem.”
In a meeting at the White House, the economist Alexander Sachs presents a letter to President Roosevelt. The message, written by Albert Einstein and with the support of other physicists — Leo Szilard, Eugene Wagner, and Edward Teller among them — call on the United States government to explore the military potentials of nuclear energy. In the letter, Einstein warns that the Germans have stopped selling uranium from Czech mines, a clue that the Nazis are trying to build a nuclear weapon. Roosevelt reponds, “What you are after is to see that the Nazis don’t blow us up.” From these beginnings, the Advisory Committee on Uranium is born with a mandate to begin a nuclear weapons program.
Hitler anounces to his general staff his plans to conquer the West and knock out the Low Countries, then France, and finally England. Halder and Brauchitsch agree to try to dissuade Hitler. Halder, in league with Beck, Canaris and Oster, and the other conspirators pull out the secret plans for the second coup attempt.
Kraków, one of the most important Jewish communities since the 1300s, is designated the capital of the Generalgouvernement.
Germany annexes the former Polish regions of Upper Silesia, Pomerania, West Prussia, Poznan, amd 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 Labor Department of the Generalgouvernement of Occupied Poland issues the Arbeitspflicht (Work obligation) decree, which makes slave labor mandatory for all Polish men and women over the age of 14 and under age 60.
October 26-February 1940
In a plan devised by Adolf Eichmann, the Nazis deport and “resettle” some 78,000 Jews to a “reservation” located in the Lublin-Nisko region of southeast Poland. The project is temporarily suspended when rolling rail stock is needed for German military campaigns against the Low Countries.
SS chief Heinrich Himmler designates the next three months as the period during which all Jews must be cleared from the rural areas of western Poland. Hundreds of communities will be affected, and thousands of Jews will be expelled with nothing but what they can carry with them.
Brauchitsch and Halder drive to the Chancellory to see Hitler who explodes in anger and vows to destroy the “spirit of Zossen.” Halder panics and aborts the second coup attempt. Conspirators ordered to shut down the entire plot.
With the Cash-and-Carry provision about to expire, the United States Congress passes legislation prolonging its madate and permitting European democracies to buy war materials.
SS Security Service chief Reinhard Heydrich orders that all Jews be removed from the newly formed Warthegau province (formerly western Poland) of Greater Germany. The order is made so that the region can be prepared for resettlement by ethnic Germans.
The antisemitic Fideikommissariat (Estate commission) is established to “Aryanize” Jewish-owned businesses in Occupied Poland.
November 30-March 13, 1940
General Johannes Blaskowitz, the commander-in-chief of Greater Germany’s Eastern sector, complains to the German High Command that the activities of Einsatzgruppen (killing squads) are excessively brutal and a threat to army discipline. His complaints are noted but are largely ignored; Einsatzgruppen activities continue as before. He also reports that many Jewish children in transport trains are arriving at their destinations frozen to death.
German authorities seize Jewish property in Poland. Items that are appropriated include businesses, homes, furniture and other household goods, currency and bank accounts, art, jewelry, and other valuables. Now economically helpless, the Jews have virtually nothing with which to sustain themselves.
As an example of its policy of blocking all Jewish escape routes in Central Europe, the British Foreign Office warns Bulgaria that if it ships its Jews to Palestine, the British will “expect the Bulgarian government to take the immigrants back.”
In eastern areas of Greater Germany, two years of forced labor is made compulsory for all Jewish males aged 14 to 60.
Jewish girls in Lódz, Poland, who have been impressed for forced labor, are forced to clean a latrine with their blouses. When the job is complete, the German overseers wrap the filthy blouses around the girls’ faces.
106 non-Jewish Poles are murdered at Wawer, Poland.
The riverboat Uranus reaches the Iron Gates gorge in Romania, on the Yugoslavian border, with 1210 fugitive Jews from Vienna, Austria, and Prague, Czechoslovakia. The boat’s journey is halted after Great Britain, holder of the Mandate on Palestine, protests to the Yugoslavian government.
Other 1939 Events:
Approximately 78,000 Jews leave Germany. Jewish valuables throughout Germany are confiscated.
- Hermann Esser’s antisemitic book, The Jewish World Plague, is published in Germany.
- SS chief Heinrich Himmler is appointed Reich commissioner for strengthening German nationhood. Eager to increase the growing Aryan birth rate, Himmler orders his SS men to impregnate their wives and to act as “conception assistants” to childless women over the age of 29.
- The first issue of Die Aktion: Kampfblatt für das neue Europa (The Action: Newspaper for Fighting for the New Europe), an antisemitic propaganda periodical distributed outside of Germany, is published.
- An antisemitic film comedy, Robert und Bertram, is produced in Germany.
- In the United States, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigates the pro-Nazi German-American Bund.
- An Elmo Roper poll claims that 53 percent of Americans feel Jews are “different” and require “social and economic restrictions.”
- A Gallup poll reports that 83 percent of Americans oppose the admission of a larger number of Jewish refugees.
- Based on instructions coming from the State Department, a United States consular official in Stuttgart, Germany, tells Ernest Michel, a German Jew who has an American sponsor, that all U.S. immigration quotas are filled and that he should reapply for admission to the United States in three years. Ironically, 1939 was the only year in which U.S. quotas were filled.
The forced march of 880 Polish prisoners of war--all Jews--results in the shooting deaths of more than 600.
Jewish property in Generalgouvernement must be registered.
The British Embassy in Bucharest pressures the Romanian government to prevent its ships from carrying Jewish refugees.
The use of the Dachau, Germany, concentration camp as a training facility for the Waffen-SS concludes. Prisoners transferred to the Mauthausen, Austria, camp in September 1939 are returned, and Dachau reverts to its original use as a concentration camp.
The Institut für deutsche Ostarbeit (Institute for German Work in the East) is founded to study Polish Jewry.
Shanghai, China, accepts thousands of Jewish refugees.
Secret order by the High Command of the Armed Forces: Discharge persons of mixed blood and husbands of Jewish women.
British Foreign Office official H. F. Downie argues that the Jews are “enemies just as the Germans are, but in a more insidious way,” and that “our two sets of enemies [Nazis and Jews] are linked together by secret and evil bonds.”
Polish and Baltic-area Jews begin to escape to Jerusalem and across the Soviet Union to Japan, the Dutch East Indies, Australia, Canada, and the United States. In all, only a few thousand Jews from the region manage to escape.
Rudolf Höss, adjutant at the Sachsenhausen, Germany, concentration camp, is ordered to turn the former Polish army barracks at Auschwitz, Poland, into an extermination camp. He becomes kommandant of Auschwitz.
Norway surrenders to the German army.
At great risk to his life, Oster (with Canaris’s full knowledge) has been repeatedly warning the Low Countries of Hitler’s impending Western offensive. Oster gives the Dutch and Belgian military attaches the exact day and hour of the impending invasion. His warnings are ignored.
Chamberlain resigns; Churchill becomes the U.K.’s new prime minister. “I felt as if I were walking with Destiny,” he declared, “and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.” Churchill declares a policy of “absolute silence” towards the German Resistance. But the Pope secretly offers to act as intermediary for the conspirators. Conspirator Dr. Otto Mueller is sent to the Vatican to pass on messages to the British government via Bishop Anthony Bell of Chichester.
Poet and essayist T. S. Eliot writes that the Jews are the modern world’s foremost “Forces of Evil.” He claims that they have “made the modern world vile.”
The Nazis launch the Extraordinary Pacification Operation plan to eliminate Polish intellectuals.
Auschwitz concentration camp (Auschwitz I) begins functioning outside the Polish city of Oswiecim. Because most of Europe’s Jews live in Poland and Eastern Europe, the six concentration camps called death camps will be established there: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Chelmno, Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibór, and Majdanek.
Frustrated by “illegal” immigration into Palestine, British High Commissioner for Palestine Sir Harold MacMichael insists that Hungary accept the return of two Jews who had left Hungary and settled in Palestine in 1934 on tourist visas. The Hungarian government replies that there are an “excessive” number of Jews in their country and the government’s aim is “that as many as possible should be encouraged to emigrate.”
May 26-June 4
Allies evacuate 338,000 French and British troops from Dunkirk across the British channel and over to the safety of Britain.
One hundred British prisoners of war are murdered by German troops at Le Paradis, France.
Thousands of Polish Jews are sent eastward as forced laborers to construct fortifications along the new Soviet frontier.
French and British troops are evacuated from Dunkerque, France.
Battle of France begins.
Paris falls to the Germans. Noted novelist and German-Jewish refugee Ernst Weiss commits suicide in the city.
Transports begin arriving at Auschwitz — The first train arrives at a former military barracks in a little town called Oswiecim, located some thirty miles south-west of Kraków. This first deportation to Auschwitz carried 728 Polish political prisoners, including teachers, priests, and other non-Jewish Poles. From such a small beginning grew, in the words of German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt, “quite literally the end of the world.” The number of Jews killed at the camp is unknown. Estimates range from as high as 2,500,000 — Adolf Eichmann’s guess — to a little over a million, according to a contemporary study. Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant for most of Auschwitz’s existence, agreed with Eichmann’s total, but then reduced the number to 1,135,000.
French head of state Marchal Petain sues for peace.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill vows this will be Britain’s “finest hour.”
French army surrenders at Rethondes in the same railway car where France has forced Germany’s surrender in 1918. Marshal Petain signs an armistice with Germany. “The battle of France is over,” Churchill told the House of Commons. “I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin.”
United States Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long determines to obstruct the granting of visas to Jews seeking entry into the United States. He seeks indefinitely to “delay and effectively stop” such immigration by ordering American consuls “to put every obstacle in the way [to] postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of visas.” His goal will be realized over the next four years.
German authorities order that Lodz ghetto be sealed off, confining at least 160,000 people in the ghetto. From then on, all Jews living in Lodz had to reside in the ghetto and could not leave Germany without authorization.
German forces occupy the Channel islands, the only part of the British Isles to be occupied.
The America First Committee is formed. It is the most significant American isolationist group, and it is also infiltrated by Nazis, who are working to prevent American intervention in Europe. Several prominent Americans speak in support of the committee. Many in Congress attack the Jews of Hollywood as attempting to involve America in opposition to Hitler.
Bloody anti-Jewish riots erupt in cities throughout Romania.
In a letter to German Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, Bishop Theophil Wurm, head of the provincial Lutheran Church at Württemberg, Germany, objects to “euthanasia” killings at the nearby Grafaneck crippled-children’s institution.
In Holland, a collaborationist propaganda group, Nederlandse Unie (Netherlands Union), is established.
Vichy government formed.
Battle of Britain begins when the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) attacks British targets. For three months, the German Luftwaffe and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) clash over the skies of Britain, with London and other cities taking an incredible pouding. In October, the RAF hands the Germans their first defeat. In lauding the RAF, Churchill remarks, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owned by so many to so few.”
U.K. turns down German peace offer for recognition of domination in western Europe.
Conspirator Fritz Dietlof von der Schulenberg’s plan to have Hitler shot in Paris during a reviewing parade fails to materialize. Hitler makes a spontaneous visit to Paris in the early morning hours of July 23.
The United States Congress passes a law to allow thousands of British children into the U.S. beyond the immigration quotas. The law is widely supported by American public opinion. Exploiting a loophole in America’s immigration law never used for Jewish refugee children, President Franklin Roosevelt calls these British children “visitors”; that is, immigrants planning some day to return to Great Britain. Congress amends the Neutrality Act to allow American ships to evacuate these children.
AntiJewish racist laws passed in Romania.
The first British air raid is launched against Berlin.
Polish underground officer Witold Pilecki penetrates the main camp at Auschwitz with the intention of organizing secret resistance groups inside the camp.
The National Legionary government of dictator Ion Antonescu assumes power in Romania.
President Roosevelt trades fifty World War I-era destroyers to Churchill in exchange for the use of Naval bases in British colonies. To American generals, the deal was a disaster, as warships were in scarce supply . To Roosevelt, the deal appeared to aid Americ’s ally while not jeopardizing the President’s standing in an isolation-minded Congress. To Churchill, the deal futher entangled American and British interests. “I have no doubt,” Churchill told the House of Commons, “that Herr Hitler will not like this transfer of destroyers, and I have no doubt that he will pay the United States out, if he ever gets the chance.”
Bishop Theophil Wurm, head of the provincial Lutheran Church at Württemberg, Germany, sends a second letter to German Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick expressing his objections to “euthanasia” killings.
The Jewish refugee ship Quanza stops to refuel at Norfolk, Virginia, after having been denied entry to the United States at New York and to Mexico at Vera Cruz. One passenger, a German Jew, is returned to the ship by U.S. Army guards after leaping overboard near the shore of Hampton Roads, Virginia.
The United States Congress approves the Selective Service Act of 1940, the first peacetime conscription in the nation’s history. Passed in an election year, the Act contained numerous compromises. For instance, the Act provided that not more than 900,000 men were to be trained at any one time. Also, service was limited to 12 months. Both stipulations would change in the coming years.
SS chief Heinrich Himmler authorizes a special SS Reichsbank account to hold gold (including gold extracted from teeth), silver, jewelry, and foreign currency stolen from interned Jews. The account is held by the fictitious “Max Heiliger.”
Director Veit Harlan’s antisemitic film Jud Süss premieres in Berlin.
German authorities forbid Norwegian Jews to teach and participate in other professions.
Young Jewish men return from the Belzec, Poland, camp to Szczebrzeszyn, Poland, after a ransom of 20,000 zlotys is paid to Nazi captors.
Vichy (Occupied) France passes antisemitic legislation. Vichy’s anti-Jewish laws, the first Statut des Juifs, are modeled on the German Nuremberg Laws, and, like them, are widely accepted. Passed in anticipation of Nazi pressure, the laws’ primary aims are to force Jews out of public service, teaching, financial occupations, public relations, and the media.
German troops enter Romania.
Hitler announces Operation Sea Lion (the plan to take over Britian) to be postponed indefinitely.
Order for the establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Jewish businesses in occupied Netherlands must be registered.
German occupiers in Belgium pass antisemitic legislation, including registration of Jewish property.
President Roosevelt defeats Republican Wendell Wilkie in the general election and wins an unprecedented third term in office.
Fifty-five non-Jewish Polish intellectuals are murdered at Dachau.
Hermetic sealing of the Warsaw Ghetto. It was the largest ghetto in both area and population. The Germans confined more than 350,000 Jews — about 30 percent of the city’s population — in about 2.4 percent of the city’s total area.
In Berlin, Lieutenant Colonel Kazys Skirpa, former Lithuanian ambassador to Germany, establishes the Lietuviu Aktyvistu Frontas (Lithuanian Activist Front), a collaborationist Fascist organization dedicated to nationalism and antisemitism.
British Secretary of State for the Colonies Lord Lloyd calls those who are working to save Jewish lives by illegally transporting them to Palestine “foul people who had to be stamped out.”
Director Fritz Hipple’s pseudo-documentary, antisemitic film Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) premieres in Berlin.
“Oneg Shabbat” clandestine archives established.
The Vatican condemns Nazi “mercy killings” of “unfit Aryans” as “contrary to both natural and divine law.”
In Holland, a collaborationist propaganda group, Verbond van Nederlandse Journalisten (Union of Dutch Journalists), is established.
British government official Sir John Schuckburgh writes that “the Jews have no sense of humor and no sense of proportion.”
In a letter described as “the most carefully drafted and re-drafted message in the entire Churchill-Roosevelt correspondence,” Prime Minister Churchill pleads for American assistance. He notes that Cash-and-Carry would eventually prove “fatal” for both Britain and American because “we may fall by the way in the time needed by the United States to complete her defensive preparations...” In a press conference, Roosevelt announces that “the best immediate defense of the United States is the success of Great Britain in defending itself.” This would lead to the policy known as Lend-Lease. Simultaneously, Roosevelt sends his most trusted emissary, Harry Hopkins, to London. Hopkins eases Churchill’s mind to a degree. “There he sat, ”Churchill wrote of Hopkins, “slim, frail, ill, but absolutely glowing with refined comprehension of the Cause [the defeat of Hitler] to the exclusion of all other purposes, loyalties, or aims.” Churchill dubbed Harry Hopkins, “Lord Root of the Matter.”
A German soldier leaps from a car in the Warsaw Ghetto and strikes a Jewish boy in the head with an iron bar, killing him.
The Salvador, a ship that set out from Varna, Bulgaria, a month ago, sinks in the Sea of Marmora; 200 Jewish refugees, including 70 children, drown. T. M. Snow, head of the British Foreign Office’s Refugee Section, notes that “there could have been no more opportune disaster from the point of view of stopping this [Jewish refugee] traffic [to Palestine].”
1940: Other imporant events
- Six “euthanasia” centers are set up in Germany to murder Jews, the mentally ill, the elderly, the physically ill, and the handicapped.
- Estonia is annexed by the Soviet Union.
- Jewish Social Democratic politician Ernst Heilmann dies at the Buchenwald, Germany, concentration camp.
- President Franklin Roosevelt puts the question of Jewish immigration into the United States into the antisemitic hands of Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long and associates in the State Department. A political ally of the president, Long opposes “excessive humanitarianism” in regards to the Jews. Tainted by a general xenophobia and a predilection for Mussolini and Italian fascism (Long was ambassador to Italy), Long seems particularly distressed at the prospect of more Jews entering the United States.
- Leslie Hore-Belisha, Great Britain’s secretary of state for war, and a Jew, resigns, largely because of the anti-Jewish feelings among members of the British government. Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax and Under-Secretary of the Foreign Office Alexander Cadogan note that Hore-Belisha’s Jewishness rendered him unsuitable as minister of information, stating, “Jew control of our propaganda would be [a] major disaster.”
The population of the Warsaw Ghetto swells to 400,000. Jewish residents are limited to 183 calories a day (Germans are allowed 2310 a day; foreigners 1790; Poles 934) and are denied fuel, causing many to freeze to death.
Nazi police break into a house in the Warsaw Ghetto, force the women inside to undress, and prod their breasts and genitals with pistols.
Dutch Jews register with German authorities.
In Romania, Iron Guard Legionnaires launch a coup d'état, during which anti-Jewish violence boils over. Thousands of Jews are beaten and over 120 killed.
The Law for the Defense of the Nation is imposed by Bulgaria, forcing Jews to give up public posts and forcing Jewish doctors, lawyers, and other professionals to forfeit their jobs. Also, a selective tax is imposed on Bulgaria’s Jewish shops and homes.
In the Lódz Ghetto, Bluma Lichtensztajn leaps to her death from a fourth-floor window. Prize-winning Lódz painter Maurycy Trebacz dies of starvation.
On his eighth anniversary as chancellor, Hitler repeats his threat to destroy all of the Jews of Europe.
3000 Jewish deportees, mostly from the Polish town of Pruszków, arrive at the Warsaw Ghetto.
70,000 displaced Polish Jews are forced into the Warsaw Ghetto.
Medical experiments begin.
Poles caught selling food to Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto are automatically sentenced to three years of hard labor. The daily bread ration for Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto is reduced to three ounces a day.
Jews deported to slave-labor camps along the Bug River are put to work draining marshes and building fortifications along the Soviet frontier.
In France, Marcel Déat establishes a collaborationist Fascist party, Rassemblement National Populaire (National People’s Rally).
German General Erwin Rommel is named to command the Afrika Korps in North Africa.
German police who enter an Amsterdam, Holland, ice cream parlor are sprayed with ammonia by a protective device installed by the German-Jewish owners.
SS troops raid the Jewish Quarter in Amsterdam, Holland, in reprisal for the ammonia incident of February 19. About 400 Jews are arrested, beaten, and deported to the concentration camp at Buchenwald, where some are tortured to death. Some will be transferred to the concentration camp at Mauthausen, where most will be tortured and subsequently executed in the camp’s stone quarry.
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.
German troops occupy Bulgaria.
Ernst Cahn, co-owner of an Amsterdam ice cream parlor in which German troops were sprayed with ammonia on February 19, is executed by a German firing squad.
Thousands of Jews in the Upper Silesia region of Poland are rounded up and put to work in German mines, metallurgy factories, and textile plants. Jews living in many areas of Germany are put to work in similarly compulsory labor.
U.S. Congress passes Lend-Lease Act. The legislation permitted the President to sell or lease materials “to any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States.” Under the auspoces of Lend-Lease, Roosevelt begins to aid the Allies. When Germany invades the Soviet Union on June 22, Roosevelt starts arming the Communist nation. In America, the move was extremely unpopular. Roosevelt, who had recognized the Bolshevik government as early as 1933, responded, “Of course we are going to give all the aid we possible can ro Russia.” In Roosevelt’s worldview, the fascism of Germany was a more dangerous threat to national security the the Communism of Stalin. Responding to an anti-Soviet article in Liberty, Roosevelt replied to the editors, “If I were at your desk, I would write an editorial condemning the Russian form of dictatorship equally with the German form of dictatorship — but at the same time, I would make it clear that the immediate menace at this time to the security of the United States lies in the threat of Hitler’s armies...”
Thirteen-year-old Wolf Finkelstein is shot through the heart and lungs by a German sentry in the Lódz Ghetto.
A Belgian collaborationist organization, Amis du Grand Reich Allemand (Friends of the Greater German Reich), is founded.
At Baumann and Berson Children’s Hospital in the Warsaw Ghetto, nurse D. Wagman writes that she is helpless to prevent death.
Vichy France leader Marshal Philippe Pétain authorizes the construction of a Trans-Sahara railway, with labor to be performed by internees composed of Jews, Czechs, Poles, and Spanish Republican soldiers.
Yugoslavia joins the Axis countries.
In France, the antisemitic Commissariat Général aux Questions Juives (General Commission on Jewish Affairs) is established.
A ghetto is established at Kielce, Poland. German overseers of the ghetto rename some of the streets. New names are Zion Street, Palestine Street, Jerusalem Street, Moses Street, Non-Kosher Street, and Grynszpan Street.
German troops execute 250 members of a Jewish youth group in Subotica, Yugoslavia, who have been carrying out acts of sabotage.
Hungarian troops and German civilians randomly murder 250 Jews and 250 Serbs in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia.
Two Jewish brothers in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, operate a secret Resistance radio.
Many Yugoslavian Jews join anti-Nazi partisans led by Josip Broz (Tito).
A men’s annex is established at the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Yugoslavian collaborationists led by Vladko Macek establish Hrvatska Zastita (Croat Militia), a paramilitary force.
The first Croatian concentration camp begins operation, at Danica. Four more Croat camps are opened, at Loborgrad, Jadovno, Gradiska, and Djakovo.
A pro-Axis officer clique seizes power in Iraq, and prepares airfields for German use.
Rashid Ali al-Gaylani establishes a pro-Nazi government in Iraq.
Hungarian Premier Count Pál Telecki commits suicide rather than collaborate with Germany.
A proclamation of Croatian independence is issued from Zagreb, Yugoslavia. Jews are beaten and murdered, and the process of interning Jews in concentration camps will soon begin.
German troops enter Belgrade, Yugoslavia; a Jewish tailor who spits on the arriving troops is shot dead. Jewish shops and homes in Belgrade are ransacked by both German soldiers and resident Germans.
Hungarian troops occupy portions of northern Yugoslavia. About 500 Jews and Serbs are shot.
German troops and local Muslims loot and destroy the main synagogue in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
Aron Beckermann becomes the first Jew to be shot by the Germans for resistance in France.
In Warsaw, a Jewish policeman named Ginsberg is bayoneted and shot by German soldiers after asking a soldier to return a sack of potatoes taken from a Jewish woman.
Yugoslavia capitulates to the Germans.
A mentally ill Jewish woman in the Lódz Ghetto complies when a German sentry orders her to dance. Satisfied, the sentry shoots her in the head.
Lublin ghetto sealed.
German troops enter Athens, completing invasion of Greece, rescuing embattled Italian forces beseiged by Greek partisans.
Racial legislation enacted at Zagreb, Croatia, by the pro-German government removes Jews from public office.
Croat law holds that people with just one Jewish parent are protected from deportation.
Thousands of Jews who had fought in the French Foreign Legion against Germany in 1940 are deported to slave-labor camps in the Sahara to build railroads.
120 Jews are slain in the streets during antisemitic violence in Bucharest, Romania.
Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, and businesses in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, are destroyed.
A concentration camp is established at Natzweiler, Alsace, Germany.
Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess makes an unauthorized solo flight from Augsburg, Germany, to Scotland, where he intends to meet with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and negotiate an end to the Anglo-German war. He is captured and imprisoned.
Jewish children in the Warsaw Ghetto are observed tickling a corpse as they play.
About 4000 Jews are deported from Paris, most to a camp at Pithiviers, France.
Romania passes a law condemning adult Jews to forced labor.
Polish Jews who have traveled by sealed train from the Biala Podlaska Jewish POW camp to Konskowola are murdered after the train’s Nazi overseers discover that four of the POWs have escaped.
French Marshal Petain approves collaboration with Hitler in radio broadcast.
Jews in France are prohibited from wholesale and retail trade, nor can they own banks, hotels, or restaurants.
The Central Office of Emigration in Berlin notifies all German consulates that Hermann Göring has banned emigration of Jews from France and all other occupied territories. The directive quotes Göring’s mention of the “doubtless imminent final solution,” the first official Nazi reference to a scheme for mass extermination of all Jews in Europe.
A collaborationist group, Nederlandse Arbeids Dienst (Dutch Labor Service), is established in Holland.
SS Reich Security Service chief Reinhard Heydrich and Wehrmacht Quartermaster General Eduard Wagner meet to determine how the SS and the Army will carry out their respective tasks in the Soviet Union without hindering each other.
Vichy government revokes civil rights of French Jews in North Africa and decrees many restrictions against them.
“Commissar Barbarossa:” The Commissar Order, issued by the German Army, states that all Soviet officials are to be liquidated.
French priests in the Lyon diocese publicly protest the Vichy government’s anti-Jewish policies.
Special mobile killing squads--Einsatzgruppen--each assigned to a particular area of the Occupied Soviet Union, begin killing Jews on the spot wherever they are found, and often with the help of local antisemites recruited to help. 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.
In the Soviet village of Virbalis, Einsatzgruppen machine-gun all adult Jews and cover the corpses with lime. Local children are seized by the ankles, and their heads are smashed against walls and roads. Many of these children are buried alive.
When 47-year-old Dr. Benjamin From, a Jewish surgeon, refuses to break off an operation on a Christian woman at Lutsk, Ukraine, Germans drag him from the hospital to his home, where he and his family are murdered.
Einsatzgruppe 4a and local Ukrainians kill 2,000 Jews in Lutsk.
The second Nazi occupation of Bialystok occurs. Hundreds of Jews are burned alive in a local synagogue by a German motorized unit.
German troops gathered in a synagogue courtyard in Niéswiez, Poland, beat and shoot exhausted Russian POWs.
Romanian Iron Guard Legionnaires, encouraged by the antisemitic policies of dictator Ion Antonescu, undertake to exterminate Jews in Iasi. Thousands are killed.
Jews of Falesti, Romania, are set out on a forced march eastward.
Hungary enters the war, joining the Axis powers.
In the German-occupied town of Kovno, Lithuania, Lithuanian police and released convicts use iron bars to beat hundreds of Jews to death in the city’s streets. Thousands more Jews are murdered at Kovno, Lithuania, and another 5000 are killed at Brest-Litovsk, Belorussia.
June 19-July 1941
Romanian soldiers and police in Iasi murder at least 260 Jews in their homes. More than 4000 are marched through the streets and beaten, robbed of their currency and jewelry, and sealed inside railcars and sent south. Fewer than half survive the eight-day journey.
Ninety Jews are murdered at Dobromil, Ukraine.
American radio commentator Father Charles Coughlin celebrates Hitler’s invasion of Russia as “the first strike in the holy war on communism” and attacks “the British-Jewish-Roosevelt war on Germany and Italy.”
In Belorussia, a guerrilla collaborationist organization, Belaruskaya Narodnaya Partizanka (Belorussian National Guerrillas), is established.
In Latvia, Viktor Arajs establishes the Perkonkrusts (Thunder Cross), a collaborationist paramilitary unit.
Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, tells Rudolf Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz, that Hitler has ordered that the “Jewish question” be solved once and for all and that the SS is to implement that order. Auschwitz is the death camp that is to carry out the greater part of the Jewish extermination. Mass gassings, not shootings, are determined to be the most effective means to exterminate the large numbers of Jews.
Fourteen thousand Bosnian Jews are deported to regional camps.
British codebreakers monitoring radio traffic coming from German troops in the Soviet Union become aware of Nazi massacres of Soviet Jews.
Two thousand members of Minsk, Belorussia’s intelligentsia are executed by German troops in a nearby forest.
More than 2500 Jews are slaughtered at Zhitomir, Ukraine.
During an Einsatzkommando Aktion (murder operation) at Mielnica, Ukraine, a Jew named Abraham Weintraub hurls himself on a German officer and shatters the officer’s teeth. Weintraub is immediately shot.
In the Bialystok region of Poland, Nazis murder 300 members of the Jewish intelligentsia.
German killing squads begin to murder Jews remaining in Kishinev, Romania.
The Hungarian government undertakes a mass roundup of almost 18,000 Jewish refugees for deportation to Kamenets-Podolski, Ukraine.
Twenty-two-year-old Jew Haya Dzienciolski finds a pistol, leaves Novogrudok, Ukraine, and helps to organize a group of young partisans in nearby forests.
One hundred Jews are murdered at Lyakhovichi, Belorussia.
Hundreds of Jews are killed at Plunge, Lithuania.
After Germans and Ukrainians spread a rumor that Jews had contributed to the execution of Ukrainian political prisoners, rioting erupts in Lvov, Ukraine. Hundreds of Jews are exterminated by the Nachtigall battalion, a Ukrainian militia directed by the Gestapo.
In the Ukrainian town of Koritz, Nazi troops murder Jews and prepare three burial pits, one each for men, women, and children. For sport, a man’s corpse is propped atop one of the pits, in which some Jews have been buried alive.
July 1-August 31
Antiracist riots in Lvov in which Ukrainian nationalists take part.
Eight hundred Jews are killed at Novo Selista, Ukraine, and hundreds more perish at Kamenka and Stryj, Ukraine.
German cavalry unit on patrol in Lubieszow, Volhynia, Ukraine, murders Jewish resisters.
One hundred Jews are murdered at Bialystok, Poland.
In the Ukraine, 3500 Jews are killed at Zloczow and hundreds die at Drohobycz.
Fifty Jews in Novogroduk, Belorussia, who volunteer for a German-organized Jewish council, “disappear.” Another 50, selected at random, are shot in the town square to the accompaniment of music played by a German band.
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin orders the establishment of partisan units to harass German troops in occupied Soviet territory.
Vilna Judenrat established.
Two thousand Jews from Lutsk, Ukraine, are transported to the Lubard Fortress and killed.
Germans order Lithuanian militiamen to murder 416 Jewish men and 47 Jewish women at the Seventh Fort.
Five thousand Jews are killed in Ternopol, Ukraine.
In the Ukraine, 3000 Jews are murdered at Chernovtsy; 600 are killed at Skalat.
Two thousand Jews are murdered at the Seventh Fort by Lithuanian militiamen.
Two thousand Jews are murdered at Khotin, Ukraine.
In France, a collaborationist military force, Légion des Volontaires Français (French Volunteer Legion), is established.
Thirty-two Jews are killed in Mariampole, Lithuania.
Jews in the Baltic states are forced to wear a distinguishing Jewish badge. Within months the Germans and local antisemites will murder most of the Baltic countries’ Jewish population of one-quarter million.
Hundreds of Jews are killed at Noua Sulita, Romania.
Executions of Jews begin at Ponary, Lithuania.
All 1600 Jewish residents of the Polish town of Jedwabne are accosted by their Polish neighbors, and by peasants from outlying areas, and are marched to the central market. In a day-long ordeal, the Jews are tortured and subsequently herded into a barn, which is set ablaze with kerosene. The massacre is not carried out by the Germans, who maintain only a token presence in Jedwabne on this day.
Smolensk captured. Becomes the headquarters of the German Army Group Center. 300,000 Soviet trops are taken prisoner.
Twelve hundred Jews are murdered at Slonim, Belorussia.
Thousands of Jews are murdered at Kishinev, Romania.
Minsk ghetto established in German-occupied Soviet territories, and by July 25, all Jews in the area were concentrated in the ghetto.
Belorussians are ordered to bury Jews alive. When they refuse, Jewish and non-Jewish Belorussians alike are murdered by Einsatzkommandos.
A concentration camp opens at Majdanek, Poland.
France’s Vichy government begins expropriation of Jewish businesses.
Kishinev ghetto established —10,000 Jews dead.
Pogrom in Lvov.
In five separate incidents, Jews in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, throw gasoline bombs at Nazi cars.
Local Ukrainians at Lvov seize thousands of Jewish men and women and beat to death at least 2000. The killings are retribution for the 1926 murder of a Ukrainian antisemitic leader, Simon Petliura, by Shalom Schwarzbard, a Jew.
Germans take 1200 Jews from Belgrade, Yugoslavia, to a camp at Tasmajdan, where every tenth captive is shot.
In Holland, a collaborationist military force with ties to the SS, Freiwillingen Legion Niederlander (Dutch Volunteer Legion), is established.
The clothing of Jews murdered in Ponas, Ukraine, is sold by the Ukrainian and Nazi killers.
Local police and militiamen, acting with the acquiescence of SS troops at the prison at Drogobych, Ukraine, use guns, clubs, and fists to slaughter hundreds of Jews. The streets are choked with badly injured fleeing Jews and mangled corpses.
German occupation troops in and around Belgrade, Yugoslavia, execute 122 Communists and Jews for resistance.
Forty mental patients from Lódz, Poland, are taken from a hospital and executed in a nearby forest.
Hermann Göring 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 complete solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe.” Beginning of the “Final Solution” (a euphemism for the mass murder of the Jewish population of Europe).
Late July 1949
Germans establish a Jewish ghetto at Dvinsk, Latvia..
Tens of thousands of Jews are murdered throughout the western Soviet Union, Lithuania, Romania, and Latvia. The killers are German Einsatzgruppen, Romanian troops and militia, Ukrainian peasants, and Lithuanian civilians.
Following the German slaughter of Jews at Cesis, Latvia, German troops and security police celebrate with a Totenmahl (“death banquet”).
In Belgium, a collaborationist military organization, Legion Wallonie (Wallonian Legion), is established.
German troops in Slobodka, Ukraine, fill the local synagogue with dead cats and force Jews to tear up the Torah scrolls and scatter the pieces atop the dead animals. The Nazi troops then set fire to the building.
Father Bernhard Lichtenberg, dean of St. Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin, denounces the so-called euthanasia program. In late October he declares that he wants to share the Jews’ fate of deportation to the East so that he can continue to pray for them there. He is subsequently denounced to the Gestapo and arrested.
United States Senator Gerald Nye denounces the “Yiddish controllers” of American theater and movies. U.S. Senator Burton Wheeler attacks Jews in the movie business as “Hollywood Hitlers.” U.S. Senator Champ Clark sponsors an investigation into Hollywood’s “unpatriotic” Jewish filmmakers. (Unpatriotic because their films advocate involvement in the European war.) Other congressmen express antisemitism. Many Americans agree with these sentiments. Many Americans also believe that should the United States go to war, it must be against the Soviet Union, not against Germany.
Hundreds of Jews die during death marches from Bessarukiato, Bessarabia, to the Dniester River.
Ghettos established in Bialystok and Lvov.
More than 1000 Jews are killed by an Einsatzkommando at Kishinev, Romania.
Shmuel Verble, chairman of the Jewish Council in the Ukrainian village of Kamien Koszyrski, volunteers for death after discovering an execution list with the names of 80 ghetto residents.
Four thousand Jews are killed by about 80 drunken Germans at Ponary, Lithuania.
An American Jewish woman is among the approximately 200 Jews killed at Kovno, Lithuania.
Twelve hundred Jews are arrested by the local Einsatzgruppen at Chernovtsy, Romania; 682 are executed by German and Romanian police.
Fifteen hundred Jews are murdered at Mitau, Latvia.
Several hundred Jewish professionals are shot at Stanislawów, Ukraine.
Eleven thousand Jews are murdered in the Polish city of Pinsk.
In Belgium, a collaborationist military unit, Legion Vlaandern (Flanders Legion), is established.
Thousands of Jews from Dvinsk, Latvia, are transported to the Pogulanka Forest and murdered.
All residents of the Jewish community of Lesko, Poland, are transported to Zaslaw, Poland, and executed.
At the Kovno, Lithuania, suburb of Viliampole, the last of Kovno’s 26,000 surviving Jews arrive. Each is allotted three square feet of living space.
A Jewish ghetto is established at Riga, Latvia.
Heinrich Lohse, Reich commissioner for Eastern Territories of the Ostland (Eastern Europe) region, decrees that Jews must wear two yellow badges, one on the chest and one on the back; that Jews cannot own automobiles or radios; and that their presence in public places will be severely proscribed.
Einsatzkommando 8 as well as local collaborators in Mogilev, Belorussia, kill more than 3000 Jews.
About 4300 Jews are sent from Paris to Drancy, a transit camp in France. These are the first of 70,000 Jews who will be deported to Drancy and then to extermination camps, primarily Auschwitz-Birkenau.
A concentration camp begins operations at Jasenovac, Croatia.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill broadcasts to the British public that “scores of thousands” of executions of civilians are being perpetrated by German troops in the Soviet Union. In order not to reveal that British Intelligence has cracked the German radio code, Churchill makes no specific mention of the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union or elsewhere in Occupied Europe.
Eighty-six-year-old Dr. Jacob Wigodsky, longtime leader of the Jews of Vilna, Lithuania, is arrested and imprisoned. He will be executed a week later at Ponary, Lithuania.
German military and civilian authorities meet at Vinnitsa, Ukraine, to discuss the fate of about 20,000 Hungarian Jews impressed into forced labor and interned at Kamenets-Podolski, Ukraine. Lt. General Friedrich Jeckeln announces that all 20,000 will be liquidated by September 1.
Fifteen hundred Jews are murdered at Tykocin, Poland.
In Yugoslavia, 8000 Jewish residents of Belgrade are transported to Topovske Supe, where they are murdered.
Nearly 25,000 Hungarian-Jewish forced laborers are shot to death in bomb craters near Kamenets-Podolski, Ukraine.
A Jewish butcher, one of 2000 Jews forced into a ditch at Kédainiai, Lithuania, resists by inflicting a fatal bite upon the throat of one of the Einsatzkommando soldiers. The butcher and the other Jews are immediately shot.
Thousands of Jews are murdered at Czyzewo-Szlachecki, Poland.
At Kedainiai, Lithuania, the entire Jewish population is murdered.
More than 3600 Jewish men, women, and children are taken from Vilna, Lithuania, to nearby Ponary, where they are shot as retribution for the partisan ambush of a German patrol.
Janówska, a labor and extermination camp near Lvov in Ukraine opens.
The Germans open an exposition in Paris called “The Jew and France.” Visitors see sculptures and paintings of hideous mythical Jews, Jews allegedly cursed to wander the world forever because of their supposed attack on Jesus Christ, and Jews allegedly out to control the world. Other exhibits portray the Jew as a repulsive monster destroying France. In the first few days, more than 100,000 Parisians visit the exhibit.
Romanians and Germans force nearly 150,000 Jews into death marches to internment camps in Bessarabia, Ukraine. Many die of beatings, random shootings, fatigue, hunger, thirst, exposure, and disease.
A nine-block section of Auschwitz is turned into a camp for Soviet POWs.
Chemists and mechanics at the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) Criminal Technical Institute develop an execution van with engine exhaust directed to the sealed rear-cargo area.
All Jews age six and older in Slovakia, Bohemia, and Moravia are ordered to wear Yellow Stars, effective September 19, and to suspend all business activity.
Ukrainian nationalist Ulas Samchuk, editor of the newspaper Volhyn, writes that Jews and Poles “must disappear completely from our cities.”
Because of Christian-German protests, Hitler suspends the “euthanasia” program. The program will continue unofficially, however.
Six hundred Soviet prisoners of war and 300 Jews are “euthanized” at Auschwitz.
Six Jews who refuse to serve on the Jewish Council at Dubossary, Ukraine, are publicly hanged. Later, 600 elderly Jews are driven into Dubossary’s eight synagogues and burned alive when the synagogues are set ablaze.
Jewish Resistance members based in Dubossary, Ukraine, and led by Yakov Guzanyatskii assassinate a German commander named Kraft. Another group blows up a large store of German arms.
The Vilna Ghetto is created with a population of 40,000 Jews. The Germans also establish a “working ghetto” at Vilna, Lithuania. German and Lithuanian units kill tens of thousands of Jews in the nearby Ponary woods.
British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden notes that “if we must have preferences, let me murmur in your ear that I prefer Arabs to Jews.”
Leningrad encircled by Army Group North. The 900-day siege begins.
Hitler proclaims, “Leningrad will be starved into submission.”
German General Wilhelm Keitel exhorts his commanders in the East to be “ruthless” in their treatment of Jews.
3434 Jews are taken from Vilna, Lithuania, to nearby Ponary and executed.
Suspicious that the Allies may be decoding its radio messages, Berlin orders German commanders in the Soviet Union to send future reports of Nazi executions of Jews and other Soviet civilians by courier instead of radio.
Charles and Anne Lindbergh, members of the America First Committee, attend a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, at which Lindbergh blames the Jews for “agitating for war...for reasons that are not American....Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government.”
150,000 Jews deported to Transnistria; 90,000 die.
All Jews over the age of six in Germany have to wear a yellow Star of David in public at all times.
Eighteen thousand Jews are murdered at Berdichev, Ukraine.
All 24,000 Jews of Uman, Ukraine, are assembled at the town's airport and murdered by German troops.
A general deportation of German Jews begins.
German troops capture Kiev. Zhitomir ghetto liquidated —10,000 killed.
As per the Nazi decree of September 1, 1941, the Jews of Slovakia, Bohemia, and Moravia are required to wear identifying Yellow Stars.
Several thousand Jews, mostly women and children from Kovno, Lithuania, are executed at the local synagogue after being held there for three days.
Policemen in Kiev, Ukraine, adopt armbands identifying the wearer as a member of the Nazi-sponsored Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.
All Jews of Litin, Ukraine, are murdered.
SS-trained Ukrainian militiamen massacre 28,000 Jews at Vinnitsa, Ukraine.
Nearly 500 Jews escape from Ejszyszki, Lithuania, after being alerted to an impending Nazi sweep.
Gassing tests are conducted at Auschwitz.
3500 Jews unable to escape from Ejszyszki, Lithuania, are locked in a synagogue and then moved to a cattle market, where they are denied food and water.
Soviet troops in Kiev, Ukraine, booby-trap two hotels, the post office, a radio station, and other major buildings, which are exploded via wireless radio after German troops have settled in. About 1000 Germans are killed. The Germans immediately plot a reprisal.
Jews of Swieciany, Lithuania, are massacred in the nearby Polygon Woods. Several hundred young Jewish men manage to escape.
Heydrich made “Protector of Bohemia and Moravia.”
More than 3200 Jews of Ejszyszki, Lithuania, are executed at pits on the outskirts of the city.
Jews at Kiev, Ukraine, are ordered to assemble for “resettlement.”
As a reprisal for the September 24 booby-trap deaths of German troops at the hands of Soviet soldiers in Kiev, Ukraine, 33,771 Jews are shot to death in a ravine at Babi Yar, Ukraine. The massacre is masterminded by Sonderkommando 4a commander Paul Blobel. In the coming months, German units shot thousands of Jews, Gypsies and Soviet prisoners of war at Babi Yar.
SS murders of Soviet Jews escalate as German troops push east toward Moscow. 48,000 are killed at Odessa, Ukraine, and at Kiev, Ukraine.
More than 20,000 Jews are executed in the former eastern provinces of Poland.
The German government prohibits further Jewish emigration from Germany.
At the Auschwitz camp, SS officer Arthur Johann Breitwieser takes note when a comrade is rendered unconscious after accidental exposure to a disinfectant called Zyklon B. A gaseous variant of the compound will eventually be used to kill millions of Jews.
Einsatzgruppen members gather Jews of the Baltic port of Libau and machine-gun them at the local naval base.
Germans drown 30 Jewish children in clay pits near Okopowa Street in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Early October 1941
Seventy children in the Warsaw Ghetto are found frozen to death outside destroyed houses following the season’s first snowfall.
October 1-December 22
33,500 Jews are killed in Vilna, Lithuania.
On this Jewish Day of Atonement, Jews are taken from the ghetto at Podborodz, Ukraine, and killed.
A Nazi raid on the Jewish ghetto at Vilna, Lithuania, leaves 3000 dead at nearby Ponary. One victim, Serna Morgenstern, is shot in the back by an SS officer after he complimented her beauty and told her she was free to go.
Forced labor for the Jews in the Reich.
Fifteen hundred Jews from Kovno, Lithuania, are transported to the Ninth Fort and murdered. In Kovno proper, Nazis lock the Jewish hospital and set it ablaze, incinerating all inside.
The majority of Jews in Dvinsk, Latvia, are murdered.
Vitebsk ghetto liquidated; more than 16,000 Jews killed.
Hans Frank, governor-general of Occupied Poland, tells ministers of the German Generalgouvernement that Jews “must be done away with one way or another.”
Ghetto in Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia established.
Field Marshal Walter von Reichenau, commander of the German Sixth Army, issues a directive emphasizing the need for harsh treatment of “Jewish subhumanity.”
Thousands of Slovak Jews are sent to labor camps at Sered, Vyhne, and Nováky.
Slovak, Bohemian, and Moravian Jews are forced from their homes and into ghettos.
Jews of Czernowitz, Romania, ghettoized.
Thousands of Jews are murdered at Edineti, Romania.
Germans reach outskirts of Moscow.
Following the extermination by Gestapo agents and Ukrainian militia of 10,000 to 12,000 Jews at burial pits outside of Stanislawów, Ukraine, German perpetrators throw a “Bloody Sunday” victory celebration.
At Sabac, Yugoslavia, hundreds of Gypsies are murdered.
Three thousand Jews are killed at Sheparovtse, Ukraine.
Fifteen thousand Jews are murdered at Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine.
Orders for deportation of German Jews from Germany as defined by its 1933 borders.
German Jews are deported to the Lódz Ghetto.
German authorities in Poland decree that any Jew found outside a designated ghetto will be shot. Further, any non-Jewish Pole who aids a Jew will be executed.
German authorities begin the deportation of Jews from the German Reich to the ghettos of Lodz, Riga and Minsk.
German and Romanian forces occupy Odessa, Ukraine.
Three days after the German murder of 15,000 Jewish residents of Dnepropetrtovsk, Ukraine, an additional 5000 Jews are executed in the town.
October 16-November 4
Mass executions of Soviet Jews in Borisov, Belorussia, 50 miles east of Minsk, Belorussia, are carried out by an Einsatzkommando following a night of celebration by German troops.
Soviet authorities declare a state of siege in Moscow.
673,000 Red Army soldiers are captured. German forces roll on at top speed towards Moscow.
Residents of the Jewish community at Koidanov, Belorussia, are murdered.
Thousands of Jews are murdered at Kraljevo, Yugoslavia.
Sixty-six German enlisted men and officers, and 17 Romanian officers, are killed when the Romanian headquarters in Odessa, Ukraine, explodes. Three hours later, Jews and Communists are hanged in the central square. The next day, 5000 Jews and other civilians are seized and shot.
Prohibition against the emigration of Jews.
Thousands of Jews are murdered at Kragujevac, Yugoslavia.
Massacre of Jews in Odessa (34,000 victims).
Sixteen thousand Odessa, Ukraine, Jews are force-marched out of the city toward Dalnik, where they are bound together in groups of 40 to 50 and shot, at first in the open and later through holes drilled in the walls of warehouses. Three of these structures are set ablaze and a fourth is exploded by artillery fire.
Jews at Tatarsk in Soviet Russia revolt against murderous peasants and SS kill squads. The rebellion is put down by regular German Army units, artillery, and air power. All Jews in Tatarsk are murdered.
SS officer Viktor Brack, a member of Hitler’s Chancellery, concocts a poison-gas program with which to address the “Jewish question.” Brack’s notion is supported by Alfred Wetzel, of the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, and by SS functionary Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann approves plan for use of mobile gas vans.
Pigeon-keepers at Kiev, Ukraine, are executed on the assumption that the birds could be used to carry messages.
Germans inform Jews of Kalisz, Poland, that elderly Jews in convalescent homes are to be moved to another home the next day.
A black van that stops at the Jewish old people’s home in Kalisz, Poland, is loaded with elderly and driven off. The van is specially outfitted to route carbon monoxide into the cargo are.
Soviet counter-attack around Moscow begins.
Jews of Sluzk, 60 miles south of Minsk, Belorussia, are annihilated by Einsatzkommando troops, half of whom are German, half Lithuanian.
Massacre of Jews in Kiev, Ukraine (34,000 victims).
More elderly Jews from a convalescent home in Kalisz, Poland, are taken away in gassing vans.
27,000 Jews assembled in Demakratu (Democracy) Square in Kovno, Lithuania, must pass before an SS officer named Rauca, who signals life or death for each. 9200 of the Jews-- 4300 of them children--are sent to their deaths at pits at the nearby Ninth Fort. This became known as the “Great Action.”
Bratislava Jews expelled to rural Slovakia.
Four thousand Jews are murdered at Nesvizh, Belorussia.
A 12-year-old boy who escapes the Ninth Fort massacre of October 28 returns to the Kovno Ghetto and reveals what happened.
Einsatzgruppen mass killings of Jews all over Southern Russia.
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.
More than 15,000 Serbian Jews deported to a concentration camp at Sajmiste, Yugoslavia, are later killed in mobile gassing units disguised as Red Cross vans.
A Jewish ghetto is established at Brest-Litovsk, Belorussia.
Thousands of German-Jewish deportees arrive in Minsk, Belorussia.
Newspapers in London and New York report Nazi murders of 52,000 Jews in Kiev, Ukraine.
Construction of an extermination center begins at Belzec, Poland.
A Jewish ghetto at Grodno, Belorussia, is established.
A Nazi-sanctioned concentration camp opens at Hadjerat-M’Guil, North Africa.
Seventeen thousand Jews are killed outside Rovno, Ukraine.
Massacre of Jews in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania (15,000 victims).
Popular German film star Joachim Gottschalk kills his family and himself rather than submit to the deportation and probable deaths of his Jewish wife and child.
Twelve thousand Jews are transported from Minsk, Belorussia, to burial pits in the nearby Tuchinka Forest and murdered.
In Bobruisk, Belorussia, 20,000 Jews are executed.
More than 17,000 Jews are forced from Rovno, Ukraine, and murdered at burial pits in the Sosenki Forest, outside of town.
Close to 5000 Jews are killed in Pogulanka, outside Dvinsk, Latvia.
A Jewish ghetto at Lvov, Ukraine, is established.
Warsaw diarist Chaim Kaplan writes that his wife has been stricken with typhus.
Nine thousand Jews from Slonim, Belorussia, are murdered at Czepielow.
Germany is forced to halt outside Moscow due to sub-sero temperatures.
Eight Warsaw Jews, including six women, are executed for leaving the ghetto without permission. The executioners, pressed into service, are Polish policemen.
Friedrich Mennecke, the head of the Eichberg State Mental Hospital and a doctor in the Euthanasia Program, conducts a selection among the women prisoners at Ravensbrück. Over the next two months Mennecke determines that about 850 prisoners are too weak or ill to work. He orders their killing as part of an operation codenamed 14f13.
Approximately 7000 Jews from Minsk, Belorussia, are killed at nearby Tuchinka.
Thirty thousand Jews are killed at Odessa, Ukraine.
A large “model ghetto”/concentration camp is established at Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia, 35 miles from Prague. To prepare for the imminent arrival of inmates, 342 young Jewish men from Prague are brought in as forced laborers.
Declaration pertaining to the collection of Jewish assets through deportations.
Auschwitz II (Auschwitz-Birkenau) is established. The camp was originally designated for the incarceration of large numbers of Soviet prisoners of war but was later used as a killing center.
The first of 19 deportation trains leaves Germany for Riga, Latvia. In the Riga Ghetto, more than 10,600 Jews are rounded up and shot in the nearby Rumbula Forest.
Hitler entertains Hajj Amin al-Husseini. The grand mufti of Jerusalem pledges to cooperate in the extermination of the Jews and offers to enlist Arabs to fight for Germany.
30,000 Riga Jews arrested, subsequently shot at Rumbuli.
Generalplan Ost (General Plan for the East), directed by SS chief Heinrich Himmler, proposes the deportation of 31 million non-Germans in the conquered Eastern Territories to create Lebensraum (“Living space”) for German colonists.
The German Ministry of Occupied Eastern Territories decrees that the destruction of Jews shall continue irrespective of economic considerations; i.e., the allure of unpaid Jewish labor will be ignored.
During the murder of 5000 Jews at Novogrudok, Belorussia, 200 Jews resist and kill 20 Nazis before being gunned down.
Ten thousand Jews deported from Odessa, Ukraine, are murdered at camps at Acmecetka, Bogdanovka, and Domanevka, Romania.
Mass murders of Jews in the Ukraine and Volhynia region of Poland are slowed when the frozen ground prevents the digging of execution pits.
Fur coats belonging to Jews in eastern Germany are confiscated by the Nazis. They’ll be used by German soldiers on the Eastern Front.
The Jesuit journal Civiltà Cattolica, published in Rome under strict Vatican supervision, reminds Catholics that the Jews are supposedly those primarily responsible for murdering God and that the Jews repeat this crime by means of ritual murder “in every generation.”
SS Colonel Karl Jäger, commander of Einsatzkommando 3 (a subunit of Einsatzgruppe A), reports to Berlin that 85 percent of Lithuanian Jewry (136,442 Jews) had been destroyed since June 1941.
Germany retreats from Moscow.
Seven thousand Jews from Novogrudok, Belorussia, are forced to stand all day and night in frigid temperatures outside the municipal courthouse. Five thousand are taken away to their deaths on the 6th; the remaining 2000 are impressed into forced labor at suburban Pereshike.
The Soviets mount a million-man counteroffensive outside of Moscow.
Carrier-based Japanese aircraft attack American naval bases in the Pacific, with heavy assaults against Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as well as Clark Field in the Philippines. President Roosevelt declares war on Japan.
The Nazis begin gas-van extermination operations at the Chelmno death camp; by April 1943, 360,000 Jews had been murdered there.
25,000 Latvian Jews are taken from the Riga Ghetto and murdered in the Rumbula Forest. Among the victims is a preeminent Jewish historian, 81-year-old Simon Dubnow.
The United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand declare war on Japan. News of America’s involvement in the war cheers many European Jews, who believe rescue will come soon.
Four thousand Jews of Novogrudok, Belorussia, are killed.
The Nazis gas Jews at a forest near Chelmno, Poland, one of six Nazi killing centers. On the 8th alone, 2300 Jews are killed this way. Seven hundred victims are from Kolo, Poland. 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.
China declares war on Germany and Japan.
Germany and Italy declare war on the United States. Germany, Italy, and Japan agree that none will pursue a separate peace.
The United States declares war on Germany and Italy, which provides hope to Europe’s Jews. The U.S. will concentrate nearly 90 percent of its military resources within the European Theater, to defeat the Nazis.
A Jewish ghetto is established at Lutsk, Ukraine.
More than 14,000 Jews are murdered by Einsatzkommandos in Simferopol, Ukraine.
The last six Jews living in Warendorf, Germany, are deported to Riga, Latvia, and killed.
A Jewish ghetto at Kharkov, Ukraine, is established.
In the Warsaw Ghetto, a German policeman opens fire on a Jewish funeral procession, killing two mourners and wounding five other people.
On this first day of Chanukah, 15 Jews are shot to death in the courtyard of the Warsaw Ghetto prison.
Latvian gentiles Yanis Lipke and Janis Briedys are able to smuggle ten Jews out of the Riga Ghetto. Lipke plans to construct a Jewish hiding place beneath his home.
Hitler appoints himself supreme commander of the German Armed Forces.
Hans Frank, governor-general of Occupied Poland, notes in his diary that some 3,500,000 Jews live in the region under his control.
A Jewish physician named Dubski dies of spotted typhus while treating patients at a Gypsy (Roma) (Roma) camp near the Lódz Ghetto.
Nazis display the corpses of several thousand Soviet prisoners of war on a road in Minsk, Belorussia.
More than 40,000 Jews are murdered at Bogdanovka in the Transnistria region of Romania.
33,500 of 57,000 Jews in Vilna already murdered.
The United States passes amendments to the Selective Service Act, making men ages 20 to 44 eligible for military service.
A Jewish physician from Prague, Czechoslovakia, Dr. Karol Boetim, dies of spotted typhus while treating patients at a Gypsy (Roma) (Roma) camp near the Lódz Ghetto.
Massacre of Jews in Simferopol in the Crimea (10,000 victims).
Abba Kovner, the founder of the United Partisans Organization in Vilna, Lithuania, calls for armed Jewish resistance to the Nazis, proclaiming, “We must not go like sheep to the slaughter!”
Six hundred Soviet prisoners of war are murdered in a gas-chamber experiment at Auschwitz.
Sixteen thousand Jews are rounded up in Germany and deported to the Riga (Latvia) Ghetto.
Other 1941 Events:
- Maximilian Kolbe, a Roman Catholic priest interned at the Auschwitz eath camp and who volunteered to take the place of a condemned non-Jewish inmate, dies of a phenol injection.
- The first issue of Sztandar Wolnosci (Banner of Freedom), a Polish-language publication of the Jewish Resistance in Vilna, Lithuania, is published.
- In Holland, a collaborationist auxiliary police force, Landwacht (Home Guard), is established.
In France, Joseph Darnand establishes the Milice Française (French Militia), a Fascist paramilitary organization.
Declaration of the United Nations signed by Allied nations. The United Nations is formed in Washington, D.C., by 26 signatories who agree to work together to defeat the nations of the Tripartate Pact, and to work for a single, commonly shared resolution to the war.
In the U.S., the Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) is established to investigate and arrest suspected Nazi war criminals.
The Germans execute 23 Czechoslovakian workers for sabotage.
Molotov hands over information on mass graves.
Throughout the day at the Chelmno death camp, Jewish deportees from nearby villages are systematically gassed in vans; German and Ukrainian workers pull gold teeth and fillings from the corpses' mouths. Germans undertake van gassings of 5000 Gypsies from Lódz, Poland.
The seeds of the postwar Nuremberg Trials are sown when China and nine European nations pass a resolution to try Axis leaders for war crimes “whether they have ordered them, perpetrated them or in any way participated in them.”
The first of 10,000 Jews selected by the Jewish Council of the Lódz Ghetto report for labor.
The governments-in-exile of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Holland, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, and Yugoslavia condemn German atrocities against their citizens without specifically mentioning Jews. The British Foreign Office approves the declaration but doesn't mention Jews.
Concentration and expulsion of Dutch Jewry begins.
The United States blacklists 1800 European companies, making it illegal for any American to continue or begin business transactions with them.
Soviet forces recapture Mozhaisk, the closest that German troops had come to Moscow. With this, the Soviet capital is saved from occupation.
The Wannsee Conference of top Nazi leaders is held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee; attending are Heydrich, Meyer, Leibbrandt, Stuckart, Neumann, Freisler, Bühler, Luther, Klopfer, Kritzinger, Hofmann, Müller, Eichmann, Schöngarth, and Lange. Discussion pertains to the number of European Jews still to be dealt with, the future of slave labor, the separation of Jewish men from Jewish women, mass deportations, and extermination: the “Final Solution.” According to the protocol of the meeting, five million Jews in the USSR are marked for death (including nearly three million in the Ukraine), 700,000 in the Unoccupied Zone of France, 5600 in Denmark, and 200 in Albania. Figures also are given for nations not yet under Nazi control, including England (330,000), Spain (6000), Switzerland (18,000), Sweden (18,000), and Turkey (55,500). The total meeting time is less than 90 minutes.
Jews in the Vilna Ghetto establish the Unified Partisan Organization to resist Nazi terror.
Hungarian Fascists drive 550 Jews and 292 Serbs to the Danube River at Novi Sad, Yugoslavia. They force them onto the ice, shoot the ice to break it up, and then shoot those who do not quickly drown.
Four hundred Jewish intellectuals are arrested and subsequently murdered in Kolomyia, Ukraine.
In a speech to the German public, Hitler commemorates the ninth anniversary of his taking power, declaring that the end result of the war will not be the destruction of the Aryans but will be the complete annihilation of the Jews. The speech is monitored in Washington, D.C., and London.
Report from Einsatzgruppe A pertaining to the liquidation of 229,052 Jews in the Baltic states.
Late January 1942
Start of deportations to Theresienstadt.
Thirty-three Jewish doctors in the Warsaw Ghetto begin a study of the effects of starvation as they themselves slowly starve to death.
Bricks and cut stone made by concentration-camp inmates are diverted from future official monuments and buildings to construct badly needed German arms factories.
At the Minsk Ghetto, Nazis execute Jewish leaders deported from Hamburg, Germany, three months earlier.
The first mass gassings of Jews at the Auschwitz death camp begin.
Jews at the Dvinsk concentration camp are forced to witness the execution of a Jewish woman who exchanged a piece of cloth with a non-Jewish inmate for a box of flour.
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 Palestine are drowned. Only one passenger survives.
Mass murder of Jews in Charkow (Kharkov), Ukraine (14,000 victims).
This month, nearly 5000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto die of starvation.
In Norway, the Hirdens Bedriftsvern, a collaborationist, anti-Resistance unit, is created to protect Norwegian factories and infrastructure from saboteurs.
A Russian collaborationist group, Russian National People's Army, is established in Smolensk.
A brief article appears in the London press reporting that all Jews in Mariupol, Ukraine, have been killed.
The Nazis begin the construction of a new death camp at Sobibór. By October 1943, 250,000 Jews had been murdered there.
Thousands of Belorussian Jews are transported to Koidanav, Belorussia, where they are murdered.
Children from a Jewish nursery in the Minsk Ghetto are thrown into a sandpit, tossed sweets, and then smothered to death. More than 5000 Jewish adults from Minsk are also killed.
Belgian Jews are drafted for forced labor.
First conference on sterilization: Definitions pertaining to sterilization of persons of mixed blood.
During a meeting at the Head Office for Reich Security, Adolf Eichmann emphasizes the need for strict security during deportation and annihilation of Jews presently living in Germany, Austria, Moravia, and Bohemia.
Germans have already killed 240,000 Jews in Ukraine alone.
At Ilja, Poland, Jews sent to labor on a farm join Soviet partisans in a nearby forest. In reprisal, the Germans shoot old and sick Jews in the streets, then herd more than 900 Jews into a building that is set ablaze. All inside die.
Trumpeting his Wehrmacht, Hitler predicts that the Red Army will be “beaten in every direction in the summer.”
More than 1800 Jews from Pochep, Russia, are executed.
Extermination camp Belzec established. Full-scale extermination begins; deportees are accepted from Poland and from as far away as the western provinces of Germany. 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.
Over the next two days, the SS transfers 1,000 women — mainly German Jewish women but also Romani (Gypsy) women — from Ravensbrück to Auschwitz-Birkenau in German-occupied Poland. The SS establishes a women's camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The first deportations of Jews from Western Europe to Belzec begins.
Public notices pertaining to the identification of Jewish homes in Germany.
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, above all, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in Occupied Poland, where most of them perished.
Fritz Sauckel is named chief of manpower to expedite recruitment of slave labor.
German troops raid the Minsk Ghetto, searching for and arresting Jewish Resistance leaders.
Arrival of initial transports of Jews at the concentration and extermination camps Auschwitz (Auschwitz I & Auschwitz II).
German SS and police united deport Jews from Lublin, in the General Government, to Belzec, where they are killed. The Lublin deportations are the first major deportations carried out under Operation Reinhard, the code name for the German plan to kill more than 2 million Jews living in the General Government of Occupied Poland.
Prohibition of the use of public transportation by Jews. Exception only for forced laborers, if their workplace is farther than seven kilometers from their place of residence. Taking a seat in the conveyance is not allowed.
Additional restrictions during the course of World War II: Jews were forbidden to use public telephones and automatic ticket dispensing machines; to congregate in railroad stations or visit restaurants; to enter forests (parks) or step on lawns; to keep dogs, cats, birds, or other pets; to place orders with organized skilled trades; and to obtain newspapers or periodicals. All electrical or optical equipment had to be turned in without compensation, as well as bicycles, typewriters, fur coats, and wool items.
Jews could not obtain any seafood items or ration cards for meat, clothing, milk, or tobacco. They were not allowed any white bread, fruit, canned fruit, candy or sweets, and shaving soap.
Jewish Anti-Facist Committee established in USSR.
More than 4400 Jews die of starvation in the Warsaw Ghetto.
The first transports of Jews arrive at the camp at Majdanek which will begin gassing Jews later in the year.
The London Sunday Times runs but does not highlight a news item about the Nazi executions of 120,000 Romanian Jews.
German headquarters at Arras, France, is attacked by the French Resistance.
In Russia, a collaborationist group, Druzhina (Bodyguard), is established and led by Soviet defector Lieutenant Colonel V. V. Gil.
Jews are mocked and hanged at Mlawa, Poland.
965 Slovakian Jews are deported to Auschwitz.
The Lutheran Church of Norway issues “Kirken grunn” (“Foundations of the Church”), a letter condemning Nazism and racism and protesting efforts of Vidkun Quisling, Norway’s German puppet, to “nazify” Norway’s churches.
The Nazi government decrees that apartments occupied by Jews in Greater Germany must be identified as such.
In the Warsaw Ghetto, 52 people on a wanted list are dragged from their beds and killed. This will become known as “The Night of Blood.”
At a birthday banquet for Hitler in East Prussia, Hermann Göring announces that he was responsible for the Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933, that set off Nazi reprisals against purported Communist subversion.
Jews throughout Greater Germany are prohibited from taking public transport.
The Reichstag grants Hitler full authority in executive, legislative, and judicial matters.
One thousand Jews are deported from the Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia, camp/ghetto to Izbica Lubelska, Poland; one, a woman who escapes after arrival, survives. Other Theresienstadt deportees are sent to their deaths at the Sobibór and Belzec extermination camps.
Nazis execute 60 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. Among the victims are people suspected of being involved with the ghetto’s underground newspaper.
The Jews of Pinsk, Poland, are ordered to establish a ghetto within one day. Twenty thousand Jews will move into it.
Twelve hundred Jews are killed in Diatlovo, Belorussia. The Jews offer armed resistance, but it is futile.
More than 3600 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto die of starvation. Nazis force their way into Jewish apartments in Warsaw, shoot and club the residents, and throw the bodies from windows.
A slave-labor camp opens near Minsk, Belorussia.
Small groups of Jewish youths manage to escape into the woods outside Lida and Stolpce, towns in Belorussia.
After trial gassings in April, an SS special detachment begin gassing operations at the Sobibor killing center. By November 1943, the special detachment had killed approximately 250,000 Jews at Sobibor.
Slovakian Jews and resident Jews at Chelm are deported to the nearby Sobibór death camp and gassed. In addition, more than 36,000 Polish Jews from communities located between the Vistula and Bug rivers are gassed at Sobibór.
In the Eastern Galicia region of Poland, Jews aged 14 to 60 are driven to isolated spots and killed by hand grenades and machine guns after being forced to dig their own graves. Other victims of this Aktion include orphans, residents of old-age homes, and women in the streets.
Inmates at Auschwitz-Birkenau are put to work as slave laborers at the camp itself and at a synthetic-oil and rubber plant at nearby Monowitz.
A Jewish inmate at a labor camp at Schwenningen, Germany, is buried in earth up to his shoulders as punishment for having an attack of diarrhea outside a barracks; after more than ten hours in the ground, the man dies.
In Holland, a collaborationist auxiliary police unit, Vrijwillige Hulp-Politie (Volunteer Auxiliary Police), is established. It is charged with the roundup of Dutch Jews for deportation to the East.
Communist Jews in Paris initiate organized armed resistance to the Nazi occupiers.
The Bund (Jewish Labor Organization of Poland) appeals to the Polish government-in-exile in London to persuade the Allied governments to warn the German government about the consequences of the murder of the Polish Jews. The Bund’s appeal contains detailed information concerning the systematic mass murder of Jews. It reports that 700,000 Polish Jews have already been executed.
2600 Libyan Jews are deported to a forced-labor camp at Giado, Libya, to build roads for the military.
More than 1750 Jews are deported from Tripoli, Libya, to forced-labor sites at the Libyan cities of Benghazi, Homs, and Derna. Hundreds perish from heat and hunger, and others die during Allied bombings after being forbidden to use air-raid shelters.
Jewish Council members at Bilgoraj, Poland, are executed after refusing to compile a list of candidates for deportation.
About 1000 Jews are murdered at Dvinsk, Latvia. Only about 450 Jews are left in Dvinsk, down from 16,000 from the previous year.
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 dies at the Auschwitz complex were Jewish.
Jewish teachers and educators in the Warsaw Ghetto create a special day for children, during which they are treated to games, plays, and special rations of sweets.
The Jews of Markuszow, Poland, led by Shlomo Goldwasser, Mordechai Kirshenbaum, and brothers Yaakov and Yerucham Gothelf, escape to nearby forests.
American poet Ezra Pound, who is working for the Fascist Italian government, broadcasts from Italy: “You would do better to inoculate your children with typhus and syphilis” than allow more Jews into the United States. America, Pound continues, is ruled by Jews and their allies, who are “the dirtiest dirt from the bottom of the Jew’s ash can.”
Alter Dworetsky, a member of the Jewish Council at Diatlovo, Belorussia, escapes to a nearby forest, only to be shot to death by Soviet partisans after refusing to hand over his pistol.
American Zionists participating in the Biltmore Conference at New York City’s Biltmore Hotel demand that Jews be given sovereignty over Palestine. The demand is ignored by Britain, which controls Palestine.
Noted Jewish Viennese pianist Leopold Birkenfeld is murdered at the Chelmno death camp.
During a public protest of Nazi antisemitism staged in Berlin by Herbert Baum and his followers, portions of “The Soviet Paradise,” a government-sponsored anti-Bolshevik exhibition, are set afire. Most members of Baum’s group, as well as approximately 500 other Berlin Jews, are arrested.
Great Britain and the Soviet Union sign a mutual assistance treaty.
Belgian Jews are ordered to wear the Yellow Star.
Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis, British-trained Czech partisans armed with small arms and grenades, mortally wound Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Security Police and SD, in an ambush of his car in Prague.
Vichy France forbids Jews access to all restaurants and cafes, libraries, sports grounds, squares, and other public places.
Three thousand Jews led by Asher Czerkaski resist Germans at Radziwillow, Ukraine; 1500 are killed but the others melt into nearby forests.
In the Warsaw Ghetto, an ill Jewish man is tossed through a window to the ground, where he is shot.
Britain’s first 1000-bomber raid on Germany (the target is Cologne) encourages Jews to hope that the war might soon be over.
The World Jewish Congress, based in New York, announces at a press conference that Eastern Europe is being turned into “a vast slaughterhouse for Jews.”
Auschwitz is ravaged by an epidemic of typhus.
Germans invade Jewish hospitals in Sosnowiec, Poland, murdering newborns and tearing patients from operating tables. Ambulatory patients are sent to Auschwitz and gassed.
A young Sosnowiec Jew named Harry Blumenfrucht endures two weeks of Nazi torture, refusing to name his co-conspirators in a scheme to steal weapons. His suffering ends when he is hanged.
Jews from Dabrowa Tarnowska, Poland, led by Rabbi Isaac and gathered in a Jewish cemetery, defy their Nazi captors when they hold hands, dance, and drink “to life.” The enraged Germans shoot and disembowel the entire group.
Four thousand Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto die of starvation.
At Lutsk, Ukraine, Jewish resistance is led by Joel Szczerbat.
In Norway, Jews are given identity cards stamped with the letter “J.”
In Yugoslavia, a collaborationist paramilitary force, Heimwehr (Home Defense), is established.
Polish Jews are deported from Hrubieszów to the Sobibór death camp. Another 500 will be deported the following week.
Warsaw’s underground newspaper, Liberty Barricade, published by the Polish Socialist Party, reveals Nazi gassing activity at the Chelmno death camp.
Start of deportation of German Jews to Theresienstadt.
The BBC reports that 700,000 Jews have been exterminated. Its information comes from a report smuggled out of Poland by the Jewish Bund in Warsaw.
Viennese Jews are deported to the Minsk Ghetto. One woman, Elsa Speigel, decides to leave her 51/2-month-old son, Jona, behind. The baby will eventually be sent to the the camp/ghetto at Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia, where he will survive the war.
Jews revolt in Breslau, Germany.
In Warsaw, Nazis shoot 110 Jews in a prison on Gesia Street. Ten Jewish policemen are among the victims.
Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Security Police and SD, dies of blood poisoning caused by injuries suffered in the May 27 attack by Czech partisans.
The U.S. declares war on Romania.
Army Group South besieges Sevastopol.
A Jewish woman who has escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto into the city proper is dragged back to the ghetto and shot.
The Jewish Council at Pilica, Poland, warns that every able-bodied Jew must attempt to flee to nearby forests.
At Lidice, Czechoslovakia, Germans begin to murder over 190 men and boys in retaliation for the attack on Reinhard Heydrich. The Germans will murder another 47 men, women, and children at Lezaky, Czechoslovakia.
When a Jewish mother at Pabianice, Poland, fights fiercely for her baby during a deportation, the baby is taken from her and thrown out a window.
German police in Lódz report to their superiors in Poznan that 95 Lódz Jews have been publicly hanged.
One thousand Jews are deported from Prague to the East, where they are murdered.
Ten thousand Jews from the Tarnów Ghetto are murdered at the Belzec extermination camp.
Jewish babies, children, and elderly of Khmel’nik, Ukraine, are shot in a nearby forest.
Anne Frank turns 13 years old.
Three thousand Jews are deported from the Theresienstadt camp/ghetto to their deaths.
British Ambassador to the Vatican Francis d’Arcy Osborne observes about Pope Pius XII that his “moral leadership is not assured by the unapplied recital of the Commandments.”
Two thousand Jews break out of Dzisna, Belorussia.
The American chargé d’affaires in the Vatican, Harold Tittmann, reports to the State Department that Pope Pius XII is adopting “an ostrich-like policy towards atrocities that were obvious to everyone.”
Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis, British-trained Czech partisans who mortally wounded Reinhard Heydrich on May 27, are discovered with several other partisans inside Prague’s Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church. The church is besieged by German troops and SS. All partisans perish.
Jews revolt at Glebokie, Belorussia; 2500 are murdered in the Borek Forest.
June 20-October 9
Germans wrest Tobruk (Libya) from the British.
An article in the London Daily Telegraph reports, “More than 700,000 Polish Jews have been slaughtered by the Germans in the greatest massacres in the world’s history.”
The British broadcast information about the plight of Jews in Occupied Poland.
The Germans launch a summer offensive against the Red Army in the Don River basin of the Soviet Union.
Armed Jewish resistance takes place at Slonim, Belorussia. Germans burn Jews to death; nearly 15,000 are killed.
Closing of Jewish schools in Germany.
A second gas chamber begins functioning at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
A headline in the London Daily Telegraph reads: “MORE THAN 1,000,000 JEWS KILLED IN EUROPE.”
The New York Times highlights articles on Christian victims of the Germans rather than on Jewish victims, even though the numbers of Jewish victims are immensely greater.
At Kleck, Belorussia, a few dozen Jews break out and join partisans.
Extermination activities at the Sobibór death camp are temporarily halted for railway construction and enlargement of the camp’s gas chambers.
The Jewish community at Gorodenka, Ukraine, is wiped out.
The U.S. and Britain agree on an Allied invasion of North Africa.
Berlin Jews are sent to Theresienstadt.
The New York Times reports the “slaughter of 700,000 Jews” in German-occupied Poland.
The first issue of Eynikeyt (Unity), a Yiddish-language journal of the Soviet Jewish Antifascist Committee, is published.
Anne Frank and her family go into hiding in Amsterdam.
SS chief Heinrich Himmler chairs a meeting of SS functionaries to discuss sterilization and other gynecological procedures and experiments on Jewish women held at Auschwitz. The procedures will be conducted without the womens knowledge.
Almost 200 women arrive in Ravensbrück from the Czech village of Lidice. The Germans destroyed Lidice, a small village outside Prague, in retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the German governor of Bohemia and Moravia and head of the Security Police. SS forces killed all the men of Lidice and more than 50 women. They deported the remaining 200 women and almost 100 children to camps in Germany. Demolition squads burned and destroyed the village.
Jewish partisan Vitka Kempner and two others leave the Jewish ghetto at Vilna carrying a land mine with which they hope to disable a German military train located five miles southeast.
Jewish partisan Vitka Kempner returns to the Vilna Ghetto, having successfully planted a land mine and blown up the engine and ammunition cars of a German military train.
The Germans require all Jewish men between the ages of 18 and 45 living in Salonika to report to Liberty Square where they are assigned to Organisation Todt labor battalions. 9,000 Jewish men report. About 2,000 are assigned to forced-labor projects for the German army. The remainder are detained until the Jewish communities of Salonika and Athens pay a huge ransom to the German occupation authorities for their release. As part of the payment, the Jewish cemetery in Salonika is transferred to city ownership. The city dismantles it and uses stones from the cemetery in the construction of a university on the site.
Thousands of Dutch Jews are arrested in Amsterdam and deported to Auschwitz, where many are gassed.
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.
Major police raids in Paris.
La Grande Rafle (“The Big Sweep”) commences in Paris, as the German and Austrian Jews living in the city, about 13,000 total, are rounded up.
The Family Hostage Law is announced in Occupied France. Under its provisions, fugitive “terrorists” who do not surrender to German authorities can expect their male relatives to be killed, female relatives sent to work camps, and children sent to special schools for political reeducation.
SS doctor Karl Gebhardt begins sulfanilamide experiments in Ravensbrück on about 80 concentration camp prisoners, mostly Polish women. Gebhardt seeks to determine the effectiveness of sulfanilamide in preventing infections in battlefield wounds for the benefit of the German armed forces. He deliberately inflicts wounds on prisoners and infects them with bacteria. He tests treatments of sulfanilamide and other drugs. Some women die as a result of these experiments; many others are crippled or maimed. Other experiments at Ravensbrück include the testing of various methods of setting and transplanting bones and sterilization experiments on women and children, mostly Roma (Gypsies).
Germans murder 1000 Jews at Kleck, Belorussia; 400 flee into forests. Two from the latter group, Moshe Fish and Leva Gilchik (from nearby Kopyl), will form a partisan group.
Mass protest rally at Madison Square Garden.
German authorities and Ukrainian and Latvian guards in SS uniforms surround the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto. 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.
July 22-September 12
Martin Luther, undersecretary of state at the German Foreign Ministry, alerts Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop that Italian authorities are resistant to the German plan to deport Jews from Italian-held regions of Croatia.
The German government in the Occupied Eastern Territories warns that any Pole or Ukrainian who attempts to hide or assist a Jew will be “shot dead.”
In the Lódz Ghetto, two male Jews, one just 16 years old, are hanged after escaping a work gang.
About 30,000 Jews are killed in Minsk.
German industrialist Eduard Schulte, whose company has mines near Auschwitz, reveals to a Swiss colleague that Hitler and the German Reich have decided to round up the millions of Jews of Occupied Europe, concentrate them in the East, and murder them using prussic acid starting in the fall of 1942. The information is soon communicated to Swiss World Jewish Congress representative Gerhart Riegner.
Army Group South crosses the Don on a wide front.
Bluma Rozenfeld, 19, leaps to her death from a fifth-floor window in the Lódz Ghetto.
Israel Lichtenstein writes from the Warsaw Ghetto: “At present, together with me, both of us get ready to meet and receive death. I wish my little daughter to be remembered. Margalith, twenty months old today....I don’t lament my own life nor that of my wife. I pity only the so little, nice and talented girl. She deserves to be remembered.”
Germany decides not to disclose the whereabouts of Dutch deportees, saying only that they had been sent to “an unknown destination...somewhere in the East”--that is, to the Auschwitz extermination camp.
Throughout Europe, more than 400,000 Jews are murdered.
In the Volhynia region of Poland, 87,000 Jews are killed.
A heat wave and caterpillars destroy a cabbage crop cultivated by residents of the Lódz Ghetto.
The Majdanek camp is fitted with gas chambers.
The United States, British, and German governments save two and a half million Greek civilians from starvation. Great Britain and the United States agree to permit food to reach Greece after the Germans assure them that the food will not be confiscated. Great Britain ships 35,000 tons of food per month to Greece and the United States pays for it; the process is monitored by neutral nations and the International Red Cross. The agreement costs the Allies $30 million per year. In contrast, the Allies do not seek to help feed Europe’s Jews.
A Polish partisan named Trzcinski passes a hand grenade into a railcar carrying Jewish deportees to the Treblinka death camp. The grenade will be used later at the camp to wound a group of Ukrainian guards.
Lota Hirszberg, 56, kills herself with sleeping powder in the Lódz Ghetto.
The first portion of Emanuel Ringelblum’s Warsaw diary, hidden in ten tin boxes and milk cans, is secretly buried for safekeeping by a Warsaw schoolteacher named Israel Lichtenstein.
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.
SS troops in Radom, Poland, shoot 600 older people and children as well as hundreds of other Jews found in hiding places. Six thousand Jews from the city’s small ghetto and 2000 from the large ghetto are deported to the Treblinka death camp.
The Jewish community at Pilica, Poland, is liquidated.
Three thousand Jews are murdered at Diatlovo, Belorussia. Six hundred escape, more than 100 of whom form a partisan unit led by Hirsch Kaplinski.
U.S. delays information on plan to annihilate Jews to verify sources.
Catholic nun Edith Stein is gassed at Auschwitz.
Armed resistance during the liquidation of the Mir ghetto, western Belorussia. 180 Jews escape to forests outside Mir.
The Jewish Council of Zwierzyniec, Poland, ransoms its community with gold. Only 52 of the town’s poorest Jews are seized for deportation.
The Jewish community at Radun, Belorussia, is liquidated.
Fifteen hundred Jews from Kremenets, Ukraine, are relocated to the Bialokrynitsa camp.
Eight hundred Jews are murdered at Brzozów, Poland.
Six German and Ukrainian policemen are killed by Jews while attempting to enter the Jewish ghetto at Kremenets, Ukraine.
The Yeheskel Atlas Jewish partisan company attacks a German garrison in Derechin, Belorussia. Forty-four German policemen are captured and executed.
Jews resisting deportation from Kremenets, Ukraine, set the ghetto on fire.
In Belgium, 999 Jews, including 172 children, are deported to their deaths in the East.
Switzerland forces Jews (mostly French) already safe in Switzerland back across the border. The Swiss government will turn back 10,000 Jews to their deaths during the remainder of the war on the grounds that only political refugees can be admitted into Switzerland, not “racial refugees.” The Swiss government does, however, welcome the gold that the Germans extract from the mouths and fingers of the dead Jews.
United States State Department officials and the British Foreign Office decide that the Riegner Cable outlining details of the Holocaust be kept secret.
Arrest of 7,000 “stateless” Jews in unoccupied France.
A woman named Rivka Yosselevska is one of just four Jews to survive a bloody burial-pit massacre outside Zagrodski, Poland, near Pinsk.
The Germans open Jawiszowice, a slave-labor camp located near Auschwitz.
One thousand Belgian Jews, including 172 children, are deported to their deaths in the East.
A healthy Jewish teenage boy is removed from a deportation train at the Belzec death camp, stripped naked, hung upside down from gallows for three hours, and then killed as camp guards use sticks to force sand down his throat.
341 French-Jewish children from the ages of two to ten, as well as 323 girls up to the age of 16, are gassed at Auschwitz. Two of the victims are Suzanne Perl, seven, and her sister Micheline, three.
998 Jews, including 287 children, are deported to the East from Belgium.
Nazis murder the children of the Rembertów Ghetto. The town’s adult Jews, more than 1000, are assembled for deportation to the Treblinka death camp. About 300 of the people are ordered eastward along the road to Wesola. Before they walk a mile, the 300 are murdered. The 700 who remain are ordered to march south, and as the group passes the town of Anin, one woman melts into a crowd of non-Jewish Polish onlookers and escapes. Forty-five others are machine-gunned at Anin, ostensibly because they attempted escape. Hours later the marchers reach the ghetto at Falenica, where Jews already have been forcibly assembled; those who are discovered in hiding are shot. Inside the ghetto, two Jews resist, using an axe to kill the first German who steps through the doors of their apartment.
At the Belzec extermination camp, 700 to 800 Jews herded into a gas chamber wait in torment for nearly three hours until a balky diesel engine can be started and the chamber filled with deadly exhaust. SS gas/disinfectant expert but anti-Nazi Kurt Gerstein is on hand to observe.
Seventeen thousand Jews from Lutsk, Ukraine, are taken to Polanka Hill and executed.
The ZOB (Jewish Fighting Organization) attempts to assassinate Joseph Szerynski, commander of the Jewish police in the Warsaw Ghetto. Later in the day, other ZOB members set fire to several Warsaw warehouses.
General Friedrich Paulu’s ill-fated 6th Army approaches Stalingrad.
The Jewish community at Ozorków, Poland, is murdered.
Jews are locked in a church at Lask, Poland, and killed. Among the victims are a mother and her baby, who is born inside the church.
At Zdunska Wola, Poland, 1100 Jews are herded to the local Jewish cemetery, where all but about 100 are shot and beaten to death. Survivors are forced to bury the victims.
At the Treblinka death camp, a deranged, young Jewish woman is discovered hiding a small child beneath the bedsheet she wears. Camp guards shoot and kill both the woman and the child.
After being unloaded at the Treblinka death camp, a Jew named Friedman uses a razor blade to cut the throat of a Ukrainian guard. SS guards retaliate by immediately opening fire on the other newly arrived deportees.
Nearly 1000 Belgian Jews, including 232 children, are deported to the East.
518 Jewish children deported from Paris are gassed at Auschwitz.
Several thousand Jews from Chortkov, Poland, are assembled in the town square and forced to witness the murders of the community’s children.
The Soviet defense of Stalingrad stiffens as the German siege intensifies.
Fourteen thousand Jews are killed at Sarny, Ukraine.
World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Stephen S. Wise receives a cable from Swiss WJC representative Gerhart Riegner regarding the “Final Solution.” Wise elects to suppress the information until it can be verified.
Ten thousand Jews are murdered at Miedzyrzec, Poland.
German authorities order the arrests of Parisian priests who have sheltered Jews.
Members of the Jewish community at Rabka, Poland, are murdered.
French Bishop Pierre-Marie Théas reminds his parishes that all human beings are created by the same God, Christians and Jews alike, and that “all men regardless of race or religion deserve respect from individuals and governments.”
Late Summer 1942
Fourteen thousand Jews are taken to gravel pits at Piatydni, Ukraine, and machine-gunned.
Moshe Skoczylas and Michael Majtek form Jewish partisan units at Dzialoszyce, Poland.
German troops reach the Caucasus and begin exterminations of indigenous Jews.
SS chief Heinrich Himmler suggests that camp inmates be put to work in on-site arms factories. Armaments chief Albert Speer objects, offering a compromise accepted by Hitler: Himmler’s inmates will be made available to Speer for labor in conventional arms factories.
New York Congressman Emanuel Celler, a Jew, submits legislation to allow French Jews about to be deported to their deaths in Eastern Europe to immigrate to the United States. The bill is killed by the House Committee on Immigration.
As Jews are being deported from France to their deaths in the Third Reich, the Vichy Ministry of Information urges the press to remember “the true teaching of Saint Thomas and the Popes...the general and traditional teaching of the Catholic Church about the Jewish problem.”
Early September 1942
An SS guard on a deportation train headed for the Belzec death camp shoots and kills Jadzia Beer, a Polish girl from Jaworów, after her skirt becomes caught in a railcar window and she dangles helplessly from the window.
Security forces raid five hospitals in the Lódz Ghetto, evacuating and slaughtering patients. Babies are thrown out of an upper-story windows, some bayoneted before they hit the ground.
The 10,000 Jews of Dzialoszyce, Poland, are rounded up by Gestapo agents and by Polish and Ukrainian police, then terrorized while standing in the hot sun all day. Two thousand residents are executed in the Dolles Jewish cemetery. The 8000 residents who remain are deported to the Belzec death camp.
In Oslo, Norway, Julius Samuel, the chief rabbi of Norway, refuses to go into hiding or to flee the country. He is arrested and interned in a camp at Berg, south of Oslo.
The Geneva-based World Jewish Congress learns of deportations of French Jews.
Josef Kaplan, a leader of the ZOB (Jewish Fighting Organization), is arrested in Warsaw, joining another leader, Yisrael Zeltzer, in detention. When another ZOB leader, Shmuel Braslav, is stopped in the street by German troops, he is shot dead after trying to pull a knife. Another ZOB leader, Reginka Justman, is shot after being stopped while carrying the ZOB’s arms cache to a new hiding place; the arms are seized.
The Times of London runs articles describing the deportations of French Jews.
Lódz Ghetto’s Jewish Council leader, Chaim Rumkowski, acquiesces to Nazi demands for deportation of the community’s children and adults who are over the age of 65. During the action, Germans fire randomly into crowds, execute individual Jews, and invade Jewish hospitals. They deport approximately 15,000 people.
During a session of Britain’s House of Commons, Prime Minister Winston Churchill remarks angrily about Nazi deportations of French Jews.
Massacre of Jews near Kislowodsk, Caucasus.
The Times of London reports on the Vichy (Occupied France) government’s dismissal of General Robert de Saint-Vincent, military governor of Lyons, for his refusal to initiate mass arrests of Jews in his region of responsibility. The same edition of the Times reports on a German order for the arrest of Catholic priests who shelter Jews in the unoccupied zone of France.
Meir Berliner, an Argentine Jew deported to the Treblinka death camp from Warsaw, stabs an SS officer, Max Bialas, to death with a penknife. In reprisal, Berliner and 150 other Treblinka inmates are executed.
At Stolin, Belorussia, Jewish resistance is led by Moses Glazer and Asher Shapira.
Battle of Stalingrad begins: The German Sixth Army and Fourth Panzer Army reach the suburbs of Stalingrad. They’re primed to meet the Soviets in the Battle of Stalingrad.
More than 4800 Polish Jews are deported from Warsaw to the Treblinka extermination camp. A young Jew named Abraham Jakób Krzepicki escapes from Treblinka and makes his way to Warsaw, where ghetto historian Emanuel Ringelblum sees that Krzepicki’s eyewitness camp testimony is taken down.
The Jewish community at Checiny, Poland, is deported.
German 6th Army fights its way house to house into Stalingrad.
Food rations are dramatically reduced for Jews throughout Greater Germany.
Reich Minister of Justice Otto Thierack and SS chief Heinrich Himmler agree that Jews and selected other camp inmates will be transferred to SS custody for Vernichtung durch Arbeit (extermination through work); i.e., hard labor until death.
Open-pit burning of bodies begins at Auschwitz in place of burial. The decision is made to dig up and burn those already buried (107,000 corpses) to prevent the fouling of ground water and to hide evidence of atrocities.
The leading French Protestant, Pastor Marc Boegner, publicly protests the Jewish deportations. He personally attempts to convince Vichy France Premier Pierre Laval to end the roundups of Jewish children. After Boegner offers to have the children adopted, Laval tells him that “not one of them must remain in France.”
New construction at the Treblinka death camp greatly increases its gas-chamber capacity.
Workers at the Sobibór extermination camp begin to burn the bodies of the camp’s victims.
British Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security Herbert Morrison opposes any further admission of Jewish immigrants into Britain. He fears this would encourage the French Vichy government to “dump” Jewish children into Britain.
Ukrainian and German police begin firing into the Jewish ghetto at Tuchin, Ukraine. A Jewish revolt is led by Gecel Schwarzman (chairman of the Judenrat), Meir Himmelfarb (Schwarzman’s deputy), and Tuwia Czuwak. Armed Jews return fire and others set the ghetto ablaze. Two thousand of the ghetto’s 3000 residents escape to nearby forests.
German Foreign Office official Martin Luther passes on to subordinates the desire of Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop that deportations of Jews from across Europe be accelerated.
Swiss police decree that race alone does not guarantee refugee status, thus preventing Jews from crossing the Swiss border to safety.
475 French Jews are gassed at Auschwitz. One of the victims is ballet director René Blum, the brother of former French Prime Minister Léon Blum.
Abraham Gamzu, chairman of the Jewish Council at Kaluszyn, Poland, is executed after refusing to deliver Jews for deportation. Six thousand of the town's residents are deported to the Treblinka death camp and later killed.
SS Lieutenant General August Frank advises camp administrators that jewelry and other valuables seized from Jews should be sent to the German Reichsbank, and that razors and other practical items should be cleaned and delivered to front-line troops for sale to them. Proceeds will go to the Reich. Further, confiscated household items are to be distributed to ethnic Germans.
Brussels Jewish leader Edward Rotbel is deported to Auschwitz. Several hundred Dutch Jews are gassed there.
German railway officials meet in Berlin to plan track upgrades and additional trains in order to hasten deportations of Jews. They meet again on September 28.
Search parties of German and Ukrainian police capture 1000 of 2000 Jews who escaped from the Tuchin Ghetto on September 24. Some Jews are taken to Tuchin’s Jewish cemetery and shot, while most are killed where they are found in the forest.
Three hundred cold and hungry women and children, part of the 1000 Jews still at large following a September 24 escape from the ghetto at Tuchin, Ukraine, return to the city under German promises of safe repatriation. All 300 are shot. Of the 700 Tuchin Jews who remain at large, only about 20 will survive the war.
500 of nearly 800 Jews who attempt to escape Serniki, Poland, are killed by the Germans. Of 279 who reach nearby forests, 102 will perish before the end of the war.
Hitler declares publicly that the war will mean the destruction of European Jewry.
Polish Jews trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto construct more than 600 fortified bunkers from September 30, 1942 to January 1943.
Jews are deported to Auschwitz from Holland and Belgium; to the Treblinka death camp from central Poland and the Theresienstadt camp/ghetto; and to the Belzec death camp from the Eastern Galicia region of Poland.
In the Occupied Soviet Union, many Jews are killed in the streets, in forests, and in rock quarries.
At Novogrudok, Belorussia, 50 Jews escape from the Germans and join local resistance led by Tuvia Bielski.
All Jewish property in Norway is confiscated.
Most Jewish escapees from the village of Markuszow, Poland, are destroyed by a German encirclement and subsequent armored and artillery attacks after five months of freedom in area forests.
As 3000 Jews are arrested at Pinczów, Poland, resistance is led by Michael Majtek and Zalman Fajnsztat.
British Vatican Ambassador Francis d’Arcy Osborne writes in his diary that Pope Pius XII only occasionally denounces moral crimes. But such rare and vague declarations “do not have...lasting force and validity.” Osborne points out that the Pope’s “policy of silence in regard to such offences against the conscience of the world must necessarily involve a renunciation of moral leadership.”
At a small labor camp at Budy, Poland, female German non-Jewish prisoners beat, mutilate, and kill dozens of captive Jewish women. When the massacre is over, Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss inspects the scene.
In Luków, Poland, Jewish Council member David Lieberman is told by German authorities that money he has collected to ransom Lublin’s Jews is useless, and deportations will continue, whereupon Lieberman tears the money to pieces and slaps the German official in the face. Ukrainian guards kill Lieberman immediately, and 4000 of the Jews Lieberman had hoped to protect are deported to the Treblinka extermination camp, where they are gassed.
Hundreds of Jews escape the Ukrainian town of Luboml but are quickly hunted down. In all, some 10,000 of the town’s Jews are killed.
The Polish ambassador to the Vatican details to Pope Pius XII (through a report through the secretariat of state) that the Germans have gassed thousands of Jews.
The SS transfers more than 600 Jewish women from Ravensbrück to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The transfer is a response to an order from the Reich Security Main Office requiring the transfer of all Jewish concentration camp prisoners from camps in Germany to Auschwitz.
In Brussels, Belgium, five of six leading members of the Belgian Jewish community are released from incarceration following the intervention of Cardinal Joseph-Ernst van Roey and Belgium’s Queen Elizabeth.
25,000 Jews of Brest-Litovsk, Belorussia, are murdered. Jewish resistance, led by Hana Ginsberg, attempts to fight back.
The Ministry of Justice transfers responsibility for Jews and citizens of the eastern countries within Germany to the Gestapo.
Hitler issues Kommandobefehl (“Commando Order”), authorizing immediate execution of captured Allied Special Operations personnel, whether in or out of uniform.
Twelve thousand Jews are murdered at Bar in the Transnistria region of the Ukraine.
The Battle of El Alamein begins in Egypt.
Algerian-Jewish resistance leader José Aboulker meets with American General Mark Clark in Morocco. Aboulker is given 800 Sten guns, 800 grenades, 400 handguns, and 50 portable radios.
Germans demand that Oszmiana, Lithuania, give up 400 of its 1000 Jews. The selection of the victims is assigned to the Jewish police in the nearby city of Vilna. Vilna Ghetto leader Jacob Gens decides to hand over Oszmiana’s elderly Jews in order to save the others.
Second conference pertaining to sterilization.
Sixteen thousand Jews are murdered at Pinsk, Poland.
Mieczyslaw Gruber, a Jewish former soldier in the Polish Army, escapes with 17 others from a Nazi POW camp on Lipowa Street in Lublin. The group will later establish a partisan group in the forest northwest of the city.
The SS issues a secret directive that mittens and stockings confiscated from Jewish children at death camps be gathered and sent to SS families.
Jewish Warsaw Ghetto leaders ask Jan Karski, a Polish Catholic working for the underground, to tell the Polish and Allied governments: “We are helpless in the face of the German criminals....The Germans are not trying to enslave us as they have other people; we are being systematically murdered....Our entire people will be destroyed....”
Mass execution of Jews in Pinsk, Belorussia (16,000 victims).
Written comments by Winston Churchill excoriating Germany for the systematic extermination of European Jews are read at a London protest meeting chaired by the archbishop of Canterbury.
Late October 1942
The Jewish Sonderkommando at Auschwitz-Birkenau nears completion of its task of exhuming and burning Jewish corpses buried at the camp.
The Jewish community in Vienna is officially dissolved.
Klaus Barbie arrives in Lyons, France, to head a special commando in Section IV of the local Gestapo office. His instructions are to actively fight Jews, Communists, Freemasons, and members of the French Resistance.
In the Lithuanian town of Marcinkance, 370 Jews who refuse to board trains for deportation bolt for the ghetto boundaries. In the melée that follows, 360 Jews and many guards are killed. Between deaths and successful escapes, not one Jew is left to board the trains.
In Zolochev, Ukraine, the chairman of the Jewish Council is murdered by Germans after refusing to sign a paper saying that the liquidation of the ghetto was necessitated by the spread of a typhus epidemic. 2500 Zolochev Jews, including poet S. J. Imber, are deported to Belzec.
More than 100,000 Jews remaining in the towns and villages in the Bialystok region of Poland are arrested and deported to holding camps at Zambrów, Volkovysk, Kelbasin, and Bogusze before being sent to the Auschwitz and Treblinka death camps.
Six thousand Jews are deported from Siemiatycze, Poland. Resistance is led by Herschl Shabbes.
Wolfram Sievers, head of Germany’s Ancestral Heritage Society, requests skeletons of 150 Jews. SS chief Heinrich Himmler okays a plan to establish a collection of Jewish skeletons and skulls at the Strasbourg Anatomical Institute in France, near the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp.
“Europa” rescue plan.
Jewish men from Stopnica, Poland, are sent to a slave-labor camp at Skarzysko-Kamienna, while 400 old people and children are shot in the town cemetery. Three thousand others are put on a forced march; many are shot along the way, and survivors are sent to Treblinka.
Peasants in Siedliszcze, Poland, gather scythes in anticipation of the day's roundup of Jews, for which they’ll be paid for each Jew caught.
Six hundred Jews from Borislav, Poland, are deported naked to prevent resistance.
745 Jews, including 35 residents of the Rothschild Old Age Home, are deported from Paris to Auschwitz. After arrival, Jews awaiting entry into the gas chamber spy a truck loaded with corpses but continue on to their deaths.
One thousand Jews in Drancy, France, spend the night on a railroad siding crammed into boxcars. After the train departs for Auschwitz, two Jews squeeze to safety after bars in a small window are loosened.
U.K. and U.S. invade North Africa: Allied Operation Torch landings take place on the Algerian coast and incidentally ensure the safety of 117,000 Algerian Jews. Algerian-Jewish resistance, armed by the United States, helps prevent a Vichy French response to the Allied landings.
In Tripoli, Libya, German occupiers press 2600 Jews into forced labor to build military roads.
British victories in Egypt.
Six thousand Polish Jews who have been hiding in forests since the spring of 1942 surrender after the Germans promise safe passage to a new Jewish ghetto.
German and Italian troops occupy Vichy, France.
Norwegian Protestant bishops in Oslo publicly protest deportations of Norwegian Jews. They state in a letter to Norwegian Prime Minister Vidkun Quisling: “God does not differentiate between people.”
The Soviet-based Jewish Antifascist Committee releases a report, “The Liquidation of the Jews in Warsaw.”
In an action led by Mayer List, two Jewish women partisans in Paris place two time bombs at a Nazi barracks window, which will kill several soldiers.
German troops occupy Tunisia.
Soviet counterattack near Stalingrad. Red Army winter offensive opens with a massive attack against embattled and exhausted 6th Army.
Germans in Debica, Poland, announce that as of December 1, any Pole who assists Jews “will be punished by death.”
Red Army closes the ring around the 6th army in Stalingrad.
Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, a founder and president of the World Jewish Congress, announces at a press conference that the United States State Department has confirmed that Europe’s Jews are being slaughtered by the Nazis. Wise estimates that the Germans have already murdered two million Jews, which is an understatement.
Jews in Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland, who are lured from hiding places by Nazi promises of no retribution, are taken to a synagogue, locked inside, and subjected to random gunfire by Ukrainians.
More than 110,000 Poles are expelled from their homes in the fertile Zamosc province so that the area can be resettled by ethnic Germans, SS troops, and Ukrainians. More than 300 villages are affected. Thousands of Polish children are deported from the area to Belzec and other death camps. Continues until August 1943.
Members of the ZOB in Kraków, Poland, disrupt rail lines and assassinate a German soldier, a German policeman, a German flier, two Gestapo agents, and a senior German clerk in the local Nazi administration.
Members of the Siemiatycze Group of Jewish resisters kill a Polish peasant and his entire family as retribution for the peasant’s capture and betrayal to the Nazis of three Jews.
Ghetto resistance is organized at Czestochowa and Kielce, Poland.
At Brody, Ukraine, Jewish resistance is led by Solomon Halberszstadt, Jakub Linder, and Samuel Weiler.
Concurrent Jewish resistance at Chortkov, Ukraine, is led by Heniek Nusbaum, Mundek Nusbaum, Reuven Rosenberg, and Meir Wasserman.
Jewish Resistance leader Dr. Yeheskel Atlas, a young Polish physician, is mortally wounded by Nazi troops in a battle at Wielka Wola, Poland.
A Sonderkommando plan to escape from Auschwitz is discovered, and the inmates are gassed.
Partisan leader Hirsch Kaplinski, survivor of an August 1942 massacre of Jews at Diatlovo, Belorussia, is killed in combat during a German attack on the Lipiczany Forest.
Jews in 30 countries hold a day of prayer and fasting for European Jews.
Salomon Malkes, an official of the Lódz Ghetto, commits suicide after becoming despondent over the deportation of his mother.
Zofia Kossak-Szczucka and Wanda Filipowicz establish Zegota, a secret name of the Rada Pomocy Zydom (Council for Aid to the Jews), a non-Jewish group based in Warsaw. Zegota is run jointly by Jews and non-Jews.
Three hundred citizens of Slonim, Belorussia, are killed. Another 500 escape to join local partisan groups.
SS men lock 23 Christian Poles in a barn at Stary Ciepielow, Poland, and burn them alive on suspicion of aiding fugitive Jews.
German troops enter the Polish village of Bialka and murder 96 villagers suspected of shielding Jews fleeing the anti-Jewish Aktion in the nearby Parczew Forest.
United States State Department official G. Robert Borden Reams, an “expert” on the Jews in the Division of European Affairs, advises that the United States government remain silent concerning details of the Holocaust.
German troops in Tunis, Tunisia, seize 128 Jews and march them to a labor camp. One young Jew who drops from exhaustion is shot and killed.
Christian Century, an American Protestant journal, attacks Rabbi Stephen Wise, claiming he has lied about the Holocaust in his recent press conference. Christian Century further argues that even if what Wise has to say is true, to make the facts of the Holocaust public serves no purpose.
The Polish ambassador to Britain informs Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden that the Polish government-in-exile can confirm that the German authorities are systematically exterminating the entire Jewish population of Poland and the rest of Europe.
Jewish inmates of a labor camp at Lutsk, Ukraine, are informed by a Christian woman that the camp is about to be liquidiated. The Jews quickly plan a revolt.
Jewish prisoners at a labor camp in Lutsk, Ukraine, armed with knives, bricks, iron bars, acid, and several revolvers and sawed-off shotguns, revolt against Germans and Ukrainians. The uprising is crushed.
A Jewish ghetto is established in Kharkov, Ukraine.
Allies solemnly condemn the extermination of the Jews and promise to punish the perpetrators. Pressure from members of Parliament, from Jewish groups in England, from the Anglican Church, from the British press, and from the Polish government-in-exile persuades the Allied governments to publish their first official recognition of atrocities in Poland. The Allied nations--Great Britain, United States, Soviet Union, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, Holland, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia, and the French National Committee--officially condemn the Nazis’ “bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination.” They vow to punish those responsible. Several U.S. State Department officials try to block this declaration. All previous and following declarations neglect to mention Jews.
Accepting the United States government position that the Jews being massacred by the Germans can be helped only by a total and unconditional Allied victory over Germany, the American press continues to treat the Holocaust as just another war story, and is unwilling to discuss the systematic annihilation of the Jews. Given the Allied governments’ knowledge of the Holocaust at this time, waiting until the Allied Armed Forces have achieved a total victory over the Germans indicates that the Allied governments have accepted the probablility that the majority of European Jews will be killed before the Germans can be stopped.
Jewish inmates at the labor camp at Kruszyna, Poland, near Radom, attack guards with knives and fists. Six prisoners are killed and four escape.
When Jewish forced laborers at Kruszyna, Poland, refuse to board trucks, more than 100 of them are shot.
British Ambassador to the Vatican Francis d’Arcy Osborne asserts that Pope Pius XII “does not see that his silence is highly damning to the Holy See.”
After three weeks trapped in a synagogue by hostile Ukrainian troops, 42 Jewish men are marched to the Rakow Forest and ordered to dig ditches. They resist and are then shot. A few manage to escape. Later in the day, 560 more Jews are led from the synagogue to the forest and murdered.
Nazi troops gathered at Cyganeria, a coffee house in Kraków, Poland, are attacked by Jewish partisans. Several SS officers as well as two partisans, including partisan leader Aharon Liebeskind, are murdered during the attack.
Jewish Fighting Organization attacks Germans in Kraków.
Germans mount a second hunt in Poland’s Parczew Forest for fugitive Jews.
French Admiral Francois Jean Darlan, a Vichy government political power and collaborator, is shot and fatally wounded by 20-year-old French royalist Fernand Bonnier de la Chapelle.
Four prisoners who escape from the Sobibór extermination camp are shot dead after they are betrayed by local villagers.
Twenty-year-old French royalist Fernand Bonnier de la Chapelle is executed by Vichy firing squad two days after fatally wounding Vichy Admiral Francois Jean Darlan.
Two Jews are shot for mutiny at the Stalowa Wola, Poland, slave-labor camp.
Pope Pius XII tells an American representative that he regards the atrocity stories about Jews as exaggerations “for the purposes of propaganda.”
By this date, the German Reich has deported more than two million Jews to death camps. Hundreds of thousands more Jews have been murdered by Einsatzgruppen and police battalions.
Other 1942 Events:
Nineteen members of a Belorussian partisan group led by Tuvia Bielski are ambushed and killed by German soldiers
A gas chamber (probably never used) and a crematorium are installed at the Dachau concentration camp.
Delegates from the United States, Great Britain, and Occupied European nation’ governments-in-exile attend the St. James Palace Conference in London to discuss Nazi war crimes and possible Allied responses. Jews are not discussed as a unique category of victims.
The Germans elevate collaborator Pierre Laval to premier of Vichy France.
Hajj Amin al-Husseini, grand mufti of Jerusalem, flees to Germany following an unsuccessful attempt by Arab nationalists to undermine British control of Palestine, and to create a Muslim legion to fight alongside German troops.
The American Council for Judaism, an anti-Zionist organization, is co-founded in New York by New York Times publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger.
German Protestant theologian Karl Friedrich Stellbrink is arrested after disseminating letters of anti-Nazi Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen.
The Antifascist Bloc, an amalgamation of Jewish Communists and Zionist Socialists, begins publication of Der Ruf (The Call), an underground, anti-Nazi newspaper.
At the Theresienstadt camp/ghetto, a half-Jewish Czech youth named Petr Ginz conceives Vedem (In the Lead), a secret camp “magazine” of poetry, humor, gardening tips, and the grim truth about camp operations.
German Catholic priest Max Josef Metzger writes a plea for a new German government. The letter will be intercepted by the Gestapo, precipitating his arrest.
Field Marshal Paulus surrenders the 6th Army at Stalingrad. 300,000 German troops are killed, wounded or captured.
German Sixth Army surrenders at Stalingrad. (This marks the turning point in the war).
Nazis arrest "White Rose" leaders in Munich.
American Jews hold a mass rally at Madison Square Garden in New York to pressure the United States to aid European Jewry.
Disbandment of the ghetto in Krakow.
Deportations from Salonika, Greece and Thrace.
Colonel Gersdorff attemptes to assasinate Hitler.
The first new crematorium in Auschwitz Birkenau placed into operation.
Stroop arrrives in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Bermuda Conference. Fruitless discussions by U.S. andBritish delegates on deliverance of Nazi victims.
Warsaw Ghetto uprising begins. Von Sammers is relieved of command of the Nazi garrison.
troop orders the Warsaw Ghetto to be set on fire
The headquarters bunker of the Jewish resistance fighters at Mila 18 in the Warsaw Ghetto is liquidated.
19,153 Jews expelled from Sofia and saved from deportation.
Liquidation of the ghetto in Lemberg (Lvov) (20,000 persons).
Revolt and destruction of the ghetto in Czestochowa, Poland.
Four crematoria completed at Aushwitz-Birkenau.
Thirteenth order of the Reich's Civil Laws: Jews within Germany placed under police justice.
German offensive at Kursk fails.
Allies invade Sicily.
Mussolini arrested and Fascist government in Italy falls; Marshal Pietro Badoglio takes over and negotiates with Allies.
First of five organized groups leaves Vilna ghetto to join partisans.
Rome is declared an open city.
Revolt and destruction of the ghetto in Bialystok.
Prisoners of Sonderkommando 1005 made to exhume tens of thousands of bodies at Babi Yar.
>Vilna underground uprising fails.
Belgian Jews arrested for deportation to Auschwitz.
Start of German raids against Jews in Nice, France.
Liquidation of ghettos in Minsk and Lida.
Liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto.
Smolensk recaptured by Soviet troops. Liquidation of all ghettos in Belorussia.
Italy declares war on Germany.
Revolt in Sobibor.
U.N. War Crimes Commission is established.
Liquidation of Minsk ghetto.
Dnepropetrovsk liberated: 15 of 80,000 Jews remain.
Implementation of Operation Harvest Festival, which was to liquidate several camps in the Lublin area (including Majdanek, Trawniki and Poniatowa). Liquidation of the Riga Ghetto. Murder of remaining Jews in Majdanek (17,000 victims).
Kiev recaptured by Soviet troops.
Jewish partisans liberate Jews of Borshchev.
Conference in Teheran; meeting of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.
First trial of German war criminals in Charkow (Kharkov), Ukraine.
Roosevelt creates the War Refugee Board.
Siege of Leningrad ends.
Captain Breitenbuch volunteers to assassinate Hitler. He does not get his chance due to a change of rules of who is allowed to attend briefings.
Germany invades Hungary.
Roosevelt warns Hungary to refrain from anti-Jewish measures.
Hungarian government registers Jews, confiscates their property
"Blood for Trucks" negotiations start.
Allied forces mount major offensive in central Italy.
May 15-July 8
A Red Cross delegation visits Theresienstadt.
Allies enter Rome.
D-Day, the start of the Allied invasion in Normandy.
Germany launches first V-1 rockets at England.
The SS conducts the first documented gassing in the women's camp at Ravensbrück. The gas chamber at Ravensbrück uses Zyklon B, crystalline hydrogen cyanide gas, as the killing agent. The gas chamber is relatively small; the SS uses it primarily to kill those prisoners they deemed "unfit" for work. In all, the SS will kill more than 2,000 prisoners in the gas chamber at Ravensbrück.
Start of the Soviet offensive.
Hungarian government halts deportations.
Kovno ghetto liquidated.
Soviet forces annihilate Army Group Center leaving only pocets of German forces to fight the Soviets.
Soviet forces come within 100 km. of Wolf's Lair headquarters in Rastenberg.
Lvov liberated: 110,000 Jews dead.
Deportation to Germany of 27,000 Jews from camps east of the Vistula River.
Scores of conspirators are tried and executed in Plotzensee prison.
Holding camp Drancy (Paris) liberated. Rumania capitulates.
Slovak national uprising begins.
Antwerp liberated: Fewer than 5,000 Jews survived.
Lodz Ghetto evacuated.
Soviet forces capture Prague.
British troops arrive in Holland.
American troops on the German border.
Massacre of Jews in the concentration camp in Kluga, Estonia. Resumption of deportations from Slovakia.
Churchill announces formation of Jewish brigade.
Polish uprising in Warsaw crushed.
Escape attempts in AuschwitzBirkenau.
Germany installs new puppet Hungarian government, which resumes deporting Jews.
Hitler orders the establishment of the “Volkssturms” (mobilization of all men from 16 to 60).
Paris is liberated by Allied armies.
Battle of Leyte.
Soviet troops near Budapest.
"Battle of the Bulge."
Waffen SS murder 81 U.S. POWs at Malmedy.
SS camp officials report that there are almost 54,000 prisoners in the Ravensbrück camp, including nearly 8,000 men. Beginning in 1944, forced labor by concentration camp prisoners became increasingly important to Germany's armaments production. Ravensbrück grew into an administrative center for more than 40 subcamps located near armaments factories across east-central Germany. Tens of thousands of prisoners work long hours under intolerable conditions. Many are worked to death.
Soviet troops liberate 800 Jews at Czestochowa and 870 in Lodz.
Soviet troops liberate Warsaw, few Jews remain.
Liberation of 80,000 Jews in Budapest.
Evacuation of Auschwitz. The “Death March” of prisoners begins.
Soviets liberate Lodz
Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz.
40,000 prisoners marched out of Gross-Rosen.
Conference in Yalta, Crimea.
U.S. continuously bombs Dresden killing 160,000 German civilians.
Soviet forces reach the Oder river.
RAF and USAF air raids devastate Dresden.
American troops on the Rhine River.
Hitler orders the destruction of all German military, industrial, transportation, and communications facilities to prevent them from falling into enemy control.
Soviet forces reach the Austrian border. Anglo-American forces reach the Elbe river.
Allies discover art and wealth stolen by the Nazis hidden in salt mines.
Evacuation of 15,000 Jews from Buchenwald.
Buchenwald liberated by American troops. President Roosevelt dies. Truman becomes President.
Soviet forces enter Vienna.
Concentration camp BergenBelsen liberated by British troops.
American troops occupy Nuremberg.
Soviet troops in front of Berlin.
As a result of negotiations between Swedish count Folke Bernadotte and SS chief Heinrich Himmler, the SS turns over 7,000 women prisoners from Ravensbrück concentration camp to the Swedish Red Cross. The Swedish Red Cross takes the prisoners to neutral Sweden for care.
April 23-May 4
The SS murders the last of the imprisoned conspirators.
Meeting of American and Soviet troops on the Elbe River.
Mussolini captured and killed by Italian partisans.
American troops liberate Dachau.
Hitler commits suicide.
Soviet forces liberate the Ravensbrück concentration camp. They discover between 2,000 and 3,000 sick and dying prisoners in the camp. Between 1939 and 1945, more than 120,000 prisoners, nearly 100,000 of them women, passed through the Ravensbrück camp system. Ravensbrück camp records indicate that about 90,000 prisoners died in the camp. Thousands more died without being recorded.
Berlin capitulates. Representatives of International Red Cross take over at Theresienstadt.
Liberation of Mauthausen.
Unconditional surrender of Germany: End of war in Europe.
V-E (Victory in Europe) Day.
Hermann Göring captured by U.S. troops.
Himmler captured and commits suicide.
Allies divide up Germany and Berlin and take over government.
United Nations Charter signed in San Francisco.
Test verson of the atomic bomb is successfully detonated in Los Alamos, New Mexico
9:15 a.m. - First atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Soviet Union declares war on Japan. Soviet divisions invade Manchuria.
Second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
Japan surrenders: End of World War II.
Nuremburg trials begin.
The United Nations is officially born.
President Truman issues a directive giving preference to Displaced Persons for visas to enter the United States.
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