The Holocaust, also known as The Shoah, was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during WW2, a program of systematic state-sponsored extermination by Nazi Germany. The genocide of these six million people was a genocide of two-thirds of the population of nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust. The term holocaust comes from the Greek word holókauston, an animal sacrifice offered to a god in which the whole animal is completely burnt. Its Latin form was first used with specific reference to a massacre of Jews by the chroniclers Roger of Howden and Richard of Devizes in the 1190s.
Timeline of the History of the Holocaust
January 30, 1933: Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany a nation with a Jewish population of 566,000.
February 22, 1933: 40,000 SA and SS men are sworn in as auxiliary police.
February 27, 1933: Nazis burn Reichstag building to create crisis atmosphere.
March 22, 1933: Nazis open Dachau concentration camp near Munich.
March 24, 1933: German Parliament passes Enabling Act giving Hitler dictatorial powers.
April 11, 1933: Nazis issue a Decree defining a non-Aryan as “anyone descended from non-Aryan, especially Jewish, parents or grandparents.
April 26, 1933: The Gestapo is born, created by Hermann Göring in the German state of Prussia.
May 10, 1933: Burning of books in Berlin and throughout Germany.
July 14, 1933: Nazi Party is declared the only legal party in Germany.
In July: Nazis pass law allowing for forced sterilization of those found by a Hereditary Health Court to have genetic defects.
September 29, 1933: Nazis prohibit Jews from owning land.
October 4, 1933: Jews are prohibited from being newspaper editors.
November 24, 1933: Nazis pass a Law against Habitual and Dangerous Criminals. This label also includes beggars, the homeless, alcoholics and the unemployed.
January 24, 1934: Jews are banned from the German Labor Front.
May 17, 1934: Jews not allowed national health insurance.
June 30, 1934: The Night of Long Knives occurs as Hitler, Göring and Himmler conduct a purge of the SA leadership.
July 20, 1934: The Schutzstaffel is made an independent organization from the SA.
July 22, 1934: Jews are prohibited from getting legal qualifications.
August 19, 1934: Hitler receives a 90 percent ‘Yes’ vote from German voters approving his new powers.
May 21, 1935: Nazis ban Jews from serving in the military.
June 26, 1935: Nazis pass law allowing forced abortions on women to prevent them from passing on hereditary diseases.
August 6, 1935: Nazis force Jewish performers/artists to join Jewish Cultural Unions.
September 15, 1935: Nuremberg Race Laws against Jews decreed.
February 10, 1936: The German Gestapo is placed above the law.
In March: SS Deathshead division is established to guard concentration camps.
March 7, 1936: Nazis occupy the Rhineland.
June 17, 1936: Heinrich Himmler is appointed chief of the German Police.
August 1, 1936: 1936 Olympic games begin in Berlin. Hitler and top Nazis seek to gain legitimacy through favorable public opinion from foreign visitors and thus temporarily refrain from actions against Jews.
In January: Jews are banned from many professional occupations.
November 8, 1937: ‘Eternal Jew’ travelling exhibition opens in Munich.
March 12/13, 1938: Nazi troops enter Austria, which has a population of 200,000 Jews, mainly living in Vienna.
April 22, 1938: Nazis prohibit Aryan ‘front-ownership’ of Jewish businesses.
July 23, 1938: Nazis order Jews over age 15 to apply for identity cards from the police, to be shown on demand to any police officer.
July 25, 1938: Jewish doctors prohibited by law from practicing medicine.
August 11, 1938: Nazis destroy the synagogue in Nuremberg.
August 17, 1938: Nazis require Jewish women to add Sarah and men to add Israel to their names on all legal documents including passports.
September 27, 1938: Jews are prohibited from all legal practices.
October 5, 1938: Law requires Jewish passports to be stamped with a large red “J.”
October 15, 1938: Nazi troops occupy the Sudetenland.
October 28, 1938: Nazis arrest 17,000 Jews of Polish nationality living in Germany, then expel them back to Poland which refuses them entry.
November 7, 1938: Ernst vom Rath, third secretary in the German Embassy in Paris, is shot and mortally wounded by Herschel Grynszpan, the 17-year-old son of one of the deported Polish Jews.
November 9/10: Kristallnacht: The Night of Broken Glass.
November 12, 1938: Nazis fine Jews one billion marks for damages related to Kristallnacht.
November 15, 1938: Jewish pupils are expelled from all non-Jewish German schools.
December 3, 1938: Law for compulsory Aryanization of all Jewish businesses.
December 14, 1938: Hermann Göring takes charge of resolving the “Jewish Question.”
January 24, 1939: SS leader Reinhard Heydrich is ordered by Göring to speed up the emigration of Jews.
January 30, 1939: Hitler threatens Jews during Reichstag speech.
February 21, 1939: Nazis force Jews to hand over all gold and silver items.
March 15/16: Nazi troops seize Czechoslovakia.
April 19, 1939: Slovakia passes its own version of the Nuremberg Laws.
April 30, 1939: Jews lose rights as tenants and are relocated into Jewish houses.
July 4, 1939: German Jews denied the right to hold government jobs.
July 21, 1939: Adolf Eichmann is appointed director of the Prague Office of Jewish Emigration.
September 1, 1939: Nazis invade Poland. Beginning of SS activity in Poland.
September 1, 1939: Jews in Germany are forbidden to be outdoors after 8 p.m. in winter and 9 p.m. in summer.
September 4, 1939: Warsaw is cut off by the German Army.
September 17, 1939: Soviet troops invade eastern Poland.
September 21, 1939: Heydrich issues instructions to SS Einsatzgruppen in Poland regarding treatment of Jews, stating they are to be gathered into ghettos near railroads for the future “final goal.”
September 23, 1939: German Jews are forbidden to own wireless sets.
September 27, 1939: Warsaw surrenders; Heydrich becomes leader of RSHA.
September 29, 1939: Nazis and Soviets divide up Poland. Over two million Jews reside in Nazi controlled areas, leaving 1.3 million in the Soviet area.
October 6, 1939: Proclamation by Hitler on the isolation of Jews.
October 12, 1939: Evacuation of Jews from Vienna.
October 12, 1939: Hans Frank appointed Nazi Gauleiter of Poland.
October 26, 1939: Forced labor decree issued for Polish Jews aged 14 to 60.
November 23, 1939: Yellow stars required to be worn by Polish Jews over age 10.
In December: Adolf Eichmann takes over section IV B4 of the Gestapo dealing solely with Jewish affairs and evacuations.
January 25, 1940: Nazis choose the town of Oswiecim in Poland near Krakow as the site of a new concentration camp.
February 12, 1940: First deportation of German Jews into occupied Poland.
April 9, 1940: Nazis invade Denmark and Norway.
April 30, 1940: The Lodz Ghetto in occupied Poland is sealed off from the outside world with 230,000 Jews locked inside.
May 1, 1940: Rudolf Höss is chosen to be kommandant of Auschwitz.
June 14, 1940: Paris is occupied by the Nazis.
June 22, 1940: France signs an armistice with Hitler.
July 17, 1940: The first anti-Jewish measures are taken in Vichy France.
August 8, 1940: Romania introduces anti-Jewish measures restricting education and employment, then later begins “Romanianization” of Jewish businesses.
October 3, 1940: Vichy France passes its own version of the Nuremberg Laws.
October 7, 1940: Nazis invade Romania.
October 22, 1940: Deportation of 29,000 German Jews from Baden, the Saar, and Alsace-Lorraine into Vichy France.
In November: Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia become Nazi Allies.
In November: The Krakow Ghetto is sealed off containing 70,000 Jews.
November 15, 1940: The Warsaw Ghetto, containing over 400,000 Jews, is sealed off.
In 1941: Hans Frank, Gauleiter of Poland, states, “I ask nothing of the Jews except that they should disappear.”
February 22, 1941: 430 Jewish hostages are deported from Amsterdam after a Dutch Nazi is killed by Jews.
March 1, 1941: Himmler makes his first visit to Auschwitz, during which he orders Kommandant Höss to begin massive expansion, including a new compound to be built at nearby Birkenau that can hold 100,000 prisoners.
March 2, 1941: Nazis occupy Bulgaria.
March 7, 1941: German Jews ordered into forced labor.
March 26, 1941: The German Army High Command gives approval to RSHA and Heydrich on the tasks of SS murder squads in occupied Poland.
March 29, 1941: A ‘Commissariat’ for Jewish Affairs is set up in Vichy France.
April 6, 1941: Nazis invade Yugoslavia and Greece.
May 14, 1941: 3,600 Jews arrested in Paris.
May 16, 1941: French Marshal Petain issues a radio broadcast approving collaboration with Hitler.
June 22, 1941: Nazis invade Russia.
June 29/30: Romanian troops conduct a pogrom against Jews in the town of Jassy, killing 10,000.
July 17, 1941: Nazi racial ‘philosopher’ Alfred Rosenberg is appointed Reich Minister for the Eastern Occupied Territories to administer territories seized from the Soviet Union.
July 21, 1941: In occupied Poland near Lublin, Majdanek concentration camp becomes operational.
July 25/26: 3,800 Jews killed during a pogrom by Lithuanians in Kovno.
July 31, 1941: Göring instructs Heydrich to prepare for Final Solution.
August 26, 1941: The Hungarian Army rounds up 18,000 Jews at Kamenets-Podolsk.
September 3, 1941: The first test use of Zyklon-B gas at Auschwitz.
September 1, 1941: German Jews ordered to wear yellow stars.
September 6, 1941: The Vilna Ghetto is established containing 40,000 Jews.
September 17, 1941: Beginning of general deportation of German Jews.
September 19, 1941: Nazis take Kiev.
September 27/28: 23,000 Jews killed at Kamenets-Podolsk, in the Ukraine.
September 29/30: SS Einsatzgruppen murder 33,771 Jews at Babi Yar near Kiev.
In October: 35,000 Jews from Odessa shot.
October 2, 1941: Beginning of the German Army drive on Moscow.
October 23, 1941: Nazis forbid emigration of Jews from the Reich.
In November: SS Einsatzgruppe B reports a tally of 45,476 Jews killed.
November 24, 1941: Theresienstadt Ghetto is established near Prague, Czechoslovakia. The Nazis will use it as a model ghetto for propaganda purposes.
November 30, 1941: Near Riga, a mass shooting of Latvian and German Jews.
December 8, 1941: In occupied Poland, near Lodz, Chelmno extermination camp becomes operational. Jews taken there are placed in mobile gas vans and driven to a burial place while carbon monoxide from the engine exhaust is fed into the sealed rear compartment, killing them.
December 11, 1941: Hitler declares war on the United States. President Roosevelt then asks Congress for a declaration of war on Germany saying, “Never
before has there been a greater challenge to life, liberty and civilization.” The U.S.A. then enters the war in Europe and will concentrate nearly 90 percent of its military resources to defeat Hitler.
December 12, 1941: The ship “Struma” leaves Romania for Palestine carrying 769 Jews but is later denied permission by British authorities to allow the passengers to disembark.
December 16, 1941: During a cabinet meeting, Hans Frank, Gauleiter of Poland, states: “Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourselves of all feeling of pity.
We must annihilate the Jews wherever we find them and wherever it is possible in order to maintain there the structure of the Reich as a whole…”
In January: Mass killings of Jews using Zyklon-B begin at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Bunker I in Birkenau with the bodies being buried in mass graves in a nearby meadow.
January 20, 1942: Wannsee Conference to coordinate the “Final Solution.”
January 31, 1942: SS Einsatzgruppe A reports a tally of 229,052 Jews killed.
In March: In occupied Poland, Belzec extermination camp becomes operational. The camp is fitted with permanent gas chambers using carbon monoxide piped in from engines placed outside the chamber.
March 17, 1942: The deportation of Jews from Lublin to Belzec.
March 24, 1942: The start of deportation of Slovak Jews to Auschwitz.
March 28, 1942: Fritz Sauckel named Chief of Manpower to expedite recruitment of slave labor.
March 30, 1942: First trainloads of Jews from Paris arrive at Auschwitz.
April 20, 1942: German Jews are banned from using public transportation.
In May: In occupied Poland, Sobibor extermination camp becomes operational. The camp is fitted with three gas chambers using carbon monoxide piped in from engines, but will later substitute Zyklon-B.
May 27, 1942: SS leader Heydrich is mortally wounded by Czech Underground agents.
June 4, 1942: Heydrich dies of his wounds.
June 5, 1942: SS report 97,000 persons have been “processed” in mobile gas vans.
June 10, 1942: Nazis liquidate Lidice in retaliation for Heydrich’s death.
June 11, 1942: Eichmann meets with representatives from France, Belgium and Holland to coordinate deportation plans for Jews.
June 30, 1942: At Auschwitz, a second gas chamber, Bunker II, is made operational at Birkenau due to the number of Jews arriving.
July 2, 1942: Jews from Berlin sent to Theresienstadt.
July 7, 1942: Himmler grants permission for sterilization experiments at Auschwitz.
July 14, 1942: Beginning of deportation of Dutch Jews to Auschwitz.
July 16/17: 12,887 Jews of Paris are rounded up and sent to Drancy Internment Camp located outside the city. A total of approximately 74,000 Jews, including 11,000 children, will eventually be transported from Drancy to Auschwitz, Majdanek and Sobibor.
July 19, 1942: Himmler orders Operation Reinhard, mass deportations of Jews in Poland to extermination camps.
July 22, 1942: Beginning of deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to the new extermination camp, Treblinka. Also, beginning of the deportation of Belgian Jews to Auschwitz.
July 23, 1942: Treblinka extermination camp opened in occupied Poland, east of Warsaw. The camp is fitted with two buildings containing 10 gas chambers, each holding 200 persons.
In August: The start of deportations of Croatian Jews to Auschwitz.
August 23, 1942: Beginning of German Army attack on Stalingrad in Russia.
August 26-28: 7,000 Jews arrested in unoccupied France.
September 9, 1942: 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 fouling of ground water.
September 18, 1942: Reduction of food rations for Jews in Germany.
September 26, 1942: SS begins cashing in possessions and valuables of Jews from Auschwitz and Majdanek.
October 5, 1942: Himmler orders all Jews in concentration camps in Germany to be sent to Auschwitz and Majdanek.
October 5, 1942: A German eyewitness observes SS mass murder.
October 14, 1942: Mass killing of Jews from Mizocz Ghetto in the Ukraine.
October 22, 1942: SS put down a revolt at Sachsenhausen by a group of Jews about to be sent to Auschwitz.
October 25, 1942: Deportations of Jews from Norway to Auschwitz begin.
October 28, 1942: The first transport from Theresienstadt arrives at Auschwitz.
In November: The mass killing of 170,000 Jews in the area of Bialystok.
December 10, 1942: The first transport of Jews from Germany arrives at Auschwitz.
In December: Exterminations at Belzec cease after an estimated 600,000 Jews have been murdered.
December 17, 1942: British Foreign Secretary Eden tells the British House of Commons the Nazis are “now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people of Europe.”
December 28, 1942: Sterilization experiments on women at Birkenau begin.
In 1943: The number of Jews killed by SS Einsatzgruppen passes one million. Nazis then use special units of slave laborers to dig up and burn the bodies to remove all traces.
January 18, 1943: First resistance by Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.
January 29, 1943: Nazis order all Gypsies arrested and sent to extermination camps.
January 30, 1943: Ernst Kaltenbrunner succeeds Heydrich as head of RSHA.
In February: The Romanian government proposes to the Allies the transfer of 70,000 Jews to Palestine, but receives no response from Britain or the U.S.
February 2, 1943: Germans surrender to Russian troops at Stalingrad in the first big defeat of Hitler’s armies.
February 27, 1943: Jews working in Berlin armaments industry are sent to Auschwitz.
In March: The start of deportations of Jews from Greece to Auschwitz, lasting until August, totaling 49,900 persons.
March 1, 1943: In New York, American Jews hold a mass rally at Madison Square Garden to pressure the U.S. government into helping the Jews of Europe.
March 14, 1943: The Krakow Ghetto is liquidated.
March 17, 1943: Bulgaria states opposition to deportation of its Jews.
March 22, 1943: Newly built gas chamber/crematory IV opens at Auschwitz.
March 31, 1943: Newly built gas chamber/crematory II opens at Auschwitz.
April 4, 1943: Newly built gas chamber/crematory V opens at Auschwitz.
April 9, 1943: Exterminations at Chelmno cease. In all, Chelmno will total 300,000 deaths.
April 19-30: The Bermuda Conference occurs as representatives from the United States and Britain discuss the problem of refugees from Nazi-occupied countries.
April 19, 1943: Waffen-SS attacks Jewish Resistance in Warsaw Ghetto.
In May: SS Dr. Josef Mengele arrives at Auschwitz.
May 13, 1943: German and Italian troops in North Africa surrender to Allies.
May 19, 1943: Nazis declare Berlin to be Judenfrei.
June 11, 1943: Himmler orders liquidation of all Jewish ghettos in occupied Poland.
June 25, 1943: Newly built gas chamber/crematory III opens at Auschwitz.
July 9/10: Allied troops land in Sicily.
August 2, 1943: Two hundred Jews escape from Treblinka extermination camp during a revolt.
August 16, 1943: The Bialystok Ghetto is liquidated.
September 11, 1943: Beginning of Jewish family transports from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz.
In October: The Danish Underground helps transport 7,220 Danish Jews to safety in Sweden by sea.
October 4: Himmler talks openly about the Final Solution at Posen.
October 16, 1943: Jews in Rome rounded up, with over 1,000 sent to Auschwitz.
November 3, 1943: Nazis carry out Operation Harvest Festival in occupied Poland, killing 42,000 Jews.
November 11, 1943: Auschwitz Kommandant Höss is promoted to chief inspector of concentration camps.
December 2, 1943: The first transport of Jews from Vienna arrives at Auschwitz.
December 16, 1943: The chief surgeon at Auschwitz reports that 106 castration operations have been performed.
January 3, 1944: Russian troops reach former Polish border.
January 24, 1944: In response to political pressure to help Jews under Nazi control, President Roosevelt creates the War Refugee Board.
January 25, 1944: Diary entry by Hans Frank, Gauleiter of Poland, concerning the fate of 2.5 million Jews originally under his jurisdiction: “At the present time we still have in the General Government perhaps 100,000 Jews.”
March 19, 1944: Nazis occupy Hungary.
March 24, 1944: President Roosevelt issues a statement condemning German and Japanese ongoing “crimes against humanity.”
April 5, 1944: A Jewish inmate, Siegfried Lederer, escapes from Auschwitz-Birkenau and makes it safely to Czechoslovakia. He then warns the Elders of the Council at Theresienstadt about Auschwitz.
April 7, 1944: Two Jewish inmates escape from Auschwitz-Birkenau and make it safely to Czechoslovakia. One of them, Rudolf Vrba, submits a report to the Papal Nuncio in Slovakia which is forwarded to the Vatican, received there in mid June.
April 14, 1944: First transports of Jews from Athens to Auschwitz, totaling 5,200 persons.
In May: Himmler’s agents secretly propose to the Western Allies to trade Jews for trucks, other commodities or money.
May 8, 1944: Rudolf Höss returns to Auschwitz, ordered by Himmler to oversee the extermination of Hungarian Jews.
May 15, 1944: Beginning of the deportation of Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz.
May 16, 1944: Jews from Hungary arrive at Auschwitz.
June 6, 1944: D-Day: Allied landings in Normandy on the coast of northern France.
June 12, 1944: Rosenberg orders Hay Action, the kidnapping of 40,000 Polish children aged ten to fourteen for slave labor in the Reich.
In July: Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg arrives in Budapest, Hungary, and proceeds to save nearly 33,000 Jews by issuing diplomatic papers and establishing “safe houses”.
July 24, 1944: Russian troops liberate the first concentration camp, at Majdanek where over 360,000 had been murdered.
Bergen-Belsen where Anne dies of typhus on March 15, 1945.
August 6, 1944: Lodz, the last Jewish ghetto in Poland, is liquidated with 60,000 Jews sent to Auschwitz.
October 7, 1944: A revolt by Sonderkommando at Auschwitz-Birkenau results in complete destruction of Crematory IV.
October 15, 1944: Nazis seize control of the Hungarian puppet government, then resume deporting Jews.
October 17, 1944: Eichmann arrives in Hungary.
October 28, 1944: The last transport of Jews to be gassed, 2,000 from Theresienstadt, arrives at Auschwitz.
October 30, 1944: Last use of the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
November 8, 1944: Nazis force 25,000 Jews to walk over 100 miles in rain and snow from Budapest to the Austrian border.
November 25, 1944: Himmler orders destruction of the crematories at Auschwitz.
In 1945: As Allied troops advance, the Nazis conduct death marches of concentration camp inmates away from outlying areas.
January 6, 1945: Russians liberate Budapest, freeing over 80,000 Jews.
January 14, 1945: Invasion of eastern Germany by Russian troops.
January 17, 1945: Liberation of Warsaw by the Russians.
January 18, 1945: Nazis evacuate 66,000 from Auschwitz.
January 27, 1945: Russian troops liberate Auschwitz. By this time, an estimated 2,000,000 persons, including 1,500,000 Jews, have been murdered there.
April 4, 1945: Ohrdruf camp is liberated, later visited by General Eisenhower.
April 10, 1945: Allies liberate Buchenwald.
April 15, 1945: Approximately 40,000 prisoners freed at Bergen-Belsen by the British.
April 23, 1945: Berlin is reached by Russian troops.
April 29, 1945: U.S. 7th Army liberates Dachau.
April 30, 1945: Hitler commits suicide in his Berlin bunker.
April 30, 1945: Americans free 33,000 inmates from concentration camps.
May 2, 1945: Theresienstadt taken over by the Red Cross.
May 5, 1945: Mauthausen liberated.
May 7, 1945: Unconditional German surrender signed by General Alfred Jodl at Reims.
May 9, 1945: Hermann Göring captured by members of U.S. 7th Army.
May 23, 1945: SS-Reichsführer Himmler commits suicide while in British custody.
November 20, 1945: Opening of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal.
March 11, 1946: Former Auschwitz Kommandant Höss, posing as a farm worker, is arrested by the British.
October 16, 1946: Göring commits suicide two hours before the scheduled execution of the first group of major Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg.
December 9, 1946: 23 former SS doctors and scientists go on trial before a U.S. Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Sixteen are found guilty, with 7 hanged.
September 15, 1947: Twenty one former SS-Einsatz leaders go on trial before a U.S. Military Tribunal in Nuremberg.
May 11, 1960: Adolf Eichmann is captured in Argentina by the Israeli secret service.
April 11: August 14: Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem for crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Found guilty and hanged at Ramleh on May 31, 1962.