Holocaust: A Holocaust Chronology
A HOLOCAUST CHRONOLOGY
July 31 National Socialist (Nazi) Party receives 37.3% of the vote, giving it 230 of 608 seats in the Reichstag.
August 13 Adolf Hitler rejects an offer by German President Paul von Hindenburg to become vice chancellor.
November 6 In new election the percentage of votes for the Nazis declines to 33.1% and the number of their seats in the Reichstag is reduced to 196.
December 3 Conservative leader General Kurt von Schleicher is named chancellor of Germany.
January 28 General von Schleicher resigns after serving only 55 days.
January 30 President von Hindenburg appoints Hitler as chancellor; Franz von Papen is named vice chancellor.
February 2 Political demonstrations are banned in Germany.
February 27 The Reichstag building is set on fire. Communists are blamed.
February 28 Using a provision of the Weimar Constitution, Hitler is granted emergency powers as constitutional protections are suspended.
March 4 Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as president of the United States.
March 22 The first concentration camp is opened at Dachau, near Munich.
March 27 The American Jewish Congress organizes a mass protest against the Nazis at Madison Square Garden in New York. A boycott of German goods is threatened if Germany makes good on its promise to boycott Jewish goods in Germany.
April 1 The German government institutes a boycott of Jewish stores and professionals. Expected to last three days, it is suspended after one.
April 7 Law for the Restoration of Professional Civil Service bans Jews from government, including lawyers and university professors as well as government workers.
April 25 The Law Preventing Overcrowding of School and Schools of Higher Education restricts Jewish enrollment in German schools.
April 27 The German government prohibits shehitah, the ritual slaughter of animals required by Jewish dietary law.
May 10 German students and their professors remove and burn "un-Germanic" books from libraries and bookstores. More than 20,000 books are burned opposite the University of Berlin. Authors include Jews, opponents of Nazism, and others defined as un-Germanic.
July 14 The National Socialist Party is made Germany's only legal party. East European Jews living in Germany are stripped of their citizenship. Laws are enacted permitting the sterilization of "unfit" parents and so-called "euthanasia" of "defective and useless people," those who are deemed "unworthy of living."
July 20 The Vatican signs a concordat with Germany, negotiated by Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, granting Hitler much-needed political recognition and in return seemingly protecting the rights of Catholics in Germany.
August 25 The Ha'avarah Agreement is signed between the German government and the Zionist Organization enabling Jews to leave Germany and transfer, at a significant loss, some of their holdings to Palestine.
September 22 Jews are banned from journalism, theater, music, art, literature, and broadcasting.
September 29 Jews are banned from farming in Germany.
November 12 The Nazi Party, now the only party permitted to run in the elections, wins 93% of the vote for the Reichstag.
January 26 Germany and Poland sign a ten-year nonaggression pact. It will be broken within six years.
April Germany establishes a "People's Court" to try enemies of the state. The right to trial by jury or to appeal the verdict is abrogated.
May 17 The German-American Bund organizes a pro-Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
June 30 "Night of the Long Knives" purges Nazi Party of hundreds of enemies – real or imagined – including high ranking SA (Sturmabteilung, "Storm Troops," known as Brownshirts) officers and veteran Hitler associate Ernst Roehm, its chief. Persecution of German male homosexuals intensifies.
July 4 Theodor Eicke heads newly established Inspectorate of Concentration Camps.
July 25 Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss is assassinated. Nazis try but fail to seize power in Austria.
August 2 German President Paul von Hindenburg dies in office. Hitler fills the vacuum by combining the presidency and the chancellorship and becomes the "Fuehrer" and commander-in-chief of Germany's armed forces. Soldiers now take a personal oath of allegiance to Hitler, not to the state or the constitution.
August 19 German voters overwhelmingly (89.9%) approve of Hitler's new powers.
January 13 A plebiscite under the League of Nations brings the Saar region into Germany.
March 1 Germany retakes the Saar region.
March 16 Germany initiates a military draft in direct defiance of the Versailles Treaty. France, England, and the United States decide not to confront Germany.
April 1 Anti-Jewish legislation is passed in the Saar region.
April 30 Jews may no longer display the German flag.
May 12 Polish leader Jozef Pilsudski dies, ending an era of relative tolerance toward the Jews in Poland.
May 31 Jews are banned from the German armed forces.
June 26 Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases provides for compulsory abortions in some cases.
September 15 Nuremberg Laws are passed. Reich Citizenship Law deprives Jews of their citizenship. Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor prohibits Jews from marrying non-Jews and from employing German women under the age of 45. Under its provisions, Jews are defined biologically, by "race," based on the religion of their grandparents and not by the identity they affirm or the religion they practice.
November 14 In regulations clarifying the Nuremberg Laws, a Jew is defined as anyone with two Jewish grandparents who is a member of the Jewish community or anyone with three or more Jewish grandparents. Mischlinge ("mongrels," those of mixed ancestry) are specified as anyone with Jewish blood. Marriage between Jews and second-degree Mischlinge is prohibited. These provisions take hold wherever the Germans come to power.
November 15 German churches provide records to the government indicating who is a Christian and who is not.
December 31, 1935 The last Jews in Germany's civil service are dismissed.
March 3 Jewish doctors are denied the right to practice medicine in German government hospitals.
March 7 German troops occupy the Rhineland in defiance of the Versailles Treaty. The United States, Britain, and France denounce the move but do not respond actively.
March 29 SS (Schutzstaffel, "Defense Squadron") guard formations are named SS Death's Head Units. These provide concentration camp guards.
June 17 Heinrich Himmler is appointed chief of German police.
June 19 Max Schmeling defeats Joe Louis in propaganda victory for Germans, seemingly confirming German racial dominance.
June 26 Heinrich Himmler appoints Reinhard Heydrich as head of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst, "Security Service").
July Spanish Civil War begins.
August 1–16 The Olympics are held in Berlin. For weeks prior to the games, antisemitic posters are removed and antisemitic discourse is diminished. African-American runner Jesse Owens wins four gold medals and is slighted by Hitler, who leaves the Olympic Stadium rather than present the medals; two American Jewish runners, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoliar, are forced not to run the 400-meter relay by Avery Brundage, head of the American Olympic Committee, lest Hitler be embarrassed further.
September 7 All Jewish property is taxed at 25%.
September 23 Sachsenhausen concentration camp opens.
October 1 Criminal Court judges must swear oath of allegiance to Hitler, not to the constitution or the state.
October 25 Hitler and Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini sign a treaty forming the Berlin-Rome Axis.
November 18 German volunteers called the Condor Legion leave for combat on the side of Francisco Franco's troops in Spain.
November 25 Germany and Japan sign the Anti-Comintern Pact in order to block Soviet activities abroad.
December 27 Great Britain and France agree not to intervene in the Spanish Civil War.
March 14 Pope Pius XI repudiates Nazi racism in an encyclical Mit brennender Sorge ("With Burning Concern"), yet does not denounce Nazi antisemitism and refers to the Jews as deicides who killed Christ.
July A "Degenerate Art" exhibition opens in Berlin featuring the work of Jewish and other unacceptable artists.
July 1 Pastor Martin Niemoller, an antisemitic yet anti-Nazi German pastor is arrested because of his opposition to Hitler.
July 15 Buchenwald concentration camp is opened.
September 7 Hitler declares the Treaty of Versailles void.
October 12 The SS takes control of Grafeneck, an institution for crippled children in Wuerttemberg, and starts transforming it into a "euthanasia center."
January 21 The Romanian government strips Romanian Jews of their citizenship.
March 12 The German army enters Vienna; Austria is annexed by Germany (the Anschluss). Antisemitic laws enacted in Germany in 1933–38 are immediately imposed on Austria.
March 28 Jewish community organizations lose government recognition in Germany.
April 5 Anti-Jewish riots throughout Poland.
April 21 Jews are eliminated from Germany's economy; Jewish assets may be seized.
April 23 Jews in Vienna are rounded up and forced to eat grass by the Nazis on the Sabbath.
April 26 German government mandates the registration of all Jewish property and other holdings in excess of 5,000 marks. Expropriation follows; as does Aryanization – the process of transferring Jewish held property into non-Jewish German possession. Aryanization usually involved government confiscation and auction or the threat of government confiscation followed by a distress sale of Jewish property and assets at a fraction of actual value.
May 3 Concentration camp of Flossenbuerg is opened.
June 9 Main synagogue in Munich is set on fire.
June 14 All Jewish businesses that have not registered must now do so.
June 15 All Jews convicted of a crime – no matter how slight – are arrested.
June 25 German Jewish doctors may treat only Jewish patients.
July 6–14 International Conference at Evian-les-Bains, France, called by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to consider the refugee problem, a euphemism for Jews. Thirty-two nations attending are not asked to change any laws or to allocate budget resources. Palestine is not on the agenda, to assuage British concerns. Neither the U.S. president nor the vice president, not even the secretary of state, attend. The results are limited and incommensurate with the growing needs of refugees.
July 14 In response to Evian one German newspaper publishes banner headline "JEWS FOR SALE AT BARGAIN PRICE – WHO WANTS THEM? NO ONE."
August 8 Concentration camp is opened at Mauthausen, formerly in Austria, the first of several camps established on former Austrian soil.
August 10 The Great Synagogue in Nuremberg is destroyed.
August 17 All Jewish men in Germany must assume the middle name of Israel and all Jewish women must assume the name Sarah by January 1, 1939.
August 26 Adolf Eichmann establishes Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna.
September 15 British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain meets with Hitler to discuss the Sudeten crisis. Hitler demands that Sudetenland be ceded to Germany.
September 22–23 Hitler and Chamberlain meet again.
September 26 Hitler promises that Sudetenland will be his last territorial demand in Europe.
September 27 Jews barred from practicing law in Germany.
September 29–30 Munich Conference attendees include Chamberlain and Hitler, now joined by French Premier Edouard Daladier and Italian leader Benito Mussolini. France and Britain settle on a policy of appeasement. Chamberlain declares "peace in our time." Hitler is given the Sudetenland.
October The Polish government revokes the passports of all Jews who have lived outside Poland for more than five years.
October 5 Germany complies with Swiss Federal Police request that all German passports held by Jews be marked with the letter J, to prevent Jews from passing into Switzerland posing as gentiles.
October 28 Germany expels Jews with Polish citizenship. Poland refuses to accept these deportees and Germany refuses their reentry into Germany. They languish in a no-man's land in Zbaszyn, Poland.
November Father Bernhard Lichtenberg, a Berlin-based Roman Catholic priest, condemns German assaults on the Jews.
November 2 Sections of Slovakia and the Transcarpathian mountains are annexed by Hungary.
November 7 Herschel Grynszpan, whose family is caught in Zbaszyn, is distraught at their predicament, goes to the German Embassy in Paris, and wounds Ernst vom Rath, the third secretary.
November 9–10 The November pogroms, known as Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, commence. Throughout Germany, now including Austria, synagogues are burnt and desecrated, Jewish stores are looted, and Jewish men aged 16–60 are arrested and sent to concentration camps.
November 12 Hermann Goering convenes a meeting to consider the results of Kristallnacht. The Jewish community is fined 1 billion Reichs-marks (US$400 million in 1938 dollars); Jews must repair their wrecked property, and Jews residing in Germany cannot collect insurance payments. All Jews are to be removed from the German economy, culture, and society.
November 15 Jewish students are expelled from German schools.
December 3 All Jewish businesses must be forcibly Aryanized.
January 30 On Hitler's sixth anniversary as chancellor, he issues a threat against the Jews, warning that if war breaks out the result will be the annihilation of the Jews. The warning is self-described as a prophecy three years later.
February 10 Pope Pius XI dies. On his night table is an unpublished encyclical on racism and antisemitism.
February U.S. Senator Robert F. Wagner and Representative Edith Nourse Rogers introduce a bill to permit the entry of 20,000 children from Germany in a two-year period. Despite press support, the bill dies in committee.
March 2 Cardinal Pacelli is elected as Pope Pius XII.
March 15 German troops enter Czechoslovakia and occupy its capital, Prague. German troops enter Bohemia and Moravia and Slovakia becomes a German satellite.
March 25 About 20,000 people march in a "Stop Hitler" parade in New York. A half million view the demonstration.
March 31 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announces that Britain and France will protect Polish sovereignty.
May 3 Josef Stalin replaces Jewish Commissar for Foreign Affairs Maksim Litvinov with Vyacheslav Molotov.
May 15 A women's concentration camp at Ravensbrueck is opened. The German luxury ship SS St. Louis, filled with Jewish refugees, leaves Hamburg en route to Cuba. Jews have entry permits to Cuba as well as quota numbers for the United States.
May 17 British government issues a White Paper limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine to 15,000 per year for five years. Jewish land purchases in Palestine are also restricted.
June 2 SS St. Louis reaches Cuba, where the government demands vast sum of money for Jews to disembark. Ship sails along the east coast of the United States pending a determination of the fate of its passengers. U.S. Coast Guard ship trails the vessel to prevent passengers from jumping overboard.
June 17 Forced to return to Europe, SS St. Louis docks in Antwerp, Belgium. Passengers are divided: 214 to Belgium, 187 to the Netherlands, 224 to France, and 187 to Britain.
August 2 Jewish physicist Albert Einstein, exiled from Germany in the United States, writes to President Roosevelt about developing an American atomic bomb.
August 22 In a speech to his generals on the eve of the invasion of Poland, Hitler urges the liquidation of Poles in order to gain Lebensraum (living space) for the Germans.
August 23 The Ribbentrop-Molotov (German-Soviet) Non-Aggression Pact is signed; a secret provision calls for the division of Poland.
September 1 World War II begins with the German invasion of Poland.
September 3 Great Britain and France declare war on Germany.
September 6 German forces occupy Cracow.
September 17 The Soviet Union invades Eastern Poland.
September 21 Reinhard Heydrich, SS security chief, orders the establishment of Jewish Councils (Judenraete), consisting of 24 Jewish men each, to be personally responsible for implementing German orders in the ghettos. All Jewish communities in Poland and Greater Germany, which now includes annexed parts of Poland, with populations of less than 500 are dissolved.
September 22 RSHA (Reichssicherheithauptamt, the Reich Central Security Office) is established.
September 27 German troops capture Warsaw, the city with the largest Jewish population in Europe.
September 28 Poland surrenders and is partitioned. Germany absorbs parts of Poland and occupies Central Poland, area called the General Government; the Soviet Union annexes eastern Poland.
October 1 Polish government-in-exile is established in France.
October 4 A triumphant Hitler tours Warsaw.
October 8 First Jewish ghetto in Poland is established in Piotrkow Tribunalski.
October 12 Jews from Germany are deported to Poland.
Mid-October Hitler signs an order backdated to September 1, 1939, to give it a wartime appearance, authorizing Reich leader Philip Bouhler and Dr. Brandt to expand "the authority of physicians, to be designated by name, to the end that patients considered incurable according to the best available human judgment of their state of health, can be granted a mercy killing."
October 24 Jews in Wloclawek, Poland, are required to wear the Yellow Star.
October 26 Germans begin deportation of 78,000 Jews to reservation in Lublin-Nisko region. This is conceived of as a territorial solution to the Jewish problem, confining Jews to reservations.
November 7 Deportation of Jews from Western Poland begins.
November 12 Jews from the so-called "Reichsgau Wartheland" province of annexed Poland are ordered deported to clear the way for resettlement by ethnic Germans.
November 15–17 The synagogues of Lodz are destroyed.
November 30 Soviet Union invades Finland.
December 5–6 Jewish property in Poland is confiscated, further exacerbating the increasingly desperate plight of Polish Jews.
January 6 Shivering Jews in Warsaw are forced to burn Jewish books for heat.
February 8 A Jewish ghetto is established in Lodz.
April Germany invades Denmark and Norway.
April 1 Shanghai, China, controlled by the Japanese, accepts Jewish refugees.
April 8–11 Soviet NKVD massacres 26,000 Polish officers, prisoners of war, at Katyn Forest near Smolensk.
April 30 The ghetto of Lodz is isolated and sealed off from the rest of the city.
May 10 Germany invades Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.
May 16 Germans launch a "pacification operation" to eliminate Polish intellectuals and priests.
May 20 The Auschwitz concentration camp begins functioning. Initial prisoners are Polish.
May 29 Belgium surrenders to Germany.
June 14 Paris falls to the Germans.
June 22 France signs an armistice with Germany.
July 10 Battle of Britain begins.
August 15 Adolf Eichmann proposes turning island of Madagascar into Jewish ghetto, another articulation of the territorial solution to the Jewish problem.
September 1 Soviet officials order Japanese Consul Sempo Sugihara to leave Kovno. He has issued thousands of exit visas for Jews who have an end visa elsewhere to travel via Japan and Japanese-controlled Shanghai. Together with Dutch Consul Jan Zwatendyk, who provided an end visa to Curaçao, which required no visa, he is responsible for saving thousands of Jewish lives.
September 15 German Luftwaffe suffers major losses in Battle of Britain. Britain gains the upper hand.
September 23 Himmler establishes a special Reichsbank account for gold, silver, money, and jewelry taken from Jews.
September 27 Japan signs treaty with Germany and Italy, forming the Axis.
October 3 Vichy France passes antisemitic legislation modeled on Nuremberg laws.
October 12 Yom Kippur is chosen as the occasion to announce the formation of a ghetto in Warsaw.
October 14 Non-Jews are evacuated from area that will become the Warsaw ghetto.
November 15 Warsaw ghetto is sealed.
November 28 German filmmaker Fritz Hippler's "documentary" The Eternal Jew has premiere in Berlin.
December The Vatican condemns the "mercy killing" of unfit Aryans.
January 21 Romanian Iron Guard launches a coup d'etat, during which 120 Jews are killed, thousands are beaten.
January 22 Law for the Defense of the Nation is imposed in Bulgaria excluding Jews from public service, taxing Jewish businesses, and dismissing Jewish doctors, lawyers, and professionals.
January 30 On his eighth anniversary as chancellor, Hitler reiterates his 1939 statement threatening the annihilation of the Jews in Europe.
February 15 Germans begin deporting 1,000 Jews a week from Vienna to ghettos in German-occupied Poland in Kielce and Lublin.
February 25 General strike of Dutch citizens to protest the deportation of Jews from the Netherlands.
March 1 Bulgaria becomes an ally of Germany. German troops enter Bulgaria the next day.
March 25 Yugoslavia joins the Axis (two days later Yugoslav regime is overthrown by internal coup and new government withdraws active support to the Axis).
March 26 The German High Army Command approves the tasks of the Einsatzgruppen ("Mission Groups," "Task Force") in anticipation of the planned German invasion of the Soviet Union.
April 6 German forces invade Greece and Yugoslavia; the danger to Jews is immediate.
April 18 Yugoslavia surrenders.
May 1 New concentration camps are established at Natzweiler in Alsace and Gross-Rosen, which had been a satellite camp of Sachsenhausen, in Poland.
May 22 Jews in Croatia must wear the Yellow Star.
June 6 Commissar Order is issued. All Soviet officials are to be liquidated, i.e., murdered.
June 17 Reinhard Heydrich briefs the Einsatzgruppen commanders.
June 22 German Army invades Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. Germany is now involved in a two-front war. Einsatzgruppen, with the assistance of local gendarmerie and native antisemites as well as the Wehrmacht, begin killing Jews immediately.
June 24 Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania, is occupied by German troops.
June 26 Hundreds of Jews are shot at the Ninth Fort outside of Kovno.
June 29 Romanian soldiers and local police begin a pogrom in Iasi; 260 Jews are murdered immediately; 4,000 are deported on trains to the countryside; less than half will survive the journey.
July 1 Rioting erupts against the Jews in Lvov, Ukraine. Murder of 150,000 Jews by Einsatzgruppen, the Wehrmacht, and a special Romanian unit begins in Bessarabia. It continues for two months.
July 3 3,500 Jews are killed at Zloczow.
July 4 Murder of 5,000 Jews in Tarnopol, Ukraine, begins; it will last a week.
July 8 Jews in Baltic states must wear the Yellow Star.
July 10 1,600 Jews of Jedwabne are murdered by their Polish neighbors. The mere presence of German troops in the area is sufficient to spur the massacre, which will be blamed on the Germans for the next six decades.
July 25 3,800 Jews are killed in pogrom at Kovno.
July 31 Hermann Goering instructs Reinhard Heydrich to evacuate and eliminate all Jews currently in German-held territories, to implement what the Germans call "the Final Solution," the systematic mass murder of Jews.
August 2 4,000 Jews are killed at Ponary, the killing field adjacent to Vilnius (Vilna), Lithuania.
August 5 Murder of 11,000 Jews in Pinsk begins. It concludes on the 8th.
August 20 Deportation of 4,300 Jews from Paris to Drancy, the first of 70,000 Jews to be deported.
August 21 Concentration camp at Jasenovac, Croatia, opens.
August 27 25,000 Hungarian Jews in forced labor are shot near Kamenets-Podolski, Ukraine. Killing takes two days.
September 1 Jews in Bohemia and Moravia must wear the Yellow Star.
September 3 First gassing at Auschwitz; 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 300 Jews are murdered. These "experiments" will prove significant in the development of Auschwitz as a death camp.
September 13 Eleven members of the Judenrat of Piotrkow, Poland, who had cooperated with the Jewish underground, are executed after torture.
September 15 15,000 Jews are murdered in Berdichev.
September 16 24,000 Jews from Uman are murdered at the airport.
September 22 Ukrainian militiamen massacre 28,000 Jews at Vinnitsa.
September 27 3,200 Jews of Ejszyszki, Lithuania are executed.
September 29–30 33,771 Jews are shot at Babi Yar, a ravine adjacent to Kiev.
October 2 Yom Kippur 5702, 3,000 Jews from Vilna, arrested on the sacred day, are killed at Ponary.
October 13 15,000 Jews are executed at Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine.
October 27 Gassing in mobile gas vans of elderly Jews in Kalisz, German-occupied Poland.
October 28 Half of 27,000 Jews in Kovno are selected to be killed in the Ninth Fort; this group includes the elderly and infirm as well as children.
November 1 Construction of the death camp at Belzec begins.
November 7 Some 17,000 Jews are forced from Rovno, in German-occupied Poland, and murdered in the Sosenki Forest nearby.
November 23 30,000 Jews are murdered at Odessa, Ukraine.
November 24 A "model ghetto" transit-concentration camp is established at Terezin (Theresienstadt), German-occupied Czechoslovakia.
November 27 10,600 Jews are murdered at Riga; first deportations of German Jews to Riga.
December 1 Commander of Einsatzgruppe 3 reports 85% of Lithuania's Jews are dead.
December 7 Japanese attack U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
December 8 Gassing by mobile gas vans commences at Chelmno in German-occupied Poland: U.S., Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand declare war on Japan.
December 11 United States declares war on Germany and Italy; Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.
December 21–30 More than 40,000 Jews are murdered at Bogdanovka in Transnistria.
December 31 Abba Kovner calls for armed resistance against the Germans. He perceives the Germans' aim to kill all the Jews of Europe and that the Jews of Lithuania are first in line. "Jewish youth, do not believe those that are trying to deceive you. Out of 80,000 Jews of Vilna only 12,000 are left…. All the Gestapo roads lead to Ponary and Ponary means death…. Brethren, it is better to die fighting like free men than to live at the mercy of the murderers. To defend oneself to the last breath."
January At the beginning of 1942 four out of five people who were to die in the Holocaust are still alive. Just 15 months later, the numbers are reversed.
January 7 Germans undertake the gassing of 5,000 gypsies who were sent to Chelmno from Lodz, German-occupied Poland.
January 20 Wannsee Conference is held in Berlin, bringing together top Nazi leaders of the Party, the German state, and the occupied territories to implement under SS leadership the "Final Solution to the Jewish Problem" – the Nazi euphemism for the murder of European Jews.
January 30 In a speech to the Reichstag, Hitler reiterates his pledge to destroy the Jews of Europe: "Those who were laughing at my prophecy are not laughing now."
February 15 The first mass gassing of Jews begins at Auschwitz.
February 22 10,000 Jews are deported from Lodz to the Chelmno killing center where they are gassed.
February 24 The SS Struma carrying 759 Romanian Jewish refugees is sunk by a Soviet submarine in the waters off Turkey. David Stoliar is the lone survivor. The engine on the ship did not work; its passengers were not permitted to disembark in Turkey or to enter Palestine. Belzec opens; within the next ten months some 500,000 Jews will be murdered there.
March 1 Construction of the Sobibor death camp begins.
March 17 Mass killing by gassing begins at Belzec. The beginning of the deportation of 30,000 Jews from Lublin. This deportation lasts four weeks.
March 24 First deportation of West European Jews to Belzec.
March 27 First deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz begins.
May 4 More than 10,000 Jews are deported from Lodz to Chelmno for gassing. Operation takes nine days.
June 1–6 7,000 Jews from Cracow are gassed at the Belzec death camp.
June 2 The BBC reports that 700,000 Jews have been murdered.
June 5 The SS reports that 97,000 persons have been "processed" in mobile gas vans.
June 9 192 men and boys are killed in Lidice, German-occupied Czechoslovakia, in response to the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. The residents of Lidice were not involved with the attack on Heydrich; their "crime" was the proximity of the town to the assassination site.
June 11 10,000 Jews from Tarnow are deported to Belzec for gassing.
June 20 The beginning of the deportation of 13,776 Viennese Jews to Theresienstadt.
June 29 Jewish resistance by force of arms in Slonim, Belorussia. Almost 15,000 Jews are burned.
June 30 A second gas chamber is opened at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The London Times reports more than 1,000,000 Jews are killed.
July 8 7,000 Jews from Lvov are killed in the adjacent Janowska labor and extermination camp.
July 13 Big sweep in Paris: arrest of German and Austrian Jews living there.
July 14 Thousands of Dutch Jews are arrested and deported to Auschwitz. Trains leave from the Westerbork transit camp in Netherlands.
July 17 Himmler visits Auschwitz and observes the gassing.
July 22 The Warsaw ghetto is surrounded. Mass deportations from Warsaw begin. By September 12, 1942, 265,000 Jews will be deported to Treblinka, where they will be gassed.
July 23 Adam Czerniakow, chairman of the Warsaw Jewish Council, commits suicide. "They have asked me to kill the children with my own hand. This I cannot do."
July 28 Three days of killing begins in Minsk. 30,000 Jews are murdered.
July 30 German industrialist Eduard Schulte tells a Swiss colleague of the decision to kill the Jews and to use prussic acid for gassing. Information soon reached Gerhart Riegner of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva.
August 3 12,000 Jews from Prezemysl, German-occupied Poland, are deported to Belzec.
August 4 First deportations of Belgian Jews to Auschwitz.
August 6–17 20,000 Jews from Radom are murdered at Treblinka.
August 10–30 50,000 Jews from Lvov, Ukraine, are murdered.
August 20–24 Amid the deportations from Warsaw, 19,000 Jews from Kielce, German-occupied Poland, arrive in Treblinka, where they are gassed.
August 29 Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, president of the World Jewish Congress, receives cable from Gerhart Riegner via British parliamentarian Samuel Silverman, informing him that "that there has been and is being considered in Hitler's headquarters a plan to exterminate all Jews from Germany and German-controlled areas in Europe after they have been concentrated in the east. The number involved is said to be between three and a half and four million and the object is to permanently settle the Jewish question in Europe." Wise is asked by the U.S. State Department, which had previously received the cable through secret channels, to keep quiet until the information is verified.
September 4–12 Lodz Jewish Council Chairman Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski agrees to the deportation of children and old people. He says: "Brothers and sisters, hand them over to me; fathers and mothers, give me your children." His justification: only some Jews can be saved; it is better to save some than to risk total destruction. 15,000 are deported.
September 21 Bodies of previously gassed Jews are dug up at Auschwitz and burned in open pits to prevent contamination of local ground water.
September 22 40,000 Jews of Czestochowa are deported to Treblinka.
September 25 Jews of Korets escape to the forest while others set the ghetto ablaze rather than submit to deportation.
October 4 All Jews in concentration camps in Germany are ordered to be sent to Auschwitz.
October 11–12 11,000 Jews from Ostrowiec-Swietokrzyski are killed at Treblinka.
October 15 22,000 Jews of Piotrkow-Trybunalski are deported to Treblinka. 25,000 Jews of Brest-Litovsk are murdered.
October 28 First transport of Jews from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz. By war's end more than 88,000 will be deported to Auschwitz.
November 24 Rabbi Stephen S. Wise goes public with the information regarding the Final Solution. The State Department had told him: "We can confirm your deepest fears." But when questioned by the press the State Department will not confirm Wise's report. Thus, it appears in the press as a Jewish statement rather than government information and its impact is more limited. The report that two million Jews had been murdered is, in fact, an understatement.
January 3 Polish President Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz requests that Pope Pius XII denounce German attacks on Jews. The pope remains silent.
January 4 The SS instructs concentration camp commandants to send human hair taken from Jewish women to Germany for processing.
January 12 Beginning of the deportation of 8,000 Jews from Zambrow, German-occupied Poland. Operation continues for nine days.
January 18 Germans resume Warsaw ghetto deportations. Jews respond with resistance, street fighting erupts. 6,000 Jews are deported in four days from Warsaw to Treblinka. The deportation is halted, which the resistance perceives as a victory.
February 2 The German Sixth Army surrenders at Stalingrad. The tide of war shifts with this major German defeat.
February 10 The State Department sends a cable to all legations instructing them that secure government lines cannot be used for the transmission of private information. Given the cable reference to previous communications on the fate of Jews, the implications are unmistakable: shut down information coming in on the Jews.
February 13 Amon Goeth becomes commandant of Plaszow concentration camp.
February 16 Jewish activist group in the United States headed by Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook) places full page New York Times advertisement "For Sale to Humanity/70,000 Jews," calling for the ransom of Jews.
February 20 Crematorium II is completed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
March 9 The Bergson group presents the pageant "We Will Never Die" in New York City.
March 10 The German government demands the deportation of Bulgarian Jews, but Bulgaria, which had previously consented to the deportation of Jews from Thrace and Macedonia, faces unexpectedly stiff domestic opposition from intellectual, cultural, and religious leaders and refuses.
March 15 Deportations of Jews from Salonika begins. By mid-August some 56,000 Jews will be deported to Auschwitz.
March 23 Crematorium IV opens at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
April 19 Warsaw Ghetto resistance begins. The fighting will continue openly until May 16, 1943, when SS General Jurgen Stroop reports to his superiors, "The Jewish Quarter is no longer." Bermuda Conference of Great Britain and the United States is held to consider the plight of Jewish refugees in Europe. Access to the island is restricted and public pressure on the delegations is therefore lessened.
April 20 Germans respond to Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by setting the ghetto on fire, building by building, block by block.
May 8 German troops reach Mila 18, Resistance headquarters. Mordecai Anielewicz and his comrades either commit suicide or are suffocated.
May 16 The main synagogue in Warsaw is destroyed. Stroop reports the end of the Uprising. Some Jews remain in hiding.
June 1 During the liquidation of the Sosnowiec ghetto, armed resistance breaks out.
June 21 Himmler orders the liquidation of all Jewish ghettos in the Soviet Union.
June 25 Armed Jewish resistance breaks out in Lvov, Ukraine, and Czestochowa, German-occupied Poland.
July 16 Crisis in Vilna's United Partisan Organization as its leader, Yitzhak Wittenberg, is captured by the police and freed by his fighters and then chooses to surrender to prevent the destruction of the ghetto.
July 25 Benito Mussolini resigns and is arrested.
July 28 Jan Karski, a young Polish Catholic courier, arrives in the United States to meet with American government and civic leaders. Among his other assignment is to tell them of the plight of the Jews.
August 2 Armed resistance at the Treblinka death camp allows for the escape of 350–400 inmates; all but 100 are captured.
August 16 Germans enter the Bialystok ghetto and meet with armed resistance. 5,000 Jews are killed on the spot and 25,000 are deported to death camps.
September 3 Allies invade Italy, which surrenders within five days. An armistice is signed with the Allies.
October 2 The Danish people help rescue more than 7,000 Danish Jews who are ferried by boat to nearby Sweden. 500 Jews are arrested in Denmark and deported, but the Danish government continues to inquire as to their fate.
October 4 Heinrich Himmler delivers speech to SS officers at Posen, speaking with pride of their work: "Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lie side by side, or five hundred, or a thousand. To have stuck this out and – excepting cases of human weakness – to have kept our integrity, this is what has made us hard."
October 14 Leon Feldhendler and Jewish Soviet POW Aleksandr Percersky lead armed revolt at death camp of Sobibor. 11 Germans are killed and 200 Jews escape. Only 50 survive the war. Two days later, Himmler orders the camp destroyed.
October 16 Germans deport Jews of Rome to Auschwitz. 477 are sheltered in the Vatican and another 4,238 find shelter in monasteries. 8,300 deported.
October 20 The United Nations War Crimes Commission is established.
November 3 The Germans' "Harvest Festival" (Erntefeat), murder of Jews in three camps in Lublin area.
November 19 Prisoners at Sonderkommando 1005 revolt at Janowska; their task had been to dig up bodies and burn them, using bone crushers to get rid of all evidence of murder.
December 16 Josiah DuBois meets with Donald Hiss at U.S. State Department and begins to unravel State Department cover-up of its hampering the rescue of Jews by inaction and false representations.
January 13 Josiah DuBois, Randolph Paul, and John Pehle, three U.S. Treasury Department officials, present a "Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of this Government to the Murder of European Jews," accusing the State Department of preventing action from being taken to rescue Jews. Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., reacts strongly.
January 16 Morgenthau meets with President Roosevelt and presents a "Personal Report to the President," a condensed and milder version of the report he received, but does not leave it at the White House. Within days the War Refugee Board is created.
March 19 The Germans take control of Hungary and its more than 700,000 Jews. Germany implements its tried and true practices of dealing with the Jews: definition, confiscation of property, ghettoization, and deportation to death camps. The implementation of the "Final Solution in Hungary" will take less than four months.
April 4 The United States takes air reconnaissance photographs of Auschwitz.
April 7 Two Slovakian Jews escape from Auschwitz: Alfred Wetzler and Rudolph Vrba (Walter Rosenberg). They will soon provide Allies, the Jewish community, and the Yishuv with a detailed report of Auschwitz killings.
April 15 The ghettoization of Hungarian Jews begins.
May 15 Germany begins the deportation of Hungarian Jews, primarily to Auschwitz. 437,402 Jews are deported on 147 trains between May 15 and July 8, 1944.
May 19 In order to buy time and because they are under the illusion that it might actually work, Germans send Joel Brand to Turkey with a proposal of exchanging one million Jews for goods. In a second mission by Brand's companion, they seek a separate peace with the West.
June 2 Yitzhak Gruenbaum, chairman of the Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency, requests that rail lines to Auschwitz be bombed.
June 4 Allies liberate Rome.
June 6 Allied forces land on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
June 10 Germans kill 642 residents of Oradour-sur-Glane in revenge for the killing of an SS officer.
June 23 Red Cross inspectors visit Theresienstadt ghetto/concentration camp. The Germans clean up the ghetto, plant gardens, create a soccer field in an elaborate charade designed to deceive their visitors.
June 24 U.S. Military Air Operations declares bombing of Auschwitz "impracticable." It would require the diversion of considerable air support needed elsewhere.
July 7 Churchill tells his foreign minister to get anything possible out of the British Air Force and "invoke my name, if necessary," for the bombing of Auschwitz.
July 8 Facing international pressure and a deteriorating war situation, Hungary informs Berlin that the deportation of Jews will end.
July 9 Raoul Wallenberg arrives in Budapest under Swedish diplomatic cover and the assignment to do what he can for Hungarian Jews.
July 23 Russian troops enter Majdanek death camp. W.H. Lawrence, a correspondent for the New York Times, writes: "I have just seen the most terrible place on earth."
August 1 The Red army liberates Kovno.
August 2 2,800 gypsies are gassed at Auschwitz.
August 2 Final deportation of Jews from the Lodz ghetto, the last ghetto in Poland. Over the next three weeks 60,000 Jews are deported, including Judenrat chairman Chaim Mordechai Rumkowski. The Lodz ghetto lasted longer than any other in Poland, yet Rumkowski's strategy of rescue through work fails in the end.
August 20 The U.S. Army Air Force bombs Buna-Monowitz, the labor camp at Auschwitz, also known as Auschwitz III. The death camp at Birkenau (Auschwitz II) – and its gas chambers – is untouched.
August 23 Marshal Ion Antonescu is overthrown in Romania and Romania joins the Allies.
August 25 German forces surrender in Paris. Adolf Eichmann and his staff leave Hungary, seemingly ending the deportation of Hungarian Jews.
September 3 Brussels is liberated by the Allies. Anne Frank is among the Dutch Jews deported from Westerbork to Auschwitz.
September 16 Following a Communist coup, Bulgaria declares war on Germany.
October 6 The Soviet Army enters Hungary.
October 6–7 Sonderkommando Uprising at Auschwitz. One of the four crematoria is set on fire.
October 13 Soviet troops enter Riga, Latvia.
October 17 Adolf Eichmann returns to Budapest.
October 18 Oscar Schindler arranges to have 300 women from Plaszow who had been deported to Auschwitz transferred to his factory.
October 20 22,000 Hungarian Jews are put on trains en route to Auschwitz.
October 30 Last deportation train from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz. 88,000 Jews have been sent from there to Auschwitz.
November 6 30,000 Hungarian Jews are driven by the Hungarian Iron Cross to the old Austrian border.
November 8 Beginning of Death March from Budapest.
November 25 Demolition of Crematorium II begins at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
January 6 Four Jewish women are hanged at Auschwitz for supplying explosives for the October uprising.
January 17 Red Army enters Budapest. Last roll call at Auschwitz. Raoul Wallenberg is arrested by Soviet officials; his fate still remains in dispute.
January 18 Forced evacuation of Auschwitz, in what became known as the Death Marches. Prisoners are forced to walk toward Germany rather than be captured alive by advancing Soviet troops, reversing long process of making Germany Judenrein. Many will die on these marches from cold and hunger, the absence of shelter, fatigue and despair. Josef Mengele leaves Auschwitz, taking with him the records of his medical experiments.
January 27 Soviet troops enter Auschwitz and find 7,000 prisoners alive.
February 3 Forced march of prisoners from Gross-Rosen to Flossenbuerg.
February 4 Allied Conference at Yalta establishes postwar division of Europe. Last conference attended by President Roosevelt.
March 9 U.S. Ninth Army reaches the Rhine River.
March 30 Soviet troops enter Austria.
April 11 SS leaves Buchenwald and prisoners take charge; a short while later U.S. troops enter.
April 12 Generals Dwight David Eisenhower, George Patton, and Omar Bradley visit Ohrdruf concentration camp. Eisenhower reports: "The things I saw beggar the imagination. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony were so overpowering…. I have reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it. For most of it, I have no words." He summons the press and political leaders.
April 14 Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte negotiates the release of 423 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt.
April 15 British troops enter Bergen-Belsen. Situation is so grave that 13,000 Jews will die after liberation.
April 23 Concentration camp at Flossenbuerg is liberated by U.S. Army.
April 29 Hitler's last will and testament. American troops enter Dachau.
April 30 Hitler and his hastily married wife, Eva Braun, commit suicide in Berlin. Soviet Army captures Reichstag.
May 2 German forces in Berlin surrender.
May 5 U.S. Army liberates Mauthausen.
May 7 Germany signs unconditional surrender.
May 8 V-E Day: Victory in Europe.
August 6 An American B-29 bomber drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
August 9 In another bombing run, American B-29 bomber drops an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.
August 11 Anti-Jewish riots in Cracow, Poland.
September 2 Japan surrenders. World War II is over.
September 17 Trial of Bergen-Belsen personnel begins.
October 25 Jews are attacked in Sosnowiec, Poland.
November 15 Trial of Dachau Camp administration.
November 19 Anti-Jewish riots in Lublin.
November 20 First trial of Nuremberg defendants.
May 1 Anglo-American Commission recommends the admission of 100,000 Jews to Palestine. Britain, which holds the mandate for Palestine, refuses.
July 4 Anti-Jewish pogrom in Kielce, Poland, follows the disappearance of a non-Jewish child. 46 Jews are killed. Over the next year 100,000 Jews will flee Poland to American- and British-held territory in operation called Beriḥah ("Escape").
September 18 Part of Emanuel Ringelblum's collection of documents from the Oneg Shabbat archive is discovered buried beneath the rubble of Warsaw in a milk can.
October 1 First verdicts of Nuremberg trials.
October 15 Hermann Goering takes his own life before he is to be executed.
October 16 Those convicted at Nuremberg are executed, including former German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, Der Stuermer publisher Julius Streicher, former Governor-General of Poland Hans Frank, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner, RSHA chief, among others.
October 23 23 Nazi doctors are brought to trial at Nuremberg,
January 13 15 Nazi judges are brought to trial at Nuremberg.
February 8 Six German industrialists are brought to trial at Nuremberg.
March 29 Former Auschwitz Commandant Rudolph Hoess is sentenced to death at his Warsaw Trial. He is hanged outside the gas chamber at Auschwitz I on April 16.
May 8 Trial of 24 board members of I.G. Farben begins.
May 10 Trial of 12 former Wehrmacht officers begins.
July 1 Trial of 14 former SS leaders begins.
August 16 Trial of 12 Krupp executives begins.
August 20 Doctors' trial concludes. Statement on medical and research conduct is issued concerning human experimentation, including the concept of informed consent and the right to stop treatment at any time.
November 4 21 former senior German diplomats are tried.
December 40 former Auschwitz administrators are tried.
May 14 State of Israel is proclaimed; its borders are opened to Jews, including survivors, who may enter freely.
December 9 A Convention for the Prevention of Crimes of Genocide is adopted by the United Nations, which specifically outlaws many of the crimes associated with the Holocaust. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights follows the next day.
May 23 Federal Republic of Germany is established (West Germany).
October 7 Democratic Republic of Germany is established (East Germany).
June The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 is amended to allow Jewish immigration to the United States on an equitable basis.
December 1 Second Ringelblum milk can is discovered.
April 12 Yom ha-Sho'ah ve-ha-Gevurah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day) is established by the Israeli Knesset.
September 27 West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer apologizes to the Jewish people and offers reparations.
September 10 Israel and West Germany agree on German payment of reparations to Israel and to Jewish organizations.
May 23 David Ben-Gurion, Israel's prime minister, announces the capture and removal to Israel of Adolf Eichmann, who will stand trial there.
April 11 August 14 Trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Eichmann is found guilty by an Israeli court and sentenced to death.
May 31 Eichmann is hanged and his ashes are scattered at sea. As of 2006 he is the only man ever executed in Israel.
December 20 Trial of SS officers at Auschwitz is held in Frankfurt-am-Main. Trial lasts until August 1965.
September 1 German penal code eliminates paragraph 175, the provision under which German male homosexuals were arrested and confined by the Nazis.
April 16–19 U.S. television network NBC broadcasts the docudrama The Holocaust over four consecutive nights, bringing the event to the attention of millions.
May 14 U.S. President Jimmy Carter announces his intention to establish the President's Commission on the Holocaust to recommend an appropriate national memorial to its victims.
January The President's Commission on the Holocaust begins its deliberations with Elie Wiesel as chair.
Office of Special Investigations is established in the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Nazi war criminals who settled in the United States.
October The United States Holocaust Memorial Council is established by a unanimous act of Congress to plan and build the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
June More than 6,000 gather in Jerusalem for the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.
French movie director Claude Lanzmann releases Shoah, a 9½-hour documentary on the Holocaust.
May 5–7 U.S. President Ronald Reagan's visit to Bitburg, where Waffen SS troops are buried, provokes an international controversy.
December Elie Wiesel is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role as Holocaust witness and his efforts for human rights and human dignity.
February Beit Hashoah/The Museum of Tolerance opens in Los Angeles.
April 19 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opens in Washington.
July 29 The Israeli Supreme Court on appeal releases John Demjanjuk, who had been convicted in 1988 by a Jerusalem Court of war crimes as "Ivan the Terrible."
October Schindler's List, a film by Steven Spielberg, opens and is seen by tens of millions of Americans. It sweeps the Academy Awards.
With the proceeds of Schindler's List, Steven Spielberg establishes the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation to record on video tape the personal testimonies of 50,000 Holocaust survivors. Within five years 52,000 testimonies are taken in 32 languages in 57 countries.
May Swiss bankers and the World Jewish Congress decide to look into the misappropriation of Jewish funds during and after the Holocaust.
October 23 Peter Hug, a Swiss historian, shows how Switzerland used funds of Holocaust victims to settle claims by Poland and Hungary.
October Accused Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon goes on trial in France for the deportations of Jews from France, including children.
August Swiss banks agree to pay $1.25 billion to compensate Holocaust victims for stolen assets.
August 19 The Italian Assicurazioni Generali insurance group decides to pay $100 million to Holocaust victims as compensation for previously unpaid insurance.
December 3 At a meeting in Washington, 44 nations agree to return fine art looted from victims of the Nazis.
February 16 Germany establishes a $1.7 billion Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future Fund financed by the German government and major German corporations that had profited from forced labor during the Nazi era.
May 26 Germany agrees to compensate Polish slave laborers.
January An international conference of 21 heads of state and delegations representing 46 countries is convened by the prime minister of Sweden to consider Holocaust education.
March Pope John Paul II visits Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, condemns antisemitism as anti-Christian, and apologizes for antisemitism by Christians at the Holocaust Memorial and even more strikingly in a note inserted into the Western Wall.
April Holocaust denier David Irving loses the libel suit that he brought against American historian Deborah Lipstadt as an English court finds that Irving did indeed falsify the historical record and that he is an antisemite and a racist. This is a major defeat for Holocaust denial as Irving was its most erudite representative.
Sources: The Holocaust Chronicle (2000); R. Rozett and S. Spector (eds.), Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (2000); I. Gutman (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (1990).