Holocaust Chronology

Click each date to expand the events for that year.


July 31

The National Socialist Party (Nazis) receives 37.3 percent of the vote. They now have 230 of 608 seats and are the largest party in the Reichstag (Germany’s parliament). Socialists have 133 representatives and Communists have 89, reflecting extreme polarization between the radical right and left.

August 13

Adolf Hitler declines an offer by German President Paul von Hindenburg to become vice chancellor.

November 6

In the new election, the percentage of votes for the Nazis declines to 33.1 percent and the number of seats in the Reichstag is reduced to 196.

December 3

Conservative leader General Kurt von Schleicher is named chancellor of Germany.


January 28

General Schleicher resigns after serving only 55 days.

January 30

German President Hindenburg appoints Hitler as chancellor (prime minister); Franz von Papen is named vice chancellor. The Nazis are a minority in the new government, with only three ministers.

February 2

Political demonstrations are banned in Germany.

February 27

The Reichstag is set on fire. Communists are blamed for the blaze.

February 28

Using a provision of the Weimar Constitution, President Hindenburg grants Hitler emergency powers, and civil liberties and constitutional protections are suspended.

March 4

Reichstag elections; Nazis win 44% of vote

March 5

In elections called by the Nazis to eliminate Communist opposition and their right-wing allies who constituted a majority in the cabinet, the Nazis gain 288 of the 647 seats in parliament. This constitutes more than l7 million voters and nearly 44 percent of all votes. The Socialists win 120 seats and the Communist Party takes 81 seats.

March 22

The first concentration camp is opened at Dachau, near Munich.

March 23

German parliament passes the Enabling Act. The new law removes the power of legislation from parliament and gives it to the Nazi-controlled government, creating a legally declared dictatorship.

March 26

In a telegram to the American Jewish Congress, German Jewish leaders strongly oppose planned protests against Germany. They believe that anti-German demonstrations would further harm German Jews.

March 27

The American Jewish Congress organizes a mass protest against the Nazis at Madison Square Garden in New York, and in other American cities. 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 businesses. Expected to last several days, it is suspended after one.

April 4

Robert Weltsch, editor of a Zionist weekly newspaper in Germany, publishes his editorial “Wear the Yellow Badge with Pride,” urging German Jews to take pride in their Judaism and reject the Nazi attempts to defame them.

April 7

The Law for the Restoration of Professional Civil Service bans Jews from government. Those excluded include doctors working for the national health organization, lawyers, university professors, and government workers.

April 13

The Central Committee of German Jews for Help and Reconstruction is established to coordinate economic and social assistance, initially for Jews who have lost their jobs or business following anti-Jewish legislation. Actions undertaken include legal suits against government offices to have “illegal” dismissals reversed and compliance of legally stipulated compensation benefits.

April 21

The German government prohibits shehitah, the ritual slaughter of animals required by Jewish dietary law. Some German Jews evade the law and continue to perform kosher slaughtering clandestinely, despite the threat of severe punishment. Others pay the higher prices for kosher meat imported into Germany.

April 25

The Law Preventing Overcrowding of School and Schools of Higher Education restricts Jewish enrollment in German schools. The Jewish community responds by creating new Jewish schools and expanding existing schools.

May 10

German students and their professors remove and burn “un-Germanic” books from libraries and bookstores throughout Germany. More than 20,000 books are burned opposite a university in Berlin. Authors include Jews, opponents of Nazism, and others defined as un-Germanic.

May 12

Franz Bernheim, backed by Jewish organizations, files a complaint against the German government in the League of Nations. The Bernheim petition challenges the legality of Nazi anti-Jewish laws within the areas of former Poland that had been annexed to Germany. Remarkably, the League, which supervises this area, will uphold the grievance. Germany will be forced to retract its laws and, until 1937, stop discriminating against Jews in Upper Silesia.

May 14

The American League for the Defense of Jewish Rights calls for an economic boycott of Germany.

June 16

The Jewish Cultural Association (Kulturbund) is created. It allows Jewish artists and audiences who had been excluded from public cultural life to continue their cultural activities in newly organized theaters and orchestras throughout Germany.

July 14

The National Socialist Party is made Germany’s only legal party. Eastern European Jews living in Germany are stripped of their citizenship if obtained after 1914. Laws are enacted that permit the sterilization of “unfit” parents and so-called “euthanasia of defective and useless eaters,” those who are deemed “life unworthy of living.”

July 20

The Vatican signs a concordat with Germany, negotiated by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII. The concordat grants Hitler much needed political recognition and in return seemingly protects the rights of Catholics in Germany.

August 25

The Haavara (Transfer) Agreement is signed between the German government and the Zionist Organization. It enables Jews to leave Germany and transfer some of their holdings to Palestine, thereby allowing them to enter Palestine under the unrestricted “capitalist” quota. Some 20,000 German Jews will immigrate to Palestine by means of “capitalist” certificates.

September 8

Jewish organizations meeting in Geneva call for a worldwide boycott of German products.

September 17

The Central Organization of German Jews (Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden), led by Rabbi Leo Baeck, is founded. Uniting the often-conflicting ideological groups under a single umbrella organization, it will serve as a much-needed liaison with the hostile German government as well as a source of material aid, education, and emigration assistance for its Jewish constituents.

September 22

Jews are banned from journalism, theater, music, art, literature, and broadcasting in order to eradicate Jewish influence on German society.

September 29

Jews are banned from farming in Germany.

October 4

The German Orthodox Jewish community sends a petition to Adolf Hitler protesting the anti-Jewish laws, including laws banning shehitah, the ritual slaughter of animals required by Jewish dietary law. They consider their situation “wholly intolerable, both as regards their legal position, their economic existence, and also as regards their public standing and their freedom of religious action”.

October 19

The Reich Union of Jewish Frontline Soldiers sends a letter to German authorities, proclaiming their loyalty to Germany and readiness to serve the Fatherland.

October 29 – November 1

In London, major Jewish organizations meet at an International Jewish Conference to aid German Jews. Attended by representatives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (the Joint), the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA/JCA), the Central British Fund for German Jewry, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and others, the conference resolves to oppose the emigration of elderly German Jews from Germany.

November 12

The Nazi Party, now the only party permitted to run in the elections, wins 93 percent of the vote for the Reichstag.

December 31

Approximately 37,000 Jews left Germany in 1933. Most are political leaders targeted by the Nazis, cultural figures barred from their fields, and young people.


January 26

Germany and Poland sign a 10-year nonaggression pact.

February 19

The first Youth Aliya (Youth Immigration) group arrives in Palestine. The organization was created in late 1932 by Recha Freier, the wife of a Berlin rabbi, to rescue endangered Jewish youth in Germany, and eventually from throughout Europe, by sending them to Palestine. Immigrating without their parents, more than 5,000 children will arrive in Palestine before the outbreak of World War II. They will live on kibbutzim and in well-established youth villages funded by the Youth Aliya Office, under the leadership of American Zionist and Hadassah leader Henrietta Szold.

April 1

Germany establishes a “People’s Court” to try enemies of the state. The right to a trial by jury or to appeal the verdict is cancelled.


The Center for Adult Jewish Education is established, with branches throughout Germany. Its mission is to combat anti-Jewish propaganda and raise Jewish morale. Its director, philosopher Martin Buber, speaks of learning about Jewish heritage, holding fast, and preserving the spark of Jewish traditions.

May 17

The German-American Bund organizes a pro-Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

June 30

In the “Night of the Long Knives,” Hitler loyalists purge the Nazi Party of hundreds of enemies-real or imagined-including high-ranking SA officers and veteran Hitler associate Ernst Rohm, the SA’s chief, who was gay. Persecution of German male homosexuals will intensify.

July 4

Theodor Eicke heads the newly established Inspectorate of Concentration Camps.

July 25

Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss is assassinated. The Nazis try but fail to seize power in Austria.

August 2

German President Paul von Hindenburg dies in office. Hitler fills the vacuum, combining the roles of president and chancellor to become commander-in-chief of Germany’s armed forces. Soldiers will now take a personal oath of allegiance to Hitler, not to the state or the constitution.

August 19

German voters overwhelmingly (89.9 percent) approve of Hitler’s new powers.

December 31

First major arrests of homosexuals throughout Germany


January 13

A plebiscite under the League of Nations brings the Saar region into Germany.

March 1

Germany retakes the Saarland.

March 16

Germany initiates the draft in direct defiance of the Treaty of Versailles. France, England, and the United States decide not to confront Germany.

April 1

Anti-Jewish legislation is passed in the Saar region.

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

The Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases provides for compulsory abortions in certain instances.

September 15

The Nuremberg Laws are enacted. The Reich Citizenship Law deprives Jews of their citizenship. The 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 based on the religion of their grandparents and not by the identity they affirm or the religion they practice.

Yom Kippur

Rabbi Leo Baeck, head of the Central Organization of German Jews (Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden), has composed a prayer of defiance, “The Reichsvertretung Speaks to Us,” to be read in synagogues throughout Germany on Yom Kippur. The prayer directly challenges Nazi anti-Semitic ideology, calling it a lie and a slander. When the Gestapo discovers the prayer, it forces the Reichsvertretung to send telegrams forbidding the prayer to be read, and it arrests Rabbi Baeck.


The Jewish Winter Relief (Winterhilfe) is established in response to Jews being excluded from the general relief programs following the Nuremberg Laws. It aids and supports many impoverished Jews who, for the first time, need to receive welfare.

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 (‘hybrid’) is specified as anyone with Jewish blood. Marriage between Jews and second-degree mischlinge is prohibited.

November 15

German churches provide records to the government indicating who is a Christian and who is not.

December 31

The remaining Jews in Germany’s civil service are dismissed. About 21,000 Jews fled Germany in 1935. Jews stopped returning in 1935, following Nazi threats of internment in concentration camps for returnees.


February 4

David Frankfurter, a 27–year-old medical student born in Daruvar, Croatia, and the son of an Orthodox rabbi, assassinates the head of the Swiss Nazi Party, Wilhelm Gustloff, in the Alpine resort town of Davos, Switzerland. In response to the Nuremberg Laws and other anti-Jewish acts, Frankfurter, who studied medicine in Germany prior to moving to Switzerland in 1934, acted to protest Nazi anti-Semitism and to attract world attention to the desperate plight of Germany’s Jews. He will be tried by the Swiss and sentenced to l8 years in jail. Pardoned after the war, he will die in Israel in 1982.

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 Treaty of Versailles. The United States, Britain, and France denounce the move but do not respond actively.

March 15

The Council for German Jewry is established. The Council is a unified organization of major American and British Jewish philanthropic bodies together with representatives of German Jewry and the Jewish Agency for Palestine. Based in London, the Council aspires to organize a massive and rapid emigration of German Jewry, especially the young. A rare example of a unified international Jewish endeavor, the Council at this time is the only major Jewish organization in the world to advocate total emigration of Jews from Germany.

March 29

The SS guard formation is named SS Death’s Head Units. It will provide guards for concentration camps.

June 17

Heinrich Himmler is appointed chief of German police.

March 19

Boxer Max Schmeling defeats future world heavyweight champion Joe Louis. It is a propaganda victory for the Nazis, who claim that it confirms German racial dominance.

June 26

Heinrich Himmler appoints Reinhard Heydrich as head of the SD (Security Forces).


The Spanish Civil War begins.

August 16

The Olympics are held in Berlin. For weeks prior to the games, anti-Semitic posters, including “Jews Are Not Wanted Here” signs, are removed and anti-Semitic discourse is diminished. African American runner Jesse Owens wins four gold medals and is slighted by Hitler, who chooses to leave the Olympic Stadium rather than present the medals. Two American Jewish runners, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, are forced not to run the 400-meter relay by Avery Brundage, head of the American Committee, lest Hitler be embarrassed further. Because of their absence, Owens is chosen to run the final lap and wins his fourth medal.

September 7

All Jewish property is taxed by 25 percent.

September 23

The Sachsenhausen concentration camp opens.

October 1

Criminal court judges must swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler, not to the constitution or the state.

October 25

Hitler and Italian leader Benito Mussolini sign a treaty forming the Berlin-Rome Axis.

November 18

Germany’s volunteer Condor Legion leaves 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.

December 31

Some 25,000 Jews left Germany in 1936.



Half of Germany’s 1,600 Jewish communities disappear or are on the verge of disappearing, as rural Jews seek safety and economic aid from Jewish welfare bodies in the cities.

March 14

Pope Pius XI condemns the use of racist laws against baptized (converted) Jews in a papal letter, “Mit brennender Sorge” (“With Burning Concern”). However, he does not denounce Nazi anti-Semitism and he attributes deicide, the murder of Christ, to the Jews.

March 15

The Joint Boycott Council stages a mass anti-Nazi rally in New York City.


A “Degenerate Art” exhibition, featuring the work of Jewish and other “unacceptable” artists, opens in Munich.

July 1

Pastor Martin Niemoller, an anti-Semitic yet anti-Nazi German pastor, is arrested because of his opposition to Hitler.

July 16

Buchenwald concentration camp is opened.

September 7

Hitler declares the Treaty of Versailles invalid.

October 12

The SS takes control of Grafeneck, an institution for crippled children in Wurttemberg, and starts transforming it into a “euthanasia center”.

December 31

Nearly 130,000 Jews (including 37,000 in 1937) have fled Germany since 1933-about one-quarter of Germany’s Jewish population


Early 1938

In Britain, the Chief Rabbi’s Religious Emergency Council is created by Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld to bring Orthodox rabbis and teachers to England. A total of some 3,700 Jews are granted entry permits to England as a result of the council’s efforts.

January 21

The Romanian government strips Romanian Jews of their citizenship.

March 12

The German army enters Vienna, Austria, which is annexed by Germany. Anti-Semitic laws enacted in Germany from 1933 to 1938 are immediately imposed in Austria.

March 28

Jewish community organizations lose governmental recognition in Germany.

April 5

Anti-Jewish riots rage 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 their Sabbath.

April 26

The German government mandates the registration of all Jewish property and other holdings in excess of 5,000 Marks. Expropriation follows; “Aryanization” intensifies, meaning the process of transferring Jewish-held property into non-Jewish German possessions.

May 3

The Flossenberg concentration camp is opened.

June 9

Main synagogue in Munich is set on fire.

June 14

All Jewish businesses that have not been registered must now do so.

June 15

German officials arrest 1,500 Jews for minor violations-including traffic violations-and intern them in concentration camps.

June 22

Joe Louis knocks out Max Schmeling in a heavyweight championship fight, avenging his 1936 defeat.

June 25

It is ruled that German Jewish doctors may treat only Jewish patients.

July 6-14

An international conference, called by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, is held at Evian-les-Bains, France, to consider the “refugee problem,” a euphemism for Jews. Thirty-two nations attend. To assuage British concerns, Palestine is not on the agenda. No country is asked to change its law or to increase its budget for refugees. The results are limited and incommensurate with the growing needs of refugees; i.e., Jews.

July 14

In response to Evian, a German newspaper is published with the banner headline: “JEWS FOR SALE AT BARGAIN PRICE: WHO WANTS THEM? NO ONE.”

August 8

A concentration camp is opened at Mauthausen in German-occupied Austria. It is the first of several camps established on formerly Austrian soil.

August 10

The Great Synagogue in Nuremberg is destroyed.

August 17

A law is passed requiring that by January 7, 1939, all Jewish men in Germany must assume the middle name of Israel and all Jewish women must assume the middle name of Sarah.

August 26

Adolf Eichmann establishes the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna to hasten the departure of the Jews. This will become the model for a nationwide program six months later.

September 15

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain meets with Hitler to discuss the Sudeten crisis. Hitler demands that Sudetenland, heavily populated by ethnic Germans, be ceded to Germany.

September 26

Hitler promises that Sudetenland will be his last territorial demand in Europe.

September 27

Jews are barred from practicing law in Germany.

September 29-30

The Munich Conference is held in Munich, Germany. Attendees include Chamberlain, Hitler, French Premier Edouard Daladier, and Italian leader Benito Mussolini. France and Britain settle on a policy of appeasement. Hitler is given Sudetenland, and Chamberlain will declare “peace in our time”.


The Polish government revokes the passports of all Jews who have lived outside of Poland for more than five years.

October 5

Germany complies with a Swiss federal police request that all German passports held by Jews be marked with the letter J (to prevent Jews passing into Switzerland).

October 28

Germany expels 17,000 Jews with Polish citizenship. Poland refuses to accept these deportees and Germany refuses their reentry to Germany, so they languish in no-man’s land. Many are stranded in Zbaszyn, Poland. Jewish communal leaders Emanuel Ringelblum and Yitzhak Gitterman arrive from Warsaw to set up relief services.


Father Bernhard Lichtenberg, a Berlin-based Roman Catholic, condemns Germany’s assault on the Jews.

November 2

Sections of Slovakia and the Transcarpathian Mountains are annexed by Hungary.

November 7

Herschel Grynszpan, distraught because his family is caught in Zbaszyn, goes to the German Embassy in Paris and mortally wounds Ernst von Rath, the third secretary.

November 9-10

The November pogroms, known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), erupt in Germany. Throughout Germany (including newly annexed Austria), some 1,400 synagogues are attacked and many are burnt and desecrated. Jewish stores are looted, and 30,000 Jewish men, ages 16 to 60, are arrested and sent to concentration camps.

November 9

In Hamburg, Germany, Dr. Seligmann Bamberger and other synagogue leaders risk their lives to save the Torah scrolls, housed in the holy ark, from the burning Bornplatz Synagogue. Similar acts transpire throughout Germany and Austria.

November 12

Herman Goring convenes a meeting to consider the results of Kristallnacht. The Jewish community is fined one billion Marks ($400 million in 1938 dollars). Jews must repair their 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

In protest of Kristallnacht, the United States calls home its ambassador to Germany. All remaining Jewish students are expelled from German schools.

November 21

British Home Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare announces his support for the Kindertransport, resulting in the formation of the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany in December. Working together with Jewish organizations in Germany, Austria, and former Czechoslovakia-who set up the procedures and arranged for the children’s journey to England-the British organization will arrange for the rescue of nearly 10,000 children (90 percent Jews) by September 1939.

December 3

The German government decrees that all Jewish businesses must be forcibly “Aryanized.”

December 31

With increasing persecution in 1938, an additional 40,000 Jews escape Germany this year.



The Mossad Le’aliyah Bet is created by the Jewish Agency for Palestine. The organization will organize ships of “illegal” immigrants to Palestine in direct defiance of the British mandate’s strict restrictions on Jewish immigration.

January 30

On Hitler’s sixth anniversary as chancellor, he addresses the Reichstag and issues a threat against the Jews. He warns that if a world war is to break out, the result will be the destruction of the Jews. Three years later, the warning will be self-described as a prophecy.

February 10

Pope Pius XI dies. On his night table is an unpublished encyclical on racism and anti-Semitism.


Senator Robert Wagner and Representative Edith Nourse Rogers introduce the Child Refugee Bill to permit the entry of 20,000 children from Germany over a two-year period. Despite press support, the bill dies in committee, leaving restrictive 1924 quotas in force.

March 2

Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli is elected as Pope Pius XII.

March 15

German troops enter Czechoslovakia and occupy its capital, Prague. Germany annexes Bohemia and Moravia into the Reich, now known as the Protectorate. Slovakia becomes a German puppet satellite under Catholic priest Father Josef Tiso.

March 25

About 20,000 people march in a “Stop Hitler” parade in New York. An additional half-million view the demonstration.

March 31

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announces that Britain and France will protect Polish sovereignty.

April 30

A German directive allows German landlords to evict Jews. They will force many Jews to move into specially marked “Jewish Houses”.

May 3

Joseph Stalin replaces Jewish Commissar for Foreign Affairs Maksim Litvinov with Viacheslav Molotov.

May 15

The German luxury ship SS St. Louis, filled with some 1,000 Jewish refugees, leaves Hamburg en route to Cuba. Although the Jews have entry permits to Cuba, they are refused entry into Cuba as well as the United States. The St. Louis returns to Europe and its passengers are dispersed to England, Belgium, France, and Holland.

May 17

The British government issues a White Paper, which limits Jewish immigration to Palestine to 15,000 per year for five years. Jewish land purchases to Palestine are also restricted.

May 18

Inmates begin to arrive at the first women’s concentration camp, established at Ravensbrueck.

July 4

The German government dissolves the independent Central Organization of German Jews and replaces it with a new association supervised and controlled by the Gestapo.

August 2

Jewish physicist Albert Einstein, self-exiled from Germany in the U.S., writes to President Roosevelt about developing an American atom bomb.

August 22

In a speech to his generals on the eve of the invasion of Poland, Hitler urges the liquidation of Polish regions in order to gain Lebenstraum (living space) for the Germans.

August 23

The Ribbentrop-Molotov (German-Soviet) Nonaggression Pact is signed. A secret provision calls for the division of Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union.

August 25

Great Britain and France declare themselves ready to defend their ally, Poland, if it is attacked.


RELICO, the Relief Committee for the War-Stricken Jewish Population, is established in Geneva, by Dr. Abraham Silberschein. Funded primarily by the World Jewish Congress, it provides assistance for Jewish refugees who are desperately trying to flee. During the war, RELICO will coordinate its refugee activities with other international agencies. In addition to gathering and transmitting information, they will try to deliver packages of food and medicine to ghettos and concentration camps. Italian Jewish community leaders establish the Delegation for the Assistance of Jewish Immigrants (DELASEM) to aid Jewish refugees in Italy.

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 Krakow, Poland.

September 8

More than 6,400 of the 7,000 Jews in Ostrow Mazowiecka, Poland, near Warsaw, join the flood of Jewish refugees fleeing east toward Soviet-controlled territories.

September 17

The Soviet Union invades eastern Poland.

September 19

The coordinating committee for Jewish Self-Help in Warsaw is established. It unites the various Jewish welfare and aid organizations.

September 21

Reinhard Heydrich, SS security chief, orders the creation of Jewish Councils (Judenraete), consisting of 24 Jewish men, to be responsible for implementing German orders in each ghetto. All Jewish communities in Poland and Greater Germany (which includes annexed parts of Poland) with populations of less than 500 are dissolved.

September 22

The Germans establish the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA).

September 27

German troops capture Warsaw, a city with 375,000 Jews- the largest Jewish population in Europe.

September 28

Poland surrenders and is partitioned. Germany absorbs parts of Poland and occupies central Poland, an area it calls the General Government. The Soviet Union annexes eastern Poland.


Emanuel Ringelblum begins his secret Warsaw Ghetto documentation project, which evolves into the underground Oyneg Shabbes archives. Jews in Palestine volunteer to join the British army. Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion declares, “We will fight the War as if there were no White Paper, and we will fight the White Paper as if there were no War.” Ultimately, some 30,000 men and women enlist.


More than 200,000 Jews escape from German-occupied Poland to Soviet-held territories in eastern Poland. Among the escapees are a majority of the national leaders of Polish Jewry from all sectors of political life. They feared they would be the first targets of Nazi purges.

October 1

With Poland under German domination, a Polish government-in-exile is established in France.

October 4

A triumphant Hitler tours Warsaw

October 8

The restriction of Jews to Nazi-enforced ghettos begins at Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland.

October 12

Jews from Austria and Moravia are deported to ghettos in Poland.


Hitler signs an order (backdated to September 1, 1939, to give the appearance of a wartime measure) that authorizes 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 18-27

The Germans begin the deportation of 78,000 Jews to a planned reservation in the Lublin-Nisko region. The Germans consider this a territorial solution to the “Jewish problem”.

October 24

Jews in Wloclawek, Poland, are required to wear the Yellow Star.

October 26

A German decree in occupied Poland subjects Jewish males, ages 14 to 60, to forced labor. Women will be included three months later.


The Vaad Hatzalah (Rescue Committee) of the American Orthodox Rabbis is established. It aims to rescue major rabbinical figures, especially the faculties and students of the Yeshivot (Talmudic Academies) of Eastern Europe.

November 7

The deportation of Jews from Western Poland begins.

November 12

Jews from the Warthegau province of Poland are ordered deported to clear the way for resettlement by ethnic Germans.

November 15-17

The synagogues of Lodz are destroyed.

November 23

Germans order Jews across occupied Poland to wear Yellow Stars or armbands with the Star of David.

November 30

The Soviet Union invades Finland.

December 5-6

Jewish property in Poland is confiscated, further impoverishing the increasingly desperate polish Jews.

December 9

The Dominican Republic Settlement Association (DORSA) is founded by the AJDC (Joint). Following the Evian Conference of July 1938, the Dominican Republic’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo, expresses willingness to accept 100,000 Jewish refugees. Realizing this figure to be unrealistic, Jewish organizations decide to create a pilot agricultural community at Sosua. In March l940, the first of 500 Jews will arrive in Sosua.

December 31

Despite monumental obstacles, 78,000 Jews escaped from Germany in 1939. By October 1941, emigration from Germany will be banned, but 8,500 Jews will leave from 1942 to 1945. All told, nearly 60 percent of German Jews will flee Germany.


January 6

Jews in Warsaw are forced to burn Jewish books for heat.


Jewish youth movements in occupied Poland initiate clandestine underground activities.

February 8

A Jewish ghetto is established in Lodz, Poland. The Ghetto will be sealed on April 30.


Germany invades Denmark and Norway.

April 1

Shanghai, China, which is controlled by the Japanese, continues to accept Jewish refugees.

April 5

Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski, head of the Lodz Judenrat, initiates a master plan to make the ghetto residents an essential workforce: “My plan is to solve the problems of life in the ghetto. There are 8,000 -10,000 skilled workers in various trades….The work would be clone in the ghetto….I would turn the finished products over to the authorities in return for payment in cash or in food that I would distribute to the entire ghetto population…”.

April 8-11

Soviet troops massacre 26,000 Polish officers at Katyn.

May 10

In a multifront attack, Germany invades Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.

May 11

The Jewish Council in Lodz allocates agricultural plots in the Marysin area of the Ghetto. More than 1,300 youth, from among the thousands of ghetto youth who were active in youth movements, live and work in the training farms established in Marysin.

May 16

Germany intensifies its anti-Slavic policies by launching a “pacification Operation” to eliminate Polish intellectuals and priests.

May 18

Germany deports 2,800 Gypsies to the Lublin region. In November 1941, 5,000 Gypsies will be sent to the Lodz Ghetto.

May 20

The Auschwitz concentration camp begins functioning. Initial prisoners are Polish.

May 28

Belgium surrenders to Germany.

June 14

Paris falls to the Germans.

June 15

Amelot, a Jewish welfare association, is established in Paris to provide aid and relief to Jews in France. Amelot will support refugee families, send food packages to Jews interned in camps, and feed thousands of Jews in its soup kitchens.

June 22

France signs an armistice with Germany.

June 26

The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS/HICEM) transfers its European headquarters from France to Lisbon, Portugal to continue aiding Jews escaping from the Nazis. Portugal’s western-leaning neutrality-unlike Spain’s-as well as Lisbon’s port with its worldwide shipping connections make it the natural choice for both Jewish and non-Jewish rescue organizations to establish their European base of operations there. This includes the AJDC (Joint), the AFSC (Quakers), and the Unitarian Service Committee. Some 90,000 Jews who flee the Nazis are rescued via Lisbon.

Summer 1940

The French Jewish Scouts moves its base of operations south to the unoccupied Vichy zone of France, but continues to operate illegally in Paris. Its children’s homes begin to care for the children of Jews imprisoned in Nazi camps. The first clandestine newspapers of the diverse Jewish underground movements (Bund, Zionists. etc.) appear in Warsaw. During the war, additional Jewish underground newspapers appear in various cities, and there are more than 100 clandestine newspapers in Poland. Underground Jewish newspapers are also printed in German-occupied Belgium, France, and Lithuania.

July 3

The German Foreign Office proposes turning the island of Madagascar into a Jewish ghetto-another articulation of the territorial solution to the “Jewish prob1em”

July 10

The Battle of Britain begins.


The Union of Jews for Resistance and Mutual Aid is formed by Jewish Communists in Paris.

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 Zwartendijk, who provided an end visa to Curacao (which required no visa), he is responsible for saving thousands of Jewish lives.

September 15

The German Luftwaffe (Air Force) suffers major losses in the Battle of Britain. Britain gains the upper hand.

September 23

Heinrich Himmler establishes a special Reichsbank account for gold, silver, money, and jewelry taken from Jews.

September 27

Japan joins the Axis by signing a treaty with Germany and Italy.


Germany deports 7,500 Jews from southern Germany to internment camps in France.

October 3

Vichy France passes anti-Semitic legislation that excludes Jews from civil service, schools, the army, media, and other professions.

October 11

After persuading German authorities, Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski, head of the Lodz Judenrat, announces Saturday as the official day of rest for the ghetto. The Germans also permit public prayer services in synagogues. In October 1941, the Germans will revoke the arrangement; Jews will be forced to work the Sabbath and to pray clandestinely.

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 the area that will become the Warsaw Ghetto.

Late October

The Jewish Society for Social Help (ZETOS), a “front” organization, is created in Warsaw. Headed by Emanuel Ringelblum, it secretly represents the banned Jewish political parties. ZETOs will organize public kitchens and support children’s homes, hospitals, and health clinics. Its main achievement will be the promotion of the House Committees to aid families living in shared courtyards. House Committees, often operating in opposition to the Judenrat, help the poor, care for children, and promote cultural life. By early 1942, there will be 1,108 House Committees with 7,500 committee members. They provide at least some welfare relief and contribute to the spiritual survival of the Warsaw Ghetto population.

November 15

The Warsaw Ghetto is sealed. Historian Emanuel Ringelblum and his colleagues decide to continue their secretly buried archive of Jewish life, code-naming it Oyneg Shabbes (The Joy of Sabbath). Under German pressure, Holland suspends all Jews from the civil service, including its Jewish Supreme Court president, L. E. Visser.

November 17

The Lodz Ghetto archives are established by the Judenrat. It oversees the collection of documentary material, such as posters, that informs the population of various directives as well as announcements pertaining to food distribution, religious services, etc. The archives include images from several photographers, notably Mendel Grossman and Henryk Ross, who take thousands of photographs, including numerous “unofficial” images. The photos document the brutality of Jewish life as well as the ways in which Jews resist dehumanization.

November 20-24

Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania ally themselves with Nazi Germany. Each already has passed anti-Jewish laws.

November 28

German filmmaker Fritz Hippler’s “documentary,” The Eternal Jew, premieres in Berlin.


The Vatican condemns the “mercy killing” of unfit Aryans.


Jannuary 12

The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto is initiated. Under the direction of the Ghetto archives, it will be prepared daily and without interruption until July 30, 1944. The daily entries generally include a weather report; statistics on births and deaths; a list of food distribution; data on health conditions; and official announcements. Also included are reports on places where Jews are employed and reports on raids, expulsions, and executions. Lodz Judenrat head Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski orders most of the training farms in Marysin dismantled. The youth movements’ members will return home to continue their activities clandestinely in small groups. They will play a critical role in sustaining and nurturing ghetto youth, both physically through mutual aid and spiritually through their educational and social initiatives.

January 21

The Romanian Iron Guard launches a coup d’état, during which 120 Jews are killed and thousands are beaten.

January 22

The Law for the Defense of the Nation is imposed in Bulgaria. It excludes Jews from public service, taxes Jewish businesses, and dismisses Jewish doctors, lawyers, and professionals.

January 30

On his eighth anniversary as chancellor, Hitler reiterates his 1939 statement in which he threatened the destruction of Jews in Europe.

February 12

The Germans create a Jewish Council in Amsterdam, the first of many used to control Jews in Western Europe.

February 15

The Germans begin to deport 1,000 Jews per week from Vienna to ghettos in Kielce and Lublin in German-occupied Poland.

February 25

Dutch citizens stage a general strike to protest the deportation of Jews from Holland.


A cultural center opens in the Lodz Ghetto. Judenrat-sponsored events include concerts by the Ghetto orchestra, lectures, and theatrical plays. Previously, cultural events took place in the soup kitchens of the political parties.

March 1

Bulgaria becomes an ally of Germany. German troops will enter Bulgaria the next day.

March 26

The German army’s high command approves the tasks of the Einsatzgruppen in anticipation of the planned German invasion of the Soviet Union.

March 29

April 6

German and Italian forces invade Greece and Yugoslavia; the danger to Jews is immediate.

April 18

Yugoslavia surrenders. Serbia is occupied, and Germany creates a puppet state in Croatia.

Spring 1941

Following ghettoization in March, a Jewish underground is created in Krakow. Led by Zionist youth movements, it focuses on mutual aid and educational activities to maintain morale. It also publishes an underground newspaper, Hechalutz Halochem (The Fighting Pioneer).


The ousting of Heinrich Schwartz as head of the Jewish Council in Slovakia results in the pursuit of alternative Jewish leadership. This develops into the Working Group, a Jewish underground organization intent on rescuing Jews. It is led by Gisi Fleischmann, a leading prewar Zionist activist.

May 22

Jews in Croatia must now wear the Yellow Star.


German troops overtake the Bialystok district (later including Grodno) in Poland in 1939 (later annexed to Belorussia in 1944). Restrictions under German rule begin with forced registration and, as of June 30, 1941, wearing the Star of David. Forced labor for men (ages 14-60) and for women (ages 14-55) officially begins on October 15, 1941. In November 1941, after Grodno is added to the Bialystok district, two ghettos are formed. Preparations for death camp transports begin exactly one year later. The ghettos are liquidated January 22, 1943.

June 6

The Commissar Order is issued. All Soviet officials are to be murdered.

June 17

Reinhard Heydrich briefs the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) commanders.

June 22

The 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 anti-Semites as well as the Wehrmacht, begin killing Jews immediately.

June 24-25

Kovno, Lithuania, is occupied by German troops. Arriving German troops are forced to halt the locals who had initiated brutal massacres of Kovno’s Jews. Eventually, the SS will recruit many locals to assist their killing units. Two days later, Germans establish a ghetto at Kovno (Kaunas), the capital of Lithuania. At the time of the Ghetto’s establishment, 35,000-40,000 Jews reside in Kovno.

June 25

The French Jewish underground issues the first edition of its clandestine newspaper, Unser Vort (Our Word).

June 25

The Germans overthrow the Soviets, who controlled Kletsk (Belarus) from 1939-1941, and take control of the city. The Belorussian police kill Jews, many of whom had come from western Poland in 1939 for safety offered by the Soviets, and establish a ghetto in September. The Germans liquidate the Ghetto July 21, 1942.

June 26

Croatia, a Nazi puppet state, orders 40,000 Croatian Jews to concentration camps. Ultimately, two-thirds will be imprisoned and killed. Hundreds of Jews are shot outside of Kovno.

June 26

Germans overthrow the Soviets and occupy Vilna (Vilinius), capital of the Republic of Lithuania and home at the time to 265,000 Jews. The first Einsatzgruppe begin July 4, followed by a mandate that all Jews must wear a patch on their back and chest. This mandate is replaced two days later with a requirement that they wear a yellow Star of David. Conditions worsen and from September 3-6, 1941, the Germans establish two ghettos.

June 29 – July

Romanian soldiers and local police begin a pogrom in Iasi. Thousands of Jews are brutally murdered, and 4,000 are deported on trains to the countryside (less than half will survive the journey). A few months later, Romania will initiate the deportation of 150,000 Jews to camps in Transnistria (today Ukraine), where most will die.

Summer 1941

Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, members of the Union of Jews for Resistance and Mutual Aid in France begin sabotaging German industry. It is part of the decision by the French Communists to initiate armed resistance.

Mid – 1941

The Amelot Jewish welfare organization expands its activities to aid arrested Jews in France. It also provides aid and relief for Jews who escaped deportation. Additional clandestine activities include securing and maintaining hiding places for children and providing forged documentation and material support for Jews in hiding. More than 1,000 children will be rescued.

July 1

Rioting erupts against Jews in Lvov, German-occupied Poland. The murder of 150,000 Jews (over a period of two months) by Einsatzgruppen, the Wehrmacht, and a special Romanian unit begins in Bessarabia.

July 3

Some 3,500 Jews are killed at Zloczow.

July 4

The murder of 5,000 Jews in Tarnopol, Ukraine, begins. It will last a week.

July 7

Germans overtake the city of Kopyczynce in the Ternopol region of Ukraine and begin enforcing rules immediately. On July 12, Jews are ordered to wear a blue Star of David. In August, taxes increase and regulations worsen, culminating in the first deportations to the Kamionka labor camp on November 8, 1941. The same year, Germans establish the Ternopil Ghetto (Ukraine).

July 8

Jews in the Baltic States must now wear the Yellow Star.

July 10

Some 1,600 Jews of Jedwabne are murdered by their Polish neighbors. The mere presence of troops in the area is sufficient to spur massacre, which will be blamed on the Germans for the next six decades.

July 17

German forces occupy Khmelnik (Ukraine). The Germans put into place restrictions, such as requiring Jews to wear the Star of David, and carry out massacres, as on August 12, 1941, when Einsatzkommando 5 kills about 387 people. They establish a ghetto January 5, 1942.

July 24

Germans establish a ghetto in Kishinev (capital of Moldova), a formerly Soviet-occupied city whose population of more than 65,000 Jews had experienced persecution in waves since the turn of the 20th century.

July 25-26

Approximately 3,800 Jews are killed in a pogrom in Kovno.

July 31

Hermann Goring instructs Reinhard Heydrich to evacuate and eliminate all Jews currently in held territories, to implement what Germans call the Final Solution, the systematic mass murder of Jews.


Having occupied the town on July 16, 1941, the Germans create the Polotsk Ghetto (Belarus). In September 1941, they move all ghetto residents to a siphoned off camp near Lozovka, where many perish from poor living conditions and forced labor.

August 2

Four thousand Jews are killed at Ponary, the killing field adjacent to Vilna, Lithuania.

August 5

The murder of 11,000 Jews in Pinsk begins. It will conclude on the 8th.

Mid – August

Germans establish Riga Ghetto (Latvia) in the Moscow neighborhood north of Riga. 29, 602 Jews are trapped in the Ghetto as it is sealed off.

August 17

A Jewish underground group is formed in the Minsk Ghetto, Belorussia. Led by Hersh Smolar, the nearly 450 members will plan to escape and fight with the partisans. While waiting for the partisan movement to establish themselves in the forests, the underground will be active in the Ghetto. It will develop a clandestine network that gathers and spreads news about the war’s progress, organizes a printing press, establishes contact with the non-Jewish inhabitants of Minsk, and gathers weapons. Following the Aktion in March 1942, the underground will escape to the forests, where Minsk Jews will form seven partisan units.

August 20 – 21

Approximately 4,300 Jews are deported from Paris to the Drancy transit camp-the first of 70,000 Jews to be interned in Drancy. Many will be deported from there to Auschwitz.

August 21

A concentration camp opens in Jasenovac, Croatia.

August 22

After overtaking Berdichev (Ukraine) on July 7, the Germans finish establishing the Berdichev Ghetto in the Yatki neighborhood.

August 27

Some 25,000 Hungarian Jews in forced labor battalions are shot near Kamenets-Podolski. The killing takes two days.

August 27

Having entered Borisov on July 2, 1941, the Germans establish the Borisov Ghetto (Belarus).

August 29

Germany restricts Belgian Jews to residing in four cities, setting a pattern in the west in which Jews are segregated yet not sealed in ghettos, as in Poland.

September – November

The Daugavspils Ghetto (Latvia), created July 15, 1941, is sealed by the end of November 1941. From July to November, Germans seek to kill as many Jews as possible in Daugvaspils and its surrounding villages. Though the Ghetto was still open, between November 7 and November 9, the Germans murder most of the remaining Daugavspils Ghetto population.

September – October

Death camp/killing site Trostinets near Minsk, the largest in Belarus, is established. More than 200,000 Belorussian and Western countries’ Jews, POWs, partisans and underground fighters and civilians are killed at this site.

September – October

Germans, led by Dr. Albert Widmann, a chemist from the Criminal Technology Institute, practice mass murder techniques on mental patients in Mogilev (Belarus). He works on perfecting gassing vans, first allowing the mentally ill to suffocate in an enclosed space with car exhaust pipes sticking through the walls. Heinrich Himmler visits the Mogilev labor camps from October 23 to October 25, 1941.


Ghettos established in different neighborhoods of Gomel (Belarus). In September, 200 Jews are moved to Monastyrek, the main ghetto in Gomel.

September 1

Jews in Germany, which now includes Austria, Bohemia, and Moravia, must wear the Yellow Star.

September 3

The first gassing at Auschwitz occurs. Some 600 Soviet prisoners of war and 300 Jews are murdered. These “experiments” in the use of gas as a method of mass killing, will prove significant to the evolution of Auschwitz into a death camp.

September 6

In the Lodz Ghetto, a student named Noach Flug graduates from high school. In the Ghetto, some 15,000 children study in the 47 schools run by the Jewish Council’s education department, ranging from kindergarten to high school. The school system operates with few disruptions for two years, and provides the children with medical attention and a daily meal. These schools serve as a ray of light in a sea of darkness, and they are an attempt to maintain continuity and normalcy. Formal educational activities will be suspended in autumn 1941, and henceforth children over 10 years will be forced to work. Some workshops will maintain clandestine classes.

September 13

Eleven members of the Judenrat of Piotrkow, German-occupied Poland, who had cooperated with the Jewish underground, are executed after torture.

September 15

Eighteen thousand Jews are murdered in Berdichev.

September 16

Some 24,000 Jews from Uman, Ukraine, are murdered at the airport.

September 22

28,000 Jews are massacred at Vinnitsa (Ukraine) by SS-trained Ukrainian militiamen. According to eyewitness German Lieutenant Bingel, men, women, and children who had survived mass killings in Uman, Ukraine a few days before were brought into the streets alongside SS horses. Once they were driven into a large group, the Ukrainian militiamen shot them, struck them, and proceeded to trample over their dead bodies. Shortly thereafter, Ukrainians from nearby villages arrived in Vinnitsa and conducted a pogrom, catching Jews and beating them mercilessly in front of synagogues.

September 25

The Jews of Mogilev (Belarus) are forced into a ghetto. After being given five days to move into the ghetto, the ghetto is liquidated on October 2¬-3. Another liquidation takes place on October 17-19. The final liquidation occurs October 23, 1941. All remaining Jews are brought to the new labor camp being built in the Dimitrov factory in Mogilev.

September 27

In Ejszyszki, Lithuania, 3,200 Jews are executed.

September 29 – 30

At Babi Yar, a ravine adjacent to Kiev, 33,771 Jews are shot.


Nearly 4 months after the Germans occupy Slutsk (Belarus) on June 27, 1941, Slutsk Ghetto is established. Called one of the worst ghettos in all Belarus, witnesses testify that citizens were burned alive in their homes. The Germans liquidate the rural ghetto in March or April 1942 and the urban ghetto on February 8-9, 1943.

Ocotber 2

Three thousand Jews from Vilna, arrested on the sacred day of Yom Kippur, are killed at Ponary.

October 13

More than 11,000 Jews in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine are shot and killed over the course of two days. The killings take place during the Jewish holidays Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. After being forced into a nearby department store, the Jews of Dnepropetrovsk are killed in groups in a nearby ravine.

October 22

Forced to march out of their home town of Odessa, Ukraine to Dalnik, 30,000 Jews are shot in groups of 40 to 50 at a time by the Romanian Army. In some instances, the victims can see their killers, but in others, shots are fired from holes in the walls of nearby warehouses. All surviving Jews are placed in ghettos.

October 28

One-third of 27,000 Jews in Kovno are selected to be killed in the Ninth Fort. This group includes the elderly and the infirm as well as children.


Though the Germans arrive in Brest (Belarus) in 1939, it is not until November 1941 that the Brest Ghetto is established. By December 16, 1941, all Brest Jews must live in the ghetto. The Ghetto is liquidated on October 15, 1942. On that day, SS soldiers force the remaining Jews into cattle cars, 200 to a car, and take them to Brona Gora. The weak die on the trains.

November 1

Construction of the death camp at Belzec begins.

November 7

Some 17,000 Jews are forced from Rovno, Ukraine, in German- occupied Poland, and murdered in the Sosenki Forest nearby.

November 14

9,000 Jews from Slonim (Belarus) are murdered by Germans and Lithuanian police battalion in Czepielow after Germany’s overthrow of the formerly Soviet government on June 25, 1941. The brutalities of this massacre, known as the Second Massacre, are numerous. Women are pulled away from their babies, who are subsequently thrown in the Szczara River.

November 23

Thirty thousand Jews are murdered at Odessa.

November 24

A “model ghetto”/ transit camp/concentration camp is established at Theresienstadt in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. Czech Jews will be relocated to Theresienstadt, which the Germans will use to deceive the world that they are treating Jews well.

November 27

Some 10,600 Jews are murdered at Riga, Latvia.

November 30

Einsatzgruppe begin in Rumbuli, miles outside of the Riga Ghetto in the forest, where tens of thousands of Jews are murdered by Latvian police in ditches dug by Russian POWS. This event comes to be known as “Bloody Sunday”.


After massacres in November 1941, the remaining Jews are forced into the Baranovichi Ghetto (Belarus). This ghetto is liquidated over the course of the next two years, first on March 4, 1942, then on September 22, 1942, and finally on December 17, 1943.

December 1

The commander of Einsatzgruppe 3 reports that 85 percent of Lithuania’s Jews are dead.

December 7

Japan attacks the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

December 8

Gassing by mobile gas vans commences at Chelmno in German-occupied Poland. The United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand declare war on Japan.

December 8

A second round of Einsatzgruppe, almost as severe as the first killings on November 30, take place in Rumbuli. A third round of killings occurs the same day at nearby Bikernek, literally meaning the “little birch wood.” In future years, this is where the rest of the executions from the Riga Ghetto will occur.

December 11

The United States declares war on Germany and Italy. Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.

December 14

Kharkov Ghetto established (Ukraine). Einsatzgruppen murder 15,000-20,000 Jews in the massacre of Drobitski Yar over the course of December 1941 and January 1942. The mentally ill are also targeted in these attacks.

December 19

After three days of mass murder, the process of liquidating the Vitebsk Ghetto (Belarus), which begins October 8, 1941, is complete.

December 21-30

More than 40,000 Jews are murdered at Bogdanovka in Transnistria.

December 31

Jewish underground leader Abba Kovner of Lithuania calls for armed resistance against the Germans. He perceives that 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 who are trying to deceive you. Out of 80,000 Jews of Vilna only 20,000 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”.



At the beginning of 1942, four out of five of the people who will die in the Holocaust are still alive. A mere 15 months later, the numbers will be reversed. L’Armée Juive (The Jewish Army; AJ), a French Jewish resistance organization, is established. Founded by Zionist activists Abraham Polonski and Lucien Lublin in Toulouse in southern France, they decide to create a Jewish militia in response to the German occupation. Acting in total secrecy, its members swear their loyalty to the AJ. Recruits begin training to fight even before the AJ has acquired arms. . In the Kovno Ghetto, Chaim Yellin establishes, with fellow Communists, the underground Anti- Fascist Organization. In 1943 Yellin’s group will merge with the Zionist underground to form the General Jewish Fighting Organization, which will succeed in organizing the escape of some 350 fighters to the partisans.


More than 100,000 Jews are murdered in death camps near Odessa in 1942-1944 including about 50,000 in Bogdanovka.

January 7

Germans commit murder by gassing the 5,000 Gypsies who were sent to Chelmno from the Lodz Ghetto.

January 19

Jacob Grojanowski escapes from the Chelmno death camp. He eventually will reach the Warsaw Ghetto, where he will supply details of the systematic murder operation to the underground Oyneg Shabbes archives. The Grojanowski Report will be delivered to the Polish underground, which will smuggle it out to the Polish government-in- exile in London in June 1942.

January 12

Odessa Ghetto (Ukraine) is established as a transfer point to the regions of Berezovka and Golta.

January 20

The Wannsee Conference is held in Berlin, bringing together top Nazi leaders of the party, the German state, and the occupied territories. Their task is to coordinate and implement under SS leadership the Final Solution to the “Jewish problem”-the Nazi euphemism for the murder of European Jews.

January 21

The Fareynegte Partizaner Organizatsye (United Partisan Organization; UPO), a Jewish armed underground organization uniting various Zionist youth movements with the Communists, and eventually the Bund, is established in the Vilna Ghetto. Its commander is Itzik Wittenberg (of the Communists), and its deputy commanders (from the Zionists) are Abba Kovner and Jozef Glazman. UPO members will blow up railroad tracks used by German forces, sabotage weapons and equipment in German factories, forge documents, and desperately attempt to obtain weapons from the local population. They also will assemble primitive explosives inside the Ghetto. The UPO will establish contact with nearby ghettos to inform them about the mass murders in Vilna and other locations in Lithuania, hoping to spread the idea of armed revolt and resistance.

January 22

In an attempt to camouflage the clandestine gathering of documentation gathered for the Oyneg Shabbes underground archives in the Warsaw Ghetto, an essay competition is announced. Ghetto residents are offered prizes for essays (to be submitted to the archives) dealing with various themes on “Jewish Life During the War”.

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”.

Early 1942

A Jewish underground organization is established in the Grodno Ghetto in eastern Poland, uniting various Zionist youth movements, the Bund, and Communists. There are disagreements regarding tactics. The Zionists aspire to give the struggle a Jewish character via an armed revolt in the Ghetto, while the Communists seek to join the partisans and thereby help in the Soviet struggle against the Nazis.

February 15

The first mass gassing of Jews begins at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

January 22

Ten thousand Jews are deported from the Lodz Ghetto to the Chelmno killing center, where they are gassed.

February 24

The SS Struma, carrying 769 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, and its passengers were not permitted to disembark in Turkey or to enter British-controlled Palestine.


Rabbi Michael Dov Weissmandel, a leader of the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel movement, joins the Working Group together with his Zionist relative, Gisi Fleischmann. It is a rare combination of Zionists and ultra- Orthodox Jews, a secular woman and devout rabbi working together in a Slovak Jewish underground. They lead the group in its daring clandestine activities to save Jews, which will include the successful bribing of a senior Nazi official to stop deportations from Slovakia for two years. These negotiations will evolve into the Europa Plan, which aspires to halt deportations throughout Europe. The Working Group also facilitates the escape of 10,000 Jews from Slovakia and Poland into Hungary, and it aids Slovak Jews deported to Poland. The group maintains clandestine contacts with Jewish organizations outside Slovakia, seeking funds to bribe Nazi officials and also inform the world about the fate of the Jews.

March 17

The deportation of 30,000 Jews from Lublin begins. This deportation lasts four weeks.

March 17 – July 23

Germany completes a network of six death camps, all located in occupied-Poland. In addition to Chelmno and Auschwitz, camps include Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Majdanek.

March 24

The first deportation of Western European Jews to Belzec begins.

March 27

The first deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz begins.

Late March

The Anti-Fascist Bloc, the first organized Jewish fighting organization in the Warsaw Ghetto, is founded. Despite their inherently different agendas, the PPR (Communists) and various leftist Zionist youth movements establish a united body. The PPR insists on organizing groups to fight in the distant forests, while the Zionists, who seek an armed uprising in the ghetto, reluctantly agree.


Soviet authorities in Moscow announce the formation of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. Led by renowned actor Shlomo Michoels and poet Itzik Fefer, they will travel to America and England in 1943 to enlist active Jewish support for the Soviet war effort. While the war is still being fought, the committee will be one of the first institutions to document the atrocities of the German assault against the Jews and acts of Jewish resistance. Two prominent Soviet Jewish writers, Ilya Ehlenburg Vasily Grossman, will prepare the manuscript for The Black Book of Soviet Jewry, only segments of which will be published due to Soviet censorship.

April 11

Hungary sends 50,000 Jews in forced-labor battalions to the Soviet front. Lacking proper clothing and often starved, many will die while some will escape.

April 16

Germans declare the Crimea (Ukraine) Judenrein (cleansed of Jews). This statement includes only Ashkenazi Jews and Krimchaks, not Karaites. Earlier, in July 1941, Karaites had officially been declared non-Jews.

April 18

The “Night of Blood” unfolds in the Warsaw Ghetto. German forces raid the Ghetto with prepared lists of underground activists. Many are shot on the ghetto streets. A total of 52 persons are murdered, including Bund and Zionist underground leaders.

April 29

In Holland, Germany further isolates the Jews by ordering them to wear a Yellow Star of David.

Early 1942

Following the May 1941 Arrest of French Jews, the Union of Jews for Resistance and Mutual Aid creates the National Movement Against Racism, hoping to enlist the support of the non-Jewish population.

May 1942

Poland’s Jewish labor Bund, in a report issued after 11 months of clandestinely gathering firsthand accounts, concludes that Germany plans to “annihilate all the Jews of Europe.” The report reaches the free world, which doubts the accuracy of the report. Newspaper articles of the detailed report are relegated to the back pages.

May 4

More than 10,000 Jews are deported from Lodz to Chelmno for gassing. The operation takes 12 days.

May 8

Tuvia Bielski and his brothers encourage entire families to escape from ghettos and join his armed fighters in the dense forests of Belorussia in eastern Poland. His “Family Camp” ultimately rescues some 1,200 men, women, and children.

May 15

The first issue of Der Ruf (The Call), the underground newspaper of the Anti-Fascist Bloc, is published in the Warsaw Ghetto. It calls on the Jewish masses to join in an armed struggle against the Nazi oppressor.

May 18

Herbert and Marianne Baum’s Communist underground group-mostly Jewish men and women-sets fire to a Nazi anti-Soviet propaganda exhibit in Berlin. Most are caught and executed.

May 27

Two Czech underground fighters sent from Britain attack Reinhard Heydrich’s car, severely wounding him. He will die from his injuries a week later.

June 1-6

Seven thousand Jews from Krakow are gassed at Belzec.

June 2

Based on the Bund Report, 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

More than 190 men and boys are killed in Lidice in German-occupied Czechoslovakia in response to the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. The residents of Lidice were not involved with the attack on Heydrich.

June 11

Ten thousand Jews from Tarnow are deported to Belzec for gassing.

June 12

An armed uprising erupts in the Druja Ghetto in the Vilna district of Poland.

June 20

The deportation of 13,776 Viennese Jews to Theresienstadt begins.

June 29 – July 15

Jewish uprising in Slonim Ghetto (Belarus). As Germans work to liquidate the Slonim Ghetto by setting fire to Jewish houses, ghetto residents engage in acts of resistance, including jumping out of vehicles and out of burning houses and refusing to leave their families.

June 30

A second gas chamber is opened at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The London Daily Telegraph reports more than one million Jews have been killed.

July 6

Anne Frank and her family go into hiding in Amsterdam after Anne’s sister, Margot, receives orders to report for “resettlement in the East”.

July 8

Seven thousand Jews from Lvov are killed in the adjacent Janowska labor camp.

July 13

The Rovno Ghetto is liquidated by means of a pogrom the night of July 13, 1942. At least 5,000 people still live there at that time.

July 14

Thousands of Dutch Jews are arrested and deported to transit camps. Auschwitz is their ultimate destination.

July 16-17

In Paris, some 13,000 Jews are rounded up by French police. About 7,000 Jews will be packed into the Velodrome d’Hiver sports complex for days, without food, water, or toilets. Many thousands will be deported to the Drancy transit camp outside Paris, from whence they will be shipped to the death camps in occupied Poland. In southern France in 1942, the Vichy authorities deport Jews in their zone.

July 17

Heinrich Himmler visits Auschwitz and observes the gassings.

July 19

A planned armed uprising by the Jewish underground in Baranowicze, in Eastern Poland, is postponed due to opposition from the Ghetto population, who believe that a revolt would result in the Ghetto’s total liquidation. The underground will escape to the forest and use their weapons to fight with the partisans.

July 21

Armed revolt in the Nieswiez Ghetto in eastern Poland erupts when German forces come to destroy the Ghetto. The underground sets the Ghetto ablaze, and most of the nearly 600 Jews are killed after inflicting 40 casualties on the Germans. About 25 fighters escape and join the Soviet partisans in the forests. Armed resistance occurs in the Kleck Ghetto in eastern Poland.

July 22

Kletzk, Kremenets, Lachva, Mir, and Tuchin Ghetto Jews (Ukraine) resist Nazi deportation to the newly built concentration camp, Treblinka, killing 16 Germans and Ukrainians.
Mass deportations from Warsaw begin. By September 21, 1942; 265,000 Jews will be deported to the Treblinka death camp.

July 23

Adam Czerniakow, chairman of the Warsaw Jewish Council, commits suicide. “They have asked me to kill the children with my own hands,” he stated. “This I cannot do.”

July 28

The Jewish Fighting Organization (JFO; ZOB) is established in the Warsaw Ghetto. The despair over the inability of the Anti-Fascist Bloc to respond with arms during the deportations results in the establishment of the JFO, which by October will include most Zionist youth movements and, significantly, the anti-Zionist Bund and Communists. Commanded by Mordecai Anilewicz, the JFO will become the dominant authority in the Ghetto and will be supported by the masses that no longer respect the Jewish Council and Jewish Police. Four days of killing begins in Minsk; 30,000 Jews will be 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 will soon reach Gerhard Riegner of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva.

July 31

A Jewish resistance group burns the population files from Belgium’s Jewish Council to sabotage deportations.


Following the mass deportations of French Jews, the Union of Jews for Resistance and Mutual Aid forms partisan combat groups. Their underground press publicizes the Nazi program for mass murder and urges Jews not to report for “resettlement.” It calls for the Jews to hide and join them in armed resistance. By the end of the war, the organization will have saved 900 Jewish children. The Eclaireurs Israelites de France (French Jewish Scouts) establishes social services that evolve into a rescue organization. It supplies Jewish children with forged documents, places them in safe homes, and organizes dangerous escapes from France across German-patrolled borders.


The Jewish Defense Committee is created. It unites all Jewish resistance organizations in France, including the Communists.

August 3

Twelve thousand Jews from Prezemysl, in German-occupied Poland, are deported to Belzec.

August 4

The first deportations of Belgium Jews to Auschwitz begin.

August 5

Dr. Janusz Korczak-who refused offers to go into hiding-and the staff of his Warsaw Ghetto orphanage accompany the children to the deportation train that takes them to the Treblinka death camp. Nahum Remba observes the procession: “It was not a march to the trains; it was an organized protest against the brutality of the oppressors. All the children were standing four in a row, Korczak at the head with raised eyes, holding two children by the hand, leading the children into the train.”

August 6

Armed resistance occurs in the Zdzieciol Ghetto in eastern Poland.

August 6-17

Twenty thousand Jews from Radom are murdered at Treblinka.

August 10

Jewish partisans, led by Dr. Yehiel Atlas, attack a German garrison at Drechin, in the Belorussian area of Poland, executing 44 German policemen.

August 10-30

Fifty thousand Jews from Lvov, Poland, are murdered.

August 19-23

17,000 Jews from Lutsk (Ukraine), comprising the majority of Jews from that town, are massacred at Polanka Hill. The 500 Jews not murdered, those working as artisans in the labor camp, are killed December 12, 1942. As they are being murdered, these Jews resist, resulting in some German deaths, and the Germans must call in backup in order to destroy the labor camp successfully.

August 20-24

Amid the deportations from Warsaw, 19,000 Jews from Kielce arrive in Treblinka, where they are gassed.

August 29

Rabbi Stephen Wise, president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), receives a cable from Gerhard Riegner, a WJC representative in Geneva, informing him “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 numbers involved is said to be between three and a half and four million and the object 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 silent until the information is verified.

Early September

The Committee for the Defense of Jews (CDJ) is established in Brussels, Belgium. Also, local Jewish resistance groups are established in Antwerp, Charleroi, and Liege. The CDJ will be active in communal aid while producing forged documents, publishing clandestine newspapers, and supplying the armed Jewish partisans who operate in the cities. A major achievement is the hiding and rescue of some 4,000 children. CDJ members will contact Yvonne Nevejean, who chairs the National Agency for Children (ONE), to help them find homes and institutions to hide Jewish children. The Jewish underground will finance the rescue operation, but when funds run out, Nevejean will supply funding.

September 3

The Jewish Council of Lachwa, in the Belorussian area of Poland, leads a revolt against the German forces that came to liquidate the Ghetto. Some 600 Jews escape.

September 4-12

Lodz Jewish Council Chairman Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski reluctantly 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, and it is better to save some than to risk total destruction. Fifteen thousand are deported. He describes himself as a “broken Jew”.

Rosh Hashanah (September 12)

Rabbi Ephraim Oshry responds affirmatively to the question of whether a cracked shofar (ram’s horn used for High Holy Days prayers) may be used. Rabbi Oshry, an authority on Jewish law who is confined to the; Kovno Ghetto, is often sought out by ghetto residents regarding questions of Jewish law. He will bury the questions and responses and publish them after the war. He sees it as testimony to the Jewish devotion to the practice of their faith, even in the dreadful circumstances of the Holocaust.

Septembe 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

Forty thousand Jews of Czestochowa are deported to Treblinka. . Jews attack guards during.’ a roundup of Jews in the Baranowicze Ghetto in eastern Poland. A Latvian officer is stabbed to death, and a barber named Zubak uses his razor to cut the throat of a Belorussian policeman.

September 23-24

An armed revolt is staged in the Tuczyn Ghetto in eastern Poland. After hearing of the annihilation of the Jews in nearby Rovno, the Jewish leaders of Tuczyn decided to resist. German and Ukrainian troops are shot upon as they enter, and the Ghetto is set ablaze. Of the 3,000 Jews in the Ghetto, some 2,000 escape to the forests, while the rest are killed in the revolt, which lasts two days. About half of those who reach the forests are soon caught, and 300 women with babies, unable to withstand the conditions in the forest, return to Tuczyn, where they are shot.

September 25

Jews of Korets, Ukraine, escape to the woods while others set the Ghetto ablaze rather than submit to deportation.

September 30

Slovakia agrees to pay Germany a bounty of 500 Marks per Jew to deport all Slovakian Jews.


The Jewish Fighting Organization (JFO) is created in the Krakow Ghetto. Due to the limited area of operations in the Ghetto, the JFO decides to carry out armed attacks outside the Ghetto. The most famous will happen on December 22, 1942, in downtown Krakow at the Cyganeria Cafe, where German officers frequently gather. This attack will result in the killing of 11 Germans, with 13 more wounded.

Ocotber 4

All Jews in concentration camps in Germany are ordered to be sent to Auschwitz.

October 11-12

Eleven thousand Jews from Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski are killed at Treblinka.

October 15

Approximately 25,000 Jews of Brest-Litovsk are murdered.

October 15-18

Liquidation of Brest Ghetto (Belarus). All Jews in Brest are brought to the train station, where they are forced into rail cars (each rail car holds 200 people). The trains arrive in Brona Gora, 65 miles outside of Brest. The weakest and frailest people do not survive.

October 21

Some 22,000 Jews of Piotrkow Trybunalski are deported to Treblinka.

October 28

The first transport of Jews from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz begins. By war’s end, more than 88,000 will be deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz.

November 8

A predominantly Jewish resistance group helps liberate Algiers during the Allied advance that frees North Africa from German rule.

November 13

Sixty-nine Jews with Palestinian passports arrive in Palestine from occupied Europe. They were exchanged for German nationals residing in Palestine. Based on their firsthand and reliable information regarding Nazi atrocities, the Jews in Palestine declare a week of national mourning. Its leadership is stimulated into action on behalf of Jews in occupied countries. They will make passionate appeals to the Allies to implement rescue operations.

November 24

Rabbi Stephen Wise goes public with information regarding the Final Solution. A State Department official told him: “I can confirm your deepest fears.” But when pressed, the State Department will not confirm Wise’s report. Thus, it appears in the press as a Jewish statement rather than government information, and the impact of the information is limited. The report that two million Jews have been murdered is, in fact, an understatement.

Late fall

The Jewish Military Union (JMU; ZZW), an armed underground group in the Warsaw Ghetto, is organized by Betar, the youth movement of the Revisionist Zionist Movement. The JMU will succeed in procuring weapons as a result of its ties with the underground Polish Home Army (AK).


An operations office of the Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine is established in Istanbul, Turkey. Operating until 1944, the committee will maintain contact with Jewish communities in occupied Europe. It also will organize aid and rescue operations, working together with Zionist representatives in Switzerland.

December 5

A senior Nazi official asks SS chief Heinrich Himmler to ensure that the army use of rail lines does not interrupt transports to death camps.

December 6

Germans order Jewish leaders in Tunisia to provide Jews for forced labor. Eventually, 5,000 Jews will be deported to 30 labor camps.

December 12

Armed resistance occurs in the Luck labor camp in Volhynia, German-occupied Poland.

December 17

The United States, Great Britain, Soviet Union, and other Allied nations condemn Nazi “extermination of the Jewish People in Europe.”


Early 1943

The Relief and Rescue Committee of Budapest is established. Led by Otto Komoly and Rezso Kasztner, it is composed of representatives of the various Hungarian Zionist groups. The committee will engage in the clandestine smuggling of Jews from Poland and Slovakia into relatively safe Hungary. It also will aid refugees in Hungary and prepare for the self’-defense of Hungarian Jewry. Rabbi Leon Pessah, a graduate of Salonika’s rabbinical seminary, escapes with his family from German roundups in Trikala, Greece, and joins the Greek partisans. Fluent in Italian, French, and other languages and dialects of the area, Rabbi Pessah operates as a courier to relay messages among the various groups of partisans.

January 3

Polish President Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz requests that Pope Pius XII denounce German attacks on Jews. The pope will remain silent.

January 4

The SS instructs concentration camp commandants to send human hair taken from Jewish women to Germany for processing. The first act of Jewish armed resistance in the Czestochowa Ghetto occurs. Ordered to gather for deportation, resistance fighter Fiszlewicz shoots a German officer with his pistol. His comrade, Feiner, attacks another officer with his knife.

January 10

Armed resistance occurs in the Minsk Mazowiecki labor camp, near Warsaw, as Germans enter to liquidate the camp. There are no Jewish survivors.

January 12

The deportation of 20,000 Jews from Zambrow, in German-occupied Poland begins. The operation will continue for 10 days.

January 15

A coded letter in Hebrew is clandestinely sent by courier from Rabbi Michael Dov Weissmandel, a leader of the underground Working Group in Slovakia, to Jewish Agency representatives in neutral Switzerland. As per earlier letters, Rabbi Weissmandel focuses on the negotiations to bribe Nazi officials to halt deportations: “As we are dealing with matters of life and death, we must blind them [Germans] with at least a $100,000 deposit from our allies. Three paragraphs have already been negotiated with E [code for Eichmann] and he has agreed to them: (1) Cancellation of deportations to Poland from all occupied countries; (2) Deportations will not be cancelled from [Greater] Germany, or Poland; (3) Assistance by legal means, such as sending limited packages, money, and letters to the deported [Jews]. . . .”

January 18

Germans resume Warsaw Ghetto deportations. Jews respond with resistance, and street fighting erupts. Over a period of four days, 5,000 Jews will be deported to Treblinka from Warsaw. The halt of deportations is perceived by the resistance as a victory. From then onward, Jews remaining in the ghetto will support the idea of armed resistance.

January 28-31

At the end of 1942, an underground coalition begins to form in the Pruzhany Ghetto in Pruzhany (Belarus). The movement works to attain weapons and to establish contact with other partisan groups. On January 27, 1943, the Germans catch two partisans arriving to speak with the Judenrat and to reinforce connections. The next day, ghetto liquidation begins with the deportation of 10,000 Jews to Auschwitz. Some Jews manage to escape and join partisan groups in the forests, but, after four days, the Ghetto is fully liquidated.

Feburary 2

The German Sixth Army surrenders to the Soviets at Stalingrad, a momentous event that demonstrates that the Germans can be defeated.

February 10

The State Department sends a cable to the American legation in Bern, stating that secure government lines cannot be used for the transmission of information to private individuals. Given the cable’s reference to previous communications on the fate of Jews, the implications are unmistakable: Shut down information coming in about the Jews.

Hayim Greenberg, a Zionist leader in the United States, publishes a harsh critique of American Jewish organizations’ failure to effectively act on behalf of those Jews who are under Nazi domination. His editorial, entitled “Bankrupt,” appears in the Yiddish newspaper Der Yiddisher Kempfer: “It will never be possible to explain why the chief organizations of American Jewry…could not in this dire hour, unequalled even in Jewish history, unite…to save those who perhaps can still be saved.”

February 16

A Jewish activist group in the United States, headed by Peter Bergson, places a full-page New York Times advertisement: “For Sale to Humanity-70,000 Jews/Guaranteed Human Beings at $50 a Piece.”

February 20

Crematoria II is completed at Birkenau, the death camp at Auschwitz.

February 24

A ghetto is established in Salonika in German-occupied Greece.

February 26

The first Gypsies arrive in Auschwitz, where they are interned in a special section known as the Gypsy Camp.

Early 1943

The French Jewish Scouts establish a fighting unit, which will participate in the liberation of southwest France in 1944.

March 1943

The Tiyul (Hike) Committee is established by Joel Brand and Zionist youth movements in Hungary to clandestinely smuggle some 9,000 Jews into Hungary from Poland and Slovakia. The committee dispatches professional smugglers across borders to help fleeing Jewish refugees, or works from addresses supplied by escapees to locate Jews in hiding. The youth movements also establish an underground workshop to produce large quantities of forged documents, which will be used by tens of thousands of people. In Berlin, Yitzhak Schwersenz and Edith Wolff establish Chug Chalutzi (Zionist Circle), a resistance group composed of religious Zionist youth. In addition to maintaining clandestine contacts with the Zionist movement in Switzerland, the group focuses on eluding deportation, smuggling young persons out of Germany, and sustaining the spirits of those who remain. Meeting secretly for prayer and study activities, the members are assigned safe houses at sympathetic Germans’ homes. They are provided with ration cards and false documents. Chug Chalutzi will be active until the end of the war and will succeed in saving many of its members. The German government demands the deportation of Bulgarian Jews, but Bulgaria, which had previously consented to the deportation of Jews from the annexed areas of Thrace and Macedonia, refuses in the face of unexpectedly stiff domestic opposition from intellectual, cultural, and religious leaders. Nevertheless, Jews from those regions will be deported to the Treblinka death camp in early March.

March 9

The Bergson Group presents the pageant “We Will Never Die” in New York City.

March 15

Deportations of Jews from Salonika begins. By mid-August, some 56,000 Greek Jews will be deported to Auschwitz.

March 22

Crematorium IV opens at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

April 19

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising begins. The fighting will continue openly until May 16, 1943, when SS General Jurgen Stroop will report to his superiors, “The Jewish quarter is no longer.” Jewish resistance fighters at Tirlemont, Belgium, attack a train transporting Belgian Jews to Auschwitz, freeing 200 Jews. The Bermuda Conference of Great Britain and the United States is held to consider the plight of Jewish refugees in Europe. Access to the island of Bermuda is restricted, and the public pressure on the delegations is therefore lessened. Representatives at the conference fail to decide on any significant rescue options.

April 20

Germans respond to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by setting the ghetto on fire, building by building, block by block.

May 8

German troops reach Mila 18, resistance headquarters in the Warsaw Ghetto, where Mordecai Anielewicz and his comrades either commit suicide or are killed.

May 12

Szmul Zygielbojm, a member of the Polish National Council, commits suicide in London as a protest against Allied failure to stop mass murder after the Nazis kill Warsaw’s last Jews, which include Zygielbojm’s wife and son.

May 16

The main synagogue in Warsaw is destroyed; General Stroop reports the end of the uprising, though some Jews remain in hiding.


Unser Kampf (Our Struggle), the underground Yiddish newspaper of Jewish Communists in Belgium, warns Jews not to report for “resettlement” but to rise up and take revenge. The publication Jeune Combat (Youth Fights), the Communist underground newspaper of Organization of Jewish Youth Fighting Hitler, begins publication. The paper agitates for the Liberation of France, and the group also engages in armed resistance. It ultimately will be responsible for two-thirds of the anti-Nazi attacks in Paris from July 1942 to i943.

June 1

Armed resistance breaks out during the liquidation of the Sosnowiec (Poland) Ghetto.

June 21

Himmler orders the liquidation of all Jewish ghettos in the Soviet Union.

June 25

In German-occupied Poland, armed Jewish resistance breaks in Lvov and the Czestochowa Ghetto.

July 16

A crisis hits Vilna’s United Partisan Organization when the group’s leader, Itzik Wittenberg, is captured by the police. He will subsequently be freed by his fighters but, lacking the general support of the Ghetto population, will choose to surrender to prevent the Ghetto’s destruction. Wittenberg takes his own life in prison.

July 20

An armed uprising hits the Kleck Ghetto, in the Nowogrodek district of eastern Poland. With the onset of a final Aktion, the underground sets the Ghetto on fire. Four hundred Jews attempt to escape in the chaos, and only a few dozen reach the cover of the forests. About 25 will fight with partisans and survive the war.

July 25

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini resigns and is arrested by Italian partisans.

July 28

Jan Karski, a young Polish Catholic underground courier, arrives in the United States to meet with American government and civic leaders. Among his assignments is to relate the plight of Europe’s Jews.

August 2

Armed resistance at the Treblinka death camp, which is undertaken with stolen SS arms, allows for the escape of 350 to 400 inmates. All but 100 will be recaptured.

August 3

An armed uprising hits the Bedzin Ghetto in German-occupied Poland. After digging underground bunkers and gathering arms, the resistance fighters will hold out for two weeks. Among the casualties is Frumka Plotnicka, a female courier and revolt organizer sent by the Jewish Fighting Organization in Warsaw in September 1942.

August 16

Germans enter the Bialystok Ghetto in Poland and are met with armed resistance, led by Mordecai Tenenbaum, who was sent by the JFO in Warsaw. 5,000 Jews are killed on the spot, and 25,000 are deported to death camps.

August 20

An armed uprising occurs in the Glembokie Ghetto in Poland’s Vilna district.


DELASEM, an Italian Jewish aid organization originally established to help Jewish refugees who flee to Italy, begins organizing hiding places and clandestine assistance networks for refugees and Italian Jews in Rome. Working with priests and local non-Jews, they provide forged documents, food, and money for Jews hiding in churches, convents, and apartments. Until the June 1944 liberation of Rome, some 2,500 Italian Jews and 1,500 refugees will be helped by DELASEM.

September 2

Armed resisters rise in the Tarnow Ghetto in German-occupied Poland.

September 3

The Allies invade Italy. Italy will surrender within six days and sign an armistice.

Septembe r17-19

After the Lida Ghetto (Belarus) is sealed May 7, 1942, mass killings take place. At the end of 1942, some youth are able to join the Bielski and Iskra partisan groups in Naliboki forest. Ultimately, the Ghetto is liquidated from September 17 to September 19, 1943. On September 18, as the Ghetto is being liquidated, the remaining Jews are brought to Majdanek.

Fall 1943

L’Armée Juive (The Jewish Army; AJ) begins daring escape operations from France. They will head over the Pyrenees Mountains into neutral Spain. From there they plan to travel to Palestine and join the Jewish units of the British army. Braving brutal conditions, some 300 AJ members, including 80 members of the Dutch DeHalutz Zionist youth movement, who clandestinely entered France, will make it to Spain.

Septembe r26

In Novogrudok, Belorussia, 220 Jews escape to the forests through a 250–yard tunnel excavated under the Ghetto courthouse. Many are quickly recaptured, but some 100 will manage to get away, most of them joining Tuvia Bielski’s family camp.


The Danish people help rescue more than 7,000 Danish Jews, who they send by boat to nearby Sweden. 500 Jews are arrested in Denmark and deported but the Danish government will inquire about their fate.

October 4

In a speech to SS officers at Posen, Heinrich Himmler acknowledges the men’s pride in 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 8

Hechalutz Halochem (Fighting Pioneer), the underground newspaper of the Jewish Fighting Organization in the Krakow Ghetto, reports on the escape to the forests: “Our young people stole away quietly from the ghetto. For the first time in their lives they were holding weapons. . . . They were never to return to the ghetto, never to unite with their brethren, and only in the far away forest would they fight in the name of freedom against the bloody enemy.”

October 14

Alexander Pechorsky and Leon Feldhendler, Jewish POWS at Sobibor death camp (Lithuania), organize the biggest uprising to take place during WWII. After stealing rifles from Ukrainian guards, disconnecting camp power lines, killing SS guards without the Ukrainian watchmen noticing, and rounding up prisoners, Pechorsky, Feldhendler, and the underground movement help 200 inmates escape and join Soviet partisans. Eleven Germans are killed and 300 Jews escape. Only 50 of those will survive the war. Two days later, Himmler will order the camp destroyed.

October 16

Germans deport Jews of Rome to Auschwitz. Although the Vatican shelters a few hundred Jews, and monasteries hide a few thousand, some 8,300 are deported. The pope issues no public protest.

October 17

A coded letter secretly sent by Gisi Fleischmann, a leader of the underground Working Group in Slovakia, to Jewish Agency representatives in neutral Switzerland reads: “We thank you chaverim [comrades] for providing greater emtza’im [funds] for hatzalat pleitah [rescue of refugees]. We will take [money] out of the shloshim elef [$30,000l intended for Willy [code name for Dieter Wisliceny, Eichmann’s deputy in Slovakia in charge of deportations]. Please replace it through the shaliach [courier]. We expect your ezrah [assistance] so that we can send shlichim [couriers] to where ever they find yehudim [Jews] and bring them here. There are still possibilities, but it is terribly difficult to get to the megorashim [deportees in Poland] because they are hermetically isolated.”

October 20

The United Nations War Crimes Commission is established.

November 3

During the German (Erntefest) “Harvest Festival,” Jews are murdered in three camps in the Lublin, Poland area.

November 19

Jewish prisoners in Sonderkommando 1005 revolt at the Janowska camp in Lvov. Their task had been to dig up bodies and burn them, using bone crushers to get rid of all evidence of murder.


The British army begins training of 37 Jewish parachutists in Palestine for secret missions behind enemy lines. Despite Jewish Agency requests to train hundreds of operatives, the British severely limit the number of parachutists trained.

December 16

Josiah DuBois meets with Donald Hiss at the U.S. State Department and begins to unravel a State Department cover-up of inaction and false representations that hampered the rescue of Jews.


January 13

U.S. Treasury officials Josiah DuBois, Randolph Paul, and John Pehle present a “Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government to the Murder of the Jews,” which accuses the State Department of preventing action from being taken to rescue Jews.

January 16

Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau meets with President Roosevelt and presents a “Personal Report to the President,” a condensed and milder version of the report he received. Within days, the War Refugee Board is created.

March 8

Filip Mueller, a Jewish inmate working in the gassing facilities at Auschwitz-Birkenau, describes the last moments of Czechoslovakian Jews from the family camp: “Suddenly a voice began to sing. Others joined in and the sound swelled into a mighty choir. They sang first the Czechoslovak national anthem and then the Hebrew song ‘Hatikva’ [Zionist anthem]. And all this time the SS men never stopped their brutal beatings. It was as if they [the SS] regarded the singing as a last kind of protest which they were determined to stifle if they could.”

March 13

Four Palestinian Jewish parachutists-Abba Berdichev, Reuven Dafni, Yonah Rosen, and Hannah Senesh-are dropped by British planes behind enemy lines in Yugoslavia for clandestine missions in Hungary. Hannah Senesh will be captured and executed by a firing squad in Budapest on November 7. Her body will later be interred in Israel with full military honors.

March 19

Germans take control of Hungary and its more than 700,000 Jews. They will implement tried and true practices of definition, confiscation of property, ghettoization, and deportation to death camps. The implementation of the Final Solution in Hungary will be complete in fewer than four months.

March 22

A large group of Jewish internees with two handguns escapes from the Koldyczewo labor camp, in Eastern Poland, after poisoning the watchdogs. 25 are killed by pursuing Germans as the prisoners flee to the forests, but hundreds get away, most joining the Bielski family camp.

March 24

The Gestapo deports 800 Greek Jews, deceiving them with claims that Passover matzah flour will be distributed at the Athens Synagogue.

April 4

United States aircraft take air reconnaissance photographs of Auschwitz.

April 7

Two Slovakian Jews, Alfred Wetzler and Rudolph Vrba (Walter Rosenberg), escape from Auschwitz. They will soon provide the Allies, the Jewish community and the Yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine) with detailed reports of Auschwitz killings. Known as the Auschwitz Protocol, the information will be smuggled to the West by the Working Group, the Jewish underground group in Slovakia.

April 15

The ghettoization of Hungary’s Jews begins.

April 15

Germany begins the deportation of Hungarian Jews, primarily to Auschwitz. A German document will note that 437,402 were deported on 147 trains. Between this date and July 8, 1944, most of them will be sent to Auschwitz, where a rail spur will lead directly to the Birkenau death camp.

May 19

In order to buy time, the Germans send Jewish relief leader Joel Brand to Turkey with a proposal of one million Jews for goods. In a second mission by Brand’s companion, Bandi Grosz, Germany seeks a separate peace with the West. It hopes to divorce the United States and Great Britain from the Soviet Union and thus enable the Third Reich to survive.

June 2

Yitzhak Gruenbaum, chairman of the Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency, requests that Allied aircraft bomb rail lines to Auschwitz.

June 4

The Allies liberate Rome.

June 6

Nearly 1,800 Jews on the Greek island of Corfu are deported by boat and rail to Auschwitz. Allied forces land on French beaches at Normandy on D-Day.

June 9

Clandestine radio listeners operating in the Lodz Ghetto report the Allied invasion of France, causing hope and excitement among the Ghetto residents. When German authorities become aware of the Ghetto’s elevated mood, a group of radio listeners, including Chaim Widawski, is arrested. Rather than expose his comrades, Widawski takes poison.

June 10

Germans kill 642 residents of Oradour-sur-Glane to avenge the killing of an SS officer.

June 11

The Jewish Agency Executive, chaired by David Ben-Gurion, meets in Jerusalem to consider whether to request that Auschwitz be bombed. Ben-Gurion states: “We do not know the truth concerning the entire situation in Poland, and it seems that we are unable to propose anything concerning this matter'” Dr. Schmorak concurs: “It is forbidden for us to take responsibility for a bomb that could very well cause the death of even one Jew.” The Jewish Agency initially decides not to take any action but will ultimately reconsider.

Summer 1944

Sonderkommando (Jewish inmates forced to work at the gas chambers and crematoria) snap clandestine photographs of the murder process and the burning of corpses on an outside pyre at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The photos are smuggled out of the camp by the Polish underground, which hopes that the images will motivate the Allies to action.

June 23

Red Cross inspectors visit the Theresienstadt Ghetto/concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. The Germans clean up Theresienstadt and plant gardens, hand out fresh clothing and bedding, and establish a soccer field in an elaborate setup designed to deceive their visitors.

June 24

The air arm of the US Army declares any bombing of Auschwitz as an “impracticable” idea requiring the diversion of considerable air support needed elsewhere.


Gestapo agents arrest 25 L’Armée Juive (The Jewish Army) fighters in Paris. The prisoners are tortured and then shipped to the Drancy, France transit camp. They will be deported eastward on August 17. En route, 14 fighters will escape by jumping from the moving train’

July 7

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill tells Anthony Eden, Britain’s foreign secretary, that he is in favor of bombing Auschwitz. Eden is told to approach the Royal Air Force and to “invoke my [Churchill’s] name, if necessary.” Churchill’s decision has been spurred by Eden’s report of a visit from Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, and Moshe Shertok of the Jewish Agency.

July 8

Facing international pressure and a deteriorating war situation, Hungary informs Berlin that Hungarian deportation of Jews will end.

July 9

Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg arrives in Budapest to do what he can to rescue Hungarian Jews there.

July 16

Tuvia Bielski leads the 1,230 Jews of his family camp into Novogrudok, Belorussia as Soviet forces liberate the town.

July 23

Russian troops enter the Majdanek death camp. H. W Lawrence, a correspondent The New York Times, writes: “I have just seen the most terrible place on earth.” Newspaper reports are met with suspicion of Soviet propaganda.


L’Armée Juive (The Jewish Army) is active in the French revolt against the Germans and in the 1ìberation of Toulouse, Lyons, and Paris. Previously, armed Jewish Army units acted in southern France against collaborators and Gestapo agents. In Nice, they broke up a deadly group of collaborators who were often able to spot Jews by their appearance.

August 1

The Red Army liberates Kovno.

August 2

Some 2,800 Gypsies are gassed at Auschwitz. The final deportations of Jews from the Lodz Ghetto, the last ghetto in Poland, occur. Over the next three weeks, 60,000 Jews will be deported, including Judenrat chairman Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski. The Lodz Ghetto has lasted longer than any other in Poland, yet Rumkowski’s strategy of “rescue through work” fails in the end.

August 14

In a letter to A. Leon Kubowitzski of the World Jewish Congress, Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy turns down Kubowitzski’s request that Auschwitz be bombed. His reasoning: “Such an operation could only be accomplished by the diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of forces now engaged in decisive operations and would in any case be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources. There is considerable opinion to the effect that such an effort even if practicable might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.”

August 20

The U.S. Army Air Force bombs Buna Monowitz, the work camp at Auschwitz, also known as Auschwitz III. The death camp at Birkenau (Auschwitz II)-and its gas chambers-is untouched.

August 23

Marshall Ion Antonescu is overthrown in Romania, and that nation joins the Allies.

August 25

German forces surrender in Paris. Adolf Eichmann and his staff leave Hungary, seemingly ending the deportation of Hungarian Jews.

August 18-29

Czech and Slovak partisans lead a national uprising in Slovakia. Nearly 10 percent of the male and female partisans-more than 1,500 fighters-are Jews.

September 3

Brussels, Belgium, is liberated by the Allies. Anne Frank is among the Dutch Jews deported to Auschwitz from the Westerbork transit camp.

September 12

Haviva Reik, a female Jewish parachutist from Palestine, is dropped into Slovakia to join the three Palestinian parachutists who landed a week earlier. Reik’s mission is to connect with the Working Group, the Jewish underground organization in Slovakia, and aid in rescue operations. Caught up in the events surrounding the Slovak National Uprising, they will be captured by German troops and executed on November 20.

Sepltember 16

Following a Communist coup, Bulgaria declares war on Germany.

October 6

The Soviet Army enters Hungary.

October 6-7

Sonderkommando workers using smuggled explosives stage an uprising at Auschwitz-Birkenau. One of the four crematoria is set on fire.

October 13

Soviet troops enter Riga, Latvia.

Ocotber 17

Adolf Eichmann returns to Budapest.

October 18

Oskar Schindler arranges to have 300 women transferred from Auschwitz to his factory.

October 20

Some 22,000 Hungarian Jews are put on trains headed to Auschwitz.

Octobe 30

The last deportation train leaves Theresienstadt for Auschwitz. Approximately 88,000 Jews have been sent from that camp to Auschwitz.

November 6

Hungary’s fascistic Arrow Cross forces some 30,000 Hungarian Jews to the old Austrian border.

November 8

Germans begin a death march of captive Jews from Budapest.

Novembe 25

The Germans’ demolition of Crematorium II begins at Auschwitz-Birkenau.



Abba Kovner and other former partisans establish Brichah (Flight), a secret organization that smuggles Jewish survivors into Palestine.

January 6

Germans hang four Jewish women in Auschwitz for having smuggled explosives used in the camp revolt of October 6-7, 1944.

January 17

The Red Army enters Budapest. A final roll call is held at Auschwitz. Soviet officials arrest Raoul Wallenberg.

January 18

Forced “death march” evacuations begin at Auschwitz. Prisoners are forced to walk toward Germany rather than be captured alive by advancing Soviet troops, reversing the long process of making Germany Jew-free. Many will die on these marches from cold and the absence of shelter, hunger, 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

A forced march of prisoners begins from Gross Rosen to Flossenberg.

February 4

An Allied Conference at Yalta establishes a postwar division of Europe. This will be the last conference attended by President Roosevelt.

March 5

The U.S. Ninth Army reaches the Rhine River in Germany.

March 30

Soviet troops enter Austria.

April 11

American troops liberate the concentration camp at Buchenwald, Germany; 21,000 inmates are still alive, among them Elie Wiesel.

April 12

Generals Dwight David Eisenhower, George Patton, and Omar Bradley visit the concentration camp at Ohrdruf, Germany. 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. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies in Warm Springs, Georgia. Vice President Harry Truman is sworn in as president.

April 14

Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte negotiates the release of 423 Danish Jews from Theresienstadt.

April 15

British troops enter Bergen-Belsen, where the situation is so grave that 13,000 Jews will die after liberation.

April 23

The Nazi concentration camp at Flossenberg, Germany, is liberated by U.S. troops.

April 29

Hitler’s will instructs Germans to continue the War Against Jews. . American troops enter Dachau.

April 30

Hitler and his new bride, Eva Braun, commit suicide inside the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin. Germany’s Reichstag building is captured by the Soviet army.

May 2

German forces in Berlin surrender.

May 5

The Mauthausen concentration camp is liberated by American troops.

May 7

Germany signs an unconditional surrender.

May 8

VE (Victory in Europe) Day is celebrated in Allied countries.

August 6

An American B-29 drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

August 9

In another bombing run, an American B-29 drops an A-bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.

August 11

Anti-Jewish riots hit Krakow, Poland.

September 2

Japan surrenders, ending World War II.

September 17

The trial of Bergen-Belsen personnel begins.

October 25

Jews are attacked in Sosnowiec, Poland.

November 15

The trial of Dachau camp administrators begins.

November 19

Anti-Jewish riots hit Lublin.

November 20

The Allies’ First International Military Tribunal gets underway at Nuremberg, Germany. Of the 22 defendants, most are high-ranking Nazi leaders and officials.


May 1

The Anglo-American Commission recommends the admission of 100,000 Jews to Palestine. Britain, which holds the mandate on Palestine, refuses.

July 4

An anti-Jewish pogrom in Kielce, Poland, follows the disappearance of a non-Jewish child. In the violence, 42 Jews are killed. Over the next year, 100,000 Jews will flee Eastern Europe to American and British zones called Brichah (Flight).

September 18

One part of Emanuel Ringelblum’s collection of documents from the Oyneg Shabbes archive is discovered buried beneath the rubble of Warsaw.

October 1

Initial verdicts are reached in the first of the Nuremberg Trials. Of the 22 defendants, three are acquitted. The rest receive penalties ranging from 10 years imprisonment to death.

October 15

Hermann Goring, the former head of the Luftwaffe and Hitler’s designated successor, takes his own life with hidden poison hours before he is to be executed.

October 25

At Nuremberg, the United States indicts 20 German doctors and three medical assistants on four counts, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, in response to bizarre medical experiments on living human subjects.


January 13

Eighteen Nazi judges are brought to trial at Nuremberg

February 8

Six German industrialists are brought to trial at Nuremberg.

March 29

Former Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess is sentenced to death at his Warsaw Trial.

April 16

Hoess is hanged at Auschwitz outside the gas chamber at Auschwitz I.

May 8

The trial of 24 board members of manufacturing giant I.G. Farben begins.

May 10

The trial of 12 former Wehrmacht officers begins.

July 1

Fourteen former SS leaders sit for trial.

August 16

The trial of 12 executives of arms giant Krupp begins.

August 20

The so-called “Doctors’ Trial” concludes with the court’s Statement of Medical and Research Conduct, which includes the concepts of informed consent and the right to stop treatment at any time.

November 4

Twenty-one former senior German diplomats are put on trial.


The trial of 40 former Auschwitz administrators begins. These trials are an attempt to purge Germany of its Nazi leadership and hold them accountable for their crimes. Interest in the trials will wane, especially after the Berlin Blockade of 1948 and the need to enlist German support for the West in the Cold War.

1948 and Beyond

May 14, 1948

State of Israel is proclaimed; its borders are opened to all Jews.

December 9, 1948:

The Convention for the Prevention of Crimes of Genocide is adopted by the United Nations specifically to outlaw many of the crimes associated with the Holocaust. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights will follow the next day. The United States will not ratify the convention until 1988.


The Ghetto Fighters’ House (Itzhak Katzenelson Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum) is founded in Western Galilee, Israel, by a community of Holocaust survivors. In 1995, the Yad Layeled, The Living Memorial to the Children of the Holocaust, will open on this site.

May 23, 1949:

The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) is established.

October 7, 1949:

The Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany) is established.

June 1950

The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 is amended to allow equitable Jewish immigration to the United States.

December 1, 1950

A second Portion of Emanuel Ringelblum’s Oyneg Shabbes archive is discovered in milk cans buried beneath Warsaw. (To date, the third and final portion is still to be recovered.)

April 12, 1951

Yom Hashoah V’hagevurah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day) is established by Israel’s Knesset (parliament).

September 21, 1951

West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer apologizes to the Jewish people and offers reparations.

September I0, 1952

Israel and West Germany agree on German payment of reparations to Israel and to Jewish organizations.

May 27, 1953

The cornerstone ceremony is held in Jerusalem for the Yad Vashem Memorial. In 1957 the first buildings at Yad Vashem will open to the public. They include the Ohel Yizkor (Hall of Remembrance) as well as the archives and library building.

May 23, 1960

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s prime minister, announces the capture and removal to Israel (for trial) of former SS functionary Adolf Eichmann.

April 11-August 14, 1961

The trial of Adolf Eichmann unfolds in Jerusalem. Eichmann is found guilty and sentenced to death.

May 31, 1962

Adolf Eichmann is hanged and his ashes are scattered at sea, beyond Israeli territorial waters. (To date, Eichmann is the only person ever executed in Israel.)

December 20, 1963

The trial of SS officers posted to Auschwitz is held in Frankfurt am Main. The proceedings will last until August 1965.

April 1978

NBC broadcasts the docudrama The Holocaust over four consecutive nights, bringing the event to the attention of tens of millions of viewers.

May 14, 1978

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 1979

The President’s Commission on the Holocaust begins its deliberations, with Elie Wiesel as chair.

September 4, 1979

The Office of Special Investigations (OSI) is established in Washington to investigate Nazi war criminals who have come to the United States.

October 1980

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council is established by a unanimous act of Congress to plan and build the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

June 1981

More than 6,000 survivors gather at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for the first World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.

April 1983

More than 20,000 American Jewish Holocaust survivors gather in Washington for the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. Among the speakers are President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George H. W. Bush, and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill.


French movie director Claude Lanzmann releases Shoah, a 9½-hour documentary on the Holocaust.

May 5-7, 1985

U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s ceremonial visit to a Bitburg, Germany, cemetery where Waffen-SS troops are buried provokes an international controversy.

December 1986

Elie Wiesel is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role as Holocaust Witness and his efforts for human rights and human dignity.

February 1993

The Beit Hashoah Museum of Tolerance opens in Los Angeles.

April 22, 1993

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opens in Washington, D.C.

October 1993

Schindler’s List, a film directed by Steven Spielberg, opens in U.S. theaters, where it is seen by tens of millions of Americans. It will win seven Academy Awards.

Late 1993

Citing insufficient evidence identifying him as Ivan the Terrible, while confirming his role as a brutal guard at Treblinka, the Israeli Supreme Court releases John Demjanjuk, who was convicted in 1988 by a Jerusalem court of war crimes.


With the profits from Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg establishes the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation to record on videotape the personal testimonies of 50,000 Holocaust survivors. Within five years, 52,000 testimonies will be taken in 32 languages in 57 countries.

May 1996

Swiss bankers and the World Jewish Congress decide to look into the misappropriation of Jewish funds during and after the Holocaust.

October 23, 1996

Peter Hug, a Swiss historian, shows how Switzerland used funds of Holocaust victims to settle claims by Poland and Hungary.

September 1997

The Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust opens in New York City.

October 1997

Accused former Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon goes on trial in France for the deportations of Jews from France, including children.

August 1998

Swiss banks agree to pay $1.25 billion to compensate Holocaust victims for stolen assets.

August 19, 1998

The Italian insurance group Assicurazioni Generali agrees to pay $100 million to Holocaust victims as compensation for previously unpaid insurance.

December 3, 1998

At a meeting in Washington, D.C., 44 nations agree to return fine art looted from victims of the Nazis.

February 16, 1999

Germany establishes a $ 1.7 billion Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future Fund. It is financed by the German government and major German corporations that had profited from forced labor during the Nazi era.

May 26, 1999

Germany agrees to compensate Polish slave laborers.

January 2000

The prime minister of Sweden convenes an international conference of 21 heads of state and delegations representing 46 countries to implement Holocaust education.

March 2000

Pope John Paul II visits Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, where he condemns anti-Semitism as anti-Christian. At the Holocaust memorial and, even more strikingly, in a note inserted into the Western Wall, he apologizes for anti-Semitic actions by Christians.

April 2000

In a British court, Holocaust denier David Irving loses the libel suit that he brought against historian Deborah Lipstadt. The court finds that lrving did indeed falsify the historical record, and that he is an anti-Semite and a racist. Because Irving has been the most erudite and visible proponent of the denial movement, this is a major defeat for groups and individuals who have followed his lead.

January 27, 2006

The United Nations observes the first International Day of Commemoration to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Israeli scholar Yehuda Bauer is the guest speaker. January 27 is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet forces.

Sources: Feinberg, Stephen. SE, Classroom Focus – “Holocaust Chronology:” October 1995.
Holocaust Chronology, Yad Vashem, Israel




  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Google+
  • Museum Blog