This timeline covers international events from 1933 to 1945 which are related to the tragedy of millions who suffered at the hand of Nazi Germany.
1933 – 1945
- Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Hindenburg.
- The first concentration camps, Dachau, near Munich, opens.
- The German Government institutes a boycott of Jewish stores and businesses, it lasts one day.
- German students burn books by Jews, anti-Nazis, and others. More than 20,000 books are burned opposite a university in Berlin
- The Vatican signs a concordant with Germany, granting Hitler political recognition in return for protection of Catholic rights.
- International Conference to aid German Jews takes place in London. It resolves to oppose the emigration of elderly German Jews from Germany.
- The ‘Night of the Long Knives’ takes place throughout Germany, in which Hitler loyalists purge hundreds of SA officers.
- President Hindenburg dies in office. Hitler combines the roles of president and chancellor and becomes commander-in-chief of Germany.
- Germany retakes the Saarland.
- The Nuremberg Laws are enacted, depriving Jews of various rights and defining Jews biologically based on the religion of their grandparents.
- German troops occupy the Rhineland, defying the sanctions of the Treaty of Versailles.
- The Olympics are held in Berlin. A month prior anti-Jewish signs etc are removed and anti-Semitic dialogue is diminished.
- The Sachsenhausen concentration camp, north-west of Berlin, is opened.
- Hitler an Italian dictator Benito Mussolini sign a treaty forming the Berlin-Rome Axis.
- Buchenwald Concentration camp is opened.
- Hitler declares that the Treaty of Versailles is invalid.
- Austria is annexed by Germany. This becomes known as theAnschluss.
- Flossenberg concentration camp is opened.
- Evian Conference takes place in July, at Evian-les-Bains, France. The purpose of the Conference is to consider the issue of Jewish refugees, it is attended by 32 nations and none are asked to change their laws to increase their budgets for refugees.
- Mauthausen concentration camp is opened.
- Munich Conference takes place, attended by British Prime Minister Chamberlain, Hitler, French Premier Daladier, and Italian leader Mussolini. Hitler is given the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia and France and Britain settle on a policy of appeasement.
- Kristallnacht(The Night of Broken Glass) occurs in November throughout Germany and newly annexed Austria. Thousands of synagogues and Jewish places of business are destroyed and thousands sent to concentration camps.
- British Home Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare announces his support for the Kindertransport. The Kindertransport arranges the rescue of 10,000 children from the continent to Britain.
- Germany invades Czechoslovakia and occupies the capital Prague.
- Inmates begin arriving at the first women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück.
- The Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union is signed, secretly diving Poland between the two.
- Germany invades Poland, Britain, France and other Allied nations declare war on Germany.
- Germany invades the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.
- Auschwitz concentration camp begins operating, its initial prisoners are Polish.
- France signs an armistice with Germany.
- The German Foreign Office proposes turning the African island of Madagascar into an island for Jews, trying to solve the territorial issue of the ‘Jewish Problem.’
- The Battle of Britain begins.
- Heinrich Himmler establishes a special Reichsbank account for gold, silver, money and jewellery taken from Jews.
- Japan signs a treaty with Germany and Italy, thus joining the Axis.
- Hungary, Slovakia and Romania ally themselves with Nazi Germany.
- Prior to the German invasion of the Soviet Union, German high command approves the tasks of theEinsatzgruppen(mobile killing units).
- The German army invades the Soviet Union in the codenamed Operation Barbarossa.
- Hermann Göring advises Reinhard Heydrich to remove and eradicate all Jews in territories held by the Reich. This move is to begin implementation of the Final Solution.
- All Jews in Germany (now including Austria, Bohemia and Moravia) are now required to wear the yellow star.
- The first gassing at Auschwitz takes place.
- At Babi Yar ravine, near Kiev, approximately 33,371 Jews are killed by the Einsatzgruppen.
- The ‘model’ ghetto/transit camp/concentration camp of Theresienstadt is established in German occupied Czechoslovakia.
- Gassing begins at Chelmno in German occupied Poland, using mobile gas vans.
- Wannsee Conference is held outside of Berlin. The task of those in attendance is to coordinate and implement the Final Solution.
- The first gassing of Jews begins at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
- Germany completes the Operation Reinhard death camps in occupied Poland – Chelmno, Auschwitz, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Majdanek.
- The BBC reports that 700,000 Jews have been murdered.
- TheDaily Telegraphreports that over one million Jews have been killed.
- All Jews currently in concentration camps in Germany are ordered to be sent to Auschwitz.
- The USA, Britain, Soviet Union and other Allies condemn the Nazis ‘extermination of the Jewish people of Europe.’
- Crematoria II is completed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
- Crematoria IV opens at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
- The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising takes place. It lasts for nearly a month, ends in defeat for the resistance, and afterwards the Ghetto is liquidated.
- The Danish aid in the rescue of more than 7,000 Danish Jews, almost the entire Jewish population, who are sent by boat to neutral Sweden.
- The approximately 500 Danish Jews who are caught are deported but the Danish government insists on knowing about their fate.
- The United States undertakes a reconnaissance mission that takes photos of Auschwitz from the air.
- The deportation of Hungarian Jews begins. They will be sent primarily to Auschwitz.
- Chairman of the Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency, Yitzak Gruenbaum, asks for Allied aircraft to bomb Auschwitz.
- The air arm of the US Army declares any plan to bomb the railway lines at Auschwitz as impracticable. Later in the year Winston Churchill tells Britain’s foreign secretary Anthony Eden that he is in favour of bombing Auschwitz.
- Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg arrives in Budapest and begins rescuing Hungarian Jews.
- Soviet troops enter the Majdanek concentration camp in eastern Poland. Initial reports of the camp are treated with suspicion by the west.
- The US Army bombs Auschwitz III, otherwise known as Buna Monowitz.
- Sonderkommando (special workers designated with the cremation of the bodies of those gassed) stage an uprising at Auschwitz-Birkenau, blowing up one of the crematoria.
- Four women are hanged at Auschwitz for smuggling in the explosives used in the Sonderkommando’s uprising in late 1944.
- Forced death marches from Auschwitz take place in January, in which prisoners are forced to walk towards Germany in mid-winter, rather than be captured by the advancing Soviet forces.
- Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz on 27 January.
- Allied Conference at Yalta establishes the post war divisions of Europe.
- American troops liberate Buchenwald, Flossenberg, and Mauthausen.
- British troops liberate Bergen-Belsen.
- Hitler and Eva Braun commit suicide in Berlin on April 30, as the Soviet army is entering Berlin and about to take the Reichstag.
- Germany signs its unconditional surrender May 7.
- The trial of Bergen-Belsen personnel begins in September.
- The trial of Dachau administrators begins in November.
- The first International Military Tribunal begins in November in Nuremberg, in which most of the defendants are high-ranking Nazi officials and leaders.
1946 – 2006
- Initial verdicts are reached in the Nuremberg Trials in October. Of the 22 defendants three are acquitted, the rest receive penalties ranging from 10 years imprisonment to death.
- US authorities indict 20 German doctors and three medical assistants in Nuremberg. Counts include crimes against humanity and war crimes, in response to medical experiments conducted on concentration camp inmates.
- Throughout the year various people involved in the workings of the Third Reich are put on trial and sentence. For example, six industrialists are trialled in Nuremberg in February, in July fourteen former SS leaders stand trial, and in December forty former Auschwitz administrators are trialled. Rudolf Höss, former commandant of Auschwitz, is hung outside the gas chamber at Auschwitz I. The Nuremberg Doctors Trial concludes in August. The court creates the Statement of Medical and Research Conduct, which includes the idea of informed consent.
- The State of Israel is proclaimed and opens its borders to all Jews. The United Nations Convention for the Prevention of Crimes of Genocide is adopted. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights follows the next day.
- Yom HaShoahis established by Israel’s Knesset (Parliament).
- West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer apologises to the Jewish people and offers reparations.
- Israel and West Germany agree on reparations payments to Israel and Jewish organisations.
- Cornerstone ceremony is held in Jerusalem for the Yad Vashem Memorial.
- The first buildings at Yad Vashem open to the public, they include the Hall of Remembrance, the archives, and library.
- Adolf Eichmann is capture in Argentina and transported to Israel to stand trial for crimes against humanity and crimes against the Jewish people.
- The trial of Adolf Eichmann takes place in Jerusalem, lasting from April to August.
- Adolf Eichmann is hanged in Jerusalem for his war crimes.
- The trial of SS officers posted at Auschwitz takes place at Frankfurt am Main, lasting until 1965.
- In the United States, President Jimmy Carter announces his intention to establish the President’s Commission on the Holocaust. The purpose of the Commission is to recommend an appropriate national memorial to victims of the Holocaust.
- The television miniseriesHolocaustis screened worldwide.
- The Office of Special Investigations is established in Washington DC to investigate the allegations of Nazi war criminals who have come to the United States.
- The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council is established by an act of Congress, to plan and build the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- The first World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors takes place in Jerusalem. It is attended by more than 6,000 survivors.
- The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors takes place in Washington DC. More than 20,000 American survivors take part and among the speakers is President Ronald Reagan.
- Claude Lanzmann’s documentaryShoahis released, it is 9 ½ hours long.
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is opened in Washington DC.
- Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List is released, it goes on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
- Steven Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, in order to record the personal testimonies of thousands of Holocaust survivors.
- Swiss bankers and the World Jewish Congress decide to investigate the misappropriation of Jewish funds during and after the Holocaust.
- Swiss banks agree to pay $1.25 billion in compensation for previously unpaid insurance to Holocaust victims.
- 44 nations agree, at a meeting in Washington DC, to return art looted from Nazi victims.
- Germany establishes a $1.7 billion Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future Fund, financed by the German government and major German companies that had profited from forced labour during the Second World War.
- A conference is convened in Sweden, attended by 21 heads of state and delegations from 46 countries, with the intention of implementing Holocaust education.
- British Holocaust denier David Irving loses his libel suit against historian Deborah Lipstadt. The court finds that Irving is an anti-Semite and a racist and his libel allegations have no ground.
- The United Nations observes the first International Day of Commemoration honouring the victims of the Holocaust. The date of the Day of Commemoration is January 27, the day Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz.