Jews being marched from the Warsaw Ghetto to the the central deportation area, May 1943. (Stroop Report/Wikimedia Commons)

A Timeline of the Holocaust

From Hitler's rise to power to the Nuremberg trials, key events of the Shoah.

The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its allies and collaborators. The Holocaust was an evolving process that took place throughout Europe between 1933 and 1945.

The Holocaust is also sometimes referred to as “the Shoah,” the Hebrew word for “catastrophe.” It affected nearly all of Europe’s Jewish population, which in 1933 numbered 9 million people. 

When they came to power in Germany, the Nazis did not immediately start to carry out mass murder. However, they quickly began using the government to target and exclude Jews from German society. The regime persecuted other groups because of politics, ideology, or behavior. The Nazis claimed that Roma, people with disabilities, some Slavic peoples (especially Poles and Russians), and Black people were biologically inferior. Other persecuted groups included Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gay men, and people the Nazis called “asocials” and “professional criminals.” 

MAY 7, 1919: Treaty of Versailles

German delegates in Versailles (German Federal Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

The Treaty of Versailles ending World War I is presented to Germany. Among its provisions, the treaty forces Germany to accept responsibility for the war and commit to enormous reparation payments — a humiliation seen as setting the stage for the rise of Adolf Hitler and his promise to restore German greatness.

FEBRUARY 27, 1925: Hitler Reformulates Nazi Party

Hitler with Nazi Party members in 1930 (German Federal Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

Hitler declares the reformulation of the Nazi Party and installs himself as leader in a declaration at the Munich beer hall where he led an aborted coup against the German government in 1923.

JANUARY 30, 1933: Hitler Becomes Chancellor of Germany

Adolf Hitler poses with a group of SS members in Berlin soon after his appointment as chancellor, February 1933. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

The Nazis assume control of Germany with Hitler’s appointment as chancellor.
FROM THE JTA ARCHIVE (1933): Hitler Sworn in as German Chancellor 

FEBRUARY 28, 1933: Reichstag Fire and Aftermath

Hitler appears at the new Reichstag in Berlin, March 23, 1933 (German Federal Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

A day after a fire in the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building, German President Paul Von Hindenburg approves the Reichstag Fire Decree, an emergency decree that suspends individual rights and due process of law.
THE JTA ARCHIVE (1933): Police Aided By Nazis Search Central Union Premises After Reichstag Fire

MARCH 22, 1933: First Concentration Camp Established

Prisoners working under supervision at Dachau, June 1938. (German Federal Archive/Wikimedia Commons)

The SS, a Nazi paramilitary group, establishes the first concentration camp to incarcerate political prisoners near the town of Dachau.
THE JTA ARCHIVE (1933): Jewish Lawyer Tortured by Nazis in Concentration Camp 

APRIL 1, 1933: Nazis Stage Boycott of Jewish Businesses

Nazis affix a sign to Jewish store urging shoppers not to patronize it, 1933. (German Federal Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

Nazi leadership stages an economic boycott targeting Jewish-owned businesses and the offices of Jewish professionals.
JTA ARCHIVE (1933): Nazi Communique Announces Boycott of Jewish Businesses Throughout Country

SEPTEMBER 15, 1935: Nuremberg Laws

Chart explaining the Nuremberg Laws. (Wikimedia Commons)

The German parliament (Reichstag) passes the Nuremberg Laws, institutionalizing many of the Nazis’ racial theories and providing the legal grounds for the persecution of Jews in Germany.
Read the full text here.

AUGUST 1, 1936: Opening of Berlin Olympics

Inside the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Summer 1936. (German Federal Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

The Summer Olympic Games open in Berlin, providing the Nazi government with a major propaganda success by enabling it to present itself as a respectable member of the international community.

MARCH 11, 1938: Germany Annexes Austria

Cheering crowds greet Hitler’s arrival in Vienna, March 15, 1938. (German Federal Archive/Wikimedia Commons)

Germany invades Austria and incorporates it into the German Reich, provoking a wave of street violence against Jews in Vienna.
JTA ARCHIVE (1938): Anschluss Proclaimed in Plebiscite

SEPTEMBER 29, 1938: The Munich Agreement

Munich Agreement signing [German Federal Archive/Wikimedia Commons)

The Munich agreement is signed, ceding the Sudetenland, a region in Czechoslovakia with a large ethnic German population, to Germany and prompting British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to declare the achievement of “peace for our time.”
JTA ARCHIVE (1938): Munich Pact Abandons Minorities to Nazi Terror

NOVEMBER 9, 1938: Kristallnacht

Jewish stores the day after Kristallnacht in Magdeburg, Germany. (German Federal Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

A night of violent anti-Jewish pogroms known as Kristallnacht results in the destruction of hundreds of synagogues, the looting of thousands of Jewish-owned businesses and the deaths of nearly 100 Jews. The event, which was followed by the promulgation of dozens of anti-Jewish laws, is considered a turning point in the persecution of German Jewry.
JTA ARCHIVE: 25,000 Jews Under Arrest in Wake of Worst Pogrom in Modern German History, 4 Dead

DECEMBER 2, 1938: Kindertransports Begin

Jewish refugee children, who are members of the first Kindertransport from Germany, arrive in Harwich, England, Dec. 2, 1938. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Instytut Pamieci Narodowej)

The first Kindertransport, a program for bringing child refugees out of Nazi Germany, arrives in Great Britain, bringing some 200 Jewish children from a Berlin orphanage destroyed on Kristallnacht. Thousands of refugee children would be brought to England aboard such transports between 1938 and 1940.
JTA ARCHIVE (1999): Former Kindertransport Refugees Gather for a Last Full-Scale Reunion

MAY 13, 1939: Departure of the St. Louis

Jewish refugees gather below deck on the MS St. Louis, May or June 1939. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Betty Troper Yaeger)

The ocean liner St. Louis departs Hamburg, Germany and heads toward Cuba carrying 900 passengers, nearly all of them Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. The boat is denied entry to Cuba and later the United States, forcing it to return to Europe. Some were taken in by the United Kingdom, while the others were allowed into Western European countries that would later be occupied by the Nazis. Two hundred and fifty-four of the passengers would eventually be murdered in the Holocaust.

SEPTEMBER 1, 1939: Germany Invades Poland

German troops parade through Warsaw, Poland, September 1939. (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons)

Germany invades Poland, setting off World War II. Britain and France responded with a declaration of war two days later.

May 1940: Germany Invades France

Invading German troops in Paris on the Avenue de Foche, June 14, 1940. (German Federal Archive/Wikimedia Commons)

Germany begins its invasion of France, the Netherlands and Belgium. The Netherlands and Belgium surrender in May, and Paris is occupied on June 14.  In a June 22 armistice agreement, Germany is given control of northern France, while the collaborationist French Vichy government controls the south.
JTA ARCHIVE (1940): Jews Fleeing France as Hitler Dictates Armistice Terms

MAY 20, 1940: Auschwitz Established

Train tracks leading to the Auschwitz death camp. (Wikimedia Commons)

Germany establishes the Auschwitz concentration camp, the largest facility of its kind built by the Nazis, about 43 miles west of Krakow, Poland.

NOVEMBER 15, 1940: Warsaw Jews Confined to Ghetto

Jewish children in the Lodz ghetto in 1940. (Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia Commons)

German authorities order the Warsaw ghetto sealed. It is the largest ghetto in both area and population, confining more than 350,000 Jews (about 30 percent of the city’s population) in an area of about 1.3 square miles.

JUNE 22, 1941: Germany Invades the USSR

Jewish women being deported in Russia in July 1941. (Wikimedia Commons/German Federal Archive)

Nazi Germany invades the Soviet Union in “Operation Barbarossa.” German mobile units of Security Police and SD (Nazi intelligence) officials, called Einsatzgruppen, identify, round up and murder Jews, carrying out mass shootings during the last week of June 1941.

JTA ARCHIVE (1941): 500,000 Jews in Path of Nazi Forces Invading Russia
JTA ARCHIVE (1941): Nazis Launch Radio Drive, Urge Russian Troops to Turn Bayonets on Jews

SEPTEMBER 1, 1941: Jews Forced to Wear Yellow Stars of David

A Jewish couple wearing the yellow star poses on a street in Salonika in 1942 or 1943. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Flora Carasso Mihael)

All Jews over the age of six residing in territories under German control are required to wear a yellow Star of David with the word Jew inscribed within it on their outer clothing.

JTA ARCHIVE (1941): Jews in Reich Start New Year by Wearing Yellow Stars

DECE 7, 1941: Pearl Harbor Attacked, US Enters World War II

U.S. Navy battleships at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. (U.S. National Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

Japan launches a surprise attack on the United States Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, prompting the United States to enter World War II.

JTA ARCHIVE (1941): Hebrew U President Judah L. Magnes Cables FDR Day After Pearl Harbor to Offer Service

JAN. 20, 1942: “Final Solution” Planned at Wannsee

The Wannsee Conference convenes in a villa outside Berlin. Plans to coordinate a “final solution” to the Jewish question are presented to leading German and Nazi officials.

July 23, 1942: Nazis Begin Gassing Operations at Treblinka

Deportation of Polish Jews to Treblinka extermination camp from the ghetto in Siedlce, 1942, occupied Poland. (Wikimedia Commons)

Some 925,000 Jews and an unknown number of Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners would be murdered there.
JTA ARCHIVE (1943): Nazis Suffocate Jews in Groups of 500 in Special Steam Chambers

APRIL 19, 1943: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Begins

Captured Jews are led by German Waffen SS soldiers to the assembly point for deportation, May 1943. (Stroop Report/Wikimedia Commons)

For nearly a month, small groups of Jews fought the larger and better armed German forces before finally being defeated.
JTA ARCHIVE (April 30, 1943): Jews in Warsaw Ghetto Ask for Food and Arms to Continue Resistance
JTA ARCHIVE (May 16, 1943): Nazis Burn Down 200 Houses in Warsaw Ghetto, Execute Jewish Hostages

September 20, 1943: Thousands of Danish Jews Begin Escape to Sweden

Jewish refugees are ferried out of Denmark aboard Danish fishing boats bound for Sweden, October 1943. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Frihedsmuseet)

With help from resistance fighters and ordinary citizens, some 7,200 Danish Jews began their escape to neutral Sweden.
JTA ARCHIVE (1943): Fishermen Establish Regular Ferry Service for Refugees Between Denmark and Sweden

MARCH 19, 1944: Germany Occupies Hungary

Arrested Jewish women in Budapest, October 1944. (German Federal Archive/Wikimedia Commons)

Germany occupies Hungary. Less than two months later, the deportation of 440,000 Hungarian Jews, mostly to Auschwitz, begins.
JTA ARCHIVE (1944): Jewish Shops in Budapest Looted, Jews Flee Homes, Seek Escape from Hungary

OCTOBER 7, 1944: Prisoners at Auschwitz Rebel

Jewish women from Subcarpathian Russia who have been selected for forced labor at Auschwitz-Birkenau, march toward their barracks after disinfection and head shaving, May 1944. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Yad Vashem)

Jews arriving at Auschwitz in 1944. (German National Archive/Wikimedia Commons)Prisoners at Auschwitz rebel and the Germans crush the uprising, killing nearly 250 prisoners during the fighting.

January 27, 1945: Soviets Liberate Auschwitz

Photograph of prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau during liberation, January 1945. (Wikimedia Commons)

With Soviet forces advancing, Germany begins, on Jan. 17, the final evacuation of Auschwitz, marching nearly 60,000 west toward Germany in what became known as “death marches.” Anyone who fell behind or could not continue was shot. Ten days later, Soviet forces entered the camp and liberated the remaining 7,000 prisoners.

APRIL 30, 1945: Hitler Commits Suicide

Location of Hitler’s bunker, where he commit suicide. (Wikimedia Commons)

With Soviet forces nearing his command bunker in central Berlin, Adolf Hitler commits suicide.
JTA ARCHIVE (1945): Moscow Jews Rejoice at News of Hitler’s Death

MAY 7, 1945: Germany Surrenders

V-E Day celebration in London, May 8, 1945. (Imperial War Museum/Wikimedia Commons)

Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies.  armed forces surrender unconditionally in the west. Victory in Europe, V-E Day, is proclaimed the next day.
JTA ARCHIVE (1945): German Refugee Captain Acts as Interpreter as Nazis in Italy Surrender

NOVEMBER 20, 1945: Nazi Leaders Charged with Crimes Against Humanity

Maria Dolezalova, one of the children kidnapped by the Germans after they destroyed the Czech town of Lidice, is sworn in as a prosecution witness at the RuSHA Trial, Oct. 30, 1947. RuSHA was the Main Race and Resettlement Office, a central organization in the implementation of racial programs of the Third Reich. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy of Hedwig Wachenheimer Epstein)
Maria Dolezalova, one of the children kidnapped by the Germans after they destroyed the Czech town of Lidice, is sworn in as a prosecution witness at the RuSHA Trial, Oct. 30, 1947. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Courtesy of Hedwig Wachenheimer Epstein)

An international tribunal in Nuremberg charges 21 Nazi leaders with crimes against humanity. Twelve Nazis would eventually be sentenced to death.

JTA ARCHIVE: Leaders Nervous as Allied Prosecutors at Nuremberg Trial List Crimes Against Jews

JULY 4, 1946: At Least 42 Jews Murdered in Pogrom in Poland

Mourners bearing wreaths and banners grieve at the funeral of the Kielce pogrom victims, July 1946. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Leah Lahav)

A mob of Polish soldiers, police officers and civilians murder at least 42 Jews and injure over 40 in the Polish town of Kielce, an event that convinces many Holocaust survivors that they have no future in Poland and must emigrate to Palestine or elsewhere.

DECEMBER 15, 1961: Israeli Court Convicts Nazi War Criminal Adolf Eichmann

Adolf Eichman’s trial judges (left to right) Benjamin Halevi, Moshe Landau, and Yitzhak Raveh. (Israel Government Press Office/Wikimedia Commons)

An Israeli court convicts Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, following a highly publicized trial. Eichmann is executed on June 15, 1962.

JTA ARCHIVE (1961): Eichmann Found Guilty, Reading of Judgment to Conclude Tomorrow

Adapted with permission from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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