Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Story: Susan Sinclair

Susan Sinclair
German Jewish schoolgirl, Nuremberg

A number of men, somewhere between 7-10, came bursting into our house and started smashing up everything. They locked my parents in the bathroom and they were desperate to know what was happening to their girls. There were only two of us at home at the time, my older sister was away at college and my younger sister and I shared a big room and I saw that her bed was full of glass and that everything had been smashed and the furniture was turned upside down. Then they pulled me out of bed and tore my nightdress to shreds and I was so self-conscious as a 15 year old.

There were roars of laughter from these young men, who seemed as if they were drunk, and they said to me, 'Well, get your clothes on, where are they?' And I said, 'In that wardrobe' - this was heavy continental furniture. 'OK, go and got them.' So I went to get them and as I went up to it they got behind it and threw it over. In fact it certainly would have killed me if they hadn't turned quite a large table upside down first; for a short time the table held the wardrobe and I crawled out underneath. Then they started smashing up the rest of the place. My parents were screaming and shouting because they didn't know what was happening to us, it really was awful. Then they left to smash up somebody else's house.
It was then that life as I had known it, stopped.

Part 2 - The Search for Refuge (1937-1939)

"Everyone understood what they ought to be emigrating, but it was only when the wtershed of Kristallnacht occurred in November 1938 that my parents, in common with 90% of other German Jews, thought it's no good staying, they're going to kill us. Survival in the life-threatening sense was the only thing that mattered."


After 1938, the campaign to create a Judenrein - Jewish-cleansed - economy started in earnest; further laws and decrees published between 1937-1939 led to an ever-increasing spiral of of anti-Semitic violence, suffering and desperation among all sections of the Jewish community, destroying the very foundation of Jewish life in Germany. As a result of the strident anti-Semitic rhetoric spilling over the German borders, Jews in Germany's borderlands were growing increasingly uneasy. The Nazi takeover (Anschluss) of Austria on 13 March 1938 intensified these fears. Whereas the process of discrimination and violence against the German Jews had been relatively gradual, the persecution of the Austrian Jews was immediate and devastating; overnight, they were deprived of civil rights and subjected to extreme violence and humiliation, especially in Vienna.

In the autumn of 1938, thousands of Polish Jews were forcibly expelled from Germany to the border ares between Germany and Poland. On 28 October of that year, for instance, some 17,000 German-Jewish citizens of Polish origin were stripped of their citizenship and dumped in no-man's land on the border near the town of Zbaszyn. This outrage provoked Herschel Grynspan, the son of one of the displaced, to assassinate Ernst vom Rath, the first secretary of the German embassy in Paris, which resulted in wave of Nazi anti-Semitic attacks throughout Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland. This is known as Kristallnacht - the night of broken glass - when more than 7,500 Jewish shops were wrecked and many synagogues and precious religious artefacts desecrated or destroyed.

Following Kristallnacht 30,000 German Jews rounded up and imprisoned in concentration camps. As the camp population changed from 'undesirables' and 'criminals' to Jews, living conditions deteriorated to sub-human levels. Kristallnacht had enormous international repercussions and helped swing public opinion against the policy of appeasement. The violation of the Munich Agreement in March 1939 spurred Britain and France to react with their guarantees to Poland, Hitler's next likely target.

As war approached, Jews desperately sought refuge from what was now a very obvious threat. Jewish parents were particularly anxious to find safe refuge for their children. This is when, in late 1938 after Kristallnacht, Britain greed to take 10,000 Jewish children. In the event just over 9,000 arrived under the Kindertransport plan, the last group coming on the eve of war.

Despite the stringent immigration policies of potential host nations, emigration from the Grossdeutsches Reich (greater Germany) increased dramatically throughout the autumn and winter of 1938/39. Adolf Eichmann's Central Office for Jewish Emigration, based at first in Vienna and later in Berlin, began to drop its previous policy of persuasion for a new policy of intimidation, with Jews being subjected to humiliations, beatings, confinement in concentration camps and even death. These tough methods, along with the anti-Jewish laws, were extended to Czechoslovakia after the occupation of March 1939. By September 1939 about half of Germany's 500,000 Jews had left the country, along with 125,000 from Austria and 20,000 from the newly occupied Czech lands. Many thousands more were trapped.

Story: John Silberman

John Silberman
German Jewish schoolboy, Berlin

As time went on I became aware that business for my father seemed to be getting difficult. I didn't fully understand why, but there were pressures on customers not to buy from a Jewish manufacturer, and pressures from suppliers to get higher prices, or not supply Jews. My father's situation was not unique, it went on all over the place. It wasn't so much a rule or requirement from the Government to trade and industry, it was the taking of advantage by individuals: right, he's a Jew so we can squeeze him, and what can he do about it?

There was this perpetual threat that if you didn't comply with non-Jewish requests, you'd be report to the Gestapo and be arrested. One always heard of people disappearing, or being arrested then coming back after a week or so having been beaten up or given hard labour or, occasionally, being killed - although the latter was much more common from 1937. But even in those early days, talk of the Gestapo (the secret state police) was always rife.

Story: Dr Edith Bulbring

Dr Edith Bulbring
German part-Jewish (Mischiling) doctor, Berlin

I qualified as a doctor in 1928 and had a position in the Virchow Krankenhus (hospital) in Berlin at the time when Hitler came to power. There was a well-known Jewish professor there, Dr Friedmann. He was n expert on infectious diseases. After 1933 Dr Friedmann and his Jewish staff were dismissed. I was the only one left because I wasn't fully Jewish. I was in charge of 300 beds and perhaps 30 turnovers a day. So the conditions in this hospital were now quite unimaginable.

At that time there was a very severe diphtheria epidemic; one of the children got to the stage where his throat was blocked by a diphtheria membrane and needed a tracheotomy. We were told there was no doctor left to do this. The nurse asked me if I had ever done this operation. I said. 'No, but have you ever assisted in such an operation?'

'Oh, many times,' she said.
'Well then, that's fine, we'll do it. I know how it's done.'
And I did it and the boy got better. I was very pleased. The telephone rang when I got back to my room: would I please come to the administration. The administrator said, 'Miss Bulbring, we gather from your questionnaire that you are of part-Jewish origin. Therefore we no longer have any use for your services.'

There were no other doctors left in that hospital.

Story: Lili Stern-Pohlmann

Lili Stern-Pohlmann
Polish Jewish child, Krakow

We were not discriminated against in any obvious way, bot occasionally my father had difficulty in changing his job because he was Jewish - he was as qualified in his profession as anybody else. Apart from that, what I remember distinctly is that when Pilsudski died in 1935, from our third floor window we could see the funeral procession passing, and after it passed, I noticed policemen were beating people with truncheons. I asked my father, 'Why are they beating those people?" And my father said, 'My dear child, they didn't do anything wrong, it's only because they're Jewish.'

Part 1 - Persecution (1933-1936)

After 1933 it was just accepted that if you were a Jewish child you were liable to be beaten up, bullied, or whatever else they chose to do with you. It was no use appealing to policemen or teachers because they're not supposed to interfere or even be interested in helping you because you are perceived to be an enemy of the state.


Hitler's racism and hatred against the Jews and other groups began well before the Nationalist Socialist Workers Party- the Nazi Party - came to power on 30 January 1933. Nazi ideology outlining the worldwide conflict between 'Aryans' and Jews was a major theme of Hitler's Mein Kampf. Jews, along with Communists, with whom they were closely identified, were regarded as threatening the very basis of German and 'Aryan' (Caucasian of non-Jewish descent) culture, and Hitler's stated mission was to alert Germany and the world to this threat, and to destroy it.

Although the first fatal Jewish victims of the Nazi era can be dated as early as 1 January 1930, when the eight Jews were killed by Nazi storm troopers (Sturmabteilungen, SA), it was not until the Machtergreifung - Hitler's seizure of power - in January 1933 that the impact of anti-Jewish measures was felt. German Jews, increasingly isolated by Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda and segregated by the various laws, were the main victims during the years 1933-1936. There was, however, a certain amount of spillover of anti-Semitism into neighbouring countries.

During this period, the increasing violence against Germany Jewry was of a relatively sporadic character compared with the mass campaigns which came later, although there were indications of what was to come. For instance, on Saturday, 1April 1933, a one-day boycott of Jewish shops occurred, when windows were daubed with anti-Jewish slogans and armed SA guards prevented Aryan customers from entering Jewish shops. A purge of German Jewish, Communist and other books considered to be 'disruptive influences' was also undertaken, culminating in the mass book burnings of 10 May 1933 - both events organised by Joseph Goebbels and his Nazi cohorts.

On 1 April 1933 the first boycott of Jewish shops, lawyers and doctors took place all over Germany. Members of the SA and SS stood outside Jewish stores and reminded each would-be shopper of the boycott slogan: "Germans protect yourselves. Do not buy from Jews."

Shop windows are broken and goods are looted
Shop windows that are labeled "Jude" to indicate that it is a Jewish-owned shop

Mass Jewish book burnings and Nazi salutes

One of the first tasks the Nazi Party set itself on achieving power was to establish the concentration camp system. Dachau concentration camp was opened in March 1933, the first prisoners consisting mainly of Communist, Social Democrats and other political enemies of the Nazis. In 1934, an Inspectorate of Concentration Camps was created by the Schutzstaffel (SS) chief, Heinrich Himmler, under the command of Theodor Eicke, the SS Lagerfuhrer of Dachau. The aim was to restructure the camp system. All units henceforth operated uniformly under a central command with strict training of guards who were organised into the Totnkopfverbande
- an SS unit. Total organisation of prisoners' lives, backed up wit a brutal regime of punishment, was the order of the day.

It was during this phase that legislation was formulated and implemented restricting economic and professional activity as well as social contact with 'Aryans'. On 11 April 1933, the publication of the Law for the Restortion of the Professional Civil Service and the law establishing numerus clauses on Jews for admission into the legal profession was published. More than fifty other decrees were enacted between this date and September 1935, each of which covered a different profession. On 15 September, the so-called Nuremberg Laws, pssed by a special sitting of the Reichstag during the massive, dramatic Nazi Rally held in the city, brought shockwaves to German and European Jewry. The Nuremberg Laws defined who was considered a Jew and revoked what few rights Jews still possessed. All these measures were backed up with an increasing vitriolic anti-Jewish and racial propaganda campaign by the Nazi-controlled media, led by Julius Streicher's rbid anti-Semitic paper, Der Sturmer.

Throughout this time, Jews were encouraged to emigrate and, despite all the problems of gaining admission to safe havens, just over 35,000 Jews left for Palestine, Western Europe, Britain and the United States in 1933.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007


One of the toughest questions we are asked at the Holocaust History Project is when someone says "tell me everything you can about the Holocaust."

It is difficult because we know that this person wants to know about the Holocaust, but does not yet know enough to ask the right questions. There is so much information about the Holocaust that it is impossible to describe it all in a simple answer. We can, however, tell you what the Holocaust was and - most importantly - where you can read about it.

The Holocaust was the effort of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany to exterminate the Jews and other people that they considered to be inferior. As a result about 12,000,000 people - about half of them Jews - were murdered. The murders were done by every means imaginable but most of the victims perished as a result of shooting, starvation, disease, and poison gas. Others were tortured to death or died in horrible medical experiments.

Hitler took power in Germany in 1933 and almost immediately began the chain of events that led to the Holocaust. This first phase was the persecution of Jews in Germany and the other countries invaded by Hitler. It lasted until 1941. During this period, while Hitler built his power, Jews were persecuted and brutalized but there was no organized effort to systematically murder them.

In late 1939 Hitler invaded Poland, beginning the Second World War. In mid-1941 Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. At about the same time - historians do not agree on exactly when - Hitler also decided that there should be a "Final Solution" to "the Jewish question."

The "Final Solution" was the murder of the Jews and was mainly carried out by a military group known as the SS and a security service known as the SD. The Gestapo was part of the SD. They arrested Jews and other victims, ran the concentration camps and organized the murder squads.

During the first part of this extermination 1,500,000 Jews and other people were murdered by military groups which rounded them up and shot them. Gradually the emphasis changed to concentration camps, where the prisoners were worked to death as slave laborers, and extermination camps, where they were murdered in the gas chambers. The most famous of these was Auschwitz, which was both a labor camp and an extermination camp. About 1,300,000 people perished at Auschwitz; approximately 1,000,000 of those died in the gas chambers.

The Nazis targeted many groups for persecution - among them Catholics, Poles, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Communists - but only three groups were targeted for systematic extermination: Jews, the handicapped, and the Sinti and Roma (often known as Gypsies).

Sometime in 1944 it became obvious to most Nazi leaders (excepting Hitler) that they would soon be defeated and put on trial for what they had done. Several, including one of the worst of the criminals, Heinrich Himmler, tried to make deals with the Allies closing in on Nazi Germany. As a result the actual extermination stopped in November 1944, although thousands of people continued to die in the concentration camps. By that time most of the Jews who lived in Europe before the war, and millions of other innocent people, were dead. The war in Europe ended six months later, in May 1945.



Jan 30, 1933 - Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany a nation with a Jewish population of 566,000.

Feb 22, 1933 - 40,000 SA and SS men are sworn in as auxiliary police.

Feb 27, 1933 - Nazis burn Reichstag building to create crisis atmosphere.

Feb 28, 1933 - Emergency powers granted to Hitler as a result of the Reichstag fire.

March 22, 1933 - Nazis open Dachau concentration camp near Munich, to be followed by Buchenwald near Weimar in central Germany, Sachsenhausen near Berlin in northern Germany, and Ravensbrück for women.

March 24, 1933 - German Parliament passes Enabling Act giving Hitler dictatorial powers.

See also - The Rise of Hitler - from Unknown to Dictator of Germany

April 1, 1933 - Nazis stage boycott of Jewish shops and businesses.

April 11, 1933 - Nazis issue a decree defining a non-Aryan as "anyone descended from non-Aryan, especially Jewish, parents or grandparents. One parent or grandparent classifies the descendant as non-Aryan...especially if one parent or grandparent was of the Jewish faith."

April 26, 1933 - The Gestapo is born, created by Hermann Göring in the German state of Prussia.

May 10, 1933 - Burning of books in Berlin and throughout Germany.

July 14, 1933 - Nazi Party is declared the only legal party in Germany; Also, Nazis pass Law to strip Jewish immigrants from Poland of their German citizenship.

In July - Nazis pass law allowing for forced sterilization of those found by a Hereditary Health Court to have genetic defects.

In Sept - Nazis establish Reich Chamber of Culture, then exclude Jews from the Arts.

Sept 29, 1933 - Nazis prohibit Jews from owning land.

Oct 4, 1933 - Jews are prohibited from being newspaper editors.

Nov 24, 1933 - Nazis pass a Law against Habitual and Dangerous Criminals, which allows beggars, the homeless, alcoholics and the unemployed to be sent to concentration camps.


Jan 24, 1934 - Jews are banned from the German Labor Front.

May 17, 1934 - Jews not allowed national health insurance.

June 30, 1934 - The Night of Long Knives occurs as Hitler, Göring and Himmler conduct a purge of the SA (storm trooper) leadership.

July 20, 1934 - The SS (Schutzstaffel) is made an independent organization from the SA.

July 22, 1934 - Jews are prohibited from getting legal qualifications.

Aug 2, 1934 - German President von Hindenburg dies. Hitler becomes Führer.

Aug 19, 1934 - Hitler receives a 90 percent 'Yes' vote from German voters approving his new powers.


May 21, 1935 - Nazis ban Jews from serving in the military.

June 26, 1935 - Nazis pass law allowing forced abortions on women to prevent them from passing on hereditary diseases.

Aug 6, 1935 - Nazis force Jewish performers/artists to join Jewish Cultural Unions.

Sept 15, 1935 - Nuremberg Race Laws against Jews decreed.


Feb 10, 1936 - The German Gestapo is placed above the law.

In March - SS Deathshead division is established to guard concentration camps.

March 7, 1936 - Nazis occupy the Rhineland.

June 17, 1936 - Heinrich Himmler is appointed chief of the German Police.

Aug 1, 1936 - Olympic games begin in Berlin. Hitler and top Nazis seek to gain legitimacy through favorable public opinion from foreign visitors and thus temporarily refrain from actions against Jews.

In Aug - Nazis set up an Office for Combating Homosexuality and Abortions (by healthy women).


In Jan - Jews are banned from many professional occupations including teaching Germans, and from being accountants or dentists. They are also denied tax reductions and child allowances.

Nov 8, 1937 - 'Eternal Jew' travelling exhibition opens in Munich.

1938 Return to Top of Page

March 12/13, 1938 - Nazi troops enter Austria, which has a population of 200,000 Jews, mainly living in Vienna. Hitler announces Anschluss (union) with Austria.

In March - After the Anschluss, the SS is placed in charge of Jewish affairs in Austria with Adolf Eichmann establishing an Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna. Himmler then establishes Mauthausen concentration camp near Linz.

April 22, 1938 - Nazis prohibit Aryan 'front-ownership' of Jewish businesses.

April 26, 1938 - Nazis order Jews to register wealth and property.

June 14, 1938 - Nazis order Jewish owned businesses to register.

In July - At Evian, France, the U.S. convenes a League of Nations conference with delegates from 32 countries to consider helping Jews fleeing Hitler, but results in inaction as no country will accept them.

July 6, 1938 - Nazis prohibited Jews from trading and providing a variety of specified commercial services.

July 23, 1938 - Nazis order Jews over age 15 to apply for identity cards from the police, to be shown on demand to any police officer.

July 25, 1938 - Jewish doctors prohibited by law from practicing medicine.

Aug 11, 1938 - Nazis destroy the synagogue in Nuremberg.

Aug 17, 1938 - Nazis require Jewish women to add Sarah and men to add Israel to their names on all legal documents including passports.

Sept 27, 1938 - Jews are prohibited from all legal practices.

Oct 5, 1938 - Law requires Jewish passports to be stamped with a large red "J."

Oct 15, 1938 - Nazi troops occupy the Sudetenland.

Oct 28, 1938 - Nazis arrest 17,000 Jews of Polish nationality living in Germany, then expel them back to Poland which refuses them entry, leaving them in 'no-man's land' near the Polish border for several months.

Nov 7, 1938 - Ernst vom Rath, third secretary in the German Embassy in Paris, is shot and mortally wounded by Herschel Grynszpan, the 17 year old son of one of the deported Polish Jews. Rath dies on November 9, precipitating Kristallnacht.

Nov 9/10 - Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass.

Nov 12, 1938 - Nazis fine Jews one billion marks for damages related to Kristallnacht.

Nov 15, 1938 - Jewish pupils are expelled from all non-Jewish German schools.

Dec 3, 1938 - Law for compulsory Aryanization of all Jewish businesses.

Dec 14, 1938 - Hermann Göring takes charge of resolving the "Jewish Question."

1939 Return to Top of Page

Jan 24, 1939 - SS leader Reinhard Heydrich is ordered by Göring to speed up emigration of Jews.

Jan 30, 1939 - Hitler threatens Jews during Reichstag speech.

Feb 21, 1939 - Nazis force Jews to hand over all gold and silver items.

March 15/16 - Nazi troops seize Czechoslovakia (Jewish pop. 350,000).

April 19, 1939 - Slovakia passes its own version of the Nuremberg Laws.

April 30, 1939 - Jews lose rights as tenants and are relocated into Jewish houses.

In May - The St. Louis, a ship crowded with 930 Jewish refugees, is turned away by Cuba, the United States and other countries and returns to Europe.

July 4, 1939 - German Jews denied the right to hold government jobs.

July 21, 1939 - Adolf Eichmann is appointed director of the Prague Office of Jewish Emigration.

Sept 1, 1939 - Nazis invade Poland (Jewish pop. 3.35 million, the largest in Europe). Beginning of SS activity in Poland.

See also - World War Two in Europe Timeline

Sept 1, 1939 - Jews in Germany are forbidden to be outdoors after 8 p.m. in winter and 9 p.m. in summer.

Sept 3, 1939 - England and France declare war on Germany.

Sept 4, 1939 - Warsaw is cut off by the German Army.

Sept 17, 1939 - Soviet troops invade eastern Poland.

Sept 21, 1939 - Heydrich issues instructions to SS Einsatzgruppen (special action squads) in Poland regarding treatment of Jews, stating they are to be gathered into ghettos near railroads for the future "final goal." He also orders a census and the establishment of Jewish administrative councils within the ghettos to implement Nazi policies and decrees.

Sept 23, 1939 - German Jews are forbidden to own wireless (radio) sets.

Sept 27, 1939 - Warsaw surrenders; Heydrich becomes leader of RSHA.

Sept 29, 1939 - Nazis and Soviets divide up Poland. Over two million Jews reside in Nazi controlled areas, leaving 1.3 million in the Soviet area.

In Sept - Quote from Nazi newspaper, Der Stürmer, published by Julius Streicher - "The Jewish people ought to be exterminated root and branch. Then the plague of pests would have disappeared in Poland at one stroke."

In Oct - Nazis begin euthanasia on sick and disabled in Germany.

Oct 6, 1939 - Proclamation by Hitler on the isolation of Jews.

Oct 12, 1939 - Evacuation of Jews from Vienna.

Oct 12, 1939 - Hans Frank appointed Nazi Gauleiter (governor) of Poland.

Oct 26, 1939 - Forced labor decree issued for Polish Jews aged 14 to 60.

Nov 23, 1939 - Yellow stars required to be worn by Polish Jews over age 10.

In Dec - Adolf Eichmann takes over section IV B4 of the Gestapo dealing solely with Jewish affairs and evacuations.

1940 Return to Top of Page

Jan 25, 1940 - Nazis choose the town of Oswiecim (Auschwitz) in Poland near Krakow as site of new concentration camp.

In Jan - Quote from Nazi newspaper, Der Stürmer, published by Julius Streicher - "...The time is near when a machine will go into motion which is going to prepare a grave for the world's criminal - Judah - from which there will be no resurrection."

Feb 12, 1940 - First deportation of German Jews into occupied Poland.

April 9, 1940 - Nazis invade Denmark (Jewish pop. 8,000) and Norway (Jewish pop. 2,000).

April 30, 1940 - The Lodz Ghetto in occupied Poland is sealed off from the outside world with 230,000 Jews locked inside.

May 1, 1940 - Rudolf Höss is chosen to be kommandant of Auschwitz.

May 10, 1940 - Nazis invade France (Jewish pop. 350,000), Belgium (Jewish pop. 65,000), Holland (Jewish pop. 140,000), and Luxembourg (Jewish pop. 3,500).

June 14, 1940 - Paris is occupied by the Nazis.

June 22, 1940 - France signs an armistice with Hitler.

In July - Eichmann's Madagascar Plan presented, proposing to deport all European Jews to the island of Madagascar, off the coast of east Africa.

July 17, 1940 - The first anti-Jewish measures are taken in Vichy France.

Aug 8, 1940 - Romania introduces anti-Jewish measures restricting education and employment, then later begins "Romanianization" of Jewish businesses.

Sept 27, 1940 - Tripartite (Axis) Pact signed by Germany, Italy and Japan.

Oct 3, 1940 - Vichy France passes its own version of the Nuremberg Laws.

Oct 7, 1940 - Nazis invade Romania (Jewish pop. 34,000).

Oct 22, 1940 - Deportation of 29,000 German Jews from Baden, the Saar, and Alsace-Lorraine into Vichy France.

In Nov - Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia become Nazi Allies.

In Nov - The Krakow Ghetto is sealed off containing 70,000 Jews.

Nov 15, 1940 - The Warsaw Ghetto, containing over 400,000 Jews, is sealed off.

1941 Return to Top of Page

In 1941 - Hans Frank, Gauleiter of Poland, states, "I ask nothing of the Jews except that they should disappear."

In Jan - Quote from Nazi newspaper, Der Stürmer, published by Julius Streicher - "Now judgment has begun and it will reach its conclusion only when knowledge of the Jews has been erased from the earth."

In Jan - A pogrom in Romania results in over 2,000 Jews killed.

Feb 22, 1941 - 430 Jewish hostages are deported from Amsterdam after a Dutch Nazi is killed by Jews.

In March - Hitler's Commissar Order authorizes execution of anyone suspected of being a Communist official in territories about to be seized from the Soviets.

March 1, 1941 - Himmler makes his first visit to Auschwitz, during which he orders Kommandant Höss to begin massive expansion, including a new compound to be built at nearby Birkenau that can hold 100,000 prisoners.

March 2, 1941 - Nazis occupy Bulgaria (Jewish pop. 50,000).

March 7, 1941 - German Jews ordered into forced labor.

March 26, 1941 - The German Army High Command gives approval to RSHA and Heydrich on the tasks of SS murder squads (Einsatzgruppen) in occupied Poland.

March 29, 1941 - A 'Commissariat' for Jewish Affairs is set up in Vichy France.

April 6, 1941 - Nazis invade Yugoslavia (Jewish pop. 75,000) and Greece (Jewish pop. 77,000).

May 14, 1941 - 3,600 Jews arrested in Paris.

May 16, 1941 - French Marshal Petain issues a radio broadcast approving collaboration with Hitler.

June 22, 1941 - Nazis invade the Soviet Union (Jewish pop. 3 million).

June 29/30 - Romanian troops conduct a pogrom against Jews in the town of Jassy, killing 10,000.

Summer - Himmler summons Auschwitz Kommandant Höss to Berlin and tells him, "The Führer has ordered the Final Solution of the Jewish question. We, the SS, have to carry out this order...I have therefore chosen Auschwitz for this purpose."

In July - As the German Army advances, SS Einsatzgruppen follow along and conduct mass murder of Jews in seized lands.

In July - Ghettos established at Kovno, Minsk, Vitebsk and Zhitomer. Also in July, the government of Vichy France seizes Jewish owned property.

July 17, 1941 - Nazi racial 'philosopher' Alfred Rosenberg is appointed Reich Minister for the Eastern Occupied Territories to administer territories seized from the Soviet Union.

July 21, 1941 - In occupied Poland near Lublin, Majdanek concentration camp becomes operational.

July 25/26 - 3,800 Jews killed during a pogrom by Lithuanians in Kovno.

July 31, 1941 - Göring instructs Heydrich to prepare for Final Solution.

In Aug - Jews in Romania forced into Transnistria. By December, 70,000 perish.

In Aug - Ghettos established at Bialystok and Lvov.

Aug 26, 1941 - The Hungarian Army rounds up 18,000 Jews at Kamenets-Podolsk.

Sept 3, 1941 - The first test use of Zyklon-B gas at Auschwitz.

Sept 1, 1941 - German Jews ordered to wear yellow stars.

Sept 6, 1941 - The Vilna Ghetto is established containing 40,000 Jews.

Sept 17, 1941 - Beginning of general deportation of German Jews.

Sept 19, 1941 - Nazis take Kiev.

Sept 27/28 - 23,000 Jews killed at Kamenets-Podolsk, in the Ukraine.

Sept 29/30 - SS Einsatzgruppen murder 33,771 Jews at Babi Yar near Kiev.

In Oct - 35,000 Jews from Odessa shot.

Oct 2, 1941 - Beginning of the German Army drive on Moscow.

Oct 23, 1941 - Nazis forbid emigration of Jews from the Reich.

In Nov - SS Einsatzgruppe B reports a tally of 45,476 Jews killed.

Nov 24, 1941 - Theresienstadt Ghetto is established near Prague, Czechoslovakia. The Nazis will use it as a model ghetto for propaganda purposes.

Nov 30, 1941 - Near Riga, a mass shooting of Latvian and German Jews.

Dec 7, 1941 - Japanese attack United States at Pearl Harbor. The next day the U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan.

Dec 8, 1941 - In occupied Poland, near Lodz, Chelmno extermination camp becomes operational. Jews taken there are placed in mobile gas vans and driven to a burial place while carbon monoxide from the engine exhaust is fed into the sealed rear compartment, killing them. The first gassing victims include 5,000 Gypsies who had been deported from the Reich to Lodz.

Dec 11, 1941 - Hitler declares war on the United States. Roosevelt then declares war on Germany saying, "Never before has there been a greater challenge to life, liberty and civilization." The U.S.A. then enters the war in Europe and will concentrate nearly 90 percent of its military resources to defeat Hitler.

Dec 12, 1941 - The ship "Struma" leaves Romania for Palestine carrying 769 Jews but is later denied permission by British authorities to allow the passengers to disembark. In Feb. 1942, it sails back into the Black Sea where it is intercepted by a Soviet submarine and sunk as an "enemy target."

Dec 16, 1941 - During a cabinet meeting, Hans Frank, Gauleiter of Poland, states - "Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourselves of all feeling of pity. We must annihilate the Jews wherever we find them and wherever it is possible in order to maintain there the structure of the Reich as a whole..."

1942 Return to Top of Page

In Jan - Mass killings of Jews using Zyklon-B begin at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Bunker I (the red farmhouse) in Birkenau with the bodies being buried in mass graves in a nearby meadow.

Jan 20, 1942 - Wannsee Conference to coordinate the "Final Solution."

Jan 31, 1942 - SS Einsatzgruppe A reports a tally of 229,052 Jews killed.

In March - In occupied Poland, Belzec extermination camp becomes operational. The camp is fitted with permanent gas chambers using carbon monoxide piped in from engines placed outside the chamber, but will later substitute Zyklon-B.

March 17, 1942 - The deportation of Jews from Lublin to Belzec.

March 24, 1942 - The start of deportation of Slovak Jews to Auschwitz.

March 27, 1942 - The start of deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz.

March 28, 1942 - Fritz Sauckel named Chief of Manpower to expedite recruitment of slave labor.

March 30, 1942 - First trainloads of Jews from Paris arrive at Auschwitz.

In April - First transports of Jews arrive at Majdanek.

April 20, 1942 - German Jews are banned from using public transportation.

In May - In occupied Poland, Sobibor extermination camp becomes operational. The camp is fitted with three gas chambers using carbon monoxide piped in from engines, but will later substitute Zyklon-B.

May 18, 1942 - The New York Times reports on an inside page that Nazis have machine-gunned over 100,000 Jews in the Baltic states, 100,000 in Poland and twice as many in western Russia.

May 27, 1942 - SS leader Heydrich is mortally wounded by Czech Underground agents.

In June - Gas vans used in Riga.

June 1, 1942 - Jews in France, Holland, Belgium, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania ordered to wear yellow stars.

June 4, 1942 - Heydrich dies of his wounds.

June 5, 1942 - SS report 97,000 persons have been "processed" in mobile gas vans.

June 10, 1942 - Nazis liquidate Lidice in retaliation for Heydrich's death.

June 11, 1942 - Eichmann meets with representatives from France, Belgium and Holland to coordinate deportation plans for Jews.

June 30, 1942 - At Auschwitz, a second gas chamber, Bunker II (the white farmhouse), is made operational at Birkenau due to the number of Jews arriving.

June 30 and July 2 - The New York Times reports via the London Daily Telegraph that over 1,000,000 Jews have already been killed by Nazis.

Summer - Swiss representatives of the World Jewish Congress receive information from a German industrialist regarding the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews. They then pass the information on to London and Washington.

July 2, 1942 - Jews from Berlin sent to Theresienstadt.

July 7, 1942 - Himmler grants permission for sterilization experiments at Auschwitz.

July 14, 1942 - Beginning of deportation of Dutch Jews to Auschwitz.

July 16/17 - 12,887 Jews of Paris are rounded up and sent to Drancy Internment Camp located outside the city. A total of approximately 74,000 Jews, including 11,000 children, will eventually be transported from Drancy to Auschwitz, Majdanek and Sobibor.

July 17/18 - Himmler visits Auschwitz-Birkenau for two days, inspecting all ongoing construction and expansion, then observes the extermination process from start to finish as two trainloads of Jews arrive from Holland. Kommandant Höss is then promoted. Construction includes four large gas chamber/crematories.

July 19, 1942 - Himmler orders Operation Reinhard, mass deportations of Jews in Poland to extermination camps.

July 22, 1942 - Beginning of deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to the new extermination camp, Treblinka. Also, beginning of the deportation of Belgian Jews to Auschwitz.

July 23, 1942 - Treblinka extermination camp opened in occupied Poland, east of Warsaw. The camp is fitted with two buildings containing 10 gas chambers, each holding 200 persons. Carbon monoxide gas is piped in from engines placed outside the chamber, but Zyklon-B will later be substituted. Bodies are burned in open pits.

In Aug - The start of deportations of Croatian Jews to Auschwitz.

Aug 23, 1942 - Beginning of German Army attack on Stalingrad.

Aug 26-28 - 7,000 Jews arrested in unoccupied France.

Sept 9, 1942 - Open pit burning of bodies begins at Auschwitz in place of burial. The decision is made to dig up and burn those already buried, 107,000 corpses, to prevent fouling of ground water.

Sept 18, 1942 - Reduction of food rations for Jews in Germany.

Sept 26, 1942 - SS begins cashing in possessions and valuables of Jews from Auschwitz and Majdanek. German banknotes are sent to the Reichs Bank. Foreign currency, gold, jewels and other valuables are sent to SS Headquarters of the Economic Administration. Watches, clocks and pens are distributed to troops at the front. Clothing is distributed to German families. By Feb. 1943, over 800 boxcars of confiscated goods will have left Auschwitz.

Oct 5, 1942 - Himmler orders all Jews in concentration camps in Germany to be sent to Auschwitz and Majdanek.

Oct 5, 1942 - A German eyewitness observes SS mass murder.

Oct 14, 1942 - Mass killing of Jews from Mizocz Ghetto in the Ukraine.

Oct 22, 1942 - SS put down a revolt at Sachsenhausen by a group of Jews about to be sent to Auschwitz.

Oct 25, 1942 - Deportations of Jews from Norway to Auschwitz begin.

Oct 28, 1942 - The first transport from Theresienstadt arrives at Auschwitz.

In Nov - The mass killing of 170,000 Jews in the area of Bialystok.

Dec 10, 1942 - The first transport of Jews from Germany arrives at Auschwitz.

In Dec - Exterminations at Belzec cease after an estimated 600,000 Jews have been murdered. The camp is then dismantled, plowed over and planted.

Dec 17, 1942 - British Foreign Secretary Eden tells the British House of Commons the Nazis are "now carrying into effect Hitler's oft repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people of Europe." U.S. declares those crimes will be avenged.

Dec 28, 1942 - Sterilization experiments on women at Birkenau begin.

Map of Concentration/Death Camps

1943 Return to Top of Page

In 1943 - The number of Jews killed by SS Einsatzgruppen passes one million. Nazis then use special units of slave laborers to dig up and burn the bodies to remove all traces.

Jan 18, 1943 - First resistance by Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Jan 29, 1943 - Nazis order all Gypsies arrested and sent to extermination camps.

Jan 30, 1943 - Ernst Kaltenbrunner succeeds Heydrich as head of RSHA.

In Feb - The Romanian government proposes to the Allies the transfer of 70,000 Jews to Palestine, but receives no response from Britain or the U.S.

In Feb - Greek Jews are ordered into ghettos.

Feb 2, 1943 - Germans surrender at Stalingrad in the first big defeat of Hitler's armies.

Feb 27, 1943 - Jews working in Berlin armaments industry are sent to Auschwitz.

In March - The start of deportations of Jews from Greece to Auschwitz, lasting until August, totaling 49,900 persons.

March 1, 1943 - In New York, American Jews hold a mass rally at Madison Square Garden to pressure the U.S. government into helping the Jews of Europe

March 14, 1943 - The Krakow Ghetto is liquidated.

March 17, 1943 - Bulgaria states opposition to deportation of its Jews.

March 22, 1943 - Newly built gas chamber/crematory IV opens at Auschwitz.

March 31, 1943 - Newly built gas chamber/crematory II opens at Auschwitz.

April 4, 1943 - Newly built gas chamber/crematory V opens at Auschwitz.

April 9, 1943 - Exterminations at Chelmno cease. The camp will be reactivated in the spring of 1944 to liquidate ghettos. In all, Chelmno will total 300,000 deaths.

April 19-30 - The Bermuda Conference occurs as representatives from the U.S. and Britain discuss the problem of refugees from Nazi-occupied countries, but results in inaction concerning the plight of the Jews.

April 19, 1943 - Waffen SS attacks Jewish Resistance in Warsaw Ghetto.

In May - SS Dr. Josef Mengele arrives at Auschwitz.

May 13, 1943 - German and Italian troops in North Africa surrender to Allies.

May 19, 1943 - Nazis declare Berlin to be Judenfrei (cleansed of Jews).

June 11, 1943 - Himmler orders liquidation of all Jewish ghettos in occupied Poland.

June 25, 1943 - Newly built gas chamber/crematory III opens at Auschwitz. With its completion, the four new crematories at Auschwitz have a daily capacity of 4,756 bodies.

July 9/10 - Allies land in Sicily.

Aug 2, 1943 - Two hundred Jews escape from Treblinka extermination camp during a revolt. Nazis then hunt them down one by one.

Aug 16, 1943 - The Bialystok Ghetto is liquidated.

In Aug - Exterminations cease at Treblinka, after an estimated 870,000 deaths.

In Sept - The Vilna and Minsk Ghettos are liquidated.

Sept 11, 1943 - Germans occupy Rome, after occupying northern and central Italy, containing in all about 35,000 Jews.

Sept 11, 1943 - Beginning of Jewish family transports from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz.

In Oct - The Danish Underground helps transport 7,220 Danish Jews to safety in Sweden by sea.

Oct 4 - Himmler talks openly about the Final Solution at Posen.

Oct 14, 1943 - Massive escape from Sobibor as Jews and Soviet POWs break out, with 300 making it safely into nearby woods. Of those 300, fifty will survive. Exterminations then cease at Sobibor, after over 250,000 deaths. All traces of the death camp are then removed and trees are planted.

Oct 16, 1943 - Jews in Rome rounded up, with over 1,000 sent to Auschwitz.

In Nov - The Riga Ghetto is liquidated.

In Nov - The U.S. Congress holds hearings regarding the U.S. State Department's inaction regarding European Jews, despite mounting reports of mass extermination.

Nov 3, 1943 - Nazis carry out Operation Harvest Festival in occupied Poland, killing 42,000 Jews.

Nov 4, 1943 - Quote from Nazi newspaper, Der Stürmer, published by Julius Streicher - "It is actually true that the Jews have, so to speak, disappeared from Europe and that the Jewish 'Reservoir of the East' from which the Jewish pestilence has for centuries beset the peoples of Europe has ceased to exist. But the Führer of the German people at the beginning of the war prophesied what has now come to pass."

Nov 11, 1943 - Auschwitz Kommandant Höss is promoted to chief inspector of concentration camps. The new kommandant, Liebehenschel, then divides up the vast Auschwitz complex of over 30 sub-camps into three main sections.

Dec 2, 1943 - The first transport of Jews from Vienna arrives at Auschwitz.

Dec 16, 1943 - The chief surgeon at Auschwitz reports that 106 castration operations have been performed.

1944 Return to Top of Page

Jan 3, 1944 - Soviet troops reach former Polish border.

Jan 24, 1944 - In response to political pressure to help Jews under Nazi control, Roosevelt creates the War Refugee Board.

Jan 25, 1944 - Diary entry by Hans Frank, Gauleiter of Poland, concerning the fate of 2.5 million Jews originally under his jurisdiction - "At the present time we still have in the General Government perhaps 100,000 Jews."

In Feb - Eichmann visits Auschwitz.

March 19, 1944 - Nazis occupy Hungary (Jewish pop. 725,000). Eichmann arrives with Gestapo "Special Section Commandos."

March 24, 1944 - President Roosevelt issues a statement condemning German and Japanese ongoing "crimes against humanity."

April 5, 1944 - A Jewish inmate, Siegfried Lederer, escapes from Auschwitz-Birkenau and makes it safely to Czechoslovakia. He then warns the Elders of the Council at Theresienstadt about Auschwitz.

April 6, 1944 - Nazis raid a French home for Jewish children.

April 7, 1944 - Two Jewish inmates escape from Auschwitz-Birkenau and make it safely to Czechoslovakia. One of them, Rudolf Vrba, submits a report to the Papal Nuncio in Slovakia which is forwarded to the Vatican, received there in mid June.

April 14, 1944 - First transports of Jews from Athens to Auschwitz, totaling 5,200 persons.

In May - Himmler's agents secretly propose to the western Allies to trade Jews for trucks, other commodities or money.

May 8, 1944 - Rudolf Höss returns to Auschwitz, ordered by Himmler to oversee the extermination of Hungarian Jews.

May 15, 1944 - Beginning of deportation of Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz.

May 16, 1944 - Jews from Hungary arrive at Auschwitz. Eichmann arrives to personally oversee and speed up the extermination process. By May 24, an estimated 100,000 have been gassed. Between May 16 and May 31, the SS report collecting 88 pounds of gold and white metal from the teeth of those gassed. By the end of June, 381,661 persons - half of the Jews in Hungary - arrive at Auschwitz.

In June - A Red Cross delegation visits Theresienstadt after the Nazis have carefully prepared the camp and the Jewish inmates, resulting in a favorable report.

June 6, 1944 - D-Day: Allied landings in Normandy.

June 12, 1944 - Rosenberg orders Hay Action the kidnapping of 40,000 Polish children aged ten to fourteen for slave labor in the Reich.

Summer - Auschwitz-Birkenau records its highest-ever daily number of persons gassed and burned at just over 9,000. Six huge pits are used to burn bodies, as the number exceeds the capacity of the crematories.

In July - Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg arrives in Budapest, Hungary, and proceeds to save nearly 33,000 Jews by issuing diplomatic papers and establishing 'safe houses.'

July 24, 1944 - Soviet troops liberate first concentration camp at Majdanek where over 360,000 had been murdered.

Aug 4, 1944 - Anne Frank and family arrested by Gestapo in Amsterdam, then sent to Auschwitz. Anne and her sister Margot are later sent to Bergen-Belsen where Anne dies of typhus on March 15, 1945.

Aug 6, 1944 - The last Jewish ghetto in Poland, Lodz, is liquidated with 60,000 Jews sent to Auschwitz.

Oct 7, 1944 - A revolt by Sonderkommando (Jewish slave laborers) at Auschwitz-Birkenau results in complete destruction of Crematory IV.

Oct 15, 1944 - Nazis seize control of the Hungarian puppet government, then resume deporting Jews, which had temporarily ceased due to international political pressure to stop Jewish persecutions.

Oct 17, 1944 - Eichmann arrives in Hungary.

Oct 28, 1944 - The last transport of Jews to be gassed, 2,000 from Theresienstadt, arrives at Auschwitz.

Oct 30, 1944 - Last use of gas chambers at Auschwitz.

Nov 8, 1944 - Nazis force 25,000 Jews to walk over 100 miles in rain and snow from Budapest to the Austrian border, followed by a second forced march of 50,000 persons, ending at Mauthausen.

Nov 25, 1944 - Himmler orders the destruction of the crematories at Auschwitz.

Late 1944 - Oskar Schindler saves 1200 Jews by moving them from Plaszow labor camp to his hometown of Brunnlitz.

1945 Return to Top of Page

In 1945 - As the Allies advance, the Nazis conduct death marches of concentration camp inmates away from outlying areas.

Jan 6, 1945 - Soviets liberate Budapest, freeing over 80,000 Jews.

Jan 14, 1945 - Invasion of eastern Germany by Soviet troops.

Jan 17, 1945 - Liberation of Warsaw by the Soviets.

Jan 18, 1945 - Nazis evacuate 66,000 from Auschwitz.

Jan 27, 1945 - Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz. By this time, an estimated 2,000,000 persons, including 1,500,000 Jews, have been murdered there.

April 4, 1945 - Ohrdruf camp is liberated, later visited by General Eisenhower.

April 10, 1945 - Allies liberate Buchenwald.

April 15, 1945 - Approximately 40,000 prisoners freed at Bergen-Belsen by the British, who report "both inside and outside the huts was a carpet of dead bodies, human excreta, rags and filth."

April 23, 1945 - Berlin reached by Soviet troops.

April 29, 1945 - U.S. 7th Army liberates Dachau.

April 30, 1945 - Hitler commits suicide in his Berlin bunker.

April 30, 1945 - Americans free 33,000 inmates from concentration camps.

May 2, 1945 - Theresienstadt taken over by the Red Cross.

May 5, 1945 - Mauthausen liberated.

May 7, 1945 - Unconditional German surrender signed by Gen. Jodl at Reims.

May 9, 1945 - Hermann Göring captured by members of U.S. 7th Army.

May 23, 1945 - SS Reichsführer Himmler commits suicide.

Nov 20, 1945 - Opening of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal.

Holocaust Statistics

1946 Return to Top of Page

March 11, 1946 - Former Auschwitz Kommandant Höss, posing as a farm worker, is arrested by the British. He testifies at Nuremberg, then is later tried in Warsaw, found guilty and hanged at Auschwitz, April 16, 1947, near Crematory I. "History will mark me as the greatest mass murderer of all time," Höss writes while in prison, along with his memoirs about Auschwitz.

Oct 16, 1946 - Göring commits suicide two hours before the scheduled execution of the first group of major Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg. During his imprisonment, a (now repentant) Hans Frank states, "A thousand years will pass and the guilt of Germany will not be erased." Frank and the others are hanged and the bodies are brought to Dachau and burned (the final use of the crematories there) with the ashes then scattered into a river.

Dec 9, 1946 - 23 former SS doctors and scientists go on trial before a U.S. Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Sixteen are found guilty, with 7 being hanged.


Sept 15, 1947 - Twenty one former SS Einsatz leaders go on trial before a U.S. Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. Fourteen are sentenced to death, with only 4 (the group commanders) actually being executed. The other death sentences are commuted.


May 11, 1960 - Adolf Eichmann is captured in Argentina by Israeli secret service.


April 11 - August 14 - Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem for crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Found guilty and hanged at Ramleh on May 31, 1962. A fellow Nazi reported Eichmann once said "he would leap laughing into the grave because the feeling that he had five million people on his conscience would be for him a source of extraordinary satisfaction."

Wednesday, 12 December 2007


During my revision for the Dec ACCA exams, I came across an article in Wikipedia about the holocaust of the Jews and other minority ethnics during the World War II. The details of the article drawn me to know more about the cruelty and hopelessness of those who are destined to be exterminated, in light of the radical movement of Adolf Hitler in creating the "perfect" race and community.

"Why do this project?" A question I asked myself instantaneously. Why departing back to the past, a past that I am not born into, at an era that not even my parents existed? hmm.. I believe that this little endeavour will help me in learning about the human race, its horrendous past, and also serves as a valuable lesson in appreciating the fragility & stubborn sustenance of life.

Lastly, I hope that this simple project will commemorate those who lived their last days courageously in hell on earth. May their souls rest in peace in the everlasting arms of God.

Most sincerely,
Victor Tan

"Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."
-Anne Frank
(A German-born Jewish girl who died of Typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp)