The Holocaust: Time Line

Figure 1.--The Holocaust was unprecedented in modern history. Most Jews in Europe were not fully aware of the intentions of the NAZIs and the mortal danger they faced. German Jews who were exposed to the NAZIs for 6 years before the War have few dobts about their intentions. Foreign Jews like this Polish youth did not fully understand. In Poland it was the Russians that had traditionally brutalized Jews. After the German invasion (September 1939), many Jews viewed what ws happening to them with incrudulity. Even after witnessing incredible violence, many Jews could not believe that the Germans were preparing to kill every Jew on which they could lay their hands. This photograph was taken by an unidentified German soldier. You can see the look of fear and incomprehension on the youth'd face.

The Holocaust was a huge undertaking on the part of Hitler abd the NAZIs. It involved millions of people, scires of countries, and traspired over more than a decade. And it volved over town as NAZI successes elimnated any contraints tht may have initially been held. The whole process is very complicated and difficult to follow as their are so many actors involved making decesions that killed so many people. And as the decesions were takn in secret, the oprocess is especially difficult to historians. Hitler himsel seems to have taken pains to sissassociate himself from the whole process. Stalin did much the same in the Soviet Union. And what we do not have is any clear statement of what was in Hitler's mind other than a desire to exterminate. The fctors which determined when and where we can only speculate. The paper trail is uneven, but we know when key meetings took place and can infer what transpired because major actions began within days. We thought it might be helpful to create a basic chronology to set out just who did what and when. This barebones outline may help clarify the whole process. We encourage readers to add important mneetings and actions to the time line we have begun to sketch out.


Hitler like many Germans hels abnti-Semeric views probanly from bouhood. It was during his time in Vienna (1907-13) that he became a confirmed ant-Semite. Hitler's mother died when he was 18 years ols, leaving him alone. He moved to Vienna (1907) hoping to study art. He appears not to have had a realistic appreciation of his artistic talents and assumed he would be ad =mitted to study at Vienna's pretigious Academy of Art. He failed the admissions exam to the Academy in Vienna and he was cast adrift. He lived in great poverty. He spent about 6 years in Vienna. He attempted to survive by selling paintings. His work is notable for the absence of peole or in other works poorly drawn figures. Some authors speculate that it was in Vienna at this time that he appears to have acquired a deep-seated anti-Semitism in reaction to his failure and poverty and Vienna's large prosperous Jewish population. Other authors believe that his hatred of the Jews was not acquired until after World War I. One author points out that the rejected, pennyless artist would call in a Jewish shop for a free cup of tea on rainy days, An elderly Jewish couple wrote to the Chancellory after their Vienna shop was seized by the NAZIs. They appealed to the Führer, reminding him of their shop on the Siebensterngasse. Hitler apparently saw the letter and ignored their plea. [Hamann]


Hitler led a disolute unhappy life until he enlisted in the German Army (1914). Unlike most people, Hitler found himsel in the Army. The War was the most happy time of his life up to that point. He was extremly proud of his war sevice. And like other Germans, he was shocked when the Germas asked for an armistice. He thought that Germany was winnung the War. And the Versailles Paeace Treaty was an even greater shock was the Versailles Paece Treaty (1919). The fact that Jews were involved in the Armistice, new Weimar Government and the Versailles Peace Trearty negotiations turned his anti-Semitism into a pathological hatred of Jews. He called the Weimar officials involved with ending the War the November Criminals. This refereed to the Armistice (November 1918). The German General staff saw dfeat ws coming and wanted to avoid avtotal collapse. The Allies edused, however, refued to deal with the military or the Kaiser. They would only deal with a civilian givernent. And these men became th 'Novenber Criminals'.


After the failed Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler dictated Min Kampf to to his secretary Rudolf Hess while a prisoner at Landsberg prison. He was as a right-wing revolutionary a privlidged prisoner. Many left-wing revolutioaries after Wold war I were shot. His desore to eliminate the Jews from Germany is clear in Mein Kampf It is unclear just how he planned to do this. It might be thought that at the time that he would be content to just expel them from Germany. But as he wanted to expand the Reich and acquire Lebenraum, he would have to launch another world war. And if successful woukld acquire control over Eurooe. Thus the question becoes inevitably what to do with the Jews. It is unclear to what extent Hitler confrionted this issue and how he resolved it in 1923. The book was publishrd after he was released (1925)


President Hindenburg Appoints Hitler Chacellor (January 1933)

President Hidenburg, who dtested Hitler, running out of options finally turned to Hitler and appointed him chancellor (January 30, 1933). German politicans around Hindenberg believed that they could control Hitler because non-NAZIs were appointed to the cabinet. They soon learned tht they were badly mistaken. Hitler's assessment was that the aging Hindenburg was an old man largely out of touch with reality. He was careful to show the President outwardly the greatest respect, but to proceed with his plans withour fear that Hindenburg would interfere. Hitler's appointment as Chancellor made the Holocaust possible. Hitler deftly used the cabinet posts he was allocated to begin the process of seizing control of the country. Here Göring as Minister of Interior (police) in Prussia played a key role in the Seizure of Power/Machtergreifung. Anti-Semetic actions began almost immediately. Some were impotant, others more symbolic. Very quickly, however, the police stopped protecting Jews from NAZI violence. Hitler's focus was at first destroying democracy and establishing a police state and dictarorship. He knew that once he was in full control of Germany, he could deal with the Jews.

Emergency Powers (February 1933)

Hitler took full advantage of the Reichstag Fire and claimed that it was a Communist plot. Hitler ordered DKP leaders hanged. President Hindenburg rejected this, but was persuaded signed an emergency decrees (February 28). The first was the Law for the Protection of the People and State. Hitler justified the decree as a “defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state”. The presidential decree suspended the constitutional guarantees pertaining to civil liberties. It read, "Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications; and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed." A second decree, The Law Against Betrayal of the German People and Treasonous Machinations. These decrees suspended people's rights and allowed the NAZIs to arrest many Communists and other regime opponents with the full legal authority of the German state. This essentially gave Hitler dictatorial powers. One historian writes, "was the decisive legal basis for NAZI rule". [Fest, p. 398.] The NAZIs often using SA police auxilleries established by Göring arrested thousands of Communists, Social Democrats, and other individuals who had opposed their rize to power. German jails were soon over flowing with political prisoners.

Dachau (March 1933)

The Reichstag fire (February 27, 1933) was the perfect pretext for the NAZIs to strike at their political opponents. Göring immediately acussed the Communists of stting the fire and ordered the SA and SS to arrest first Communists and then Social Democrats (Socialists) and trade union members. SS leader Heinrich Himmler sought out political opponents in other German Landen. Soon German jails and prisons were filled to over flowing with "protective detainees", as the NAZIs called their prisoners. State Commissary of the Interior, Adolf Wagner, adviced his colleague Hans Frank of further options such as concentration camps. We are not sure who first campe up with the idea of concentration camps. Frick mentioned the possibility (March 8). When Hitler was appointed Chancellor, the German police had not yet been politicized, although Göring moved very quickly to do so. Thus Hitler was limited in what could be done in jails and prisons. The answer to this was concentration camps. The first permanent NAZI concentration camp was Dachau. I'm not sure when the orders were issued to open it, but the ininial facility was quickly completed (March 21). The NAZIs used an abandoned munitions factory near Munich. Göring had appointed Heinrich Himmler police president of Munich. Himmler described Dachau as "the first concentration camp for political prisoners." It was at Dachau that the NAZIs learned how to run concentration camps. Dachau served as a model for the vast network of KZs that the NAZIs were to establish first in Germany and later in the Europeans countries they occupied during World War II. Himmler announced the establishment of a 'concentration camp' on March 20 during a press conference. The NS opened the first official special camp for communist protective detainees at a former ammunition factory near Dachau. At first the guards were police from Munich. When Himmler was made Political Police Commander of Bavaria on April 1, 1933 he immediately begins to take contol of Dachau.

The Enabling Act (March 1933)

Hitler appeared before the Reichstag to "temporarily" delegate its authority to him so that he would have the needed power to deal with the crisis. He denouncing opponents as traitors and shouted, “Germany will be free, but not through you!” The NAZIs still had only 288 seats, still short of a majority. But the DKP deputies had many arrested, many in Dachau. SA Stormtroopers lined the entrance to the Reichstag. The vote was fore ordained, 441 for and 84 against. This gave Hitler the required two-thirds majority to suspend the Weimar Constitution. This essential made Hitler what he had always wanted, the dictator of Germany. He now had no legislative or constitutional constraints.

Civil Service reforms

Book Burnings (May 1933)

Books were one of the first casualties of the NAZI regime when Hitler seized power in 1933. The NAZIs organized mass burnings of books written by Jews or expressing objectionable ideas. Virtually all books by Jewish authors were destroyed. Hitler Youth members enthusiastically committed masterpieces of the German language as well as many foreign texts to huge bonfires. The book burnings were carefully prepared. The NAZIS seized power in January 1933. Throughout the spring of 1933, NAZI student organizations, professors, and librarians compiled an extensive lists of books they determined to be "entartet" (degenerate) and should not be read by decent Germans. NAZI SA Stormtroopers and student groups armed with this list on the night of May 10, 1933, surged into libraries and bookstores all over Germany. They organized Wagnerian spectacles, marching in long lines by torchlight, singing Party songs, and chanting the twelve "theses,"--their manifesto for the "purification" of German literature and thought. They then threw the seized books on to huge bonfires. More than 20,000 books were burned on May 10 at the Berlin Opernplatz book burning alone. Many were works of Jewish authors such as Max Brod, Albert Einstein, Franz Kafka, Richard Katz, Sigmund Freud, and Franz Werfel. German-writing authors from Prague were Franz Kafka, Franz Werfel ("The Song of Bernadette"), Max Brod and Richard Katz. They were Jews, so their books were burned. Thomas Mann married a Jewish woman, Katja Pringsheim, so his children were half-Jews according to NAZI classifications. Most were by non-Jewish writers, including famous American (Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, and Sinclair Lewis), English (H.G. Wells), French, and German (Thomas Mann--whose wife was Jewish, Erich Maria Remarque, and Rainer Maria Rilke) writers who expressed idea differing from the NAZI world view. Erich Maria Remarque was born a Catholic (notice his middle name). His real surname was Kramer. (Remark in reverse). His books were burned on account of his anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front--the most important novel to emerge from World War I. Many of the banned authors still living wisely emigrated, many to the United States. Also the books by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke were burned. He was too cosmopolitan, born in Prague, living in France as secretary of Rodin. Somebody like that thoroughly antagonized the NAZIs. The choice of degenerate authors provides a terrifying insight into the NAZI mindset. One such author was Helen Keller, the deaf-mute who became a writer. (The handicapped in German were to be targeted by the NAZIs as part of a eugenics program several years before the Holocaust.) Public and private libraries and book stores were advised to ensure that they did not have the "degenerate", "un-German" books.

Store boycotts (April 1933)

The first major action taken against the Jews in Germany was a well planned boycott of German businesses which Propaganda Minister Goebbels announced on April 1, 1933. The NAZIs began the boycott in every city and town at 10:00 AM. Uniformed, often armed Stormtroopers were placed in front of store or business owned by Jews. The boycott was not aimed at the clothing industry specifically, but it was one of the industries most affected. Clients were often stopped from entering.

Hitler Youth


Night of the Long Knives

The true nature of Hitler and his associates was demonstrated on the Night of the Long Knives (a phrase from a popular Nazi song). The Reichwehr in 1934 was the only German institution capable of resiting Hitler and the NAZIs. The Reichwehr, faced with the threat of the NAZI Sturm Abteilung (SA), agreed to a deal with Hitler. Hitler agreed to disarm the SA and to deal with the SA leadership. He had Rohem and his associates arrested and killed (June 29-30, 1934). Rohem was in fact one of Htler's longest and closest associates. Hitler hestitated but Herman Goering and Heinrich Himmler with his assistant Reynard Heydrich played key roles in convincing him. There was no concern within the military of the extra-judicial executions of the SA leadership. The NAZIs used the occassions to settle some old scores with anti-NAZIs as well. In exchange the Reichwehr, waiting until President Hindenburg died, swore a personal oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler (August 2). The oath was not to the German nation, but was a personal oath to Hitler himself. Although the German military had earlier swore a similar oath to the Republic, the oath to Hitler took place with no difficulty. Major elements of the military had never been committed to the Republic. There was strong monarchist sentiment within the military. Some NAZI policies, especially the ultra-nationlism and criticism of the Versailles Treaty were shared by much of the military. Offers of rearmament and expabded military spending appealed to many in the military. When President Hindenburg died (August 2), Hitler was the absolute dictator of Germany. Hitler had visited Hindenburg on his deathbed. Hindenburg had become senile. The dieing president thought he was meeting with Kaiser Wilhelm II, and referred to Hitler as "Your Majesty". Hitler declared the office of President to be permanently vacant and essentially merging it with the office of Chancellor, tking the title of Leader and Chancellor (Führer und Reichskanzler). Hitler ordered a plebiscite which took plce on August 11, 1934. The NAZI's announced a 90 percent favorable vote. No one knows the actual vote tally.


Nurreberg Laws (September 1935)

Geman Führer Adolf Hitler at the Nuremberg Party Congress on September 15, 1935 announced three new laws that were to be cornerstones of German racist policies and the supression of Jews and other non-Aryans. These decrees became known as the Nuremberg Laws. They were decrees which in NAZI Germany had the force of law forbidding contacts between Aryan Germans and Jews, espcecially marriage and srtipping Jewsof German citizenship. The first 1935 decree established the swastika as the official emblem of the German state. The second established special conditions for German citizenship that excluded all Jews. The third titled "The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor" prohibited marrige between German citizens and Jews. Marriages violating this law were voided and extra-marital relations prohibited. Jews were prohibuted from hiring female Germans under 45 years of age. Jews were also prohibuted from flying the national flag. The first three Nuremberg Laws were subsequently supplemented with 13 further decrees, the last issued as late as 1943, as the NAZIs constantly refined the supression of non-Aryans. These laws affected millions of Germans, the exact number depending n precisely how a Jew was defined. That definition was published November 14, 1935. The NAZIs defined a Jew as anyone who either 1) had three or four racially full Jewish grandparents, 2) belonged to a Jewish religious community or joined one after September 15 when the Nuremberg Laws came into force. Also regarded as Jews was anyone married to a Jew or the children of Jewish parents. This included illegtimate children of even the non-Jewish partner. There appears to have been no serious public objection to these laws. [Davidson, p. 161.]


The Anschluss (April 1938)

There was considerable sentiment in both Germany and Austria after World War I to join the two German-speaking states. France adamently refused. Hitler after seizing power revived the issues. Austrain NAZIs were encouraged to promote the idea. Hitler and Austrian NAZIs throughout 1937 demanded an Anschluss with Austria. Belaegered Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg on March 9, 1938, announced plans to hold a plebiscite on the independence of Austria. Hitler used this opportunity to take action against the Austrian State. The NAZIs with the Wehrmacht on the border pressed Schuschnigg was pressed to resign. The NAZI surrogate, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, took over the chancellorship and formed a new government dominated by the Austrian NAZIs. The German Wehrmacht and the SS, armed with list of NAZI opponents, crossed the German-Austrian frontier (March 12). Hitler the following day on March 13, speaking before a jubilent crowd in Linz, announced the "Anschluss" (Annexation) of Austria into the German Reich. Joyous celebrations occurred throught Austria. Even while the celebrations were going on, the SS and local NAZIs began rounding up those who had opposed the NAZIs. Violence occured against the Jews. Jewish students and professors were attacked in universities. Jews at random were dragged into the streets to scrub the sidewalks on their hands and knees--surounded by taunting crowds.

Evian Conference (July 1938)

The sudden flood of emigrants created a major refugee crisis. President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened a conference in Evian,here was some internationl pressure to do something about the refugee crisis. The Evian Conference was called by President Roosevelt in July 1938 to address the refugee crisis. Delegates from 32 countries in the summer of 1938, met at the French resort of Evian. President Roosevelt did not send a high-level official. He sent Myron C. Taylor, a businessman and close friend. Throughout the 9-day meeting, the different country delegates to express pladitudes and sympathy for the refugees. Virtually every country, including the United States and Britain, offered excuses for not letting in more refugees. The United States maintained in quota of 27,370 refugees annually, but did not offer to increase it. Many participants did not even offer any refugees admitance. Australia's chief delegate, Colonel White stated, "Under the circumstances. Australia cannot do more. Undue privileges cannot be given to one particular class of non-British subjects without injustice to others. It will no doubt be appreciated also that, as we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one." [Proceedings, p 20.] Britain said that they would maintain their 20,000 refugee quota for Palestine. Only three countries offered an unlimited quota: Denmark, the Netherlands, and the Dominican Republic. [Gilbert, p. 220.] The flood of refugess was so great into the Netherlands that the Dutch had to stop taking in refugeees in 1939. I am not sure about Denmark and the Dominican Republic. I do know that at the time of the NAZI invasion in April 1940 that there were only a small number of Jews in Denmark, much smaller than in the Netherlands. Some have called the Conference Hitler's green light for the holocaust. [Shaw] The NAZIs were in fact pleased with the outcome. The German government released a statement indicating that how "astounding" it was that foreign countries criticized Germany for their treatment of the Jews, but none of them wanted to open the doors to them when "the opportunity offer[ed]. "Nobody wants them" claimed the German newspaper Völkischer Beobachter. Hitler lost no time in pointing out, "It is a shameful spectacle to see how the whole democratic world is oozing sympathy for the poor tormented Jewish people, but remains hard hearted and obdurate when it comes to helping them ..." [Shalom, p. 21.]

Italian Manifesto on Race (July 1938)

Mussolini only imposed the first anti-Jewish regulations in 1938, after prompting from Hitler. Until this time there had been no actioms taken agaist Italian Jews and Mussolini even counted some Jews among his supoorters. Mussolini had indicated on severl occassions that a small group of Italian Jews had lived in Italy 'since the days of the Kings of Rome' (Bené Roma) and should 'remain undisturbed'. [Hollander] Mussolini with surprised most Italians by issuing The Manifesto of Race (Manifesto della razza) (July 1938). The document is also referred to as the Charter of Race or Racial Manifesto. It declared the Italians to be descendants of the Aryan race. A great deal of race research was done in German iniversities, nost of it pseudo scientists by academics adept at obtaining Goverment grants. We do not of any similar effort in Italy, but can not yet say itg definitivly did not occur. The Manifesto targeted races seen as inferior. The Jews were the most obvious targets, but Africans were also targetted. The Manifesto set the stage for set of laws stripping Jews of Italian citizenship and taking a long list of legal, social, and economic actions against them. The Manuifesto and subdequent laws are viewed by historians as increasing influence pf NAZI Führer Adolf Hitler over Mussolini and the beginning of Italy's status as junior partner even before the stunning German military victories. The new Fascist Racial Laws included the following provisions, among many others. Jews were expelled from high schools and institutes of higher education, but not primary schools. The difference is unexplained, but presumably reflects a reluctance to take actions against small children. Jews were dismissed from government offices, banks and municipal councils. They were also excluded from many professions (medical, legal, and education). Marriages between Italians and Jews were kegally annuled. properties were subject to confiscation. Commercial joint ventures between Jews and Christian Italian were dissolved. Jewish soldiers and sailors were demoted. Official documents carried by Jewscwere sta,ped with 'Jew' to ensure that they could be easily identified. Foreign Jews from living in Italy and the colonies (including the Aegean Islands) were expelled. To further ingratiate himself to Hitler, Mussolini subsequently issued a decree banning all Jews from public schools, including the younger primary children. We believe that Jews were expelled from the Fascist Party and the Fascist youth movement like the Balilla. We do not know yet to what extent racist doctrine was intriduced as oart of school curiculum or the Blilla trainung program. We do not yet have details about enfocement of these laws. We believe that the anti-Semetic laws wwre implement less forcibly in the colonies, probably depending on the disgression of individual officials. Once the War began, however, the regulations began go be implied with greater severity.

Munich Conference (September 1938)

Hitler's next target after the Anchluss, was Czechoslovakia which had beeen created by the Versailles Peace Treaty. Hitler began to escalate his tirades against Czecheslovakia, claiming that the erhnic Germans in the Sudetenland were being mistreated. The NAZI rearmament program, the remilitarization of the Rhineland and the Anchluss with Austria came as a shock to Czecheslovakia. Even more so, the lack of response from Britain and France. The Czechs who had defensive alliance with France were prepared to fight. Even with the Anchluss, many Europeans chose to see the NAZI actions as domestic German matters. This changed with Hitler's next target--Czecheslovakia. Hitler in 1938 demanded the Sudetenland in Czecheslovakia which had a minority German population. Neville Chamberlin, the British Prime Miniister mused how terrible it was that war should be threatened by a "... quarel in a far away country by people of which we know little." A prominent member of the British parliament displayed even more ignoramce when he told the press, "Why should we bother with those gypsies in the Balkans?", meaning the Czechs who were of course not located in the Balkans. In the end, The British and French gave in at talks held in Munich. Vhamberlain flew back to London and stepping off the plane waved the agreement signed ny Herr Hitler which he assured the waiting repoters guaranteed "Peace in our time." Churchill was apauled. Most British anf French people were releaved. One European leader, Soviet Marshall Stalin, who was not at the conference drew the conclusion that the British and French could not be trusted as potential allies against Hitler. Less well recognized is the impact on the United States. There are many unanswered questions about Munich. Some maintain that if the Allies had honored their treaty obligations that the Wehrmacht would have arrested Hitler rather than gone to war. Others argue that if Hitler had gone to war in 1938, he wluld have not only overrun France, but the Luftwaffe would have defeated the RAF.

Sudeten Jews

The Czechs were forced to cede tThe Sudetenland, the mostly German-speaking border areas of Czech lands, as a result of the British and French abandoing them at Munich (September 1938). The Jews there were thus immediately exposed to the full force of NAZI laws, entailing both persecution and expropriation of their property. A little more than amonth after annexation, the NAZI pogtram--Kristallnacht swept the Reich (November 9-10, 1938). Not yet aware of what they could, the local Nazis were a little slower to join the violence (Novmber 10-11). They proceeded to vandalize synagogues and Jewish shops and homes. The Munich Agreement occurred so quickly that most Sudenten Jews did not have time to escape before the rival of German troops. The approrimately 27,000 Jews (1930 population) soon began escaping across the border. After Kristalnacht, most of the Jews who could escape did so. A German Census reported that there were only about 2,400 Jews left in the Sudentenland. Most were deported to ghettoes set up in Poland or directly to death camps. We do not yet have details on the deportations. Many of the elderly were sent to Thereisenstadt.

Kristallnacht (November 1938)

Kristallnacht or the "Night of Broken Glass" was a vicious NAZI pogrom directed at defenseless German and by this time Austrian Jews. A Polish-born German Jew, Sendel Grynszpan, wrote to his son describing how he had been expelled to Poland and mistreated. His son Herschel was a 17-year old boy studying in Paris. Distraught by his parents' treatment, he shot the Third Secretary of the German Embassy, Ernst von Rath. As a reprisal, Hitler personally approved a massive assault on Germany's Jews in their homes and shops and the burning of their synagogues. The attacks began early on November 10. Members of the Gestapo and other NAZI organizations such as the SA and the Labor Front were told to report to the local NAZI Party office and were given their instructions. They then moved out ransacking Jewish shops and synagogues and setting firm to them. Groups of NAZIs broke into Jewish homes, looting them and destroying property that they did not want. Pets were killed before their horrified owners. About 100 Jews were killed which today seems like a small number given the level of violence and what we know now would be the dimensions of the Holocaust. About 20,000 mostly men were dragged off to the Buchenwald, Dachu, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. The orgy of violence exceed even what the NAZI leadership had planned because of the viciousness of the NAZI rank-and-file. This was of concern to the leadership because they hoped to eventually seize the property that had remained in Jewish hands. The NAZIs required Jews to repair the damage to their shops and homes at their own expense. When the NAZIs realized that Jewish property was insured, Goering issued a decree requiring that insurance payments be made to the German Government not the Jewish holders of insurance policies. An additional 1 billion mark fine was imposed on the already impoverished German Jewish community. Kristallnacht coming after Munich confirmed to many Americans the dangers of war and the nature of the NAZIs, although the full appreciation of their evil was not yet apparent. It was enough to convince many Americans that increased military spending was needed, but many Americans also concluded that America should further distant itself from European affairs.

Kindertransport (1938-39)

Some of the last Jews to get out of Germany were the children brought out through the Kindertransport. This was the transport of Jewish children out of Austria, Czecheslovakia, and Germany. The British Government, horrified at the outburst of violence in Kristallnacht agreed to eased immigration restrictions for certain of Jewish refugees. Two charitable groups help organize the program: the British Committee for the Jews of Germany and the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany. Together these groups persuaded the British government to permit children under the age of 17 to enter Britain from Germany and German-occupied territories (at the time what used to be Austria and Czecheslovakia). The limit on the number of children was that private citizens or organizations had to guarantee to pay for each child's care and education. The British Government refused to accept any financial responsibility. The Government also insisted that the children would have to eventually emigrate from Britain. Not the most hostpitable conditions, but at least they were out of Germany. The Government agreed to permit the unaccompanied children to enter on a simple travel visa. Parents or guardians were not permitted to accompany the children. There were also a few infants cared for by the older children. About 10,000 children were saved--the largest group of children to be saved from the NAZIs. Most were aided by Jewish charitable organizations, but Quakers and other groups also helped. The experience was traumatic for the children, especially the younger ones, who did not understand why they were being separated from their parents. The children had to say a final goodbye to their parents and families for a long train journey to England and numerous checks by NAZI authorities. Most were never reunited with their families who were murdered in the NAZI death camps. The older children were put up on hostels, many of the younger children were adopted.


Hitler more than anything wanted a war. He felt after Munich that Chamberlain had cheated him out of his war. He wanted to lead the German nation in aa to erase the shame of 1918--losing World War I. And he was determined to avoid the huge mistake of World War I--a two front war. Hitler proved himself to be a skilled politican. His adversaries constantly underestimared him and he outmanuerved them all. But he haed the political pricess, making compromises abd having to deal with peope he dispised. What he wanted was to be a great war lord where he could just give orders and not have to deal with the political process. History woukld show that whikle he excelled at politics, he was a disaster as a military commander. The NAZI-Soviet NonAgression Pact startled the world and made World War II possible. And within days, Hitler hurled the Panzers at Poland. He did not expect the British and French to declare war. But he had his war. And the War would provide the means and cover he needed to launch the Holocaust. And killing Jews would become a primary Gernan war aim. The initial German Jewish policy was the Nisko or Lublin Project. Gradually the main policy became ghetoization, something thathad not been done in Germany itself. The ultimate fate of the Jews was not yet clear. It is reatively clear what was in Hitler's mind, but he does not seem to have thought ut just how to destroy the Jewishb people. Industrialized murder was not yet evidenced in German policy, although steps were taken leading to tht objective. The first steps were not taken by the SS or was the target Jews. Hitler's Chanvelery approved the T-4 Euhenasia effort which was carried out by civilian medical staff. And the target was primarily German children. The rocesses developed and the staff involved would be used bythe SS when they moved to the killing phase of the Holocaust.

Czech Jews (March 1939)

The NAZI marched into Zechoslobakia in total violatioin of the promises made toPromeminister Chamberlain at Munich (March 1939). Now even Chamberlain realizd that Hitler could not be appeased. Czecoslovakia provided imporant assetts yto the German, including a modern arms industry, escially the Svoda Arms Comolex. The Czechs were the first non-German people ocupied by the NAZIs. And it was the beginning of the Holocaust in Czrecjoslovakia, although the pattern differed in various regions because of the dismemberment of the countrywhich had bgun withthe Sudetenland 6 months earlier. The Germans established a "protectorate." The Slovaks succeed from Czechesoslavakia and set up slavishly compliant pro-NAZI state. The Czech people suffered during the German occupation. Losses during World War II, however, were not as great as in many other countries, especially Poland to the north. The major exception were the Czech Jews. We have little information on actions against the Czech Jews at this time. The Einsatzgruppen which murdered so ruthlessly in Poland and the Soviet Union were to my knowledge not employed in Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was, however, the foreign country occupied by the NAZIs for the longest period. Few Czech and Slovakian Jews survived. More than 70,000 were killed by the NAZIs. A concentration camp was set up at Thereisenstadt which the NAZIs used as a model camp to show the Red Cross and Western journalists on fact-finding missions. Hitler appointed Heydrich Reichsprotector when he preceived that Neurath was being too lenient. [Michaelis and Schraepler, p. 244.] The SS conducted operations against Slovakian Jews and were assisted by the Slovakian puppet government (March-September 1942). Still not fully understood is that killing Czech Jews would just ne the first step. After the War, the Germans as part of Generalplan Ost decided that about half the Czech populatin would habe to be eliinated as well.

NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (August 1939)

The NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was a critical step in the Holocaust. It made World War II possible and it partiopned Eastern and Central Europe into along the Molotov-Ribbebntrop Line. . Both the NAZIsand Sovietswould b free to administer their respective zones with out any legal constraints or public scrutiny. As a result, the Holocaust would unfold differetly east and west of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Line. East of the line a million Jews would be murdered, mostly with bullets (June-December 1941). Another 1 million would be killed (1942). West of the line some 2.2 million Jews werekilld, mostly by gassing (December 1941-November 1944).

World War II (September 1939)

Hitler launched World War II by invading Poland (September 1). This was a major step in the Holocaust.because the War would provide the cover under which mss killing could be conducted. In would also provide the Germans conrol of countries with large Jewish populations, especially Poland. German forces began killing small numbers of Jews during the invasion. The numbers were large compared to what had gone before, but small in relation to what was to come. The actions were unplanned and carried out by indiduals with no central control. Professional military men like Abwehr Chief Admiral Canaris was agast. Canarish wanted to take the issue directly to Hitler. Field Marshall Keitel advised him not to do so. Wehrmacht officers arrested some of the perpetrators, including some SS-men. The SS did not yet have a powerful military component. Hitler pardoned each of the accused killers and OKW made it clear that such actions would be tolerated. The NAZIs first began killing notable Poles. but did not yet begin killing Jews in large numbers. They did begin considering how to deal with with the Jews now in their hands.

Nisko or Lublin Plan (September 1939)

The Nisko Plan or Lublin Lublin Plan was an early SS effort to address the what they saw as their Jewish problem after the invasion of Poland. The NAZI's initial policy toward German Jews had been to isolate them from German society and encourage them to emigrate after first stealing their property. Here they made considerable progress, bu as aesult of the Austrian Anschluss (April 1938) and the seizure of the Sudehntlad (October 19138, and Czechoslovakia (March 1939), they found that they had more Jews than when they began. The partition of Poland with the Siviets brough eben larger numbes of Jew with in the expanding NAZI empire. Arange of groups began studing options for dealing with this problem. One of the vest known wasafter the fall of France to deport them to Madagascar. An early effort became one of Hitler's per programs. An early SS iniitiative drawn ip even as fighting was still underway in Poland was the Nisko-Lublin Plan (September 1939). This was described as the 'territorial solution to the Jewish Question' (September 1939). Unlike other ideas floated by NAZI groups, this one was actually launched, largely bcause Himmler supported it. Initial steps to implement it began immediately (October 1939). The idea was to create a kind of Jewish reservation, the Nisko Reservation. This was in the Lublin District of the General Government, the area of occupied Poland not annexed to the Reuch. It was tobe aiant concentration camp complx. Lublin and Nisko were cities in the area. The SS began by setting up forced labor camps next to the reservation. Labor for the campswas to be obtained in the reservation. The first camps were part of the Burggraben project devised to fortify the Molotiov-Ribbentrop Line demrking the new NAZI-Soviet border. Much of the NAZI leadership supported the effort, including Adolf Hitler and self-procclimed NAZI ideologist Alfred Rosenberg. Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler assumed resonsibility for the project and began the planning process. Individuals involved in aspects of the planning included SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann; General Governor Hans Frank Arthur Seyss-Inquart also working in the General Government, and Gestapo Chief Heinrich Müller. Odilo Globocnik, the former Gauleiter of Vienna, wasappointed ti be the SS and Police Leader of the Lublin district. He worked closely with Himmler and was given charge of the reservation and camps. Globocnik expeced to receive 2 million Jews that he was to put to work in slave labor colonies. One task was to build massive anti-tank ditches to defend against a Soviet attack. Himmler had about 95,000 Polish Jews Jews deported to the Reservation. The largest camp was Belzac which was part of the SS Burggraben project. In the end, however, the plan proved unworkable and was discontinued (April 1940). The project was duisruopting thecwar effortwhich wasreaching a critical phase. The Burggraben camps were temporarily closed after Hitler decided to invade the Soviet Union (October 1940). Defensive works were no longer needed. The SS began e reactivate them in in 1941. The main camp was Belzac which would the first death camp, Two other death camps, Sobibor and Majdanek, were subsequently opened in the Lublin District. The Lipowa Camp became a Majdanek subcamp (1943).

T-4 Euthenasia Program (September 1939)

Unlike the sterilization program, the T4 euthanasia program was conducted in secrecy from the public by the German medical establishment. NAZI planners were concerned that a sterilization program would take not only generations, but centuries to eradicate hereditary disease and build a new Nordic Germanic race. Thus they adopted euthanasia, doctor-ordered killings, to support the sterilization program. The Euthanasia program was designed to eliminate any German assessed to be "incurably ill". Hitler signed secret orders authorizing the program on September 20, 1939 while staying in a resort hotel at Zoppot. It was called the T4 program because the headquarters was located at No. 4 Tiergartenstrasse in Berlin. This was not a NAZI program carried out behind barbed wire by the SS in secret. German doctors in large numbers participated in the program. [Aly, Chroust, and Pross] Census forms were immediately sent out requesting for "statistical purposes" to list patients who were senile, criminally inane, or of non-German blood. The T4 staff would determine which patients would be euthanized. NAZI officials wanted the program written into German law, but Hitler did not think this advisable. [Gilbert, pp. 273-274.] The categories of people subject to the program was gradually expanded. Dr. Karl Brandt, head of NAZI medicine and Hitler's physician, was deeply involved in the program. The NAZI program not only involved the mentally ill and retarded, but also the physically handicapped. This involved a program of killing the disabled--often children. Here the parents wishes were not considered. Parents would be told to being disabled children to residential homes. Many were then killed by the doctors. Estimates suggest that 0.1 million Germans, many children, were murdered in this program. The actual murders were conducted both individually and in groups. Truck exhaust, for example, was used to gas groups of patients. A handicapped child might be taken from is parents and "cared for" in a boarding facility. It did not matter that the parents wanted to care for the child. His parents would be told later that he died, but never that he was murdered by doctors. Hitler was, however becoming uneasy about the program. The Chancellery had received written protests. Some of the individuals protesting had been arrested. There were also clandestine protests. Himmler on December, 1940 called the architects of the program, Dr. Brack and Dr. Brandt, to his office to reprimand them--of course not about the program, but allowing information about the program to leak. He told them. "If Operation T4 had been entrusted to the SS, things would have have happened differently. When the Führer entrusts us with a job, we know how to deal with it correctly, without causing useless uproar among the people." After killing 50,000 Germans, including many children and babies, the euthanasia program was abandoned. [Gilbert, p. 354.] After the War, a "doctors trial" was held at Nuremberg for 23 NAZI doctors. Six of these doctors, including Brandt, were hanged and five given life sentences.


Rather than a giant reservation, the NAZI leadership decided on Ghetotization. Here SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich played a major role. The process, however, proved more complicated than originally contemplated. Began in late-1939, most of the major ghettoes were established during 1940 and Jews forcibly moved into them. Some Jews felt safter in the Ghettos because of the random actsof vilonece not uncommonly committed on the streets. Virtually all of the Jewish popultion of Poland had been ghettoized by early 1941. The Germans launched their long-waited Western Offensive (May 1940). The fall of France would make Hitler essenially the master of Estern and Central Europe (June 1940). The defeat of the French army and the evacuation of the British Expditionary Force meant that there was no military force on the Continent capble of resisting the Germans--excet the Red Army in the East. This removed what ever restraint he may have felt up to that time. He now believed that he has essentiall won the War and could fom that time write future history. The French Army was the major obstacle which had blocked Germany in World War I and now he had broken France. The process of isolating Western European Jews could now begin. The occupied countries not only had their own Jewish populations, but Jews from Germany, Austria, and other counies that had sought refuge in the West. The German anti-Semetic actions in the West were more restrained than in Poland, but relentless. German occupations authorities involved local officials in the process. Vichy France was especially cooprative , passing ther own versin of the Nuremburg Laws without even being pressured to do so. Occupation authoThe Germans proceeded like the process in the Reich with a steady stream of small steps. At first they were inconseuential, but gradually more and more onerous. Plans wereeven made for dealing with British Jews along with British anti-NAZIs by an Eisatzegruppe. The effort was to deprive Jews of civil rights, strip them of their property, and concentrate them. It is imposible to know what was in Hiler's mind, but the decesion to murder the entire Jewish population of Europe was not yet made, although we know that Himmler was looking into possibiliies like steriization as well as killing. It should not be thought that eliminating the Jews was not the NAZI goal. Probably as in Generalplan Ost, the intention was to deport Jews to the East once th Red Army was dfeatd and in the process many Jews would perish. Also the rations delivered to the Ghetos was part f the NAZI Hunger Plan aimed at starving unwanted people. Himmler and Heydrich were surprised, hiwever, as to how fews were dieing amnd thge feeling grew that afaster process was neded. Not all NAZIs wanted o murderth Jews. Many saw that Jewish slae labor was an asstt in the war economy. Oyjer NAZIs were bebeitting from the SS profits from using slave labor.


The decission to murder Jews was made in 1941. Thiswasthecadministrative decesion. Hitler surekly must haenadetha deesion much earlier. The Germans did not begin to kill the Ghetoized Jews until the end of theyear, but from the onset of Barbarossa (June 1941), Einsatzgruppen fanned out across the Soviet Union, killing Jews where they found them. Afew temprary ghettoes were established, but this was just an expedient to facilitate murder. The Einsatzgruppen were small units and killing people by shooting was aeltivly slow and clumsey process. The first industrial killing of ghetto Jews in Poland began at Chelmo (December 1941). Here the Germas began gassing Jews friom the Lodz Ghetto.

Generalplan Ost

SS think tanks created Generalplan Ost (GPO) as the blue print for remaking the political and ethnic map of the East. This was essentially a plan of extermuiintory colonization. Gas chambers wre not a plan of GPO, but extermination as prt of the colonization process was. Himmler put And he put ??? Odilio Globocnik in charge of carrying out GPO once the Red Army was defeated and the remaking of the East could begin. This provided a way of getting rid of Jews, Slavs and other unwanted people. And he had Himm;er's approval for begunning the process in the Lublin District of the General Government. The Barbariossa offensive, however, did not succeed when the Red Army launced a winter counter offensive (December 1941). As the Soviet Union did not collapse as anticipated. Other means had to be found for getting rid of the millions of Jews now in German hands. Himmler and Globocnik, however, were still internt on turning Lublin into a NAZI utopia. They proceeded to deport about 0.1 million poles from the Lublin district and desired a similar general 'clensing of the Gebneral Government of Jews, and also of Poles." Himmler wanted to priceed with these policies throughout occupied Poland, but Hitler held him back because the actions conducted were disrupting preparationd for Barbarossa. [Wasser, p. 61.]

The Balkans

Barbarossa (June 22)

The invasion of the Soviet Union was the most massive military operation in history. The scope was breathtaking. It was also the launching of the final stahe of the Holocaust--the killing phase. he Soviet Union like Poland had a huge Jewish population. Any effort to destroy European Jews required not onlyb possession of Poland, but also the Soviet Union. And it was with Barbarossa that the Germans began the wholesale killing of Jews wherever and whebnever they found them. From the onset of Barbarossa (June 1941), Einsatzgruppen fanned out across the Soviet Union, killing Jews where they found them. A few temprary ghettoes were established, but this was just an expedient to facilitate murder. The Einsatzgruppen were small units and killing people by shooting was aeltivly slow and clumsey process.

Operation Reinhard

Operation Reinhard was the systematic plan to kill Polish Jews on an industrial basis. The NAZIs began the Holocaust by driving Jews outof Germany. This substantially reduced the number of Jews in the Reich. Subsequent NAZI aggressions: Austria (1938), Czechoslovakia (1938-39), and especially Poland (1939) brought many more Jews under NAZI control. The NAZI policy was not to kill these Jews in large numbers, but to concentrate themm in medieval ghettos located in occupied Poland. NAZI officials debated what to do with the Jews. There were inpractical schemes flosated like deporting them to Madagascar. Confinement in the ghettos allowed the NAZIs to strip them of their property. Many NAZIs wanted to use them as slavce labor and this was the general aprroach (1939-41). The invasion of the the Soviet Union was the turning point (June 1941). Hitler decided to simply kill Soviet Jews. This was the first major killing operation of the Final Sollution. There were some short term ghettos formned in the Baltics, but most Soviet Jews were killed when ever they were found by specially formed Einsatzgruppen and local auxileries. Next the NAZIs turned to the 2.3 million Jews in occupied Poland, mostly the Government General. This was the second major killing operation of the Final Sollution. The Germands began killing Jews from the first day of the invasion of Poland (September 1939), but in disorganized, largely small scale actions. The plan to kill every Polish Jew on an organized, industrial basis was named Operation Reinhard in honor of SS SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. The planning began in 1941, but was only named Operation Reinhard after British-Czech agents killed Heydrich (May 1942). At the time the killing process was already underway.

Belzac Death Camp (about October 13)

The first gassing operations in the Reich were conducted on handicapped children and the mentally retarded and ill--the T4 Program. After Barbarossa, there were gassing experiments on Soviet POWs. Carbon-monoxide was used as it was readily available as gasoline exhausts. Himmler knew about this and ordered his protoge Odilio Globocnik. to begin preparing a gassing facility (about October 13). Himmler had earlier supported Globocnik in confrontations with Frank, the Governor General of the Government General (occupied Poland). Globocnik is one of the truly hideous individuals in the NAZI heirarchy and architects of the Holocaust. Globocnik chose Belzac tg become the first deth camp (late-October). Thus the purpose of Belzac was changed from a exterminatory slave labor camp to a pure death camp. [Snyder, p. 254.] It was Globocnik that developed the killing process using a remarkably small German staff given the numbers of Jews actually killed at the camp. The Einsatzgruppen unleashed with Barbarossa were fairly small, but mostly composed of Germans, although some non-German police units wre also used. At the death camp not only was process much faster, but required an amazing small German staff. Belzac was Globocnik's sollution to the killing problem fased by NAZI officials west of the Molotov-Ribbentrop line. They did not have enough Germans to begin shooting Jews likethe Einsatzgruppen east of the Line. And they did not want to divert manpower from the front or arm Poles to assist with the killing. Thus Belzac was design to kills huge numbers of Jews very rapidly with only a handfull of Germans. With would be the protype death camp.

Declaration of war on America (Decembr 11)

Hitler is often faulted for invading the Soviet Union before defeating Britain. This is a valid criticism, although a military case can be made for the invasion. The secession to declare war on the United States, while still fighting the Soviet Union, however, was strategic madness and is in sharp contrast to his deft handling of strategic planning in the first phase of the War. One wonders if the shock of failure in front of Moscow combined with the drugs provided by Doctor Theodor Morell may not have addled his mind. Hitler made his decisions unilaterally so it is difficult to tell just what what drove him to do this. Here historians can only speculate.

Hitler announcs the Holocaust (December 12)

Hitler announced the final decision to destroy the Jewish population of occupied Europe. Mass killing had begun with the Einsatzgruppen when the Wehrmacht entered the Soviet Union (June 1941). The Germans began killing Soviet Jews while millions of Jews were in their custody and while harshly treated, still alive. The Polish Jews had been ghettoized, but the Western European Jews were still not interned. Killing had begun at Chelmo in what was to be a dry run for the murder of Polish Jews (September 1941). Hitler finally ordered that killing be begun on a vast scale to eliminate Jews throughout NAZI occupied Europe, regardless of their potential value to the war effort. We are not sure just when Hitler decided this in his mind. We do know when he announced what we now know as the Holocaust to the NAZI hierarchy. Hitler called his Gaultiers and important NAZI Party officials to the Reich Chancellery the day after declaring war on America [Mawdsley] The Gauletiers had heard the declaration of war in America on the radio the day before. They were less aware, however, of the extent of the Red Army counter-offensive in the East. Virtually all the ranking NAZI Party officials attended the meeting. Hitler announced at the meeting that the Jewish people would be destroyed. In fact killing had begun on a vast scale months before. This was in fact that a 'warning' he had delivered before the War would now be realized. Hitler had told the Reichstag, "If the world of international financial Jewry, both in and outside of Europe, should succeed in plunging the Nations into another world war, the result will not be the Bolshevization of the world and thus a victory for Judaism. The result will be the extermination of the Jewish race in Europe." (January 30, 1939). Of course it was Hitler not world Jewry that launched the War, but this was Hitler's way of justifying one of the greatest crimes of history. The meeting in the Reich Chancellery took place in the afternoon and was held in the private rooms. This meant that there was no official record. Both Goebbels and Frank noted the meeting. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels noted what Hitler told the NAZI leaders, "Regarding the Jewish question, the Führer is determined to clear the table. He warned the Jews that if they were to cause another world war, it would lead to their own destruction. Those were not empty words. Now the world war has come. The destruction of the Jews must be its necessary consequence. This question is to be regarded without sentimentalism. We are not here to have sympathy with the Jews, but rather with our German people. If the German people have sacrificed 160,000 dead in the eastern campaign, so the authors of this bloody conflict will have to pay for it with their lives." Some authors argue that the Holocaust had not begin earlier because Hitler saw the Jews in occupied Europe as useful hostages to keep America out of the war. To what extent he really believed this we are not sure.


Wansee Conference (January 1942)

NAZI officials saw the mass killing of Jews in the Soviet Union in the summer and fall of 1941 as being conducted in a disjointed and uncoordinate fashion. Himmler became concerned about the psychological impact on SS members of personally killing Jews, especially women and children. Also it was not tghe best way to obtain their valuables before killing them. Now that the NAZIs contolled virtually all of western and central Europe and millions of Jews, it was felt that a coordinated plan was needed to efficently execute the "Final Sollution". The SS was the principal tool, but the killing of millions necesitated the cooperation of many different Government agencies. The was originally scheduled for December 9, 1941, but had to be postponed because of the stuningly successful Russian offensive in front of Moscow and after Pearl Harbor, Hitler's declaration of war on America. The meeting was finally held on in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee (January 20, 1942). The meeting was a secret sesion attended by 15 senior NAZI officials. The purpose was to coordinate the "Final Sollution"-the murder of 11 million Europen Jews. that had already began in Poland and the Soviet Europe. The decission to murder the Jew had already been taken. The Conference was to coordinate and immplement that decission.

Opening the Death Camps

NAZI Germany established a huge net work of camps across first Germany and then occupied Europe. There were many different camps, set up for a variety of purposes. Many were used for forced labor. Five camps were created for the sole purpse of killing--primarily killing Jews. The five death camps were: Belzec, Chelmo, Maly Trostenets, Sorbibor, and Treblinka. The killing methods varied from camp to camp. The Polish camps were first used in Operation Heydrich, the destruction of Polish Jews. Large numbers of Jews and others were killed at the many other camps established throughout occupied Germany. Here the most notorious was Auschwitz. It was a huge camp originally created for slave labor, but a section of the camp at Birkenau was created to kill Jews. Some writers, including HBC, some times refer to these camps as the "Polish death camps". This is probably misleading. The camps other than the fact that the Germans built them in Poland (or in the Soviet Union in the case of Sorbibor), had nothing to do with Poland or the Polish people. A more correct desription, as Polish reader Jerzy Pankiewiczis points out, is German death camps in occupied Poland. Locating the camps in Poland was a conscious decission made by the NAZIs. The Germans were in total control in Poland and imposed harsh military rule. This it was easier to hide what they were doing than any where else in Europe. It also allowed them to keep the dirty details of the killing away from the German people. Many Germans did know about the killings and some did not want to know. Many Germans, however, did not know.

Western European transports (1942-44)

The mass killing of Jews began in the East with the Einsatzgruppen in the Soviet Union (June 1941). Meanwhile in the West, NAZI officials were content with robbing the Jews of their property and concentrating them in urban Jewish neighborhoods. Once the death camps in Poland were constructed, trahsports to the East began. The Germans did not go country by country, but transports from all the occupied countries began (Belgium, France, and the Netherlands). Trans ports of Reich Germans increased, but they were mostly moved in regular passenger cars rather than cattle cars. Only the small Danish Jewish community largely escaped. These transports ontinued until just days before the Allied troops reached the German occupied areas.


Wasaw Ghetto Uprising (January-May 1943)

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the single most important Jewish act of defiance against the NAZIs. We have found various estimates of the number of Jews remaining in the Ghetto. Estimates vary widely, 35,000 to 80,000 survivors of the earlier transports. They were used for various slave labor projects. Surprisingly the Germans gave them permission to build some bomb shelters. Presumably their labor was useful. SS and police units returned to Warsaw Ghetto (January 1943). Their orders were to transport the remaining Jews to forced-labor camps specifically for Jews in Lublin District. The Jews in the Ghetto understandably assumed that this was another transport to Treblinka. They resisted the SS and police with small arms that they had managed to smuggle in from the city. After seizing about 5,000 Jews, the relatively small SS and police force, suspended the deportation operation and withdrew. At the time, because of the Stlingrad crisis, combat units were not available to back up the small deportation force. A stronger SS and police force deployed outside the ghetto walls (April 19, 1943). This time they arrived with heavy weapons. They were ordered to liquidate the ghetto and deport the remaining Jews to the forced labor camps in Lublin district as originally intended. The Ghetto Jews again resistance the Germans and managed to inflicting casualties on the much better armed SS and police units. Organized resistance broke down after a few days, but the Jews continued to resist deportation as individuals or in small groups for four weeks. Finally the NAZIs terminated the action (May 16). The SS and police deported approximately 42,000 Warsaw ghetto survivors to the forced-labor camps at Poniatowa and Trawniki and to the Lublin/Majdanek concentration camp. At least 7,000 Jews died in the fighting or while hiding in the Ghetto. The NAZIs sent the remaining 7,000 Jews to the Treblinka death camp.

Italian surreder (September 1943)

The Germans after the Italian surrender quickly disarmed the Italian Army and occupied the country. They encountered very little resistance. Marshal Badoglio himself was terrified that the Germans would arrest him. Almost immediately after seizing control of Italy, the NAZIs began rounding-up Italian Jews. The Germans y used the opportunity to begin rounding up and transporting Jews to the death camps. German soldiers surrounded Rome's ghetto at 5:00 AM in the morning while people were still sleeping (October 16, 1943). They had names and addresses obtained from the Synagogue. They arrested 2,091 Jews who were then trasported to the NAZI death camps in Poland. THere are 16 who are known to have survived. Overall the NAZIs, however, were not as successful in the Jewish roundups as they had hoped. The Germans only managed to deport and kill about 15 percent of Italy's Jews, the lowest ratio in among occupied countries. This is especially surprising given the fact that Italy was an Axis partner. Jews hid as best they could. Some sought shelter in the Alps. Others were hidden in on farms and in convents and monasteries. Others like Franco Cesana joined the partisans.


Hungarian Jews (May-July 1944)

The killing of Jews in Hungary had, largely but not entirely, been limited to foreign Jews. This changed when Hitler learning of Hungary's move to defect from the Axis. He ordered the invsion abnd occupation of the country (March 1944). Interestingly, Austria-Hungary atteted to neogtiate its wy out of World war I and the Germans also seized contol of the country as a result. The Hungarian Jews were the last large, largely untouched population in Europe. And Hitlers seizire of the country meant that they were now in NAZI hands. Eichmann moved quickly to personally organize and oversee the deportations to Auschwitz here the Birkennau death camp was still fully operatonal. By May 1944 he was ready to begin. Hungarian authorities and the German Security Police in mid-May 1944 began the deportations. The Hungarian police were responsible for roundingup the Jews and bringing them to the train stations where they were forced on to the transport cars. In less than 2 months, about 440,000 Jews were deported on 145 trains. Most of the transports went directy to the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Some were sent to the border with Austria to be employed as forced labor in the construction of trenches which were to defend Vienna. In the entire history of the Holocaust the NAZIs never succeded in deporting and killing so many people so quickly. This is especially remarkable as the Hungarian Jews in the provinces were widely dispersed. Horthy stopped the deportations (July 6). His reasons are unknown, but presumably involve concern over war crime trials after the War. Presumably the Allied landings in Normandy or the advance of the Red Army motivated him because by this stage of the War, it was clear that the Germans had clearly lost. Eichmann was reportedly furious, but without Hungarian support he did not have the manpower to continue the deportations. As a result, a large number of Jews still existed in Budapest that had not been touched by the deportations in the provinces.


Davidson, Eugene. The Unmaking of Adolf Hitler (Univesity of Missouri: Columbia, 1996), 519p.

Fest, Joachim C. Hitler (Vintage Books: New York, 1975), 844p.


Hamann, Brigitte. Hitler's Vienna (1999).

Shalom, Beth. Perspective Vol. I, No. 1 (1998).

Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books: New York, 2010), 524p.

Wasser, Bruno. Himmlers Raumplannug im Osten (Basel: BirkháauserVerlag, 1993).

Proceedings of the Intergovernmental Committee, Evian, 6/15 July 1938, Verbatim Record of the Plenary Meeting of the Committee. Resolutions and Reports, London, July 1938.


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Created: 4:20 AM 9/6/2012
Last updated: 8:59 AM 12/31/2014