Before World War II and the Holocaust, American law made very little distinction between refugees forced to flee their countries due to persecution, and immigrants seeking a better life. After the war, the United States and the international community used a series of directives, organizations, and laws to help displaced European refugees, including Holocaust survivors, immigrate to new countries. Although refugees gained legal status under postwar international law, the scope of these laws were narrow and limited at first, before expanding to their current form.
This timeline chronicles the relationship between the professional military elite and the Nazi state. It pays specific attention to the military leaders’ acceptance of Nazi ideology and their role in perpetrating crimes against Jews, prisoners of war, and unarmed civilians in the name of that ideology.
In 1933, Nazi students at more than 30 German universities pillaged libraries in search of books they considered to be "un-German." Among the literary and political writings they threw into the flames were the works of Karl Kautsky.
German troops invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, triggering World War II. In response to German aggression, Great Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany.
Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its allies established more than 44,000 camps and other incarceration sites (including ghettos). The perpetrators used these sites for a range of purposes, including forced labor, detention of people thought to be enemies of the state, and for mass murder.
The three principal partners in the Axis alliance were Germany, Italy, and Japan. These three countries recognized German domination over most of continental Europe; Italian domination over the Mediterranean Sea; and Japanese domination over East Asia and the Pacific.
Adolf Hitler came to power with the goal of establishing a new racial order in Europe dominated by the German “master race.” This goal drove Nazi foreign policy, which aimed to: throw off the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles; incorporate territories with ethnic German populations into the Reich; acquire a vast new empire in Eastern Europe; form alliances; and, during the war, persuade other states to participate in the “final solution.”
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