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Ossi was the youngest of six children born to Roma ("Gypsies") who traveled in a family wagon. His family was Roman Catholic. Their caravan spent winters in Vienna, Austria's capital, and summers in the Austrian countryside. The Stojkas belonged to a tribe called the Lowara Roma, who made their living as itinerant horse traders. Ossi's ancestors had lived in Austria for more than 200 years. 1933-39: Ossi was 2 years old when Germany annexed Austria in March 1938. The Stojka family wagon was parked for the…
One of two children born to religious Jewish parents, Ema was raised in the small Moravian town of Lomnice, where her mother ran a general store. In 1901 Ema married Eduard Skutecky, a regular customer at her mother's store. The couple settled in the city of Brno, where they raised three children. Eduard ran a shipping company. 1933-39: By 1933 Ema's three children were grown and had moved out. Four years later her husband passed away, and Ema moved in with her eldest daughter, Elsa. Elsa and her husband…
Rosa was one of 14 children born to religious Jewish parents in the village of Yasinya at a time when it was known as Korosmezo and was part of Hungary. During World War I, she married Michael von Hoppen Waldhorn, an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army who was based near Yasinya. During the 1920s they moved to Paris, where they raised three children. 1933-39: The Waldhorn family's life in Paris was very different from their life in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Rosa's husband made a good living, and he…
Robert was the son of Jewish parents, Leopold and Florentina Kulka, and was raised in the Moravian town of Olomouc. After completing secondary school, he attended a business school until 1909. He began a business in Olomouc and in 1933 he married Elsa Skutezka from the Moravian city of Brno. The couple made their home in Olomouc. 1933-39: The Kulkas' son, Tomas, was born a year and a day after they were married. In 1937 Elsa's father passed away and the Kulkas moved to Brno, where Elsa and her husband…
Gideon was known affectionately as "Gi" by his family and friends. His parents were descended from the Huguenots, French Protestants who came to the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries. Gi had two brothers and two sisters, and his father worked in the insurance business. 1933-39: Gi had a large circle of friends, both Christians and Jews, and after school they all liked to get together. He and his friends enjoyed taking bike trips, having parties, and playing records. In the mid-1930s his parents…
The SS (Schutzstaffel, or Protection Squads) was originally established as Adolf Hitler’s personal bodyguard unit. It would later become both the elite guard of the Nazi Reich and Hitler’s executive force prepared to carry out all security-related duties, without regard for legal restraint.
Explore a timeline of the history of the Bergen-Belsen camp in the Nazi camp system. Initially a POW camp, it became a concentration camp in 1943.
Nazi rule in Germany began with Hitler's rise to power in 1933. Hitler and the Nazi Party quickly eliminated democratic freedoms. The new regime then took control of all aspects of public life in Germany.
Mobile Killing Squads After the German army invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, a new stage in the Holocaust began. Under cover of war and confident of victory, the Germans turned from the forced emigration and imprisonment of Jews to mass murder. Special action squads, or Einsatzgruppen, made up of Nazi (SS) units and police, moved with speed on the heels of the advancing German army. Their job was to kill any Jews they could find in the occupied Soviet territory. Some residents of the occupied…
Explore a timeline of the history of the Flossenbürg camp in the Nazi camp system from its establishment in 1938 until liberation in 1945.
Nicholas Winton organized a rescue operation that brought hundreds of children, mostly Jewish, from Czechoslovakia to safety in Great Britain before the outbreak of WWII.
The Nazi Party targeted German youth as a special audience for its propaganda messages. Read more about the indoctrination of youth.
From 2003 to 2005, an estimated 200,000 civilians died as a result of a campaign of violence in Darfur by the Sudanese government. In 2004, the US Secretary of State called this violence a genocide
In Nazi Germany, German military personnel swore an oath directly to Adolf Hitler. Learn about the oath and its impact.
Leading German physicians and administrators were put on trial for their role during the Holocaust. The resulting Nuremberg Code was a landmark document on medical ethics. Learn more
The Nazi Party was one of a number of right-wing extremist political groups that emerged in Germany following World War I. Learn about the Nazi rise to power.
Kindertransport refers to a series of rescue efforts between 1938 and 1940 that brought thousands of refugee children to Great Britain from Nazi Germany.
At the Wannsee conference of January 1942, Nazi Party and German government officials gathered to coordinate implementation of the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.”
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opened in April 1993. Explore the history of the nation's memorial to the millions murdered during the Holocaust.
Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel was commander of all German armed forces during World War II. Learn about his military career and postwar trial.
A Project of the Miles Lerman Center Summary extract from the testimony of Eliezer Breslin given to detectives from New Scotland Yard in Israel on May 22, 1995, during the investigation into Semion Serafinowicz, the former chief of the Belorussian police in Mir. The first ghetto was established three weeks after the German invasion and consisted only of a few streets, Zavalne Street and Visoka Street. It was not exactly a ghetto; it wasn't enclosed by a barbed wire fence. In this area the houses were…
The Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), created by Heinrich Himmler, brutally coordinated and perpetrated many aspects of the Holocaust.
From April to July 1994, extremist leaders of Rwanda’s Hutu majority directed a genocide against the country’s Tutsi minority. Learn more
The three principal partners in the Axis alliance were Germany, Italy, and Japan. Learn more about the Axis powers in WW2.
The German military played a vital role in the consolidation of Nazi power and persecution and mass murder of Jews and other groups. Learn more
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