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View of the furnaces remaining in the Majdanek camp by the time of liberation. The Germans had attempted to destroy the building as Soviet forces advanced in 1944. Majdanek, Poland, after July 22, 1944.
A British policeman (left) organizes the arrest of passengers from the Aliyah Bet ("illegal" immigration) ship Parita after they disembarked near Tel Aviv. Palestine, August 22, 1939.
A large crowd fills Eisenhower Plaza during the dedication ceremony of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Flags of the liberating divisions form the backdrop to the opening ceremony. Washington, DC, April 22, 1993.
SS Police State An important tool of Nazi terror was the Protective Squad (Schutzstaffel), or SS, which began as a special guard for Adolf Hitler and other party leaders. The black-shirted SS members formed a smaller, elite group whose members also served as auxiliary policemen and, later, as concentration camp guards. Eventually overshadowing the Storm Troopers (SA) in importance, the SS became, after 1934, the private army of the Nazi Party. SS chief Heinrich Himmler also turned the regular (nonparty)…
Ghettos in Poland Millions of Jews lived in eastern Europe. After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, more than two million Polish Jews came under German control. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, several million more Jews came under Nazi rule. The Germans aimed to control this sizable Jewish population by forcing Jews to reside in marked-off sections of towns and cities the Nazis called "ghettos" or "Jewish residential quarters." Altogether, the Germans created at least 1,000 ghettos in…
Deportations In the months following the Wannsee Conference, the Nazi regime continued to carry out their plans for the "Final Solution." Jews were "deported"—transported by trains or trucks to six camps, all located in occupied Poland: Chelmno, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Majdanek-Lublin. The Nazis called these six camps "extermination camps." Most of the deportees were immediately murdered in large groups by poisonous gas. The Germans continued to murder Jews in mass shootings…
June 18-22, 1944. On this date, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler's firsthand account of Auschwitz went public worldwide.
December 22, 1945. On this date, Harry S. Truman issued a directive giving US immigration preference to displaced persons.
Learn more about the end of Nazi tyranny in Europe and the liberation of camps and other sites of Nazi crimes. This article includes dates of liberation of some of the camps.
German forces launched Operation "Barbarossa," the invasion of the Soviet Union, on June 22, 1941. The German army made rapid initial progress in the campaign into Soviet territory. In this German military footage, German soldiers separate women and children from men in a Soviet village.
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