German SS officer Kurt Gerstein was assigned to the Hygiene Institute of the Waffen SS. He was called upon to assist in the implementation of the "Final Solution." After witnessing atrocities at the Belzec and Treblinka killing centers, he tried to inform foreign diplomats, Vatican officials, and members of the political resistance within Germany about Nazi German atrocities. While in Allied custody after the war, Gerstein wrote a report documenting the atrocities he had witnessed.
A Black expatriate artist living in Belgium upon the outbreak of WWII, Josef Nassy was held in German internment camps during the war. Learn about his experiences.
Born to Catholic parents, Wladyslaw attended schools in Warsaw and earned a degree in survey engineering in Moscow in 1914. After fighting in World War I, he commanded a horse artillery division in Warsaw, worked for Poland's Military Geographic Institute, and taught topography courses. He started a family in 1925, and after he retired from the army in 1929 he founded a surveying company. 1933-39: When war with Germany became imminent in the summer of 1939, Wladyslaw volunteered to fight but was rejected…
The Slovak National Council for Social Solicitude issued this registration certificate to Mikulas Diamant on July 25, 1945, in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. This view shows the front and back cover. The certificate ensured repatriation and safe return home.
HIAS immigration certificate issued to Manius Notowicz in Munich, Germany. The document states that Notowicz will travel on the Marine Flasher on February 22, 1947, to New York City.
Many refugees had difficulties replacing lost or invalidated personal identification documents. The certificate of Polish citizenship shown here was valid in place of a passport. A Polish Jewish refugee used this certificate to travel legally from Lithuania, through the Soviet Union, to Japan. It contains the Curacao notation needed to obtain Soviet and Japanese visas. The bearer of this certificate aimed to reach Palestine, but ended up spending most of the war in Calcutta, India, part of the British…
Marriage certificate obtained by Dr. Mohamed Helmy stating that Anna Gutman (Boros) married an Egyptian man in a ceremony held in Helmy’s home. Dr. Helmy also received certification from the Central Islamic Institute in Berlin attesting to Anna’s conversion to Islam, which the marriage certificate reflects. Translation: Marriage certificate On Wednesday June 16, 1943, we have certified the marriage contract between Abdelaziz Helmy Hammad, 36 years old, who was born on May 6th, 1906, in Faqous,…
Polish citizenship certificate issued to Samuel Solc on December 16, 1939, by the Britannic Majesty's Legation in Kovno, charged with representing Polish interests in Lithuania. Samuel decided to emigrate to Palestine in late 1939. His journey lasted over two years and took him through eight countries. Samuel arrived in Palestine on February 6, 1942, after stays in Lithuania; Kobe, Japan; Shanghai, China; and Bombay, India. [From the USHMM special exhibition Flight and Rescue.]
This page of a Polish citizenship certificate issued to Samuel Solc contains two visas. The first (left), stamped by the British Passport control in Shanghai, allowed Samuel to travel to Palestine via Burma, India, Egypt, and Rangoon. The second visa (right) bears the British Mandate "Government of Palestine" stamp, dated February 6, 1942, and allowed Samuel to remain in Palestine permanently. [From the USHMM special exhibition Flight and Rescue.]
The US Army Signal Corps had a crucial role in documenting—in both film and photographs—the atrocities perpetrated during the Holocaust.
A certificate of "Aryan" descent, issued to Joseph Schäfer of Mühlheim, Germany. To prove one's "Aryan" racial status in Nazi Germany, an individual had to trace their ancestry back to 1800. Signed by an official justice of the peace, this certificate attests to Schäfer's parentage and baptism. Dated January 14, 1936.
Helen was the oldest of three sisters. Her father owned a soap factory. After the Germans attacked Poland in 1939, they took over all Jewish businesses. Helen and her family fled from Lodz to a town between Lodz and Warsaw. After two years, in 1942, Helen's father heard that the Jews in the town to which they had fled were to be deported to labor camps. He bought false papers for Helen and her youngest sister. All three sisters survived the war.
Walter was the oldest of eight children born to Polish-Catholic immigrant parents in a town near Boston, Massachusetts. The family moved back to Poland when Walter was a child, and lived on a family farm near Ostroleka in northern Poland that Walter's mother had inherited. Because his father's American nickname was "Stetson," Walter was mistakenly registered as "Charles Stetson" on his American birth certificate. 1933-39: After Walter completed secondary school, his father sent him to the University of…
Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is the best known and most popular Nazi text ever published with over 12 million copies sold from 1925 to 1945.
Browse a timeline listing some key events in the evolution of Holocaust denial and the distortion of the facts of the Holocaust.
German Jews trying to immigrate to the US in the late 1930s met extreme bureaucratic hurdles, including documentation that was often virtually impossible to obtain.
Each of Germany’s six European Axis allies participated in the “Final Solution” by murdering Jews or by transferring them to German custody. Learn more.
Dr. Mohamed Helmy and Frieda Szturmann helped save a Jewish family in the heart of Nazi Germany. Helmy was the first Arab recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
Nesse's family had a dairy business. The Germans occupied Lithuania in 1941 and established a ghetto in Siauliai. Nesse lived in the ghetto until 1943 when she was old enough to work. In 1944 Nesse, her mother, and a brother were deported to the Stutthof camp near Danzig. Nesse worked in several Stutthof subcamps until January 1945, when the inmates were put on a death march. She was liberated by the Soviets in March. Nesse, her mother, and two brothers survived, and she arrived in the United States in…
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
Lucine was born to a Jewish family in Lublin. Her father was a court interpreter and her mother was a dentist. War began with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. Lucine's home was raided by German forces shortly thereafter. Soon after the German occupation of Lublin, Jews there were forced to wear a compulsory badge identifying them as Jews. A ghetto in Lublin was closed off in January 1942. Lucine survived a series of killing campaigns and deportations from the ghetto during March and…
Architect James Ingo Freed designed the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
On December 17, 1941, the Romanian government issued a decree requiring a census of all those with "Jewish blood.” All persons having one or two Jewish parents or two Jewish grandparents were ordered to register at the Central Jewish Office. This is a census certificate issued by that office in 1942.
On December 17, 1941, the Romanian government issued a decree requiring a census of all those with “Jewish blood.” All persons having one or two Jewish parents or two Jewish grandparents were ordered to register at the Central Jewish Office. This is a census certificate issued by that office in 1942.
Explore firsthand testimony about the occupation of Mlynów, the establishment of the ghetto, resistance activities, and the destruction of the ghetto.
Millions of people suffered and died in camps, ghettos, and other sites during the Holocaust....
Heinrich Himmler was the leader of the dreaded SS of the Nazi Party from 1929 until 1945. Learn more about key dates in the life of Heinrich Himmler.
Read the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation's short biography of Silvio Ortona.
Franz was raised in a town in eastern Germany. The son of Jewish parents, he earned a law degree from Breslau University and a doctorate of jurisprudence from Geneva University in Switzerland. At the age of 35 he married Ilse Luise Citroen, a woman of Dutch-Jewish ancestry. The couple settled in Berlin where Franz had a successful law practice. The Ledermanns had two daughters. 1933-39: The Nazis came to power in January 1933. Ilse's Dutch relatives encouraged the Ledermanns to immigrate to the…
Prominent SS physician Josef Mengele, called the "Angel of Death" by his victims, conducted inhumane medical experiments on prisoners in the Auschwitz camp.
Iranian diplomat Abdol Hossein Sardari gave critical assistance to Iranian Jews in occupied France (1940-1944) to protect them from Nazi persecution.
At great risk, George Kadish secretly documented life in the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania, creating a key photographic record of ghetto life during the Holocaust.
Dr. J. Rebhan, chair of the Jewish council in Przemysl, Poland, signed this document certifying that Max Diamant had stable employment in the Jewish clinic. The certificate identifies Diamant as a dentist and is dated June 4, 1942. During World War II, the Germans established Jewish councils to ensure that Nazi orders and regulations were implemented. Jewish council members also sought to provide basic community services for ghettoized Jewish populations.
Righteous Among the Nations are non-Jewish individuals honored by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, for risking their lives to aid Jews during the Holocaust.
Isaac was one of six children born to a Jewish family in the Ukrainian village of Vachnovka in the Soviet Union. In the mid-1920s, Isaac married, and moved to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. 1933-39: In Kiev Isaac worked as a house-painter. Because he had married a Christian Ukrainian woman, he was shunned by some of his relatives who believed this union violated Jewish law. Isaac was considered the "black sheep" of his family. 1940-41: When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Isaac was…
Emanuel, often known by his nickname Manek, was one of five children born to religious Jewish parents in the industrial city of Lvov. After graduating from secondary school, he entered Lvov's polytechnic institute to study civil engineering. 1933-39: At the institute the Jewish students had to stand on the left side of the lecture hall. Once, antisemitic schoolmates broke his jaw because he put up a fight when he was insulted. Manek sued his attackers, but the case was dismissed; the judge said Manek…
Monique's Jewish parents met in Paris. Her father had emigrated there from Russia to study engineering, and her mother had come from Poland as a young child. Monique's father did not have enough money to finish university, so he went to work as an upholsterer. He also shared a small business which sold his hand-tooled leather purses. 1933-39: Monique's mother was 20 when she gave birth to Monique in 1937. Two years later, Parisians were threatened by the possibility of bombing by the Germans, and French…
Janusz was the eldest of four children born to Catholic parents in Plock, a town located in a rural area north of Warsaw. His father was an accountant. Janusz attended local schools, and became active in scouting. 1933-39: Janusz went to Warsaw to study civil engineering. On September 1, 1939, the Germans began bombing Warsaw. One week later, all able-bodied men who had not been mobilized were directed to retreat east. On September 17, Janusz was 90 miles from the Romanian border. That night, the Soviets…
Even at the height of its power and influence in 1942–1944, the SS was not all-powerful inside Nazi Germany. In the occupied territories, the SS encroached upon the jurisdiction of the civilian authorities and even the Wehrmacht. However, as the invading Allied armies and Allied bombings from the air brought the war home to Germany in 1943–1944, the SS was challenged by two powerful rivals. The Nazi Party apparatus under the Chief of the Party Chancellery, Martin Bormann, was one of those rivals.…
Charged with managing the mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and killing centers, Adolf Eichmann was a key figure in the "Final Solution."
Many German businesses were involved in the policies of the Third Reich. Learn about Topf and Sons, which sold ovens to the SS for major concentration camps in Germany.
Yiddish writer Chaim Yelin was a leader of the Kovno ghetto underground resistance movement again the Germans.
Explore Frank Liebermann’s biography and learn about his experiences of antisemitism in his home town in Germany before World War II.
It was becoming more and more evident that, um, that Jews, uh, should leave if anybody at all would have them, and not very many countries would have them.—Kurt Klein Several factors determined the ebb and flow of emigration of Jews from Germany. These included the degree of pressure placed on the Jewish community in Germany and the willingness of other countries to admit Jewish immigrants. However, in the face of increasing legal repression and physical violence, many Jews fled Germany. Until…
Hermann Ludwig Maas, a Protestant pastor in Heidelberg, Germany, was a rescuer and clergyman who stood in solidarity with the Jewish community.
Historical events should be analyzed in their appropriate historical context. Learn how to assess the identify the quality, reliability, and integrity of a source.
Learn about the Kovno ghetto diary and other documents Avraham Tory saved in a secret archive that documented life in the ghetto.
To implement their policies, the Nazis had help from individuals across Europe, including professionals in many fields. Learn about the role of German clergy and church leaders.
The three principal partners in the Axis alliance were Germany, Italy, and Japan. Learn more about the Axis powers in WW2.
As a boy, Pavol lived with his parents in the city of Martin in Slovakia. His father taught at the local agricultural college. The Kovacs, who were non-practicing Jews, were among the few Jewish residents in the town. 1933-39: When Pavol was born, almost nine months before the outbreak of World War II, his parents decided to have "Roman Catholic" listed under the entry for religion in his birth certificate. They took this step to protect him, despite the fact that for generations Jews in their region had…
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