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  • Germany, 1933


    When Adolf Hitler came to power in January 1933, Germany was potentially one of the strongest powers in Europe. Hitler was determined to overturn the remaining military and territorial provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, which had followed World War I. He aimed to include German-speaking people in the Reich as a preliminary step toward the restoration of German power and the creation of a German empire in Europe. Large numbers of German-speaking people lived in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.…

    Germany, 1933
  • Nazi concentration camps, 1933–39


    The first concentration camps in Germany were established soon after Hitler's appointment as chancellor in January 1933. The Storm Troopers (SA) and the police established concentration camps to handle the masses of people arrested as alleged political opponents of the regime. These camps were established on the local level throughout Germany. Gradually, most of these early camps were disbanded and replaced by centrally organized concentration camps under the exclusive jurisdiction of the SS…

    Tags: camps
    Nazi concentration camps, 1933–39
  • Major death marches and evacuations, 1944-1945


    In January 1945, the Third Reich stood on the verge of military defeat. As Allied forces approached Nazi camps, the SS organized death marches of concentration camp inmates, in part to keep large numbers of concentration camp prisoners from falling into Allied hands. The term "death march" was probably coined by concentration camp prisoners. It referred to forced marches of concentration camp prisoners over long distances under heavy guard and extremely harsh conditions. During death marches, SS guards…

    Major death marches and evacuations, 1944-1945
  • Rescue in Budapest, 1944-1945


    Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish businessman assigned as a diplomat to Sweden's embassy in Budapest, led one of the most extensive and successful rescue efforts during the Holocaust. Supported by the American War Refugee Board (WRB) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Wallenberg protected tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews, issuing documents testifying that the Jews were under the protection of neutral Sweden. Diplomats from other neutral countries also participated in the rescue effort. Carl…

    Rescue in Budapest, 1944-1945
  • Rescue of Danish Jews, fall 1943


    Germany occupied Denmark in 1940. When the Germans decided to deport Jews from Denmark in August 1943, Danes spontaneously organized a rescue operation and helped Jews reach the coast; fishermen then ferried them to neutral Sweden. The rescue operation expanded to include participation by the Danish resistance, the police, and the government. In little more than three weeks, the Danes ferried more than 7,000 Jews and close to 700 of their non-Jewish relatives to Sweden, which accepted the Danish refugees.…

    Tags: rescue Denmark
    Rescue of Danish Jews, fall 1943
  • German administration of Europe, 1942


    In 1942, Germany dominated most of Europe. Greater Germany had been enlarged at the expense of its neighbors. Austria and Luxembourg were completely incorporated. Territories from Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, Belgium, and the Baltic states were seized by Greater Germany. German military forces occupied Norway, Denmark, Belgium, northern France, Serbia, parts of northern Greece, and vast tracts of territory in eastern Europe. Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Finland, Croatia, and Vichy France…

    German administration of Europe, 1942
  • "Kristallnacht": nationwide pogrom


    Kristallnacht—literally, "Crystal Night"—is usually translated from German as the "Night of Broken Glass." It refers to the violent anti-Jewish pogrom of November 9 and 10, 1938. The pogrom occurred throughout Germany, which by then included both Austria and the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. Hundreds of synagogues and Jewish institutions all over the German Reich were attacked, vandalized, looted, and destroyed. Many were set ablaze. Firemen were instructed to let the synagogues burn but to…

    "Kristallnacht": nationwide pogrom
  • Jewish partisan activity in eastern Europe, 1942-1944


    Despite enormous obstacles, many Jews throughout German-occupied Europe attempted armed resistance against the Germans. Individual Jews or groups of Jews engaged in planned or spontaneous opposition to the Germans and their allies. Jewish partisans were especially active in the east, where they fought the Germans from bases established behind the front lines in forests and ghettos. Because antisemitism was widespread there, they found little support among the surrounding population. Even so, as many as…

    Jewish partisan activity in eastern Europe, 1942-1944
  • Jewish Population of Europe in 1933: Population Data by Country - Photographs

    Media Essay

    Approximately 9.5 million Jews lived in Europe in 1933, the year Hitler came to power. This number represented 1.7% of Europe's total population and more than 60 percent of the world's Jewish population. By 1945, most European Jews—2 out of every...

  • Moses Rechnitz: Maps

    Media Essay

    Moses Rechnitz was born to Jewish parents in the Polish town of Bedzin on June 3, 1923. Moses was 16 years old when German troops invaded Poland in September 1939. By 1941, he was a slave laborer on a German railroad construction project outside o...

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