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  • Major ghettos in occupied Europe


    During World War II, the Germans established ghettos mainly in eastern Europe (between 1939 and 1942) and also in Hungary (in 1944). These ghettos were enclosed districts of a city in which the Germans forced the Jewish population to live under miserable conditions. The Germans regarded the establishment of Jewish ghettos as a provisional measure to control, isolate, and segregate Jews. Beginning in 1942, after the decision had been made to kill the Jews, the Germans systematically destroyed the ghettos,…

    Tags: ghettos
    Major ghettos in occupied Europe
  • Warsaw ghetto uprising, 1943


    The city of Warsaw is the capital of Poland. Before World War II, Warsaw was the center of Jewish life and culture in Poland. Warsaw's prewar Jewish population of more than 350,000 constituted about 30 percent of the city's total population. The Warsaw Jewish community was the largest in both Poland and Europe, and was the second largest in the world, behind that of New York City. The Germans occupied Warsaw on September 29, 1939. In October 1940, the Germans ordered the establishment of a ghetto in…

    Warsaw ghetto uprising, 1943
  • Liberation of major Nazi camps, 1944-1945


    As Allied troops moved across Europe in a series of offensives on Germany, they began to encounter and liberate concentration camp prisoners, many of whom had survived death marches into the interior of Germany. Soviet forces were the first to approach a major Nazi camp, reaching the Majdanek camp near Lublin, Poland, in July 1944. Surprised by the rapid Soviet advance, the Germans attempted to demolish the camp in an effort to hide the evidence of mass murder. The Soviets also liberated major Nazi camps…

    Tags: camps
    Liberation of major Nazi camps, 1944-1945
  • Jewish emigration from Germany, 1933-1940


    Between 1933 and 1939, Jews in Germany were subjected to arrest, economic boycott, the loss of civil rights and citizenship, incarceration in concentration camps, random violence, and the state-organized Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") pogrom. Jews reacted to Nazi persecution in a number of ways. Forcibly segregated from German society, German Jews turned to and expanded their own institutions and social organizations. However, in the face of increasing repression and physical violence, many Jews…

    Tags: immigration
    Jewish emigration from Germany, 1933-1940
  • Major European war crimes trials, 1943-1947


    Leading German officials were tried before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg, Germany. The IMT consisted of judges from Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States. The overwhelming majority of post 1945 war crimes trials, however, involved lower-level officials and officers. Among them were concentration camp guards and commandants, police officers, members of the mobile killing squads, and doctors who participated in medical experiments. These war criminals were…

    Major European war crimes trials, 1943-1947
  • 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

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