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Background Beginning in the 19th century—long before the Nazis took power in 1933—some German and other European writers, philosophers, and theologians claimed that the presence of a Jewish minority in society was a problem that needed to be solved. Known as the “Jewish Question,” the status of European Jews became the subject of heated debate in an era when they were gradually being granted civil rights and equality. Many who supported this belief often expected Jews to adapt or abandon their…
Poster: "We Women Are Voting Slate 2 National Socialists." German women were an important voting bloc. The Nazis made a concerted effort to appeal to women, as exemplified by this 1932 election poster. The Nazis had to repackage their messages to de-emphasize military aims. Hitler consciously modeled some Nazi propaganda appeals to German women on speeches delivered by Benito Mussolini in Fascist Italy, who also had to calm the fears of Italian war widows after World War I. Nazi propagandists attempted to…
Under the most adverse conditions, Jewish prisoners initiated resistance and uprisings in some of the ghettos and camps, including Bialystok, Warsaw, Treblinka, and Sobibor.
The 8th Infantry Division participated in major WWII campaigns and is recognized for liberating the Wöbbelin subcamp of Neuengamme in 1945.
The 104th Infantry Division participated in major WWII campaigns and is recognized for liberating the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp in 1945.
At the Kaufering complex, part of the Dachau camp system, prisoners were forced to labor under brutal conditions to build underground facilities for German fighter aircraft production.
The Krupp Case was Case #10 of 12 Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings against leading German industrialists, military figures, SS perpetrators, and others.
As of March 15, 1939, the Jewish religious community in Prague determined that approximately 125,000 Jews, as “defined” under the Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935, lived on the territory of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. In Contrast, on October 1, 1941, the Jewish religious community could identify 88,105, a decrease of 37,000 persons, due primarily to legal (26,000) and illegal (5,000-6,000) emigration. More than half lived in Prague. Initially, the leadership of the Jewish religious community…
The Nazi Terror Begins After Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January 1933, he moved quickly to turn Germany into a one-party dictatorship and to organize the police power necessary to enforce Nazi policies. He persuaded his Cabinet to declare a state of emergency and end individual freedoms, including freedom of press, speech, and assembly. Individuals lost the right to privacy, which meant that officials could read people's mail, listen in on telephone conversations, and search private homes…
Read the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation's short biography of Noah Lewin.
Read the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation's short biography of Simon Trakinski.
The US 8th Infantry and the 82nd Airborne Divisions arrived at the Wöbbelin camp in May 1945, witnessing the deplorable living conditions in this subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp.
The first conviction for the crime of genocide came after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, when Jean-Paul Akayesu was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Ivo grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in Zagreb. He experienced little overt antisemitism until the Germans and their allies invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941 and installed a fascist Ustasa government in Croatia. The Ustasa regime began killing Jews, Serbs, and Roma (Gypsies). Ivo's family escaped to Italian-occupied territory, where the Italians tried to protect Jewish refugees. Ivo lived in Italian internment camps, including the Rab island camp, before moving to mainland Italy in 1944. He worked…
Although originally from Germany, Helen was living in the Netherlands with her husband and young daughter when the Germans invaded in May 1940. Helen and her husband sent their daughter to non-Jewish friends, and went into hiding themselves. They stayed in a variety of places arranged by a friend who was active in the underground. On August 25, 1944, Helen and her husband were arrested. They were sent first to Westerbork and then to Auschwitz, where they were separated. Helen worked in the I. G. Farben…
Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its allies established more than 44,000 camps and other incarceration sites (including ghettos). The perpetrators used these locations for a range of purposes, including forced labor, detention of people deeme...
After WWII, prosecutors faced the challenge of assessing the guilt of propagandists whose words, images, and writings had supported Nazi brutality and mass murder.
Explore firsthand testimony about the occupation of Mlynów, the establishment of the ghetto, resistance activities, and the destruction of the ghetto.
Learn about some key dates in the life of Adolf Hitler, one of Europe's most ruthless dictators, who led the Nazis from 1921 and Germany from 1933-45.
Irena was the second of four children born to religious Roman Catholic parents in Poland's capital of Warsaw. Irena's father owned a successful textile business. When Irena was 10, her family moved to a comfortable apartment near the Royal Castle and the Vistula River. In 1930 Irena entered a private grade school. 1933-39: At 14 Irena began secondary school. She was a good student and wanted to be a doctor. On September 1, 1939, the day she was supposed to begin the new school year, the Germans attacked…
Chava's mother died when she was 2, and Chava went to live with her grandfather, who was a rabbi in the village of Matsiov. Her grandfather's second wife welcomed Chava. After first studying at a Polish public school, Chava attended a Jewish day school. When Chava was a teenager her adopted grandmother died, and Chava took over managing her grandfather's household until he remarried. 1933-39: Chava's grandfather's third wife was an unsympathetic woman. After she came to their home, Chava wanted to be…
Learn about conditions and the treatment of prisoners in Ravensbrück, the largest concentration camp for women in the German Reich.
Nazi Germany and its allies invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. They quickly conquered large expanses of Soviet territory. German forces waged a “war of annihilation” against the Soviet Union and its peoples, killing millions of civilians. However, the Soviet armed forces eventually pushed the German military back and finally conquered Berlin in spring 1945. Often referred to as the “eastern front,” the German-Soviet theater of war was the largest and deadliest of World War II.
African American athletes, facing racism at home, also debated whether to join or boycott the 1936 Olympic games in Germany, then under a racist dictatorship. Learn more.
Explore a timeline of key events in the history of the Auschwitz camp complex in German-occupied Poland.
Before June 1942, Protectorate Jews were the only "residents" of the Theresienstadt camp-ghetto. Beginning with a transport of 50 Berlin Jews arriving on June 2, 1942, the German authorities deported German, Austrian, Danziger, Luxembourger, and Sudeten Jews to Theresienstadt. Deportations In 1942, 47,478 Jews arrived in Theresienstadt from the Greater German Reich (from Germany, 32,878; Austria, 13,922; Luxembourg, 213; Danzig, 110; and the Sudetenland, 355). In 1943, 5,398 Jews arrived in the…
World War II in Europe During World War II, Germany overran much of Europe using a new tactic called the "Blitzkrieg" (lightning war). Blitzkrieg involved the massing of planes, tanks, and artillery. These forces would break through enemy defenses along a narrow front. Air power prevented the enemy from closing the breach. German forces encircled opposing troops, forcing them to surrender. Using the Blitzkrieg tactic, Germany defeated Poland (attacked in September 1939), Denmark (April 1940), Norway…
In February/March 1943, non-Jewish Germans protest the incarceration of their Jewish family members at Rosenstrasse 2-4 in Berlin. Learn about the impact of the protest.
The German Armed Forces High Command, headed by Hitler, directed Germany’s armed forces before and during WWII. It was deeply complicit in the Holocaust and other crimes of the Third Reich.
Excerpt from Holocaust survivor Abraham Bomba's oral history testimony describing gas chambers at the Treblinka killing center.
France signed an armistice with Germany on June 22, 1940, recognizing the right of German authorities to oversee the French administration. Further, German military authorities held jurisdiction over matters of internal security. In this footage, a German military court in Paris tries French citizens charged with resisting measures of the military occupation. Despite harsh military justice, the Germans could not quell opposition in France, and resistance activities would reach a peak during the Allied…
Einsatzgruppen, often called “mobile killing units,” are best known for their role in the murder of Jews in mass shooting operations during the Holocaust.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was the impetus for the United States...
German physicians conducted inhumane experiments on prisoners in the camps during the Holocaust. Learn more about Nazi medical experiments during WW2.
Originally a subcamp of Buchenwald, Dora-Mittelbau became the center of an extensive network of forced-labor camps for the production of V-2 missiles and other weapons.
The European rail network played a crucial role in the implementation of the Final Solution. Millions were deported by rail to killing centers and other sites.
The 82nd Airborne Division participated in major WWII campaigns and is recognized for liberating the Wöbbelin subcamp of Neuengamme in 1945.
The 30th Infantry Division participated in major WWII campaigns and is recognized for liberating the Weferlingen subcamp of Buchenwald in 1945.
Mass atrocities and genocide are often perpetrated within the context of war. The Armenian genocide was closely linked to World War I in the Near East and the Russian Caucasus. Ottoman Turkey fought on the side of the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) and against the Entente Powers (Great Britain, France, Russia, and Serbia). World War I offered the Young Turk dictatorship (Committee on Union and Progress; CUP) an opportunity to realize its nationalist aims. Already inclined toward Germany due…
The voyage of the St. Louis, a German ocean liner, dramatically highlights the difficulties faced by many people trying to escape Nazi terror. Learn more.
World War II in the Pacific theater ended with the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945. The surrender was signed in Tokyo Bay aboard the American battleship USS "Missouri." Foreign Minister Shigemitsu headed the Japanese delegation. General Douglas MacArthur accepted the surrender on behalf of the Allies. Admiral Nimitz signed for the US and Admiral Fraser for Britain. Representatives of all the Allied nations attended the signing.
June 30-July 2, 1934. On this date, Adolf Hitler ordered the Röhm Purge (also known as the "Night of the Long Knives").
December 2, 1938. On this date, the first Kindertransport of German Jewish children arrived in Great Britain.
June 28, 1935. On this date, the German government revised Paragraphs 175 and 175a, facilitating the persecution of gay men and men accused of homosexuality.
US radio and TV journalist Edward R. Murrow reported live from London during the Blitz; he also broadcast the first eyewitness account of the liberation of Buchenwald.
James A. Rose, of Toledo, Ohio, was with the 42nd (Rainbow) Division.
Germany started World War II in Europe on September 1, 1939, by invading Poland. War would continue until 1945. Learn more about key events in the history of WWII.
The Justice Case, or Jurists’ Trial, of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings tried members of the German justice administration. Browse excerpts from the verdict.
The Farhud (pogrom), an outbreak of mob violence against Baghdad Jewry in June 1941, was a turning point in the history of Jews in Iraq. Learn more
Hajj Amin al-Husayni claimed to speak for the Arab nation and the Muslim world and sought an alliance with the Axis powers during WWII. Learn more about his actions
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