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After the devastation of WWI, the victorious western powers imposed a series of treaties upon the defeated nations. Learn about the treaties and their impact.
On June 22, 1941, German forces invaded the Soviet Union. Three million German soldiers were reinforced by Finnish, Romanian, Hungarian, Italian, Slovak, and Croatian troops. Within weeks, German divisions conquered the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In September the Germans laid siege to Sevastopol and Leningrad, and by late October, the cities of Minsk, Smolensk, Kiev, Odessa, and Kharkov had fallen. Millions of Soviet soldiers were encircled, cut off from supplies and…
The Nazis carried out genocide against Europe’s Jews and persecuted and murdered other groups based on racial theories. Learn about the history of these murderous ideas.
Learn about the network of camps that the French collaborationist Vichy authorities established in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and French West Africa.
The Nazi Euthanasia Program, codenamed Aktion "T4," was the systematic murder of institutionalized people with disabilities. Read about Nazi “euthanasia.”
German forces razed the town of Lidice in June 1942 in retaliation for the death of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich. Learn about the assassination and reprisal.
The Nazis established killing centers in German-occupied Europe during WWII. They built these killing centers for the mass murder of human beings.
The Vichy regime introduced race laws to the North African territories in October of 1940. Learn about the impact of the laws on the region’s Jewish people.
Almost one third of the six million Holocaust victims were murdered in mass shootings.
Antisemitism: hostility toward or hatred of Jews as a religious or ethnic group, often accompanied by social, economic, or political discrimination. Appellplatz: German word for roll call square where prisoners were forced to assemble. Aryan: Term used in Nazi Germany to refer to non-Jewish and non-Roma (Gypsy) Caucasians. Northern Europeans with especially "Nordic" features such as blonde hair and blue eyes were considered by so-called race scientists to be the most superior of Aryans, members of a…
Bumke, Erwin: President of Germany's Supreme Court from 1929 through 1945. Bumke had a reputation as an apolitical lawyer of the old school. Nevertheless, he joined the German National People's Party (DNVP) in 1919 and the Nazi Party in May 1937 and became a compliant servant of the Nazi regime. Concentration camps: Places of incarceration under the administration of the SS, in which people were held without regard to due process and the legal norms of arrest and detention. In addition to concentration…
Learn about the history of Sighet, birthplace of Elie Wiesel. The Jewish population of Sighet was deported to Auschwitz in May 1944. Most of the deportees were gassed on arrival.
Jewish military officer Alfred Dreyfus was wrongfully convicted of treason against France in 1894. The trial and ensuing events are known as the “Dreyfus Affair.” Learn more.
The discovery of the Bergen-Belsen camp and t...
Belzec was the first of three killing centers in Operation Reinhard, the SS plan to murder almost two million Jews living in the German-administered territory of occupied Poland.
In Nazi Germany, a chief role of culture was to disseminate the Nazi worldview. Arts and cultural organizations were to be synchronized with Nazi ideology and policy.
The Justice Case, or Jurists’ Trial, of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings tried members of the German justice administration. Browse excerpts from the verdict.
The German military played a vital role in the consolidation of Nazi power and persecution and mass murder of Jews and other groups. Learn more
Nazi Germany and its allies established over 44,000 concentration camps and incarceration sites during the Holocaust. Read about the Nazi camp system.
Forced labor, often pointless, humiliating, without proper equipment, clothing, nourishment, or rest, was a core feature in the Nazi camp system from its beginnings in 1933.
The Supreme Court Decision on the Nuremberg Race Laws was one of a series of key decrees, legi...
The word antisemitism means prejudice against or hatred of Jews. The Holocaust is history’s most extreme example of antisemitism. Learn more.
The 1944 Warsaw uprising was the single largest military effort undertaken by resistance forces to oppose German occupation during World War II.
How did Christians and their churches in Germany respond to the Nazi regime and its laws, particularly to the persecution of the Jews? Learn more.
Article 48 allowed the German president to declare a state of emergency in times of national danger and effectively to rule as a dictator for short periods. Learn about its far-reaching effects.
Learn about conditions and forced labor in Dora-Mittelbau, the center of an extensive network of forced-labor camps for the production of V-2 missiles and other weapons.
German policies varied from country to country, including direct, brutal occupation and reliance upon collaborating regimes. Italy was a long-time ally of Nazi Germany.
The Armenian genocide refers to the physical annihilation of ethnic Armenian Christian people living in the Ottoman Empire from spring 1915 through autumn 1916. There were approximately 1.5 million Armenians living in the Empire. At least 664,000 and possibly as many as 1.2 million died during the genocide. Armenians call these events Medz Yeghern (the great crime) or Aghet (catastrophe). The Armenian Genocide The origin of the term genocide and its codification in international law have their roots 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
Henry Morgenthau Jr had a key role in creating and operating the War Refugee Board, a government agency tasked with rescuing and providing relief for Jews during the Holocaust.
Learn about the Gross-Rosen camp, including its establishment, prisoner population, subcamps, forced labor, and liberation.
The Vélodrome d'Hiver (or Vél d'Hiv) roundup was the largest French deportation of Jews during the Holocaust. It took place in Paris on July 16–17, 1942.
In October 1940, Nazi authorities established the Warsaw ghetto. Learn more about life in the ghetto, deportations, armed resistance, and liberation.
The Volkswagen automobile company went into military production during WWII, operating concentration and forced-labor camps. Learn more about its role.
Learn about early concentration camps the Nazi regime established in Germany, and the expansion of the camp system during the Holocaust and World War II.
The Oranienburg concentration camp was established as one of the first concentration camps in Nazi Germany on March 21, 1933. Learn more
The Nazi regime established the Buchenwald camp in 1937. Learn about the camp’s prisoners, conditions there, forced labor, subcamps, medical experiments, and liberation.
To implement their policies, the Nazis had help from individuals across Europe, including professionals in many fields. Learn about the role of civil servants.
On November 9–10, 1938, the Nazi regime coordinated a wave of antisemitic violence. This became known as Kristallnacht or the "Night of Broken Glass." Learn more
Reinhard Heydrich, Reich Security Main Office chief, was one of the main architects of the “Final Solution," the Nazi plan to murder the Jews of Europe.
By September 1939, over half of German Jews had emigrated. WWII would accelerate the persecution, deportation, and later, mass murder, of the remainder of Germany's Jews.
The Nuremberg Race Laws were two in a series of key decrees, legislative acts, and case law in...
Begun as an individual chronicle by Emanuel Ringelblum in October 1939, the Oneg Shabbat underground archive became the secret archive of the Warsaw ghetto.
Efforts to bring the perpetrators of Nazi-era crimes to justice continue into the 21st century. Learn more about postwar trials and their legacies.
Rescue efforts during the Holocaust ranged from the isolated actions of individuals to organized networks both small and large.
Learn about the history of the Bergen-Belsen camp during WWII and the Holocaust until its liberation by British forces in April 1945.
The concept of Lebensraum, “living space,” was as a critical component in the Nazi worldview that drove both its military conquests and racial policy.
Groups of prisoners known as Sonderkommandos were forced to perform a variety of duties in the Nazi camp system, including in the gas chambers and crematoria.
From July 1941-May 1944, the SS camp at Trawniki had several purposes. It is best known as the training site for auxiliary police guards used in Nazi killing centers. Learn more.
Shortly after taking power in January 1933, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis took control of German newspapers, detailing how the news was to be reported.
We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.