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.
Architect James Ingo Freed designed the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Browse a timeline listing some key events in the evolution of Holocaust denial and the distortion of the facts of the Holocaust.
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.…
Explore Frank Liebermann’s biography and learn about his experiences of antisemitism in his home town in Germany before World War II.
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 103rd Infantry Division participated in major WWII campaigns and is recognized for liberating a subcamp of Kaufering in 1945.
Varian Fry was an American journalist who helped anti-Nazi refugees escape from France between 1940 and 1941. Learn about his rescue efforts.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Vidkun Quisling, Minister President of Norway from 1942 to 1945, was a Norwegian fascist and Nazi collaborator. His last name has come to mean “traitor” or “collaborator.”
US State Department official Breckinridge Long supervised the Visa Division, which placed new restrictions on immigration to the US in the 1940s. Learn more.
Rome after the German Occupation At the time of the German occupation of northern and central Italy in early September 1943, there were approximately 12,000 Jews living in Rome. The German occupiers sought to include Italian Jews in the "Final Solution". The commander of the German Security Police (Sipo) and the Security Service (SD) in Rome levied a ransom on local Jews, demanding about 110 pounds of gold in exchange for the safety of the Jewish community of Rome. Although the Jewish community delivered…
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…
Nazi Germany’s territorial expansion and the radicalization of Nazi anti-Jewish policies triggered a mass exodus. Learn about the US and the refugee crisis of 1938–41.
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
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.
Hermann Ludwig Maas, a Protestant pastor in Heidelberg, Germany, was a rescuer and clergyman who stood in solidarity with the Jewish community.
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.
The 1936 Olympics in Berlin under Adolf Hitler's Nazi dictatorship were more than just a worldwide sporting event, they were also a show of Nazi propaganda.
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,…
US filmmaker and photographer Julien Bryan was one of the few western photographers left in Warsaw upon the German invasion of Poland in September 1939.
The Nuremberg Race Laws were two in a series of key decrees, legislative acts, and case law in...
The three principal partners in the Axis alliance were Germany, Italy, and Japan. Learn more about the Axis powers in WW2.
Iranian diplomat Abdol Hossein Sardari gave critical assistance to Iranian Jews in occupied France (1940-1944) to protect them from Nazi persecution.
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.]
Frances Perkins was FDR's secretary of labor. Learn about her role in the rescue of European Jews whose lives were threatened by the Nazi regime.
Insignia of the 103rd Infantry Division. The 103rd Infantry Division, the "Cactus" division, is so called after the 103rd's shoulder patch, a cactus in a gold circle. The cactus is representative of the states whose troops formed the unit in the early 1920s: Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
SS Chief Heinrich Himmler was chief architect of the "Final Solution." Learn more about Himmler, one of the most powerful men after Hitler in Nazi Germany.
Many images and symbols from the Holocaust era have become easily recognizable. The familiarit...
After the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked US forces at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, bringing th
Bernburg was the fifth of six centralized killing centers established by German authorities within the context of the Nazi “euthanasia,” or T4, program.
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.
At the Berga-Elster subcamp of Buchenwald, prisoners were forced to do dangerous and brutal work in tunnels to support fuel production for the German war effort.
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.
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.
Explore Jacob Weiner’s biography and learn about his experiences during Kristallnacht in Würzburg, Germany.
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.
Historical events should be analyzed in their appropriate historical context. Learn how to assess the identify the quality, reliability, and integrity of a source.
American journalist, foreign correspondent, author, and pioneer radio broadcaster William L. Shirer was one of the key observers and chroniclers of the Nazi regime.
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.]
The Nazi Kripo, or Criminal Police, was the detective force of Nazi Germany. During the Nazi regime and WWII, it became a key enforcer of policies based in Nazi ideology.
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…
Charles Coughlin, Catholic priest and populist leader, promoted antisemitic and pro-fascist views. In the 1930s, he was one of the most influential public figures in the US.
Survivors of the Holocaust faced huge obstacles in rebuilding their lives. Learn about the challenges they faced in the aftermath of the Holocaust.
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