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This footage shows Joseph Goebbels, Nazi minister for propaganda and public education, speaking at the September 1935 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg. In the speech, Goebbels--a fanatic antisemite--linked Bolshevism with international Jewry and warned Nazi party members of an alleged international Jewish conspiracy to destroy western civilization. Goebbels led the purge of Jewish and other so-called "un-German" influences from the cultural institutions of Nazi Germany.
Nazi ideology aimed to promote the myth of an ideal national community and label those who were to be excluded from it as enemies. Propaganda was essential in promoting such myths.
Learn about the establishment of Hainichen, an early Nazi concentration camp, and its prisoner population during its period of existence in 1933.
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.
On December 17, 1941, the Romanian government issued a decree requiring a census of all those with "Jewish blood.” All persons having one or two Jewish parents or two Jewish grandparents were ordered to register at the Central Jewish Office. This is a census certificate issued by that office in 1942.
On December 17, 1941, the Romanian government issued a decree requiring a census of all those with “Jewish blood.” All persons having one or two Jewish parents or two Jewish grandparents were ordered to register at the Central Jewish Office. This is a census certificate issued by that office in 1942.
At great risk, George Kadish secretly documented life in the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania, creating a key photographic record of ghetto life during the Holocaust.
The Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), created by Heinrich Himmler, brutally coordinated and perpetrated many aspects of the Holocaust.
Key dates illustrating the relationship between Germany’s professional military elite and the Nazi state, and the German military’s role in the Holocaust.
Frank's town of Trest in western Moravia had a small Jewish community of 64 members in 1930, and Frank was sometimes beaten up in grade school because of antisemitism. When the Meissners' wooden shoe factory closed, Frank's father turned to the furniture industry. But due to post-World War I economic uncertainty, he lost his livelihood. To support the family, Mrs. Meissner worked as a secretary. 1933-39: Trest was small and didn't have a secondary school, so Frank studied during the week in the…
Father Jacques (Lucien Bunel) provided refuge to Jews and others at a school in Avon, France. Imprisoned in several Nazi camps for his activities, he died soon after liberation.
Learn about the diverse Jewish population of North Africa on the eve of World War II.
Righteous Among the Nations are non-Jewish individuals honored by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, for risking their lives to aid Jews during the Holocaust.
John Dolibois immigrated to the United States in 1931 at the age of 13. After graduating from college, Dolibois joined the 16th Armored Division of the US Army. Due to his German language skills, he became involved in military intelligence. He returned to Europe in this capacity toward the end of World War II. Dolibois interrogated German prisoners of war, including leading Nazis, in preparation for the postwar trials of war criminals. He was later appointed US ambassador to Luxembourg, his birthplace.
Franz was raised in a town in eastern Germany. The son of Jewish parents, he earned a law degree from Breslau University and a doctorate of jurisprudence from Geneva University in Switzerland. At the age of 35 he married Ilse Luise Citroen, a woman of Dutch-Jewish ancestry. The couple settled in Berlin where Franz had a successful law practice. The Ledermanns had two daughters. 1933-39: The Nazis came to power in January 1933. Ilse's Dutch relatives encouraged the Ledermanns to immigrate to the…
The "Final Solution," the Nazi plan to kill the Jews of Europe, was a core goal of Adolf Hitler and the culmination of German policy under Nazi rule.
Under the protection of the Bielski partisan group, founded by brothers Tuvia, Asael, and Zus, over 1,200 Jews survived after fleeing into forests in western Belarus.
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…
World War II was the largest and most destructive conflict in history. Learn about key WWII dates in this timeline of events, including when WW2 started and ended.
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.
In 1933-1934, SS chief Heinrich Himmler secured SS control over a centralized concentration camp system. Throughout Germany, various civilian authorities and police agencies had established concentration camps during 1933 to incarcerate political enemies of the Nazi government. Impressed with the Dachau concentration camp established by the SS in March 1933, Hitler authorized Himmler to centralize these camps under SS leadership. Himmler established (in the SS Main Office) an SS Inspectorate of…
Background On September 1, 1939, German forces invaded Poland and defeated the Polish Army within weeks. Most of the westernmost Polish territory was annexed directly to the Reich; the remainder of the areas conceded to Germany by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Germany became the so-called General Government (Generalgouvernement), administered by the German occupiers. In accordance with the Pact’s secret protocols, the Soviet Union annexed most of eastern Poland after…
Book burning is the ritual destruction by fire of books or other written materials. The Nazi burning of books in May 1933 is perhaps the most famous in history. Learn more.
The Justice Case, or Jurists’ Trial, of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings tried members of the German justice administration. Browse excerpts from the verdict.
Following Hitler's appointment as chancellor, the Nazis began laying the foundations of a state based on racist and authoritarian principles and the elimination of individual freedoms.
Learn about some of the origins of Holocaust denial, including the euphemistic language the Nazis used to describe their policies and actions.
The Oath of Loyalty for All State Officials was one of a series of key decrees, legislative acts, and case law in the gradual process by which the Nazi leadership moved Germany from a democracy to a dictatorship.
The Wagner-Rogers Bill proposed admitting 20,000 refugee children to the US from the Greater German Reich in 1939–40, but did not become law. Learn more
The Nazi regime's extensive camp system included concentration camps, forced-labor camps, prisoner-of-war camps, transit camps, and killing centers.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was 32nd president of the US. Learn about the domestic and international challenges FDR faced as president during World War II.
On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The surprise attack marked a turning point in the history of World War II and the Holocaust.
The Transcarpathian region of Ukraine is an area known historically as Subcarpathian Rus. Jews first came to Subcarpathian Rus, then covering the four northeastern counties of the Hungarian kingdom, from Poland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They were fleeing the Chmielnicki massacres. Jewish immigration into Subcarpathian Rus increased after the Partitions of Poland in the late eighteenth century. The Region The conservativism and traditionalism of the Jews of Subcarpathian Rus resulted…
The "Final Solution"The Nazi “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” (“Endlösung der Judenfrage”) was the deliberate, planned mass murder of European Jews. It occurred between 1941 and 1945. It was, and is, often referred to as the “Final Solution” (“Endlösung”). The “Final Solution” was the tragic culmination of the Nazi persecution of Europe’s Jews. As such, it is a key component of the Holocaust (1933–1945). To carry out the “Final Solution,” the Germans coordinated and…
Adolf Hitler repeated the pre-existing claim that Jews used Freemasonry to achieve their political ends. Learn more about the history of Freemasonry.
Gleichschaltung is the German term applied to the Nazification of all aspects of German society following the Nazi rise to power in 1933.
Prominent SS physician Josef Mengele, called the "angel of death" by his victims, conducted inhumane medical experiments on prisoners in the Auschwitz camp.
The Reichstag Fire Decree of February 1933 restricted individual freedoms, and allowed Hitler's government to overrule state and local laws and overthrow state and local governments.
Charged with managing the mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and killing centers, Adolf Eichmann was a key figure in the "Final Solution."
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.
Many German businesses were involved in the policies of the Third Reich. Learn about Topf and Sons, which sold ovens to the SS for major concentration camps in Germany.
Learn about the Kovno ghetto diary and other documents Avraham Tory saved in a secret archive that documented life in the ghetto.
Yiddish writer Chaim Yelin was a leader of the Kovno ghetto underground resistance movement again the Germans.
After WWII and the fall of the Nazi regime, Holocaust survivors faced the daunting task of rebuilding their lives. Listen to Regina Gelb's story.
Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel served as commander of all German armed forces during World War I...
Explore a timeline of key events during 1939 in the history of Nazi Germany, World War II, and the Holocaust.
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…
Did King Christian X of Denmark wear a yellow star in support of the Danish Jews? Read more about the historical truth behind the legend.
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.
Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg led an extensive rescue effort during the Nazi era. His work with the War Refugee Board saved thousands of Hungarian Jews.
SS Police State An important tool of Nazi terror was the Protective Squad (Schutzstaffel), or SS, which began as a special guard for Adolf Hitler and other party leaders. The black-shirted SS members formed a smaller, elite group whose members also served as auxiliary policemen and, later, as concentration camp guards. Eventually overshadowing the Storm Troopers (SA) in importance, the SS became, after 1934, the private army of the Nazi Party. SS chief Heinrich Himmler also turned the regular (nonparty)…
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