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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…
Before the Nazis seized power in Germany in 1933, Europe had a richly diverse set of Jewish cultures. Learn more about the Jewish population of Europe.
The German American Bund was an organization of ethnic Germans living in the US. It held a pro-Nazi, antisemitic, and US isolationist agenda.
Racial antisemitism is the discriminatory idea that Jews are a separate and inferior race. This type of antisemitism dates back to the late 1800s.
As part of the Holocaust, the Germans murdered about 90% of Jews in Lithuania. Read more about the tragic experience of Lithuanian Jews during World War II.
Founded by ethnic Turks in 1299, the Ottoman Empire took its name from Osman I, the leader of what was initially a small principality in northwestern Anatolia (Asia Minor). Over the course of the next six centuries, Ottoman rule expanded across much of the Mediterranean Basin. At the height of its power under Suleiman the Magnificent (1494-1566), the Ottoman Empire represented a vast multilingual and multiethnic realm encompassing southeastern Europe, North and East Africa, Western Asia, and the Caucasus.…
Karl Höcker created a personal album of photographs chronicling SS officers’ activities at Auschwitz. Learn about this chilling collection.
Oskar Schindler's actions to protect Jews during the Holocaust saved over 1,000 Jews from deportation. Learn more about Schindler's List.
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 Nazi rise to power brought an end to the Weimar Republic, a parliamentary democracy established in Germany after World War I. Following the appointment of Adolf Hitler as chancellor on January 30, 1933, the Nazi state (also referred to as the Third Reich) quickly became a regime in which Germans enjoyed no guaranteed basic rights. After a suspicious fire in the Reichstag (the German Parliament), on February 28, 1933, the government issued a decree which suspended constitutional civil rights and created…
Ben was born in a small village in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania in Romania. When he was an infant, his family moved to the United States. Ben attended Harvard University, where he studied criminal law. Ben graduated from Harvard University Law School in 1943. He joined a US anti-aircraft artillery battalion that was training in preparation for an Allied invasion of western Europe. At the end of World War II in Europe, Ben was transferred to the war crimes investigation branch of the US Army. He…
When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Jews were living in every country of Europe. A total of roughly nine million Jews lived in the countries that would be occupied by Germany during World War II. By the end of the war, two out of ever...
British troops in a trench cover the bodies of two fellow soldiers killed during the Battle of the Somme, November 1916. © IWM (Q 4393)
The Yugoslav Union Formed in 1918, the Yugoslav Union encompassed Slovenia (the former Austrian provinces of Karniola and Krain) in the northwest, the former Hungarian crown land of Croatia, Serbia—including the former Hungarian Voivodina (which in turn consisted of the Backa, Baranja, and the Serbian Banat), the former Turkish provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia, the former independent mountain kingdom of Montenegro, and the former Turkish provinces of Kosovo and Metohija on the Albanian…
German troops overran Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France in six weeks starting in May 1940. Anti-Jewish measures soon followed in occupied western Europe.
Leon Jakubowicz began constructing a model of the Lodz ghetto in the spring of 1940, after the ghetto was sealed. Explore the artifact and Leon's story.
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.
During World War II, SS and police leaders played a key role in the mass murder of Europe’s Jews. Learn how Himmler combined the SS and police to create a radical weapon for the Nazi regime.
Communist ideas spread rapidly in Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries, offering an alternative to both capitalism and far-right fascism and setting the stage for a political conflict with global repercussions.
Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, aimed to eliminate Europe's Jews and other perceived enemies of Nazi Germany. Learn more.
After WWII, many Holocaust survivors, unable to return to their homes, lived in displaced persons camps in Germany, Austria, and Italy. Read about Cinecittà DP camp.
Explore Gideon Frieder’s biography and learn about his experiences as a child during the Holocaust in Slovakia.
Leopold was a teacher in Krakow, Poland, when World War II began in 1939. While serving in the Polish army, he was captured by Germans. Leopold escaped from a prisoner-of-war transport. Soon after, he met the German industrialist Oskar Schindler. The two became friends. Leopold was forced to live in the Krakow ghetto. He later worked in Schindler's factory in Bruennlitz. He and the other Jews who worked there were treated relatively well and protected from the Nazis. After the war, Leopold moved to the…
Browse a timeline listing some key events in the evolution of Holocaust denial and the distortion of the facts of the Holocaust.
Insignia of the 29th Infantry Division. "Blue and Gray" was coined as the nickname of the 29th Infantry Division by the division's commander during World War I. The name commemorates the lineage of the mid-Atlantic states' National Guard units that formed the division, many with service on both sides during the Civil War.
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.