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world war I

  • German Wartime Expansion

    Article

    During the first three years of World War II, from September 1939 through November 1942, a series of military victories permitted German domination of the European continent. In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Within weeks the Poles surrendered. The Germans annexed the former free city of Danzig and all of western Poland, including the provinces of West Prussia, Poznan, Upper Silesia, and Lodz (renamed Litzmannstadt). Central and southern Poland were organized into the Generalgouvernement…

    Tags: World War II
    German Wartime Expansion
  • John Dolibois describes interrogating German prisoners in preparation for postwar trials

    Oral History

    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.

    John Dolibois describes interrogating German prisoners in preparation for postwar trials
  • Insignia of the 29th Infantry Division

    Photo

    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.

    Insignia of the 29th Infantry Division
  • Historian Peter Black describes the importance of legal consequences

    Oral History

    In the 1980s and 1990s, historian Peter Black worked for the US Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations, as part of a team tracking and prosecuting suspected war criminals. Black later served as the Senior Historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

    Historian Peter Black describes the importance of legal consequences
  • Photograph of Kitty Weichherz taken before World War II

    Photo

    Kitty Weichherz, pictured here in a photograph taken before World War II began, was born in December 1929. This photo was taken from a diary of Kitty's life written by her father, Bela Weichherz. After Kitty's birth, Bela started to keep a diary of his daughter's life. He made entries recording her childhood in Czechoslovakia until the family was separated and deported during the Holocaust. His last entry reads "I only wish that we can go together." Kitty and all of her immediate family perished in the…

    Photograph of Kitty Weichherz taken before World War II
  • Peter Black describes why it is important to continue pursuing justice, even decades after the events

    Oral History

    In the 1980s and 1990s, historian Peter Black worked for the US Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations, as part of a team tracking and prosecuting suspected war criminals. Black later served as the Senior Historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

    Peter Black describes why it is important to continue pursuing justice, even decades after the events
  • Adolf Hitler: 1919-1924

    Article

    Adolf Hitler established himself as absolute Führer, or leader, of the Nazi Party by 1921. Learn more about Hitler in the years 1919-1924.

  • Volkswagen

    Article

    The Volkswagen automobile company went into military production during WWII, operating concentration and forced-labor camps. Learn more about its role.

  • The German Army and the Racial Nature of the War against the Soviet Union

    Article

    The Goal of Expanding German Territory One motivation for the German invasion of the Soviet Union was the desire to acquire Lebensraum (living space) for the German people to colonize, at the expense of the Russians, Belorussians, Ukrainians, and Baltic peoples. Hitler and other Nazi leaders thought of this goal in both racial and ideological terms. The conquest of "living space" meant not only German racial domination over the conquered peoples, but a crusade against Judaism and Communism. German…

  • Book Burning

    Article

    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.

    Book Burning
  • Charlene Schiff describes difficulties in gaining entry to the United States in the aftermath of the Holocaust

    Oral History

    Both of Charlene's parents were local Jewish community leaders, and the family was active in community life. Charlene's father was a professor of philosophy at the State University of Lvov. World War II began with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. Charlene's town was in the part of eastern Poland occupied by the Soviet Union under the German-Soviet Pact of August 1939. Under the Soviet occupation, the family remained in its home and Charlene's father continued to teach. The Germans…

    Charlene Schiff describes difficulties in gaining entry to the United States in the aftermath of the Holocaust
  • World War II: In Depth

    Article

    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.

    Tags: World War II
    World War II: In Depth
  • Flight and Rescue

    Article

    Background This is the extraordinary story of more than 2,000 Polish Jewish refugees. Enduring the hardships of travel and restrictive immigration laws, they escaped wartime Europe to safety in the Far East just months before the start of the Nazi genocide that claimed the lives of three million Polish Jews. Their experiences were portrayed in an exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2000. Learn more about their stories. War and Occupation …whatever it was, was no more…

    Flight and Rescue
  • Benjamin (Beryl) Ferencz describes collecting evidence against alleged war criminals

    Oral History

    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…

    Benjamin (Beryl) Ferencz describes collecting evidence against alleged war criminals
  • Franz Werfel

    Article

    Franz Werfel was an Austrian poet, modernist playwright, and novelist. Several of his works were burned during the Nazi book burnings of 1933. Learn more.

    Franz Werfel
  • Peter Becker describes indoctrination and being in the Hitler Youth

    Oral History

    Peter was six years old when his mother enrolled him in a special Hitler boarding school for future Nazi Party officials in 1935. He studied traditional academic subjects, but was constantly exposed to Nazi ideas and prepared for a military life. Peter was also a member of the Hitler Youth. He came to believe in Hitler as the savior of Germany. Peter would later describe his indoctrination as a subtle process. It took two years after the war had ended for Peter to come to terms with the atrocities that the…

    Tags: Hitler Youth
    Peter Becker describes indoctrination and being in the Hitler Youth
  • Hidden Children: Daily Life

    Article

    Some Jewish children survived the Holocaust by hiding or living under disguised identities. Learn more about their experiences while in hiding.

    Hidden Children: Daily Life
  • War Refugee Board: Background and Establishment

    Article

    In January 1944, FDR established the War Refugee Board which was charged with “immediate rescue and relief of the Jews of Europe and other victims of enemy persecution.”

  • Johanna Gerechter Neumann describes anti-Jewish measures in Hamburg, Germany

    Oral History

    Amid intensifying anti-Jewish measures and the 1938 Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") pogrom, Johanna's family decided to leave Germany. They obtained visas for Albania, crossed into Italy, and sailed in 1939. They remained in Albania under the Italian occupation and, after Italy surrendered in 1943, under German occupation. The family was liberated after a battle between the Germans and Albanian partisans in December 1944.

    Johanna Gerechter Neumann describes anti-Jewish measures in Hamburg, Germany
  • Czechoslovakia

    Article

    Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918 after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian state at the end of World War I. It included the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, Slovakia, the province of Subcarpathian Rus (Transcarpathian Ukraine), and portions of Austrian Silesia. Prewar census data divides the prewar population of Czechoslovakia along ethnic (mother tongue) lines at about 50 percent Czech, 22.3 percent German, 16 percent Slovak, 4.78 percent Magyar (Hungarian), 3.79 percent Ukrainian, 1.29…

    Czechoslovakia
  • Benjamin (Beryl) Ferencz describes evidence collected at the Mauthausen camp

    Oral History

    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…

    Benjamin (Beryl) Ferencz describes evidence collected at the Mauthausen camp
  • Benjamin (Beryl) Ferencz describes how he became involved in preparations for the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings

    Oral History

    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…

    Benjamin (Beryl) Ferencz describes how he became involved in preparations for the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings
  • Quakers

    Article

    Though a small religious movement, the Society of Friends (Quakers) organized relief and advocated rescue in Europe before, during, and after the Holocaust. The American Friends Service Committee became an important part of a rescue network helping refugees. The group worked in French internment camps, hid Jewish children, and assisted thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish refugees with immigration and resettlement to the United States.

    Quakers
  • Blanka Rothschild describes returning to Lodz after the war to look for family members

    Oral History

    Blanka was an only child in a close-knit family in Lodz, Poland. Her father died in 1937. After the German invasion of Poland, Blanka and her mother remained in Lodz with Blanka's grandmother, who was unable to travel. Along with other relatives, they were forced into the Lodz ghetto in 1940. There, Blanka worked in a bakery. She and her mother later worked in a hospital in the Lodz ghetto, where they remained until late 1944 when they were deported to the Ravensbrueck camp in Germany. From Ravensbrueck,…

    Blanka Rothschild describes returning to Lodz after the war to look for family members
  • Jewish Community of Kalisz: Youth, Culture, Religion

    Article

    Kalisz had a vibrant Jewish community between WWI and WWII. Learn about its youth movements, schools, cultural life, sports, and religious life.

    Jewish Community of Kalisz: Youth, Culture, Religion

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