The history of the Holocaust is complex and vast. While The Holocaust Explained is not able to cover every aspect of Holocaust history, it does seek to aid understanding and help learners to navigate through the sequence of events. This timeline aims to take readers through the main events preceding, during, and following the Holocaust.<!========= Cool Timeline PRO 3.2 =========>
Events in the History of the Holocaust
Beer Hall Putsch
Hitler appointed as chancellor
The Reichstag Fire
Dachau is established
The first Nazi concentration camp was established in Dachau. Until its liberation in 1945, more than 188,000 prisoners were incarcerated here, at least 28,000 of which died.
The Enabling Act is passed
The Enabling Act was passed in the Reichstag, granting the government dictatorial powers for four years.
Boycott of Jewish businesses
The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service banned Jews and dissidents from the Civil Service. As a result, Jewish teachers, professors, judges and other civil servants lost their jobs.
The Sterilisation Law is passed
Concordat with the Vatican
The Editorship Law is passed
The German-Polish Non-Aggression-Pact is agreed
Germany and Poland signed a 10-year non-aggression pact.
The Night of the Long Knives
The death of Hindenburg
Jehovah’s Witnesses banned
The German government issued a ban on all organisations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Revision of Paragraph 175
Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code was revised to impose stricter penalties on any sexual contact between men, increasing the number of convictions by ten. Many of the convicted were taken to concentration camps.
The Nuremberg Laws are passed
Reoccupation of the Rhineland
The German army reoccupied the Rhineland. This action directly broke the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
Agreement on the Rome-Berlin Axis
The Rome-Berlin Axis was agreed, with Germany and Italy informally promising to support each other in the event of war.
Exhibition of ‘Degenerate Art’ opens
German invasion of Austria and Anschluss
Evian Conference takes place
Representatives of 32 states and 24 voluntary organisations met in Evian, France, to discuss the international refugee problem.
New compulsory middle name for Jews
Jewish passports are stamped with a ‘J’
The Sudetenland is annexed
November Pogrom – Kristallnacht
The exclusion of Jews from economy
A decree banning Jews from owning businesses and selling goods was issued.
Germany invades Czechoslovakia
Nazi troops invaded Czechoslovakia and occupied Prague, breaking the Munich agreement which was agreed just six months prior.
Germany invades Poland
The beginning of Operation T-4
Hitler authorised the euthanasia of adults as part of Operation T-4. The Nazis aimed to totally eliminate the disabled and mentally ill from the Third Reich. The order was actually signed in October 1939, but backdated to 1 September 1939 to suggest it was related to the war efforts.
Declaration of War
Germany invades France
The German army invaded France. After six weeks of battle, the French surrendered and signed an armistice with the Nazis.
France introduces antisemitic legislation
Germany invades the Soviet Union
Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, breaking the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 1939.
Experimental gassing at Auschwitz
The first experimental killings with gas took place at Auschwitz.
Killings at Babi Yar
The Nazis herded thousands of Jews from Kiev, in the occupied Ukraine, to the nearby ravine of Babi Yar. The Jews were forced to undress and hand over their valuables and then shot. Over the course of two days, 33,771 Jews were murdered.
Systematic gassing begins at Chelmno
Killing operations began in Chełmno, the first stationary facility using poison gas for mass murder.
Germany declares war on the United States of America
Following the United States declaration of war on Japan, Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.
The Wannsee Conference
Deportation of Jews from the Netherlands
The deportation of Amsterdam’s Jews from Westerbork transit camp to Auschwitz-Birkenau began.
The Allies attacked Nazi troops stationed near El Alamein in Egypt. By the 2 November 1942, the Nazi defenses were near breaking point. By the 11 November, the battle was over, leaving the Allied troops victorious. The battle marked a turning point in the North Africa campaign, reviving the morale of the Allied troops following the failure of the Battle of France.
Transportation of Sinti and Roma to Auschwitz
A decree was passed stating that all German Sinti and Roma were to be deported to Auschwitz and destroyed.
German Army surrender at Stalingrad
The German Army surrendered to Soviet forces at Stalingrad, Russia, after 90.000 German soldiers had been encircled for several months. This was a key turning point in World War Two.
The Warsaw Ghetto uprising
The final liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto began. The Jews, armed with pistols and rifles, resisted the Nazis. In response, the Nazis burned down the ghetto and murdered all of its inhabitants. The uprising became a symbol of Jewish resistance.
Uprising at Treblinka
Prisoners in Treblinka rose up against the SS. They attacked guards and set buildings on fire. Around 300 prisoners manage to escape, but only 100 were not recaptured. All remaining prisoners were murdered.
The Battle of Monte Cassino took place from the 17 January 1944 to the 18 May 1944. It was a series of four offensives carried out by Allied troops in central Italy (who was a key ally of Germany) in an attempt to breakthrough the Winter Line and occupy Rome. On the 18 May, Polish troops captured the Abbey at the top of Monte Cassino. The Battle for Monte Cassino was over.
The Auschwitz Protocols
Alfred Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba escaped from Auschwitz. They wrote a detailed eyewitness report on the camp and the fate of the Jews. The document was translated and passed on to the West in May 1944.
Deportation of Hungarian Jews
Following the German occupation of Hungary, the first deportations of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz began. Within the following two months, approximately 440,000 Hungarian Jews were deported.
The Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy. The Battle of Normandy began, signalling the first phase of the liberation of Europe.
Attempted assassination of Hitler
Resistance in Auschwitz-Birkenau
Having learned that the SS planned to liquidate them, members of the Sonderkommando started an armed rebellion. They managed to blow up a crematorium with smuggled gunpowder, but ultimately, the revolt was crushed.
Death March from Auschwitz
Due to the approaching Soviet Army, 58,000 prisoners of Auschwitz were forced on marches to the concentration and labour camps in central Germany. These marches became known as death marches. Image courtesy of USHMM.
Liberation of Auschwitz
Liberation of Bergen-Belsen
Hitler commited suicide in his bunker in Berlin.
At 2.41pm, General Jodl and Admiral Friedeburg signed documents of unconditional surrender at Eisenhower’s headquarters. The following day was declared the Day of Victory in Europe by Churchill and Truman.
At the Potsdam Conference, both Germany and Berlin were partitioned into four zones of occupation. A Soviet zone in the East, an American, a British and a French zone in the West.
Atomic bomb in Hiroshima
The US army dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima at 8.15am. 80,000 people died immediately. Thousands more died of their injuries and radiation sickness.
End of the Second World War
Following a second atomic bomb, Japan announced its surrender in a radio address by Emperor Hirohito. The government signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on 2 September 1945, officially ending World War Two.
The Nuremberg Trials
The trials of 22 top-level Nazi war criminals began at Nuremberg. They were tried for crimes against humanity and war crimes by a court of Allied judges. Twelve of the defendants were sentenced to death.