Events in the History of the Holocaust

Events in the History of the Holocaust

30 January 1933

Hitler appointed as Chancellor

President Hindenburg invites Hitler to take the office of Chancellor of Germany, following inconclusive elections.

27 February 1933

Reichstag fire

On 27 February 1933 the Reichstag (Parliament) in Berlin is set on fire.  Marinus van der Lubbe (1909-1934), a Dutch anarchist, is taken into custody as the arsonist and later executed.  It is unclear to this day whether van der Lubbe acted alone, or as part of a group, or whether the Nazis themselves started the fire.  The Nazi government exploits the fire to declare a state of emergency.

5 March 1933

Reichstag Elections

On 5 March 1933 elections for the Reichstag take place. Although this is not a genuinely free election, since many Social Democrats and Communists were already in hiding or exile, the Nazi Party gains only 44% of the vote.

21 March 1933

‘Day of Potsdam’

After the Nazis gained only 44% of the votes in the election earlier in March, Hitler forms a coalition with the conservative Nationalists.  On 21 March 1933, the new Reichstag opens in the Garrison Church in Potsdam; this ‘Day of Potsdam’ is intended to show Hitler as a conservative national leader, symbolically continuing in the tradition of German-Prussian history.

22 March 1933

Dachau Established

Dachau Concentration Camp is opened near Munich as a place of incarceration for political prisoners. In this propaganda photograph the commandant of Dachau inspects newly arrived prisoners.

23 March 1933

Enabling Act

On 23 March 1933 the Enabling Act is passed in the Reichstag, granting the government dictatorial powers for four years.

1 April 1933

Boycott Day

On 1 April 1933 the Nazis proclaim a country-wide boycott of Jewish-owned businesses and shops.  SA and SS men are stationed in front of the shops. It is the first mass action the regime takes against the Jews of Germany.

7 April 1933

‘Reform’ of the Civil Service

On April 7, 1933 The Nazi government passes the Law for the Reform of the Civil Service.  The law bans Jews and dissidents from the Civil Service.  After the intervention of President Hindenburg, Jewish front-line soldiers of the First World War are excluded from the ban.

21 April 1933

Ban on Ritual Slaughter

The ritual slaughter of animals according to Jewish dietary laws is prohibited.

10 May 1933

Book Burning

Public burning of ‘Jewish’ and ‘un-German’ books by Nazi students in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany.

14 July 1933

Sterilisation Law

On 14 July 1933 the Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases is passed, mandating compulsory sterilisation of the disabled. Coming into effect in 1934, up to 400,000 people were sterilised as a result. The law was the first of many and led to the programme of euthanasia of certain classes of the ‘incurable’.

20 July 1933

Reich Concordat

On 20 July 1933 the Roman Catholic Church signs a Concordat with the Nazi government, making the Vatican the first state to recognise Nazi Germany.

25 August 1933

Haavara Agreement

On 25 August 1933 the Nazi government, the Zionist Organisation of Germany and the Anglo-Palestine Bank sign the Haavara Agreement.  This allows Jewish emigrants from Germany to transfer part of their property to Palestine in the form of export of German goods.

17 September 1933

Reich Representative Council of German Jews

The Reich Representative Council of German Jews is set up through an independent Jewish initiative. It was later renamed the Reich Representative Council of Jews in Germany (a subtle but important difference), and was replaced in 1939 on the orders of the Nazis by the Reich Union of Jews in Germany, seen by the Nazis as a vehicle for ‘cleansing’ the Reich of Jews chiefly by means of emigration.

22 September 1933

Law on Reich Chamber of Culture

The Law on Reich Chamber of Culture is passed, barring non-‘Aryans’ from formal participation in German culture, the arts, literature, music and so forth.

4 October 1933

Editorship Law

The ‘Schriftleitergesetz’ is passed, stipulating that all editors must be ‘Aryan’ and that even being married to a non-‘Aryan’ is grounds for exclusion.

14 October 1933

Germany Leaves the League of Nations

Hitler announces Germany’s withdrawal from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations on the grounds that Germany was being discriminated against under the Versailles Treaty.

26 January 1934

German-Polish Non-Aggression-Pact

Germany and Poland sign a 10-year  non-aggression pact.

22 April 1934

Heydrich appointed Head of Gestapo

Heydrich appointed Head of Gestapo

30 June 1934

‘Night of the Long Knives’

On 30 June 1934, Ernst Roehm who was one of the first members of the Nazi Party, is executed on Hitler’s order.  Roehm, who was appointed commander of the SA in 1930, wanted it to be incorporated into the German Army.  Because Hitler fears this emerging power base, Roehm is arrested and shot.  The SA subsequently becomes less significant, while Himmler’s SS gradually emerges as the supreme agency of law enforcement and the implementation of racial policy. This purge becomes known as the ‘Night of the Long Knives’.

20 July 1934

Independence of SS

SS becomes an independent institution of the regime, no longer an organ of the Nazi Party.  Leading members of the SS

25 July 1934

Assassination of Dollfuss

On 25 July 1934 Engelbert Dollfuss (1892-1934, pictured), governing Austria as dictator without parliament, is assassinated by a group of Austrian Nazis.  Dollfuss has opposed the Nazis in Austria, banning them as well as other parties in 1933. The assassination is an attempt at a coup d’état.

2 August 1934

Death of Hindenburg

On 2 August 1934 the German President Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934) dies.  Following Hindenburg’s death, Hitler merges the two offices President and Chancellor, proclaiming himself Reichsfuehrer, and consolidating all power in his own hands.

3 September 1934

NSDAP party rally at Nuremberg

On 3 September 1934 the annual rally of the Nazi Party begins at Nuremberg, lasting until 10 September.  The rally is chronicled by Leni Riefenstahl  (1902-2003) in her propaganda film ‘Triumph of the Will’.

23 January 1935

Referendum on Saar

On 23 January 1935 ninety percent of the electors vote for a re-union of the Saar with Germany instead of remaining under French control. The referendum is supervised by the League of Nations. The Saar becomes German on 1 March.

16 March 1935

Germany Renews Conscription

On 16 March 1935 Germany renews universal military conscription, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.

1 April 1935

Benches ‘For Aryans only’

Benches in parks are being more and more marked as ‘For Aryans only’ or ‘For Jews’.

25 May 1935

Anti-Jewish riots

On 25 May 1935 the SA stirs up anti-Jewish riots in Munich.

31 May 1935

Jews barred from military service

Jews barred from military service","From 31 May 1935 Jews are barred from serving in the German armed forces.

18 June 1935

Anglo-German Naval Agreement

On 18 June 1935 Germany and the United Kingdom sign the Anglo-German Naval Agreement. It eases the restrictions imposed on Germany after the First World War and regulates the size of the German navy in relation to the Royal Navy.

16 July 1935

Anti-Jewish Demonstrations

On 16 July 1935 violent anti-Jewish demonstrations break out in Berlin.

6 September 1935

Sale of newspapers to Jews prohibited

On September 6 1935 the sale of newspapers to Jews is prohibited.

15 September 1935

Nuremberg Laws

On 15 September 1935 Hitler proclaims the antisemitic Nuremberg Laws at the annual party rally of the Nazis. The Nuremberg Laws consist of two separate laws, namely the ‘Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour’ and the ‘Reich Citizenship Law’. The first prohibits marriages and relationships between Jews and Germans; the second strips Jews of their German citizenship. This image from a schoolgirl’s textbook shows the rules for determining who would now be defined as a ‘Jew’ under German law.

15 September 1935

Prohibition of credits to Jews

As of 15 September 1935 German banks are prohibited from granting credits or loans to Jews.

18 October 1935

Marriage Protection Laws 6 February 1936

From 18 October 1935 people with ‘hereditary diseases’ are barred from marrying

6 February 1936

Winter Olympic Games

The Winter Olympic Games are held at the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen from 6 February to 16 February.

7 March 1936

Invasion of Rhineland

On 7 March 1936 the German army reoccupies the Rhineland, which has been demilitarised since the Treaty of Versailles.

9 May 1936

End of second Italo-Abyssinian War

The end of the second Italo-Abyssinian War, leading to the incorporation of Ethiopia into the Italian Empire

12 July 1936

Sachsenhausen camp established

On 12 July 1936 the Sachsenhausen concentration camp is established in Oranienburg, near Berlin.

17 July 1936

Spanish Civil War begins

On 17 July 1936 the Spanish Civil War begins, following a fascist coup.

1 August 1936

Olympic Games

On 1 August 1936 the XI. Olympic Summer Games are declared open at Berlin

25 October 1936

Agreement on the Rome-Berlin Axis

On 25 October 1936 Hitler and Mussolini sign a treaty of friendship, preparing the way for the Rome-Berlin Axis that would later become an alliance in May 1939.

18 November 1936

Germany sends military support to Franco in Spain

On 18 November 1936, volunteer troops from the German Luftwaffe (known as the Condor Legion) are sent to Spain to fight on the side of Francisco Franco’s Fascists.

25 November 1936

Germany and Japan sign the Anti-Comintern Pact

On 25 November 1936, Germany and Japan sign the Anti-Comintern Pact. The agreement aims to safeguard German and Japanese interests from Soviet threat.

1 December 1936

Compulsory Membership of Hitler Youth

In December 1936, membership of the Hitlerjugend or HJ (Hitler Youth) becomes compulsory.

26 April 1937

German Bombing of Guernica

On 26 April 1937, the Spanish city of Guernica is bombed by the German airforce and destroyed

15 July 1937

Buchenwald Camp established

On 15 July 1937 a concentration camp is established at Buchenwald in Germany.

19 July 1937

Exhibition of ‘Degenerate Art’ opens

On 19 July 1937 the propaganda exhibition ‘Entartete Kunst’ or ‘Degenerate Art’ opens in Munich. It presents paintings, sculptures and books from Germany’s public galleries that are considered to be ‘un-German’ and therefore unacceptable.

25 September 1937

Mussolini visits Germany

On 25 September 1937, Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) visits Germany and meets with Hitler. Three months later Italy withdraws from the League of Nations.

6 November 1937

Italy joins the Anti-Comintern Pact

On 6 November 1937, Italy becomes a member of the Anti-Comintern Pact.  The pact was established between Germany and Japan in November 1936 against the Soviet Union and the Communist International (Comintern).

8 November 1937

Exhibition entitled ‘The Eternal Jew’ opens in Munich 1 January 1938

On 8 November 1937, a ‘degenerate-art’ exhibition called ‘The Eternal Jew’ is opened in Munich. The travelling exhibition promotes Nazi stereotypes of Jews through photographs and links Jews with bolshevism. Three years later, in 1940, a Nazi propaganda film is made with the same name.

1 January 1938

Jews barred from Red Cross

From 1 January 1938, Jews are forbidden to become members of the German Red Cross.

12 March 1938

German invasion of Austria and the Anschluss

On 12 March 1938, the German Army invades Austria and enters Vienna. Austria is annexed by Germany and Austria’s 200,000 Jews are now subject to the same antisemitic legislation as German Jews.

28 March 1938

Jewish organisations in Germany lose official status

On 28 March 1938, the Government recognition of Jewish community organisations in Germany is revoked.  All Jewish organisations lose their official status.

14 June 1938

Compulsory registration of Jewish businesses

From 14 June 1938, all businesses owned or run by Jews have to be registered and marked as Jewish.

15 June 1938

Mass arrests of ‘asocial’ Jews

On 15 June 1938, any Jew previously convicted of a crime, even petty criminal offences, are arrested and taken to the concentration camps at Buchenwald, Dachau and Sachsenhausen.

6 July 1938

Conference of Evian

Between 6 July and 15 July 1938, representatives of 32 states and 24 voluntary organisations meet in Evian-les-Bains, France, to discuss the international refugee problem. The conference formed the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees (ICR) but it had minimal powers and limited support.

17 August 1938

Compulsory middle name for Jews

On 17 August 1938 a law is passed stating that all Jews in Germany (except those with ‘typical’ Jewish first names) are required to take a new middle name by 1 January 1939; ‘Israel’ for men and ‘Sara’ for women. The names must be registered at the registry office and used on all official documents.

27 September 1938

Barring of Jewish lawyers in Germany

On 27 September 1938, Jewish lawyers are banned from practicing law in Germany

29 September 1938

The Munich Conference

At the end of September 1938, a conference is held in Munich in order to resolve the ‘Sudetenland crisis’ and discuss German territorial demands. Czechoslovakia is not invited to attend the conference, but the main European powers – Britain, France, Italy and Germany – take part. The meeting ends with the ‘Munich Agreement’, signed in the early hours of 30 September 1938, which effectively divides Czechoslovakia between Germany, Poland and Hungary. The settlement cedes the Sudetenland to Germany, provided that Germany will raise no further territorial demands.

5 October 1938

Jewish passports stamped with a ‘J’

Jewish citizens are stamped with a large ‘J’ for Jew. This prevents Jews attempting to emigrate to Switzerland by pretending to be Christians

10 October 1938

Annexation of the Sudetenland

By 10 October 1938, the Sudetenland is occupied by the German ‘Wehrmacht’ and annexed by Germany, forcing the majority of the Czech population to flee to other areas of Czechoslovakia.

28 October 1938

Germany expels Polish Jews

On 28 October 1938, approximately 18,000 Jews living in Germany but holding Polish passports are expelled to the Polish border. The Poles refuse to accept them and they remain stranded in the town of Zbaszyn.

9 November 1938

November Pogrom

During the night of 9-10 November 1938, a pogrom, organised by the Nazis, takes place against Jews throughout Germany and annexed Austria. Synagogues are desecrated and destroyed, and Jewish owned shops are looted and ransacked.  91 Jews are killed and thousands of Jewish men are taken to concentration camps.

15 November 1938

Expulsion of Jewish children from German schools

As of 15 November 1938, Jewish children are no longer permitted to attend German schools. They have to attend special Jewish schools.

15 March 1939

German invasion of Czechoslovakia

On 15 March 1939, Nazi troops invade Czechoslovakia and occupy Prague.

23 August 1939

The German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact

On 23 August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact in Moscow.  Also known as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, the agreement delays the war on the Eastern Front.

1 September 1939

Germany invades Poland

On 1 September 1939 German Forces invade western Poland.

1 September 1939

Beginning of Operation T-4

In a letter dated 1 September 1939, Hitler authorises the euthanasia of adults as part of Operation T-4 to eliminate mentally and physically disabled children and adults from the Third Reich. The program was officially ended in August 1941, but in reality the killing continued until 1945.

3 September 1939

Declaration of War

On 3 September 1939, Great Britain and France declare war on Germany.

21 September 1939

Deportation of Sinti and Roma

During the years of the Nazi regime, the Sinti and Roma, like the Jews, were persecuted and murdered. On 21 September 1939, the Nazi party made the decision to deport Germany’s Sinti and Roma to special internment camps in Poland. This photograph of a young Sinti or Roma woman held at Auschwitz was taken by the SS for their files

8 November 1939

Attempted assassination of Hitler

On 8 November 1939, Georg Elser (1903-1945) tries to assassinate Adolf Hitler during a local party meeting of the Nazi party at the Bürgerbraukeller in Munich.  The assassination fails, Elsner is arrested and imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau, where he is killed in April 1945.

23 November 1939

Obligatory armbands for Jews in Poland

From 23 November 1939, all Jews in Poland are forced to wear an armband depicting a Star of David whenever they are in public.

30 November 1939

The USSR invades Finland

Three months after Germany’s invasion of Poland, on 30 November 1939, the Soviet Union invades Finland.  The invasion signals the beginning of the Winter War, lasting until 13 March 1940.

9 April 1940

The German Army invade Denmark and Norway

On 9 April 1940, the German Army invaded Denmark and Norway as part of Operation Weserübung.

30 April 1940

Sealing of Lodz Ghetto

On 30 April 1940 the Jewish Ghetto in Lodz is sealed off from the rest of the city – all non-Jewish inhabitants have to leave and guards are put in place.

10 May 1940

Churchill becomes Prime Minister

On 10 May 1940 Churchill becomes Prime Minister of an all-party coalition in Britain.

26 May 1940

Evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkirk begins

The evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkirk, codenamed ‘Operation Dynamo’, began on 26 May 1940 and lasted until 4 June 1940.  In nine days, over 300,000 troops were evacuated. This picture shows German soldiers and policemen inspecting Dunkirk after the evacuation.

14 June 1940

Occupation of Paris

On 14 June 1940, Paris is occupied by German troops.

10 July 1940

Battle of Britain begins

On 10 July 1940, the German Air Force attack British targets, beginning the Battle of Britain.

7 September 1940

Beginning of the Blitz

On 7 September 1940, the German air raids of Great Britain begin.  Known as the Blitz, the bombing lasts until May 1941.

27 September 1940

Tripartite Pact

On 27 September 1940, Germany, Italy and Japan sign a 10-year military and economic agreement, also known as the ‘Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis’

3 October 1940

France introduces antisemitic legislation

On 3 October 1940 the first antisemitic statute is passed by the government of Vichy – the ‘Statut de Juifs’. It defines as Jewish any person with three Jewish grandparents or, if the spouse is Jewish as well, two Jewish grandparents.

28 October 1940

Italian invasion of Greece

On 28 October 1940, Italian troops invade Greece

15 November 1940

Sealing of the Warsaw Ghetto

The Warsaw Ghetto is the largest of the Jewish ghettos set up by the Germans. Established on 16 October 1940 it is sealed on 15 November 1940. Its population is approximately 440,000 people, more than three quarters of Warsaw’s population. However, the area of the ghetto encompasses only 4.5 % of the total area of Warsaw.

1 March 1941

Auschwitz-Birkenau constructed

On 1 March 1941 the construction of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the second camp of Auschwitz, begins. It soon becomes the most brutal and overcrowded of the camps at Auschwitz.

6 April 1941

German invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia

On 6 April 1941 Germany invades Greece and Yugoslavia.

22 June 1941

Operation Barbarossa begins

On 22 June 1941 German armed forces invade the Soviet Union, breaking the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 1939.

20 August 1941

Deportation of Parisian Jews

From 20 to 21 August 1941 approximately 4,000 Jews are deported from Paris to the transit camp at Drancy. From Drancy, French Jews are deported to extermination camps including Auschwitz.

15 September 1941

Deportations to Transnistria

On 15 September 1941, deportations to camps in Transnistria, Western Ukraine begin. Approximately 150,000 Bessarabian Jews are deported, and approximately 90,000 of them die.  In total more than 270,000 Romanian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust

23 September 1941

Experimental gassing at Auschwitz

On 23 September 1941, the first experimental killings with gas take place at Auschwitz.

29 September 1941

Killings at Babi Yar

From Kiev the Germans herd thousands of Jews to the nearby ravine of Babi Yar. On approaching a fenced off area they are forced to undress, hand over their valuables and walk forwards in ranks of ten. When these small groups reach the edge of the ravine, they are shot. Between 29 and 30 September 1941, 33,771 Jews are shot.

1 November 1941

Construction of Belzec camp begins

The construction of Belzec camp begins in southeast Poland. Four months later the systematic murder of Jews begins in Belzec.

24 November 1941

Theresienstadt established

On 24 November 1941 Theresienstadt is established. It initially serves as a collection and transition camp for Jews from Bohemia and Moravia. Following the Wannsee Conference on 20 January 1942, Theresienstadt is also used as a camp for prominent and elderly Jews from Germany and other European countries.

25 November 1941

Ordinance to Reich Citizenship Law

On 25 November 1941, the 11th Ordinance to the ‘Reichsbürgergesetz’ (Reich Citizenship Law) comes into effect and all Jews residing outside of Germany lose their citizenship and become stateless refugees. They forfeit all their belongings and assets in Germany.

7 December 1941

Japanese attack Pearl Harbour

On 7 December 1942, Japanese air forces attack the American naval base at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. The American navy incurs heavy losses

8 December 1941

United States declare war on Japan

On 8 December 1941, the United States, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Japan.

11 December 1941

Hitler declares war on the United States

On 11 December 1941, four days after Pearl Habour, Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.

20 January 1942

Wannsee Conference

On 20 January 1942 a meeting of fifteen German Civil Service and Nazi Party representatives takes place to discuss the measures needed to implement the so-called ‘Final Solution’.

27 March 1942

First transport of French Jews to Auschwitz

On 27 March 1942 the first transport of French Jews to Auschwitz takes place.

24 April 1942

Ban on use of public transport

As of 24 April 1942 Jews are banned from using public transport within the ‘German Reich’.

27 May 1942

Assassination of Heydrich

On 27 May 1942 Reinhard Heydrich, SS-Obergruppenführer and Head of the Reich Security Main Office is shot in Prague; he dies one week later.

2 June 1942

First deportations to Theresienstadt

On 2 June 1942 the first German Jews are deported to Theresienstadt.

30 June 1942

Closing of Jewish schools

On 30 June 1942 Jewish schools in Germany are forced to close.

15 July 1942

Deportation of Jews from Amsterdam

On 15 July 1942 the deportation of Amsterdam’s Jews from Westerbork transit camp to Auschwitz-Birkenau begins.

22 July 1942

Deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto

On 22 July 1942, mass deportations of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka begins.

28 October 1942

First deportation from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz

On 28 October 1942, the first transport from Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia arrives at Auschwitz.

December 1942

United Nations Declaration

Several national parliaments issue a joint statement condemning the mass killings Jews by the Nazis in Eastern Europe.

16 December 1942

Transportation of Sinti and Roma to Auschwitz

On 16 December 1942 a decree is passed in Germany stating that all German Sinti and Roma are to be deported to Auschwitz and destroyed.

18 January 1943

Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto

On 18 January 1943 the Germans resume deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto. This sparks the first acts of overt resistance from the Warsaw Jews leading to violent fighting in the ghetto. Thousands of Jews are deported to Treblinka.

2 February 1943

German surrender at Stalingrad

On 2 February 1943 the German Army surrenders to Soviet forces at Stalingrad, Russia. This is considered to be a significant turning point in the war.

19 April 1943

The Warsaw Ghetto uprising

On 19 April 1943 the final liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto begins with over 2,000 soldiers invading the ghetto. The Jews revolt, armed with pistols and rifles, fighting the Germans in the streets. On 20 April 1943 the Germans begin burning down the ghetto. Any Jews emerging from the burning buildings are murdered. The uprising of the Warsaw ghetto becomes a symbol of Jewish resistance.

25 July 1943

Dismissal and arrest of Mussolini

On 25 July 1943, mounting pressure resulting from military set-backs leads to a vote of no confidence in Mussolini and he is dismissed from office. Mussolini is imprisoned and replaced by Pietro Badoglio.

2 August 1943

Uprising at Treblinka

The Jewish inmates of Treblinka stage a violent revolt on 2 August 1943 that allows approximately 350 of the camp’s inmates to escape. Many who escape are recaptured and murdered.

2 October 1943

Rescue of Danish Jews

On 2 October 1943 the Germans begin the ‘Final Solution of the Jewish problem’ in Denmark. A large number of Danes protect and help to save between 7,000 and 8,000 Danish Jews by conveying them to Sweden by sea. Only 485 are arrested and deported to the Bohemian ghetto of Theresienstadt.

3 November 1943

Operation ‘Erntefest’

On 3 November 1943, on the order of Heinrich Himmler, Jewish inmates of the concentration camps of Trawniki, Poniatiowa and Majdanek were murdered. A total of circa 43,000 people were murdered on that day. This ‘operation’ was code-named ‘Erntefest’ or ‘harvest festival’. The motivation was the fear the Nazis felt after the uprisings of inmates at Sobibor and Treblinka.

18 March 1944

German Occupation of Hungary

German troops occupy Hungary in ‘Operation Margarethe’.

10 April 1944

The Auschwitz Protocols

Alfred Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba, both Slovakian Jews, escape from Auschwitz on 10 April 1944. They write a detailed eyewitness report on the camp and the fate of the Jews. The document is translated and passed on to the West in May 1944.

15 May 1944

Deportation of Hungarian Jews

Following the German occupation of Hungary, the first deportations of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz begin on 15 May 1944.

6 June 1944

The Allies invade mainland Europe

On 6 June 1944 the Allied forces land on the beaches of Normandy. The Battle of Normandy begins, signalling the first phase of the liberation of Europe. The day is known as D-Day.

3 July 1944

Formation of Jewish Brigade

On 3 July 1944 the British War Cabinet begins consideration of a Jewish Brigade within the British army.  The Brigade is finally approved by Churchill in September 1944.

23 July 1944

Red Cross visit to Theresienstadt

On 23 July 1944 Red Cross representatives visit Theresienstadt. The Germans prepare the visit by opening fake shops, cafes etc.

23 July 1944

Liberation of Majdanek

On 23 July 1944 the Soviet army liberates Majdanek. Many of Majdanek’s prisoners have previously been sent to Auschwitz by the Germans in anticipation of the approach of the Soviet army.

18 January 1945

Death March from Auschwitz

On 18 January 1945, realising that the Soviet army is approaching, the Germans force 58,000 prisoners of Auschwitz on Death Marches to the concentration and labour camps in Germany.

27 January 1945

Liberation of Auschwitz

On 27 January 1945 the Soviet army liberates Auschwitz and frees the remaining 7,650 prisoners.

13 February 1945

Dresden air raid

From 13 to 15 February 1945, the British and American air forces carry out bombing raids on the German city of Dresden.

11 April 1945

Liberation of Buchenwald

On 11 April 1945 American forces liberate approximately 21,000 prisoners from Buchenwald and its sub-camps.

15 April 1945

Liberation of Bergen-Belsen

On 15 April 1945 British forces liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

28 April 1945

Death of Mussolini

On 28 April 1945 Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci are captured near lake Como while attempting to flee Italy. They are both executed.

29 April 1945

Liberation of Dachau

On 29 April 29 1945 the concentration camp at Dachau is liberated by American forces.

30 April 1945

Hitler’s suicide

Hiding in the Reich Chancellery, Hitler marries his mistress, Eva Braun on 29 April and writes his political last will, naming Martin Bormann as his deputy. On 30 April 1945 both he and Eva Braun commit suicide.

2 May 1945

Fall of Berlin

On 2 May 1945 the Soviet Army occupies the city of Berlin, fighting its way from street to street.

7 May 1945

Germany surrenders

On 7 May 1945 at 2.41pm, General Jodl and Admiral Friedeburg sign documents of unconditional surrender at Eisenhower’s headquarters.

8 May 1945

VE Day

8 May 1945 is declared the Day of Victory in Europe by Churchill and Truman. Throughout the allied countries the population celebrates the victory.

16 July 1945

Potsdam Conference

On 16 July 1945 at the Potsdam Conference, Germany is partitioned into four zones. A Soviet zone in the East, an American zone in the West, a British zone in the North-West and a French zone in the South-West. Berlin is placed under quadripartite control.

9 August 1945

Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima

The US aircraft, the Enola Gay, drops the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima at 8.15am. 80,000 people are killed immediately. Thousands more will die of their injuries and radiation sickness.

9 August 1945

Atomic Bomb in Nagasaki

A second atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, killing 40,000 immediately. President Truman threatens further atomic bombing.

15 August 1945

Japan Surrenders

Japan’s surrender is announced on 15 August 1945 in a radio address by Emperor Hirohito. The government signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on 2 September 1945, officially ending World War II.

20 November 1945

Nuremberg Trials

On 20 November 1945 the trials of 22 top-level Nazi war criminals begin at Nuremberg. The court is composed of judges from the four Allies. Twelve of the defendants are sentenced to death.