map from Mayer p. xvii.
April 7, 1933 - The first Aryanization law passed in Germany to exclude Jews from civil service.

September 15, 1935 - Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews of civil rights.

November 10, 1938 - Kristallnacht began pogroms segregating Jews and creating ghettos. Many Jews were arrested and sent to one of the large concentrations camps in Germany adminstered by the SS: Dachau (1933), Sachsenhausen (1936), Buchenwald (1937), Flossenbuerg (1938), Mauthausen (1938), and Ravensbrueck (1938).

June 6, 1939 - The passenger ship St. Louis returned to Europe with 900 Jewish passengers who had been denied entry by Cuba and by the U.S., after sailing from Hamburg May 13 to flee Nazi persecution. During the return trip, the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) arranged for some passengers to enter Great Britain (287), France (224), Belgium (214), and the Netherlands (181), but many never reached their destination country.

October 1939 - Hitler authorized the euthanasia program, the systematic killing of the mentally and physically handicapped in institutions, using carbon monoxide gas chambers at six locations: Bernburg, Brandenburg, Grafeneck, Hadamar, Hartheim, and Sonnenstein.

September 27, 1940 - The SS sealed off the Warsaw Ghetto.


Auschwitz Hell's Gate
July 31, 1941 - Hermann Goering in a July 31 memo drafted by Adolf Eichmann authorized SS Gen. Reinhard Heydrich "to carry out all necessary preparations in regard to organizational, practical and material matters for a total solution of the Jewish question." This included the Einsatzgruppen (Special Action Squads) of the SS that followed German troops east in Operation Barbarossa. Using firing squads and carbon monoxide trucks, the squads killed more that a million Jews in Russia by the end of 1942. By 1943 more than 100,000 Jews and Russians were executed at Babi Yar by the squads and by Ukrainian militia.

September 1941 - Zyklon-B was first used to gas 600 Soviet POWs at Auschwitz.

October 1, 1941 - The Nazis stopped all Jewish emigration and within 2 weeks began the mass deportation of Jews to concentration camps.

October 23, 1941 - Heinrich Himmler issued the order to all Nazi officials shifting policy dealing with the "Jewish problem" from forced emigration (e.g., the Madagascar plan) to deportation to camps in the East.


Wannsee villa, from Terrance
December 12, 1941 - Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary that Hitler ordered the extermination of all Jews at a meeting on Dec. 12 of Nazi German regional governors in Berlin at the Reich Chancellery. "With regards to the Jewish question, the Fuhrer decided to make a clean sweep." The first extermination camp was Chelmno in Poland that began mass killings December 8 using the carbon monoxide mobile vans. In 1942, the camps of Belzec, Sobibor, Majdanek, and Treblinka were opened. The largest extermination camp was Auschwitz-Birkenau with four Zyklon B gas chambers built by 1943, killing 8000 Jews per day. Special prisoner units (Sonderkommandos) were used to dispose of the bodies in large pits and in cremetoria.

January 20, 1942 - The Wannsee Conference was convened by SS Gen. Reinhard Heydrich to implement the decisions of Goering, Eichmann, Goebbels and Hitler on the "Jewish question" with a specific plan, the 15-page Wannsee Protocol, for removing Jews "to the East" and their systematic extermination coordinated by several German agencies under the authority of the SS. The conference was dramatized in the 2001 film Conspiracy.

July 19, 1942 - Heinrich Himmler ordered "the resettlement of the entire Jewish population of the Government-General" - 1

September 23, 1942 - Joseph Goebbels speech to 60 German newspaper editors in Berlin was the first public statement by the Nazi government that mentioned a policy of extermination of the Jews.

November 24, 1942 - The first "authenticated report" of the killing of 2 million Jews published in the New York Times on page 10, following the press conference held by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the American Jewish Congress who produced documented evidence of mass killings.

July 4, 1944 - John J. McCloy denied a June 24 request from John Pehle of the War Refugee Board (created Jan. 22 by Exec Order 9417) to bomb Auschwitz. According to Michael Beschloss, FDR was responbsible for the decision to not bomb the concentration camps.

October 1944 - Oskar Schindler moved his enamel factory from Zablocie near Krakow, Poland, to Bruennlitz, Czechoslovakia, saving 800 Jewish men from the Gross-Rosen camp and 300 Jewish women from the Auschwitz camp. The achievement of Schindler was dramatized by Steven Spielberg in the 1999 film Schindler's List.

November 1944 - In Budapest, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz, and Italian businessman Giorgio Perlasca issued forged papers and protective passports to 100,000 Hungarian Jews, allowing them to live in safety in the "international ghetto" in Budapest as Nazi troops that had occupied Hungary since March rounded up many of the remaining Jews for a the death march to Austria.



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