The Holocaust (1933–1945)

“Holocaust” is the term describing the Nazi annihilation of about 6 million Jews (two thirds of the pre-World War II European Jewish population), including 4,500,000 from Russia, Poland, and the Baltic; 750,000 from Hungary and Romania; 290,000 from Germany and Austria; 105,000 from The Netherlands; 90,000 from France; 54,000 from Greece.

The Holocaust was unique in its being genocide—the systematic destruction of a people solely because of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, or sexual preference—on an unmatched scale. Along with the Jews, another 9 to 10 million people—Gypsies, Slavs (Poles, Ukrainians, and Belarussians), homosexuals, and the disabled—were exterminated.


1933
Hitler named German Chancellor (Jan.). Dachau, first concentration camp, established (March). Boycotts against Jews begin (April).
1935
Anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws passed by Reichstag; Jews lose citizenship and civil rights (Sept.).
1937
Buchenwald concentration camp opens (July).
1938
Extension of anti-Semitic laws to Austria after annexation (March). Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass)—anti-Semitic riots and destruction of Jewish institutions in Germany and Austria (Nov. 9). 26,000 Jews sent to concentration camps; Jewish children expelled from schools (Nov. 9–10). Expropriation of Jewish property and businesses (Dec.).
1940
As war continues, Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) follow German army into conquered lands, rounding up and massacring Jews and other “undesirables.”
1941
Goering instructs Heydrich to carry out the “final solution to the Jewish question” (July 31). Deportation of German Jews begins; massacres of Jews in Odessa and Kiev (Nov.); and in Riga and Vilna (Dec.).
1942
Mass killings using Zyklon-B begin at Auschwitz-Birkenau (Jan.). Nazi leaders attend Wannsee Conference to coordinate the “final solution” (Jan. 20). 100,000 Jews from Warsaw Ghetto deported to Treblinka death camp (July).
1943
Warsaw Ghetto uprisings (Jan. and April); Ghetto exterminated (May).
1944
476,000 Hungarian Jews sent to Auschwitz (May–June). D-day (June 6). Soviet Army liberates Maidanek death camp (July). Nazis try to hide evidence of death camps (Nov.).
1945
As Allies advance, Nazis force concentration camp inmates on death marches. Americans liberate Buchenwald and British liberate Bergen-Belsen camps (April). Nuremberg War Crimes Trial (Nov. 1945–Oct. 1946).

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