Chronology of the Holocaust and Rescue in Germany


Jews of Germany76% of German Jews survived the Holocaust (approximately 431,500 survived, 134,500-141,500 lost).[1]  Jewish population in 1933 was 566,000. Approximately 360,000 German Jews emigrated between 1933 and October, 1941 when legal emigration was stopped.  150,000 Jews emigrated from Germany after Kristallnacht in November 1938, 71,550 between September 1939 and 1941.  A total of 100,000 German Jews emigrated to counties in Europe that were later occupied by the Nazis.[2] A total of 87 countries took in German refugees.  The United States received 90,000.[3]  England took in 50,000.[4] 36,000 German Jews, 5,000 Austrian Jews, and 4,700 Czechoslovakian Jews emigrated to Palestine. 98,000 German Jews were deported to other European countries after 1941. 601 Germans have been honored for rescuing Jews.[5]


February 24, 1920
The Nazi Party platform is written.

November 9, 1923
Adolf Hitler and the Nazis fail in their attempt to overthrow the Bavarian government in Munich.

British diplomat Frank Foley is stationed in Berlin.  He issues thousands of destination visas to England for German Jews.  He is responsible for saving more than 10,000 Jewish refugees.

July 31, 1932
The Nazis win over 37% of the vote in a Reichstag election.

January 30, 1933
Adolf Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany.

There are 525,000 German Jews, including those living in the Saar District.  German law defines Jews by race.  Under German law, there are 566,000 Jews.  Jews comprise eight tenths of one percent of the German population.

German Jews own 3.3% of the businesses in Germany.  More than 60% of Jews earn a living as owners of retail, wholesale and manufacturing businesses.

Voluntary Aryanization [Arisierung] of Jewish businesses begins. 

February 27, 1933
Nazis set fire to the German Reichstag [Parliament].  Nazis terrorize German citizens to ensure their victory in the election.

March 20, 1933
Dachau concentration camp opens.

March 27, 1933
Passage of the Enabling Act by the Nazi-controlled Reichstag suspends and thereby destroys all civil liberties in Germany.  It establishes a completely totalitarian system with only one leader and one political party, which controls all communication.

April 1, 1933
Nazi party institutes boycott of Jewish shops and businesses.

Rabbi Leo Baeck is pessimistic about Jewish live under Nazi Germany.  He declares, “the thousand year old history of German Jewry is at an end.”

April 4, 1933
Jews are barred from German civil service and public employment.  5,000 German Jews lose their positions.

April 7, 1933
Nazi government defines non-Aryan descent.  It is defined as one Jewish parent or grandparent.

April 26, 1933
The establishment of the Gestapo (Secret State Police) under Nazi party.

May 10, 1933
Nazis begin public burning of books by Jewish and other authors opposed to Nazism.

Spring 1933
King Gustav V and other prominent and traditionally pro-German Swedes warn Hitler that continued persecution of Jews would erode sympathy for Germany.

June 1933
Dr. Kurt Singer is given official permission to create the Judischer Kulturbund.

July 14, 1933
Nazi party becomes the only legal party in Germany.

July 20, 1933
The Vatican signs Reich Concordat with Nazi Germany, which gives the new regime legitimacy.  This concordat will supposedly protect church rights and property; however, it closes Germany’s center party and withdraws the Catholic church from German political organizations.

September 1933
Dr. Leo Baeck elected to a new Jewish organization called Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden (Representative Council of Jews in Germany).  This organization is to represent the numerous Jewish organizations with the Nazi government.  It fights anti-Semitic propaganda and provides aid and welfare, and a source of information on emigration.  This organization is in Berlin.

October 1933
In response to Nazi persecution of Jews and their exodus from Germany, the League of Nations establishes the High Commission for Refugees, headed by US diplomat James G. MacDonald.

More than 52,000 Jews leave Germany in the first year of the Nazi government.  There are 37,000 German Jews traveling who remain abroad.

Ha’avarah agreement between Germany and the Jewish community in Palestine is put into place.  It allows Jews who were emigrating to Palestine to transfer their assets there.  In turn, the German foreign office receives goods or funds from Palestine.  Agreement is signed with the German Foreign Office.  280,000 German Jews eventually emigrate under this agreement.

Jewish organizations worldwide attempt to have the Assembly of the League of Nations adopt protective measures to protect the rights of minorities being persecuted in Germany.  This effort is largely unsuccessful.  Later, the League initiates the Bernheim Petition, which partially protects the rights of German minorities in Upper Silesia.

January 1, 1934
All Jewish holidays are removed from the official German calendar.

June 1934
Hitler murders political opponents and enemies of the Nazi party.

Nazis revoke tax exempt status for Jewish organizations in Germany.

August 2, 1934
Hitler proclaims himself Führer und Reichskanzler (Leader and Reich Chancellor).  Armed forces must now swear allegiance to him.

The Gestapo issues regulations threatening to intern in concentration camps any refugees who return to Germany.

March 1, 1935
The Saar region is returned to Germany.

March 17, 1935
The German Confessing Church protests racism directed against Jews.  It keeps up its protest throughout the war.  Seven hundred ministers are arrested.

May 21, 1935
Jews can no longer serve in the German armed forces.

September 15, 1935
Anti-Jewish racial laws known as “Nuremberg Laws” are enacted, including Law Respecting Reich Citizenship and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor.  Jews are no longer considered German citizens.  Hundreds of edicts are enacted, each more exclusionary and repressive than the previous.

Thirteen decrees follow quickly, continuing to define Hitler’s war against the Jews.

November 14, 1935
The First Ordinance to the Reich Citizenship Law institutes a system to categorize and define degrees of Jewishness.  It specifies that “a Jew cannot be a Reich citizen.”  Jews lose most of their civil protections.

A Jew is now defined as having three Jewish grandparents.

December 27, 1935
James MacDonald, High Commissioner for Refugees of the League of Nations, resigns in protest over the failure of the League to help refugees.

March 7, 1936
Germans march into the Rhineland, previously demilitarized by the Versailles Treaty.

June 17, 1936
Heinrich Himmler, SS Chief, appointed to head all German police.

July 1936
Sachsenhausen concentration camp opens.

Germany and Italy intervene on behalf of Franco’s fascist forces.

August 1936
The International Olympic Games are held in Berlin.

October 25, 1936
Hitler and Mussolini form Rome-Berlin Axis.

Tax exempt status for Jewish charities, including schools, hospitals and religious institutions is revoked.  This law is not fully enforced until 1938.

March 14, 1937
Pope Pius XI issues a Papal encyclical, Mit Brennender Sorge [With Burning Anxiety].  Although it does not mention Hitler or Nazism, it comes out strongly against racism and extreme nationalism.  The encyclical is smuggled into Germany and read on Palm Sunday in all Catholic churches.

July 15, 1937
Buchenwald concentration camp opens near Weimar, Germany.

Protection of Jews under the German-Polish convention of May 22, 1922, is revoked.

Sixty-one percent of Jewish children in Germany attend Jewish schools. 

November 5, 1937
The Hossback Protokol is written.  These are the minutes from the meeting where Hitler outlines his war aims against Austria and Czechoslovakia.

February 1938
Hitler removes key generals from the German Wehrmacht (Army).  These generals opposed Hitler’s war aims.

March 13, 1938
Anschluss (annexation of Austria).  Austria becomes a province of the German Greater Reich and is renamed Austmark.  Vienna loses its status as a capital and becomes a provincial administrative seat.  All anti-Semitic decrees are immediately applied in Austria.

Legal recognition of Jewish organizations and their tax exempt status is withdrawn by Nazi occupying forces.

March 28, 1938
Jewish community organizations, including the Reichsvertretung, are no longer considered public institutions.  Their tax exemption is removed.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee actively helps Jewish organizations survive this financial crisis.

April 1938
The Nazi government in Austria prepares a list of wealthy Jews in preparation for large scale confiscation of Jewish property and assets.

Supervision of Jewish religious and cultural organizations is given to local Gestapo offices.

April 10, 1938
Austrians vote in favor of annexation to Germany.

April 26, 1938
Jews must register all businesses valued at more than 5,000 Reich marks ($2,000 US).

May 1938
Dr. Ho appointed Chinese Consul General in Vienna, reporting to the Chinese Embassy in Berlin.  Ho issues end destination Shanghai visas to Austrian Jews who are being coerced to emigrate.  Visas are issued on his own authority, without permission, enabling thousands of Austrian Jews to escape.  Ho is ordered to desist by the Chinese Ambassador in Berlin, but ignores the order.

June 9, 1938
The “June Action” (Juniaktion).  Hitler orders the destruction of the Great Synagogue of Munich.

June 14, 1938
Nazi law allows the dismissal of Jewish directors and business managers.  By the end of 1938, this law is mandatory.

June 15, 1938
Destruction of the Nuremberg and Dortmund synagogues.

Fifteen hundred Jews are arrested and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.  They will be released on the condition that they leave Germany immediately.

June 22, 1938
Pope Pius XI orders the drafting of an encyclical letter denouncing racism and anti-Semitism, entitled Humani Generis Unitas [The Unity of the Human Race].  It is never published.

June 1938
The Gestapo prepares arrest lists of Jews in preparation for deportations.  The lists are deposited with the local police stations and tax offices.

July 1938
Vital Jewish commercial services, such as real estate, banking and credit services, are abolished.  Jewish doctors and lawyers lose their licenses.  Forced Aryanization of Jewish businesses continues.  Jews are paid less than ten percent of the real value of their property.  Stocks, bonds and securities are confiscated.

July 6-15, 1938
Representatives from 34 countries meet at Evian, France, to discuss refugee policies.  All of the countries refuse to help or let in more Jewish refugees.  Australia’s response to accepting Jewish refugees states: “As we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.”  The lack of support for Jewish refugees signals to Hitler that the world is unconcerned with Jewish refugees.

The US annual German immigration quota is 25,957.  Only a fraction of this number of Jews is allowed to enter the United States.

The US State Department declares, “No country would be expected to make any changes in its immigration legislation.”

As an outcome of the Evian Conference, an Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees is established to help refugees.  It is headed by Lord Winterton and George Rublee.  It is, however, highly ineffectual and fails to help Jews who are leaving Germany to take their assets with them.

Dr. Heinrich Neumann, a Viennese Jew, is released from a concentration camp and sent to the Evian Conference with a secret proposal by the Nazis.  The proposal states that the Nazis will allow Jews to leave Austria and Germany for $250 each or $1,000 per family.  The delegates were indifferent to this proposal.

Dr. Heinrich Rothmund, former Chief of the Swiss Federal Police, objects to Jewish refugees coming to Switzerland: “Switzerland, which has as little use for these Jews as has Germany, will herself take measures to protect Switzerland from being swamped by the Jews with the connivance of the Viennese police.”

August 1, 1938
Adolf Eichmann establishes the Office of Jewish Emigration in Vienna to increase the pace of forced emigration.  This office is later duplicated in Vienna and Prague.

August 8, 1938
The first concentration camp in Austria, Mauthausen, opens.

August 13, 1938
The Finnish Consul in Vienna generously grants provisional visas to Jewish applicants.  Fifty Jews arrive in Helsinki on this day.  Soon, the Finnish Foreign Ministry rebukes the Consul and orders him not to issue visas to Jews.

August 17, 1938
A Nazi decree forces Jews who do not have names that are recognized as Jewish to add the names “Israel” for males and “Sarah” for females as middle names.

August 20, 1938
Reichszentrale für Jüdische Auswanderung [Central Office of Jewish Emigration] is established by Adolph Eichmann in Austria.  This office is to force Jews to emigrate by expropriating their assets and removing all of their civil rights.  This model system is soon adopted in Germany and Czechoslovakia.

August - December, 1938
Police captain Paul Grüninger allows 3,600 Austrian Jewish refugees entry into Switzerland, against orders of the Swiss government.  Many of these refugees had Chinese visas issued by Ho.  Grüninger and his troops bring the Jewish refugees to the Swiss town of St. Gallen.

Swiss diplomat Ernst Prodolliet, stationed in Bregenz, Austria, works closely with Grüninger by personally bringing Jews to the Swiss border.

September 1-3, 1938
Germany orders all Jewish passports to be marked with a large “J” for Jew.

September 30, 1938
Great Britain, France and Italy agree to allow the Nazis to annex the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.

The General Assembly of the League of Nations merges the Nansen Office for Refugees with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.

October 1, 1938
Germany annexes the Sudetenland under the Munich agreement.

October 5, 1938
Following request by Swiss authorities, Germans mark all Jewish passports with a large letter “J” to restrict Jews from crossing the border into Switzerland.

October 29, 1938
Nazis make a list of Jews who did not comply with the regulation to mark their passports with a “J.”

October 1938
The Polish government invalidates the passports of Polish Jewish nationals living outside of Poland.  This is to keep Poles living in Germany from returning to Poland.  Soon, 10,000 Polish Jews without papers are deported from Germany to the Polish border, where they are refused entry by Polish officials.

Late 1938
By 1938, 25% of Germany’s 525,000 Jews have emigrated. 

Between April and November 1938, 50,000 Austrian Jews flee.  Most of them virtually penniless.

November 9-10, 1938
Reinhardt Heydrich orders the Nazi party, along with police and SS leaders, to burn down synagogues, businesses and private apartments of Jews.  He ordered “in all districts as many Jews, especially rich ones, to be arrested as can be accommodated in existing prisons.”

Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass): anti-Jewish pogrom in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland; thousands of Jews are beaten, hundreds killed; 200 synagogues set fire and destroyed; 7,500 Jewish shops looted; 171 Jewish homes destroyed; 30,000 German, Austrian and Sudeten Jews sent to concentration camps (Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen), 15,000 from Austria; 680 men and women commit suicide in Austria.

The Jewish staff at the Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden [German Jewish Relief Association] are arrested.  This is the primary agency for helping German Jews leave the country.  This slows the emigration process significantly.

Hermann Göring orders Jews to pay a fine of one billion Reich marks for damages during Kristallnacht.  This is 20% of the value of all property owned by Jews in Germany.  Two billion Reich marks have been previously confiscated from the Jewish community.

Aryanization of Jewish businesses in Germany and Austria becomes compulsory.

150,000 Jews leave Germany.

80,000 German, Austrian and Czech Jews are allowed to emigrate to England.  The Central British Fund, a relief agency, is very helpful.

The US consul in Berlin sends an extensive report about the Kristallnacht pogrom.

President Roosevelt, under pressure, temporarily withdraws the US Ambassador from Germany.  Roosevelt does nothing to help Jews until January 1944.

November 11, 1938
The Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden (Representative Council of Jews in Germany) is closed down by the SS.

Werner Otto von Hentig, head of the Oriental Department of the German Foreign Ministry, tries to intervene on behalf of the Jewish community to prevent further actions against Jews.  He intercedes with Ernst von Weizsäcker, Undersecretary of State of the German Foreign Ministry.  Hentig obtains the release of members of the Jewish community from concentration camps.

November 1938
Many Jews are released from the Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps on the strength of diplomatic exit visas.

November 12, 1938
The Council of Foreign Ministers meeting is headed by Hermann Göring in Berlin.  This policy meeting decides the fate of German and Austrian Jews.  This policy will be to force German and Austrian Jews into poverty, thereby forcing them to emigrate.

Decree forces all Austrian and German Jews to transfer retail businesses to Aryan hands.

November 15, 1938
German Finance Ministry announces that more than four billion Reich marks have been confiscated from Jews out of a total of seven billion Reich marks that have been registered as Jewish assets.  Two billion of this sum has been received from Jewish immigrants as a Reich Flight Tax (this tax amounts to one quarter of the immigrant’s assets at the time of leaving the country).

The US ambassador to Germany leaves Germany to protest the Kristallnacht action against Jews.

November 17, 1938
The British ambassador to the United States in Washington meets with Sumner Wells, the Undersecretary of State, and offers to allow 32,500 German Jews to come to Great Britain.  Wells refuses the offer.

November 21, 1938
British House of Commons strongly objects to the persecution of minorities in Germany.

December 1938
The Mossad for Aliyah Bet [Committee for Illegal Immigration] is established to smuggle Jews out of Europe and illegally into Palestine.  They are extremely successful.

By the end of 1938, every Austrian and German Jew must carry an identification card.

Between 1938 and 1941, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) helps rescue 30,000 European Jews.  Most of them are brought to Lisbon and Milan.

Mossad agents Moshe Auerbach, in Vienna, and Pino Ginsberg, in Berlin, organize the escape of thousands of Jews, often with the cooperation of Eichmann and the Gestapo.

Moshe Auerbach gets 20,000 transit visas from an engineer named Karthaus to allow Jews to escape through Yugoslavia.  Karthaus also obtains Mexican visas.

Ginsberg is able to save hundreds of Jewish boys and girls from concentration camps with a certificate, signed by him, stating that they would leave Germany.

Recha Sternbuch, from an Orthodox Jewish family in Switzerland, rescues thousands of German and Austrian Jews, bringing many of them to Switzerland illegally.  She obtains visas from Dr. Ho and other diplomats.

The Jewish community initiates a worldwide boycott of German products and services to protest the treatment of German and Austrian Jews.

US Vice Consul Stephen B. Vaughan stationed in Breslau, Germany, issues more than 700 visas to German Jews who escape to the Philippines for the duration of the war.

Dr. Raymond Herman Geist, American Consul General and First Secretary, US Embassy in Berlin, helps many Jews and anti-Nazis to emigrate from Germany.  He personally intervenes on behalf of these refugees with the Nazi high officials.  He does this well beyond his official duties as Consul General.  Further, he helps Jews and others who are under imminent threat of deportation to the concentration camps escape Germany.

Pio Perucchi and Candido Porta, Swiss Consular Officers in Milan, Italy, issue more than 1,600 illegal and unauthorized visas to Jews who had fled Austria to Italy after the Anschluss.  Some of these Jewish refugees escaped Austria with a Chinese visa.  The refugees then entered Switzerland where they were protected for the duration of the war.  Perucchi and Porta were demoted and transferred for their illegal and unauthorized activities.

18,000 German, Austrian and Polish Jews flood into Japanese-occupied Shanghai, China.  Paul Komor forms relief agency, the International Committee for Granting Relief to European Refugees (IC); helps immigrants with food, housing, clothing and funds; issues passports that allow many Shanghai refugees to escape China.

January 1939
Beginning of illegal immigration to British-controlled Palestine from Germany.  27,000 German Jews immigrate by the end of 1940.

The Nazi Foreign Office states that “the ultimate aim of Germany’s Jewish policy [is] the immigration of all Jews living on German territory.”

January 1, 1939
Mandatory identification cards are required of all Jews in Germany and Austria.

January 10, 1939
Hitler announces to the German Reichstag [Parliament] that a world war will result in “the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.”

January 24, 1939
Reichszentrale für Jüdische Auswanderung
(Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration) in Berlin is created by Göring and Eichmann.  This is based on the Austrian model.

Reinhardt Heydrich is given authority by Göring to “solve the Jewish question by emigration and evacuation in the way that is most favorable under the conditions prevailing at present.”

The Gestapo has control of Jewish emigration in German-occupied territories.

68,000 Jews leave Germany.  74% of the Jews left in the Old Reich are over 40 years old and are virtually penniless.

100,000 Jews leave Austria by May 1939.  113,824 Jews remain.

Between 1939 and 1940, German Jews are forced to pay punitive income tax of 15% above their regular income tax.

George Mandel-Mantello is appointed Honorary Consul of El Salvador in Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, stationed in Geneva.

British passport officer Frank Foley, stationed in Berlin, issues 10,000 visas to Jewish refugees in defiance of British policy limiting Jewish immigration.

March 15, 1939
German troops invade Czechoslovakia and occupy Prague.  Hitler incorporates Bohemia and Moravia into the Third Reich as a “Protectorate.”  Another 120,000 Jews come under Hitler’s control.

March 22, 1939
Germany annexes the Memel region.

March 31, 1939
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declares that Britain and France will go to war with Germany if Poland is attacked.

April 8, 1939
Chinese Consul General Ho is censured by his own government and a demerit entered into his records for disobeying orders and for continuing to issue thousands of visas to Austrian Jewish refugees in Vienna.

July 4, 1939
The “tenth degree supplementing the Reich law on citizenship is passed.”  The Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland [Reich Association of Jews in Germany] replaces the Reichsvertretung.  This new organization does not really represent Jewish interests. This organization forces the Jewish community to organize its own destruction.

July 26, 1939
Reichszentrale für Jüdische Auswanderung (Central Office of Jewish Emigration) is established in Prague by Adolph Eichmann.  This office is to force Jews to emigrate by expropriating their assets and removing all of their civil rights.  

August 23, 1939
Germany and the Soviet Union sign the Nazi-Soviet Pact.  Hitler gives Stalin Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and eastern Poland, almost half of the country.

Fall 1939
The British cabinet allows 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia into Britain.  This is later known as the Kindertransport.  They come through the efforts of Jewish and non-Jewish relief agencies.  The Central British Fund for German Jewry is particularly helpful.  Ninety percent of these children never see their parents again.

September 1, 1939
Beginning of World War II: Germany invades Poland.

A euthanasia program to kill physically and mentally handicapped people in Germany begins.  It is called Operation T-4.

Aktion [operation] Tannenberg is started.  Einsatzgruppen [special troops] are sent to murder Jews, Polish soldiers, political leaders and intellectuals in Poland.  According to some records, nearly 500,000 Polish Jews and other civilians are killed.

Anti-Jewish measures are applied to Parisian Jews. 

September 21, 1939
Chiefs of Einsatzgruppen, in cooperation with German civil and military leaders, are ordered to establish Jewish ghettos in Nazi-occupied Poland.  The aim of the ghettos is to segregate Jews from Polish society.  The plan is to murder Jews slowly by starvation and disease, to kill them by shooting them on the spot, and eventually to depart them to the death camps.

September 28, 1939
Germany and the Soviet Union divide up Poland; German forces occupy Warsaw.

September 1939
By September 1939, nearly 70% or 185,246 Jews in Austria had emigrated.

Between September 1939 and early 1941, 12,000 Jews escape Europe and enter Palestine illegally.

October 1939
Hitler extends power of doctors to kill mentally and physically disabled persons.

October 12, 1939
Germany begins deportation of Austrian and Czech Jews to Poland to the so-called Lublin Reserve.

October 20, 1939
First deportation of Austrian Jews from Vienna to Poland.  In one month, 1,672 Jews arrive in Lublin.

October 26, 1939
The first deportation, of 600 Czech Jews, is sent to Poland.  Soon, 10,000-20,000 Czech Jews are expelled from Moravska-Ostrava.

13,000 Jews successfully emigrate from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.  Since 1933, more than 300,000+ Jews have left the Old Reich and Greater Reich.

Bertold Storfer, an Austrian Jew, organizes a rescue action for hundreds of Austrian Jews.  Many of them escape to Shanghai.

January 1940
First gassing of handicapped and mental patients in German asylums.  More than 70,000 people are murdered before protests by church leaders bring about an end to the euthanasia program.  However, this operation continues secretly until the end of the war.

January 5, 1940
Great Britain announces that German and Austrian Jews will not be allowed into Palestine because they are considered “enemy aliens.” 

February 13, 1940
Eichmann orders the expulsion of 1,300 Jews of Stetten, Germany.  They are deported to Lublin.  This sets a pattern for lightening deportations in the future.

May 10, 1940
Germany invades the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.  Anti-Jewish measures are immediately applied.

May 20, 1940
Concentration camp established at Auschwitz.  It will become the largest death camp in the Nazi system.

May 28, 1940
Belgium surrenders to Germany.

June 10, 1940
German army invades France.

Italy enters the war as a German ally, declares war on Great Britain and France, and invades France.

June 22, 1940
France surrenders; the French sign an armistice with Germany; in Article 19 of this document, the French agree to “surrender on demand all Germans named by the German government in France.”

Italy and France sign a peace agreement.

June 1940
As late as the end of 1940, Lisbon becomes the center of refuge for thousands of Jews escaping Nazi occupied Europe.  Until the end of June 1940, trains regularly run from Berlin, Vienna and Prague to Lisbon.  The Jewish Joint Distribution Committee provides money for destitute refugees who have escaped to Lisbon.  The US consulate in Lisbon processes hundreds of visas to Jewish refugees.

August 1940
1,250 Jewish doctors and 940 dentists are forced into service in German military hospitals.

September 27, 1940
Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis alliance is signed.

October 1940
The German government in Poland abolishes exit visas for Jews.

Jews of Warsaw are ordered into a ghetto.  In mid-November, the ghetto is sealed.

November 1940
50,000 German and Austrian Jews are sent to forced labor units doing heavy labor or working in war industries.

November 20-24, 1940
Hungary, Romania and Slovakia join the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis.

March 25, 1941
Yugoslavia joins the Tripartite Pact.

March 30, 1941
Hitler informs German military leaders that the upcoming war against the Soviet Union will be a war of “extermination.”

April 6, 1941
German forces invade Greece and Yugoslavia.

April 9, 1941
German forces occupy Salonica (Thessaloníki).  Fifty thousand Jews reside there.

May 20, 1941
Gestapo issues circular prohibiting Jewish emigration from Germany and Austria.

June 3, 1941
US State Department institutes policies discouraging and interfering with refugees from German occupied territories.

June 18, 1941
Turkey and Germany sign a friendship treaty.

June 22, 1941
German army invades Soviet Union, called “Operation Barbarossa;” Nazi Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) begin mass murder of Jews, civilian and Communist leaders.  More than one and a half million people are murdered by the Einsatzgruppen.

July 31, 1941
Heydrich appointed by Göring to implement the “final solution of the Jewish question.”

July 1941
Nazi troops occupy Croatia, part of Yugoslavia, and begin deporting Jews.

August 1941
The Nazis order the closing of the emigration department of the Reichsvereinigung.  Nazis ban emigration for Jews between 18 and 45 years old.  The age is soon extended to 60 years old.

Fall 1941
Thousands of German Jews are deported to Lodz, Warsaw, Minsk and Riga in Poland; the Gurs concentration camp in France; and the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia.

German and Austrian Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star.

September 17, 1941
The beginning of the general deportation of German Jews to the death camps.

September 24, 1941
The Nazi government blocks 60 million marks that had been earmarked for emigration assistance.

October-November 1941
German and Austrian Jews are deported to ghettoes in Eastern Europe.

October 1, 1941
All legal emigration out of German occupied territories is stopped by Gestapo order.  It is estimated that 163,000 Jews are still living in the Greater Reich.

October 15, 1941
Nazi authorities pass a law imposing the death penalty for all Jews who leave the ghettoes without permission or for “persons who knowingly provide hiding places for Jews.”

December 7, 1941
Japanese attacks Pearl Harbor.  America declares war on Japan and, the next day, on Germany.

Night and Fog Decree: Hitler orders the suppression of anti-Nazi resistance in occupied Western Europe.

December 8, 1941
Gassing of Jews begins at Chelmno extermination camp in Poland.

By the end of December 1941, the Nazis have murdered more than one million Jews.

January 20, 1942
Wannsee Conference in Berlin: Heydrich outlines plan to murder Europe’s Jews.

January 1942
Jewish families are stripped of their winter clothing for shipment to the eastern front.  Jewish families from Hanover, Cologne, Bonn and Berlin are forced from their apartments.  The apartments are turned over to non-Jews.

February 15, 1942
First transport of Jews murdered at Auschwitz using Zyklon B gas.

June 1, 1942
Treblinka death camp begins operation.  More than 700,000 Jews are murdered there by mid-1943.

Winter 1942
Deportation of Jews from Germany, Greece and Norway to killing centers; Jewish partisan movement organized in forests near Lublin.

April 19-30, 1943
Bermuda Conference: British and American representatives meet in Bermuda to discuss rescue options, but fail to come up with any significant possibilities.

April 19-May 16, 1943
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; Jews in the Warsaw ghetto resist German deportations to murder camps.

June 1943
Himmler orders the liquidation of all ghettos in Poland and the Soviet Union.

July 9-10, 1943
Allied forces invade Sicily.

September 10, 1943
Germany Army occupies Rome.

October 13, 1943
Italy declares war on Germany.

October 15-16, 1943
Bishop Ludwig Hudal of the German church in Rome, asks the German military commander to stop the deportation.

Police supervisor Angelo de Fiore refuses to give up Jewish registration lists.  Police officer Mares Ciallo Mario de Marco issues fake registration cards to Jews.

November 1943
Moscow Declaration is signed by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, notifying German leaders that they will be held responsible for crimes against humanity for the murder of Jews and others, and will be subject to extradition to the countries where the crimes were committed.

February 19, 1945
Count Folke Bernadotte, Swedish Red Cross operating in Germany, negotiates with SS commander Heinrich Himmler for the release of thousands of people held in Nazi concentration camps.

March 12, 1945
Head of the International Committee for the Red Cross Carl Burckhardt meets with SS RSHA head Ernst Kaltenbrunner at Swiss border to plan have the Red Cross take over the administration and supervision of the concentration camps.

March 17, 1945
New Hungarian provisional government replaces anti-Jewish laws.

April 12, 1945
US President Franklin Roosevelt dies.  Harry Truman becomes the new President.

April 20, 1945
Himmler agrees to free 1,000 Jewish women in Ravensbrück.

April 23, 1945
With the permission of Himmler, 17,000 prisoners are released from German concentration camps.  Some are Jewish.  They are moved to Denmark and then to Sweden.

April 1945
Bernadotte’s negotiations with Himmler are successful.  He secures the release of over 400 Danish Jews imprisoned in Theresienstadt.  Later, he arranges for the release of thousands of women from the Ravensbrück and Bergen Belsen concentration camps.  He arranges for busses, converted to ambulances, known as the “white busses,” to take them from the camps.  The refugees are transported safely to Sweden.

US and British troops liberate the concentration camps at Buchenwald, Dachau, Nordhausen, Bergen-Belsen and other camps.

April 29, 1945
The German Army unconditionally surrenders in Italy.

April 30, 1945
Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin.

May 2, 1945
German forces in Italy surrender to the Allies.

May 8, 1945
V-E Day: Germany surrenders; end of Third Reich.

The State of Israel is established.

The Yad Vashem Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Memorial Museum is established by the Israeli Knesset. 

601 Germans have been honored by Yad Vashem for rescuing Jews.

Updated October 15, 2017


[1] Bankier, in Laqueur, 2001, The Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “German Jewry,” p. 241; Bauer & Rozett, in Gutman, 1990, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, s.v. “Estimated Losses in the Holocaust,” pp. 1799-1800; Benz, in Laqueur, 2001, The Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “Death Toll,” p. 145, states 144,000 were lost; Hilberg, 1985, p. 1221; Kukla, in Gutman, 1990, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, s.v. “Germany,” p. 574 states 365,000 German Jews emigrated, 300,000 (rounded) Jews were saved, 200,00 (rounded) were lost;

[2] Bauer, 1981; Halamish, in Laqueur, 2001, The Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “Refugees,” p. 522; Dwork, 2009; Marrus, in Gutman, 1990, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, s.v. “Refugees,” pp. 1234-1240.

[3] Halamish, in Laqueur, 2001, The Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “Refugees,” p. 520

[4] Halamish, in Laqueur, 2001, The Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “Refugees,” p. 521

[5] Fraenkel & Gutman, in Bender & Weiss, 2007, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous among the Nations: Europe (Part I) and Other Countries, s.v. “Germany: Historical Introduction,” pp. lii-lxiii; Bender & Weiss, 2007, The Encyclopedia of the Righteous among the Nations: Europe (Part I) and Other Countries, s.v. “Germany,” pp. 66-167.