Overall Chronology of Rescue in the Holocaust - See Below
Chronology of Rescue by Diplomats
Chronology of Rescue in the Holocaust
August 1914-November 1918
World War I. Millions of soldiers die. At the conclusion of World War I, many of the royal families of Europe are deposed. First of many European oligarchies and “undemocratic democracies” are formed.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is founded to distribute funds to aid Jews in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The Jewish Labor Committee is founded to help Jews in the Middle East. It soon joins the Jewish Joint.
Russian Revolution, led by Vladimir Lenin. Czar Nicholas III is swept from power. The Russian Revolution inspires Communist movements throughout Western Europe, including Germany, Italy, France, Austria and Hungary. In response, extreme right wing and nationalistic movements, many of a fascist nature, are created.
January 5, 1919
The German Workers’ Party (DAP) is founded. It is a small, right-wing political group based on German ultra-nationalism. Hitler joins the party on September 12.
League of Nations is founded.
The German Workers’ Party becomes the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP). It is known as the Nazi Party.
The Nazi Party platform is written. It expresses ultra right views on German nationalism and antisemitism. It proposes to exclude Jews from German life by revoking their citizenship.
Hitler becomes head of the National Socialist German Workers’ party (Nazi).
The Munich Post opposes Hitler and the Nazi Party in numerous articles and editorials. The articles accuse Hitler of being a political criminal. They characterize the Nazi Party as gangsters. These articles appear until Hitler comes to power in 1933. Often intimidated and threatened, these editors and journalists continue their crusade against Hitler. They are Martin Gruber, Edmund Goldschagg, Erhard Aurer and Julius Zerfass.
Josef Stalin becomes Secretary General of the Communist Party in Russia.
February 6, 1922
Cardinal Achille Ratti of Milan is elected Pope, takes the name Pius XI. He serves until his death in 1939.
October 31, 1922
Italian Fascist party, under Benito Mussolini, takes control of the Italian government.
High inflation devalues the German Mark, devastating the German economy. The Weimar government is blamed.
The Schutzstaffel (SS) is formed as a part of the Nazi Party. Originally it was designed to be Hitler’s bodyguards. It will become the organization responsible for carrying out the murder of millions of Jews and others during World War II.
November 9, 1923
In the so-called beer hall putsch, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis fail in their attempt to overthrow the Bavarian government in Munich. Hitler is arrested, convicted and imprisoned. He serves only nine months of a five-year sentence.
US Congress passes Immigration Restriction Act. It severely limits immigration for Asians and Eastern Europeans.
Hitler writes and publishes his manifesto entitled Mein Kampf (My Struggle). In it, he outlines his antisemitic views on racial purity and social Darwinism. By 1939, it will have 500 printings and more than six million books printed.
Geneva Convention of 1925 outlaws the use of poison gas in war. It also establishes rules for humane treatment of prisoners of war, sick, wounded and dead.
Hitler publishes second volume of Mein Kampf.
Josef Stalin ousts Trotsky from power in the USSR and becomes the absolute dictator. The Communist government consolidates its hold on the Russian Confederation of States.
Hitler writes his third book, detailing his race theory. He promotes antisemitism as a central aspect of his personal and political career. The book is not published until 1961.
British diplomat Frank Foley is stationed in Berlin. After 1933, he issues thousands of destination visas to England for German Jews. He is responsible for saving more than 10,000 Jewish refugees.
Germany signs Geneva Convention of 1925.
January 20, 1929
Heinrich Himmler is appointed head of the SS (Reichsführer SS).
New York Stock Exchange fails. Stock values dissolve overnight. This event initiates a worldwide economic depression. It will not end until 1939. The depression hits Germany extremely hard.
September 30, 1930
The Nazi party gets 18% of the popular vote in the German Reichstag election.
US Immigration Law of 1917 is enforced by the Hoover administration to limit US immigration. This action is a result of the worldwide depression.
The Race and Resettlement Main Office (RuSHA) is established by SS chief Himmler.
Pope Pius XI launches Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli on a Vatican diplomatic career as a Nuncio (Vatican diplomat). Roncalli is appointed Archbishop of Areopolis and Apostolic Visitor to Greece. Archbishop Roncalli appointed Apostolic Delegate (nuncio) to Bulgaria. He serves there until 1934.
Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization) is founded in Palestine. It founds the Af-Al-Pi rescue operation in 1937.
September 18, 1931
Japan invades Manchuria and installs puppet Manchukuo regime.
October 30, 1931
Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugend) is established.
December 9, 1931
The Munich Post publishes a major article revealing Hitler’s and the Nazi Party’s plans to eventually remove Jews from German society and enslave them.
The Faith Movement of German Christians is established by the Nazi Party. It fosters ultra nationalism and antisemitism.
American journalist Dorothy Thompson publishes major anti-Nazi book entitled I saw Hitler!
Youth Aliyah (Youth Immigration) is founded in Germany by Recha Freier. It brings thousands of Jews from Nazi Europe to Palestine.
June 14, 1932
German law prohibiting activities of Nazi Storm Troopers is lifted.
July 5, 1932
Oliviera Salazar elected Premier of Portugal. He establishes his leadership as a fascist dictatorship.
July 31, 1932
The Nazis win more than 37% of the vote in a Reichstag election.
November 8, 1932
Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected President of the US by a landslide.
January 30, 1933
Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany by German President Paul von Hindenburg.
The Nazi party becomes the ruling party in 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 less than one percent of the German population.
Voluntary Aryanization of Jewish businesses begins. Under pressure to leave Germany, many Jews turn over their businesses to Nazi administrators or sell their businesses at a greatly reduced rate.
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.
The French Jewish Aid Society, the Comité d’Assistance aux Réfugiés (CAR), is founded to help German Jews emigrate to safety in France.
Jewish organizations worldwide attempt to have the Assembly of the League of Nations adopt 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.
German labor unions are dissolved.
Fifty concentration camps are built throughout Germany. They include Dachau, Oranienburg, Esterwegen and Sachsenburg (Sachsenhausen). These brutal camps are designed to house enemies of Nazism, Socialists and Jews. In 1933, 25,000 people are sent to these camps.
The Faith Movement of German Christians becomes an official state-sanctioned organization.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee involves itself in refugee issues of the League of Nations.
February 2, 1933
All political demonstrations are forbidden in Germany.
February 20, 1933
Hitler gains support of many leading German businessmen and industrialists.
February 27-28, 1933
The German Reichstag [Parliament] is burned down under mysterious circumstances. As a result, a state of emergency is declared. Hitler receives emergency powers from German President Paul von Hindenburg. Nazi storm troopers arrest ten thousand opponents of the Nazi party. Many of these are executed or “disappear.”
March 4, 1933
Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated as 32nd President of the United States. Roosevelt appoints Cordell Hull as Secretary of State and Sumner Wells as Assistant Secretary of State.
March 5, 1933
Individual German states no longer have power.
Nazi party wins 288 seats in the Reichstag.
March 9-10, 1933
Anti-Jewish riots, organized by the Nazi Party, are carried out by the SA Storm Troopers.
March 21, 1933
Nazis set up special courts to prosecute anti-Nazi dissidents.
March 22, 1933
Dachau concentration camp opens near Munich, Germany. Dachau is used to imprison enemies of the Nazi party. It becomes the training camp and prototype for Nazi concentration camps under the SS. By the end of the war, there will be more than one thousand of these camps and thousands more slave labor camps established throughout the Nazi empire.
March 24, 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.
March 27, 1933
The American Jewish Congress (AJC) organizes an anti-Nazi rally in New York City. It protests the Nazi boycott of Jewish-owned businesses in Germany.
Japan announces it will leave the League of Nations in response to efforts by the League to curb Japan’s expansion in China.
March 30, 1933
The American Committee in Religious Rights and Minorities sends a delegation to Germany to investigate the actions against Jews. The committee consists of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish clergymen.
All Jewish welfare and social institutions in Germany are united in a single organization. It is the Zentralausschuss für Hilfe und Aufbau (ZA).
April 1, 1933
Nationwide boycott of Jewish shops and businesses in Germany.
April 4, 1933
Jews are barred from German civil service and public employment (Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service).
April 6, 1933
The Belgian Federation of Protestant Churches protests the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.
April 7, 1933
Nazi government defines non-Aryan descent.
April 11, 1933
Economic sanctions are implemented against Jews.
The Lutheran Church in Germany actively protests recently-enacted antisemitic laws.
April 13, 1933
The British House of Commons condemns Nazi policy against Jews.
April 25, 1933
A law restricting Jews from schools and universities is enforced (the Law for Preventing Overcrowding in Schools and Schools of Higher Education).
April 26, 1933
The establishment of the Gestapo (Secret State Police) under Nazi party rule by Hermann Göring.
May 10, 1933
Nazis begin public burning of books by Jewish authors and others opposed to Nazism. Nazi government imposes censorship of newspapers and publishing houses throughout Germany.
May 17, 1933
The Bernheim Petition, protesting Nazi anti-Jewish legislation in German Upper Silesia, is submitted to the League of Nations headquarters in Geneva. The petition is granted June 1, 1933.
May 23, 1933
Prominent Dutch church leaders protest Nazi treatment of German Jews.
May 26, 1933
1,200 US Protestant clergymen sign a manifesto protesting Nazi treatment of German Jews.
King Gustav V of Sweden and other prominent Swedes warn Hitler that continued persecution of Jews would erode sympathy for Germany.
René de Weck is appointed Plenipotentiary Minister for Switzerland in Romania, Yugoslavia and Greece, stationed in Bucharest, Romania. From this post, de Weck is eventually instrumental in helping to save thousands of Jews.
June 26, 1933
The Nazis establish the Academy for German Law. The Academy rewrites German law to conform to Nazi ideals and policies.
June 27, 1933
A major rally in London protests Nazi persecution of Jews.
June 29, 1933
A call for a worldwide action to help German Jewry is issued and published by former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and other prominent individuals.
July 6, 1933
The British House of Commons issues a statement of sympathy for persecuted Jews in Nazi Germany.
July 14, 1933
Nazi party becomes the only legal party in Germany. Any form of opposition becomes a criminal offense, punishable by law.
The Law Regarding Revocation of Naturalization and the Annulment of German Citizenship is enacted. This law is intended to strip Eastern European Jews residing in Germany of their citizenship and rights.
Germany enacts Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases. This law allows for involuntary sterilization of potential parents and for the euthanization of disabled and handicapped persons. The Nazis label people with disabilities as “defective” and “useless eaters.” They are declared Lebensunwertes Leben (life unworthy of life). By 1937, 200,000 persons are involuntarily sterilized.
July 20, 1933
The Vatican signs Reich Concordat with Nazi Germany, which gives Hitler’s regime legitimacy. This concordat purports to protect church rights and property; in fact, it closes Germany’s center party and withdraws the Catholic Church from German political organizations.
30,000 Londoners protest Nazi persecution of German Jews.
August 25, 1933
Ha’avarah (transfer) agreement between the German foreign office and the Jewish community in Palestine is implemented. It allows Jews who are emigrating to Palestine to transfer their assets there. In turn, the German foreign office receives goods or funds from Palestine. This agreement is facilitated by sympathetic German diplomats in the Germany foreign ministry. Eventually, more than 40,000 German Jews emigrate to Palestine under this agreement.
Dr. Leo Baeck elected to a new Jewish organization called Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden (Representative Council of Jews in Germany). This organization is established in Berlin.
German Jews are banned from journalism and all cultural endeavors, including art, music, literature, theater and broadcasting.
Himmler is appointed head of all police units in Germany except in Prussia.
In response to Nazi persecution of Jews and their exodus from Germany, the League of Nations establishes the High Commission for Refugees. US diplomat James Grover MacDonald is appointed its head. MacDonald will become a vigorous advocate on behalf of Jewish refugees throughout the war.
The American Jewish Joint works with the League of Nations to try to help resolve Jewish refugee issues.
October 21, 1933
Germany withdraws from the League of Nations.
October 29, 1933
Jewish organizations meet in London to prepare to work with the League of Nations High Commissioner of Refugees.
November 12, 1933
In a German general election, 92% of the electoral vote is for Nazi candidates.
November 17, 1933
The United States recognizes the USSR and resumes trade.
The Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden, which was originally founded in 1901, becomes the Emigration Section of the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (RVE).
Aliyah Bet begins operation to bring Jews from Europe into Palestine. From 1934 to 1939, 17,240 Jews illegally immigrate to Palestine.
Angelo Roncalli appointed Apostolic Delegate (nuncio) to Turkey and Greece (1934-1944). He establishes friendly relations with the governments and Eastern Orthodox clergy.
Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara resigns from position as Deputy Consul General in Manchuria in protest of the inhumane treatment of the Chinese.
The Dutch Catholic Church prohibits Dutch Catholics from joining the Dutch Nazi party.
Dachau and other Nazi concentration camps come under the administration and control of the SS.
Worldwide boycott of German goods is established in Geneva.
January 1, 1934
All Jewish holidays are removed from the official German calendar.
January 26, 1934
Germany and Poland sign non-aggression agreement.
February 17, 1934
Great Britain, France and Italy declare that Austria must remain an independent nation.
March 23, 1934
Law Regarding Expulsion from the Reich enacted. This law paves the way for deporting Eastern European Jews from Germany.
Peoples’ Court (Volksgericht) is established in Germany. It is designed to suppress anti-Nazi activities. Under this law there is no right to trial by jury or appeal.
June 30, 1934
Hitler orders SS leader Heinrich Himmler to organize the murder of the SA (Brownshirt) leadership. More than 100 of Hitler’s rivals are murdered. Among them are Ernst Röhm and former German Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher. This action becomes known as the Night of the Long Knives.
July 25, 1934
Chancellor Dollfüss of Austria is assassinated by Austrian Nazis.
Hehalutz and the Revisionist Zionist Movement begin to organize illegal immigration of Jews from Central and Eastern Europe.
August 2, 1934
German President Paul von Hindenburg dies. Hitler proclaims himself Führer und Reichskanzler (Leader and Reich Chancellor). German armed forces must now swear personal allegiance to Hitler as Führer (leader).
August 19, 1934
Ninety-eight percent of German voters approve of the merger of the offices of President and Chancellor.
September 27, 1934
Great Britain, France and Italy again reaffirm their support for an independent Austria.
October 1, 1934
In violation of the Versailles Treaty of 1919, Germany begins the buildup of its army, navy and air force with over a half million soldiers.
The US Attorney General issues ruling that Secretary of Labor can issue a visa if immigrants post a financial bond in advance.
December 29, 1934
Japan rejects the Washington Treaties of 1922 and 1930, which impose limits on the size of its navy operating in the Pacific.
Holland takes in 34,000 German Jewish refugees. 15,000 become permanent residents.
62,000 Jews immigrate to Palestine.
Violent attacks against Jews in Poland cause many Jews to emigrate to Palestine.
The German military Reichswehr is renamed Wehrmacht (Army). Hitler continues to rebuild and enlarge his armies.
The National Coordinating Committee (predecessor to the National Refugee Service) is founded to coordinate private rescue agencies. It is created at the instigation of the US State Department.
The antisemitic Union of Protestant Churches is created and controlled by the Nazi government to disseminate its ideas.
The SA (Sturmabteilung) is incorporated into the SS.
The Gestapo enacts regulations threatening to arrest and intern in a concentration camp any refugee who returns to Germany.
Chiune Sugihara is assigned to the European Department of the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
January 5, 1935
Archbishop Angelo Roncalli is transferred as Papal Nuncio to Ankara, Turkey.
January 7, 1935
Benito Mussolini and French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval sign agreement between Italy and France.
January 13, 1935
Germany retakes Saarland from France.
March 16, 1935
Germany reinstates conscription to the German Wehrmacht in direct violation of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles.
March 17, 1935
The German Confessing Church protests persecution of Jews. It maintains its protests throughout the war. As a result, seven hundred clergymen are arrested. Some are sent to concentration camps.
May 12, 1935
Polish President Jozef Pilsudski dies. Pilsudski has protected Jews against antisemitism in Poland. After his death, antisemitism spreads widely throughout Poland.
May 21, 1935
Law in Germany forbids non-Aryans from joining German armed forces.
September 15, 1935
Anti-Jewish laws known as “Nuremberg Laws” are enacted in Germany. These include the Law Respecting Reich Citizenship and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor. Jews are no longer considered German citizens. Soon, hundreds of additional edicts are enacted.
International reaction to the Nuremberg Laws is almost universally negative.
October 3, 1935
Italian army attacks and invades Ethiopia.
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.”
December 20, 1935
The Church of England condemns Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany.
December 27, 1935
James MacDonald, High Commissioner for Refugees of the League of Nations, issues a scathing report and resigns in protest over the failure of the League to help Jews and in response to world indifference to the refugee crisis.
December 31, 1935
Jews removed from civil service positions in Germany.
Italy strengthens ties with Nazi Germany. Italian fascism turns increasingly to militant anti-Semitism. Escalating Italian anti-Semitic press campaigns, talks of "Jewish and Zionist danger."
Council for German Jewry (CFGJ) is established in London, England. It helps more than 100,000 Jews to emigrate from Germany.
The US State Department is ordered to revoke the Hoover Executive Order of 1930 and institute a more liberal version of the “likely to become a public charge” (LPC) clause.
March 7, 1936
Germans march into the Rhineland, previously demilitarized by the Versailles Treaty. The United States, Great Britain and France denounce the invasion.
March 9, 1936
Jews of Przytyk, Poland, are attacked by local citizens.
March 17, 1936
Jews and Poles protest pogroms against Jews in Poland.
April 1, 1936
The Arab High Committee is formed to unite against Jewish territorial claims in or immigration to Palestine.
April 19, 1936
Arab Revolt (1936-1939) begins in Palestine. This leads to substantial cuts in Jewish immigration by British authorities.
May 5, 1936
Ethiopia falls to Italy.
Léon Blum, a Jew, is elected Premier of France.
June 17, 1936
Heinrich Himmler, SS Chief, appointed to head all German police.
June 30, 1936
Jews in Poland organize general strike to protest recent pogroms.
July 12, 1936
Sachsenhausen concentration camp opens.
July 16-18, 1936
The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. In Spain, right wing general Francisco Franco leads a mutiny against the Spanish Republican government. Hitler sends thousands of German troops to support Franco’s forces. The Germans use the Spanish Civil War to test new weapons and tactics, especially the Luftwaffe (air force), which perfects the technique of dive bombing. Hitler also perfects the Blitzkrieg (lightening war). Mussolini sends his Italian soldiers to fight for the Republican side. The war will last until 1939 with Franco’s victory over the legal Spanish Republican Government.
8,000 Jews go to Spain as volunteers in the International Brigade. They comprise an estimated 30% of the total volunteers who fight against the Nationalist forces.
August 1-16, 1936
The International Olympic Games are held in Berlin. Persecution of Jews is temporarily suspended by Hitler and the Nazis.
September 7, 1936
25% tax is levied on all Jewish property in Germany.
September 23, 1936
Sachsenhausen concentration camp is opened in Oranienberg, 15 miles northeast of Berlin. Initially, it imprisons opponents of the Nazi regime. More than 100,000 people will die there.
October 1, 1936
Criminal court judges in Berlin swear a personal oath to Adolph Hitler.
The Nationalist Rebellion appoints General Franco as Chief of State in its provisional government.
October 25, 1936
Hitler and Mussolini form Rome-Berlin Axis. This is a formal alliance between fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.
November 6, 1936
The Spanish Nationalists seize Madrid and begin the Spanish Nationalist government in Valencia, Spain.
November 18, 1936
Germany and Italy formally recognize Franco’s Nationalist government in Spain. Germany sends volunteer soldiers (Condor Legion) to fight on behalf of Franco’s fascist Nationalist army.
November 25, 1936
Germany and Japan sign Anti-Cominturn Pact against the Soviet Union. This pact attempts to thwart Soviet territorial aspirations in Europe.
Germany recognizes Japan’s puppet regime in Manchuria, China.
December 27, 1936
Great Britain and France agree to non-intervention in the Spanish Civil War.
At the annual Nuremberg meeting of the Nazi Party, Hitler declares the Reich will last a thousand years.
The right-wing, antisemitic Hungarian fascist party, called the Arrow Cross, is formed.
Adolph Eichmann visits Palestine to explore possible Jewish immigration from Germany.
The chief rabbi of Milan, an old friend of the Pope from when he was the cardinal of Milan, meets with Pope Pius XI. The rabbi asks the Pope to intervene on behalf of persecuted German Jews.
Paul Baerwald becomes head of the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
January 1, 1937
The Archbishop of Canterbury attacks antisemitism.
January 6, 1937
Roosevelt renews US Neutrality Act. It specifically forbids the shipment of arms for use in the Civil War in Spain.
January 20, 1937
Roosevelt is inaugurated for a second term as US President.
January 21, 1937
The Nansen Assistance Organization is established in Oslo, Norway. Its goal is to aid refugees and victims of Nazism to protect the rights of stateless people.
March 14, 1937
In Germany, Catholic nuns and priests are arrested, and Catholic schools, convents and monasteries are closed, due to their anti-Nazi activities.
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, extreme nationalism and totalitarianism. The encyclical is smuggled into Germany and read on Palm Sunday in all Catholic churches.
May 28, 1937
Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Dr. Feng Shan Ho posted as First Secretary to Chinese Legation in Vienna.
Jun 11, 1937
Jews are forbidden to give testimony in German courts.
July 7, 1937
Japan invades northeast China. Japan practices genocidal policies against the Chinese population. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese will be brutally murdered.
July 15, 1937
Buchenwald concentration camp opens near Weimar, Germany. Tens of thousands of prisoners will be murdered there. Ten thousand Jews will be taken to Buchenwald after Kristallnacht.
July 19, 1937
Nazis sponsor a major exhibition called “Degenerate Art” (Entartete Kunst) in Munich. It denigrates modern art, and works by Jewish artists.
August 28, 1937
Japanese forces occupy Beijing [Peking] and Tianjin, China.
September 7, 1937
Hitler declares the Treaty of Versailles invalid.
A World Conference of the Society of Friends (Quakers) condemns Nazi antisemitism.
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.
November 6, 1937
Italy joins German-Japanese Anti-Comminturn Pact.
November 8, 1937
Nazi-sponsored antisemitic exhibit called “The Eternal Jew” opens in Munich.
November 9, 1937
Japanese military forces capture and occupy Shanghai, China. Shanghai eventually becomes a major safe haven for 18,000 Jewish refugees from Europe.
November 25, 1937
Germany and Japan sign a military and political treaty.
December 5-13, 1937
Japanese troops conquer Nanjing [Nanking], China. 250,000 Chinese are killed by the Japanese army. It is called the Rape of Nanjing.
December 11, 1937
Italy resigns from the League of Nations.
Japanese and German aggression cause Roosevelt and the US to review its position on neutrality and isolation.
Between 1938 and 1939, 17,000 Jews illegally enter Palestine. Most of them are from Central Europe.
Between 1938 and 1941, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) helps rescue 30,000 European Jews. Most of them are brought to the port cities of Lisbon and Milan.
The National Refugee Service is created in the United States to help refugees immigrate to the United States.
The Jewish community initiates a worldwide boycott of German products and services to protest the treatment of German and Austrian Jews.
US Ambassador to Germany William E. Dodd protests the treatment of Jews and in particular the confiscation of Jewish property in Germany. Dodd sends numerous reports regarding this to the State Department. He recommends formal protests.
The Union des Sociétés Juives (USJ) is founded in France.
The Schweizerischer Israelitischer Gemeindebund (SIG; the Federation of Jewish Communities in Switzerland), headed by Saly Mayer, takes care of refugees coming from Germany and Austria. Mayer negotiates with Swiss immigration officials to liberalize immigration laws and procedures.
US Congressman Charles A. Buckley writes FDR with a plan to resettle European Jews in the territory of Alaska. His proposal is rejected.
Swiss Minister Maximilian Jaeger is sent to Budapest, Hungary.
By late 1938, more than 25% of Germany’s 525,000 Jews (150,000) have emigrated.
Between April and December 1938, 30% of Austrian Jews (50,000 individuals) escape.
In 1938, there are 57,000 Italian Jews out of a total Italian population of 45,600,000. As a result of continuing anti-Semitic policy, 5,000 Italian Jews emigrate and more than 4,000 convert to Christianity. After emigration and conversion, the Jewish population of Italy is reduced to 35,156.
Bernhard Kahn, head of the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in Europe, retires. To European Jews, he is known as “Mr. Joint.”
Swedish government institutes strict immigration standards.
Dachau concentration camp is expanded.
January 1, 1938
Sweden passes a law severely limiting immigration.
January 21, 1938
Romania revokes laws protecting its Jewish citizens. Some Romanian Jews lose their citizenship.
Hitler removes key generals from the German Wehrmacht (Army). These generals opposed Hitler’s war aims.
Joachim von Ribbentrop becomes German foreign minister.
February 4, 1938
Hitler declares himself Commander of the Wehrmacht. He appoints General Wilhelm Keitel as Chief of Staff. Joachim von Ribbentrop is appointed German Foreign Minister.
February 11, 1938
Hitler invites Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg to Berchtesgaden. Hitler demands that the Austrian Nazi party be incorporated into the Austrian government. He demands that Artur von Seyss-Inquart be made Austrian Minister of the Interior. Schuschnigg understands that this ultimatum will inevitably lead to the end of Austrian independence.
February 16, 1938
Under pressure, Schuschnigg appoints Seyss-Inquart as Minister of Security. Schuschnigg declares a general amnesty for all Austrian Nazi party members, including those who were responsible for the murder of Dollfuss.
February 20, 1938
British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden resigns in protest of British Prime Minister Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement of Hitler and Nazi Germany.
February 21-22, 1938
Winston Churchill leads a vote of censure against Chamberlain and his appeasement policy.
March 9, 1938
Schuschnigg calls for a popular vote on Austrian independence. Hitler demands that the vote be postponed and demands Schuschnigg’s resignation.
March 12, 1938
German troops cross into Austria.
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 antisemitic decrees imposed on German Jews are immediately applied in Austria. Nearly 200,000 more Jews come under Hitler’s control.
As a result, the Roosevelt administration combines both the German and Austrian immigration quotas together.
The Israelitische Kulturgemeinde (IKG; Israeli Cultural Society) in Vienna is the main organization representing the Jewish community, both in the city and provinces. Dr. Joseph Löwenherz becomes head of the IKG.
March 14, 1938
Cheering crowds greet Hitler as he parades triumphantly through Vienna.
March 18, 1938
SS Chief Heinrich Himmler given power to operate in Austria. The offices of Vienna’s Jewish community and Zionist organizations are closed and their leaders jailed. All Jewish organizations and congregations are forbidden. One hundred ten prominent Jewish leaders are arrested and deported to Dachau. Jews are banned from any public activity.
March 23, 1938
Nazi occupying forces in Austria withdraw legal recognition and tax exempt status from Jewish organizations.
The Nazi government in Austria prepares a list of wealthy Jews in preparation for large scale confiscation of Jewish property and assets.
April 5, 1938
New anti-Jewish riots break out in Poland.
April 10, 1938
99.73% of Austrians vote in favor of annexation to Germany.
April 14, 1938
Rescue and relief groups meet at the White House “to undertake a preliminary consideration of the most effective manner in which private individuals and organizations within the United States can cooperate with the government in the work to be undertaken by the International Committee which will be created to facilitate the immigration of political refugees from Austria and Germany.” It becomes the Presidential Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR).
April 28, 1938
An order calling for registration of all Jewish property is enacted in Nazi Germany. This is a first step toward confiscation.
The German Nuremberg Laws, which forcibly segregate Jews in Germany and deprive them of citizenship and the means of livelihood, are officially enforced in Austria. More than 200,000 Austrian Jews would be persecuted under these laws, according to German records.
2,000 Jewish leaders in Austria are arrested from a pre-prepared list and are sent to Dachau in four transports.
To force emigration, the families of Jews arrested and deported to concentration camps are told that proof of immediate emigration would secure their release. German Property Transfer Office actively confiscates Jewish property, businesses and bank accounts.
The methods used in Austria combining economic expropriation and expulsion of Jews become the model in future Nazi-conquered territories.
Vienna becomes the center of emigration. All foreign consulates are besieged by Jewish refugees desperate for visas. Most refuse to help.
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 forced to emigrate. Visas are issued on his own authority, without permission from his government, enabling thousands of Austrian Jews to escape. Ho is ordered to desist by the Chinese Ambassador in Berlin, but ignores the order.
May 3, 1938
Flossenberg concentration camp opens in Bavaria. More than 14,000 people will be murdered there.
May 16, 1938
PACPR meets at the State Department and appoints James G. McDonald as Chairman and Samuel Cavert as its Secretary.
May 29, 1938
Anti-Jewish laws are enacted in Hungary.
June 9, 1938
The “June Action” (Juniaktion). Hitler orders the destruction of the Great Synagogue of Munich, followed by the destruction of the Nuremberg and Dortmund synagogues on June 15.
June 15, 1938
Fifteen hundred Jews are arrested and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany.
June 22, 1938
Pope Pius XI orders the drafting of an important encyclical letter denouncing racism and anti-Semitism, entitled Humani Generis Unitas [The Unity of the Human Race]. It denounces racism and specifically mentions the persecution of Jews. It is more than 100 pages long. Due to the death of Pius XI, it is never published.
Major anti-Semitic publication in Italy declares the existence of a "pure Italian race of Aryan stock," in which Jews had never belonged.
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 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.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee attends the Evian Conference and is disappointed with the outcome.
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.
Ira Hirschmann, an American Jew acting as a private citizen, attends the Evian conference and witnesses its futility. He travels to Vienna and underwrites many dozens of affidavits for Jewish refugees. After returning to the United States, he becomes Chairman of the Board of the University in Exile.
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 8, 1938
The first concentration camp in Austria, Mauthausen, opens near Linz. Between 1938 and 1945, 200,000 persons will be imprisoned there and more than 120,000 will be murdered.
August 13, 1938
On his own authority, Kauko Supanen, Vice Consul for Finland in Vienna, Austria, grants provisional visas to Jewish applicants. Fifty Jews bearing his visa 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 SS officer 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, in the Swiss town of St. Gallen, allows 3,600 Austrian Jewish refugees entry into Switzerland, against the policy of the Swiss government. Many of these refugees had Chinese visas issued by Ho and other diplomats.
Swiss diplomat Ernst Prodolliet, stationed in Bregenz, Austria, works with Grüninger. On his own authority, Prodolliet issues visas and accompanies Jews to the Swiss border.
First anti-Semitic laws are passed in Italy. Forbids Jews from teaching in colleges. Orders the deportation of all Jewish aliens residing in Italy who had immigrated after 1919. A department for demography and race is established in the Italian government. This agency establishes a racial policy against Jews in government and civil life.
Concentration camp Neuengamme is established near Hamburg, Germany. More than 10,000 prisoners are sent there. 50,000 will perish.
Berlin Putsch fails. This is a plan by the German general staff to arrest Hitler and have him committed to a mental institution.
September 1-3, 1938
The Italian government enacts a law that foreign Jews can no longer reside in Italy. Jews who have been naturalized after January 1, 1919, lose their citizenship and are treated as foreigners.
September 7, 1938
Pope Pius XI condemns Catholic participation in anti-Semitic activities. He declares, “Christians are the spiritual descendants of the patriarch Abraham; we are all spiritual Semites.”
September 15 and September 22, 1938
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain meets with Hitler in Germany to discuss the Sudetenland crisis. Hitler demands Czechoslovakia return Sudeten territories to Germany. Hitler states that this will be his last territorial demand in Europe. Chamberlain has agreed to Hitler’s demands to annex the Sudetenland. Chamberlain signs Friendship Treaty with Germany. Chamberlain returns to England bearing an agreement he signed with Hitler and states that there would be “peace in our time.”
September 26, 1938
France partially mobilizes its army in the wake of the Sudeten Czechoslovakia crisis.
September 27, 1938
The League of Nations declares Japan the aggressor in China.
September 29-30, 1938
The Munich Conference is held. It is attended by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, French President Daladier, Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini, and Hitler. Great Britain, France and Italy agree to allow the Nazis to annex the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia is not allowed to participate in the conference.
The General Assembly of the League of Nations merges the Nansen Office for Refugees with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.
The Polish Consul in Lipsk, Germany, whose name is Feliks Chiczewski, prevents Polish Jews from being expelled from Germany by allowing them to seek refuge in the Polish consulate building and garden.
The Nazis expel 18,000 Jews of Polish ancestry living in Germany. Five thousand of these are sent to a Polish border village named Zbaszyn. The Jewish Joint helps these refugees.
October 2, 1938
In response to its censure, Japan withdraws from the League of Nations.
October 4, 1938
On the eve of the Jewish High Holiday, a pogrom is enacted against the Viennese Jewish community. Many Jews are thrown out of their apartments and homes.
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 6, 1938
The Czech Sudetenland is annexed and occupied by the German Army. Soon, 200,000 Czechs are expelled or flee the territory. Czech President Eduard Benes resigns as a result of the annexation.
Italy’s Grand Fascist Council passes antisemitic laws. Jews are to be excluded from public professions.
Polish Ministry of the Interior issues edict requiring Polish citizens to have their passports revalidated by October 29, 1938 or they cannot return to Poland. This affects many Polish Jewish refugees.
October 7, 1938
Supreme Council of the Italian Fascist Party establishes policy and principles for anti-Semitic legislation.
October 28-29, 1938
61,000 Polish Jews are expelled from Germany to the Polish town of Zbasyn, on the German border.
October 29, 1938
Nazis make a list of Jews who did not comply with the regulation to have their passports marked with a “J.”
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. Many refugees enter Switzerland. Perucchi and Porta are demoted and transferred for their illegal and unauthorized activities.
William Pearl begins an illegal operation to transport Jews out of Germany and Austria. It is called Aliah AF-AL-PI.
Chinese Consul in Milan, Italy, issues visas for Jews to leave Italy for China.
November 9-10, 1938
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.
80,000 Jews are allowed to emigrate to England. The Central British Fund, a relief agency, is very helpful.
The US consuls in Berlin send an extensive report about the Kristallnacht pogrom. They recommend diplomatic action be taken against Germany.
President Roosevelt temporarily withdraws the US Ambassador from Germany.
Eventually, many Jews are released from the Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps with proof of emigration, diplomatic exit visas and promises to leave Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Many diplomats work to help Jews gain release from the German and Austrian camps. Among the more notable diplomats are: Alexander Kirk and Raymond Geist of the US consulate in Berlin; Gilberto Bosques of the Mexican legation in Vichy; Dr. Feng Shan Ho of the Chinese consulate in Vienna; Frank Foley of the British legation in Berlin; and R.T. Smallbones of the British consulate in Frankfurt.
The American Friends’ Service Committee (AFSC), founded by the Society of Friends, or Quakers, establishes a refugee division in New York City. Its purpose is to help German and Austrian Jewish refugees. The AFSC works closely with the Jewish relief agencies, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Hebrew Immigration Aid and Sheltering Society (HIAS). It will also work with the Oeuvre de Secours Aux Enfants (children’s rescue mission) in the rescue of Jews and Jewish children in Paris, Marseilles, Lisbon and Madrid.
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 Jews from concentration camps. Von Hentig submits a report to Hitler and the German Foreign Ministry advocating the creation of a Jewish state.
November 12, 1938
Decree forces all Austrian and German Jews to transfer retail businesses to the government or to Aryan ownership.
German Jews are fined one billion Reichsmarks for damages inflicted on them during Kristallnacht.
November 14, 1938
Assistant Secretary of State George Messersmith suggests to Secretary of State Hull that the US recall Hugh Wilson, Ambassador to Germany, as a response to “this wholesale inhumanity.”
November 15, 1938
Roosevelt orders labor department to extend visitors’ visas to the US by six months.
November 17, 1938
The British ambassador to the United States in Washington meets with the Undersecretary of State, Sumner Wells, and offers to allow 32,500 German Jews to come to Great Britain. Wells refuses the offer.
Anti-Semitic legislation in Italy is implemented. It forbids Jewish/non-Jewish marriages, excludes Jews from serving in the armed forces, government or municipal services. Jews are defined as having one Jewish parent. Other restrictions include not allowing Jews to own radios, visit resort areas or publish newspapers. Jewish businessmen are forbidden to have Aryan business partners.
November 18, 1938
In response to the Kristallnacht persecution of Jews, Roosevelt recalls the US Ambassador to Germany, High Wilson, back to Washington “for consultation.”
President Roosevelt announces visitors’ visas for approximately 15,000 refugees will be extended. This is in response to the Kristallnacht pogroms.
November 21, 1938
British House of Commons strongly objects to the persecution of Jews in Germany.
The Mossad for Aliyah Bet [Committee for Illegal Immigration] is established to smuggle Jews out of Europe and illegally into Palestine. This organization was made up of Palestinian Jews. They are successful in helping tens of thousands of Jews escape the Holocaust.
Mossad agents Moshe Auerbach, in Vienna, and Pino Ginsberg, in Berlin, organize the escape of thousands of Jews. Moshe Auerbach gets 20,000 transit visas from an engineer named Karthaus to allow Jews to escape through Yugoslavia. Karthaus also obtains Mexican visas from Consul General Gilberto Bosques. 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.
Every German, Austrian and Czech Jew must carry an identification card.
The Australian government announces it will admit 15,000 Jewish refugees to the country during the next three years.
American consul general in Berlin, Raymond Hermann Geist, warns the Assistant Secretary of State that the US should take measures to rescue Jews who will be condemned to death by the Nazis.
The United States Committee for the Care of European Children (USC), led by Clarence Pickett, of the American Friends’ Service Committee (Quakers), organizes a drive to save the Jewish children in Europe.
December 6, 1938
France and Germany sign nonaggression pact.
In a special conference, Japanese ministers decide Jews residing in Japanese controlled territories would not be discriminated against or molested; they could freely emigrate to these territories if they wished. This decision officially protects Jews in the Japanese occupied zone in Shanghai.
December 16, 1938
US Commissioner of the Philippines Paul V. McNutt submits proposal to FDR to resettle between 2,000 and 5,000 European refugees in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.
December 24, 1938
American Catholic and Protestant leaders sign a Christmas Resolution expressing “horror and shame” regarding the Kristallnacht persecutions of 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. Philippine President Emanuel Quezon agrees to grant Jews asylum in the Philippine commonwealth.
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 had left Austria with a Chinese visa. The refugees then enter Switzerland. Perucchi and Porta are demoted and transferred for their illegal and unauthorized activities.
Chinese Consul in Milan, Italy, issues visas for Jews to leave Italy for China.
18,000 German, Austrian and Polish Jews flood into Japanese-occupied Shanghai, China. Paul Komor, a former Hungarian Jew, forms relief agency, the International Committee for Granting Relief to European Refugees (IC); helps immigrants with food, housing, clothing and funds. He issues passports that allow many Shanghai refugees to escape China.
Polish Consul General Alexander Lados and Polish diplomat Dr. Julius Kuhl, stationed in Bern, Switzerland, issue Polish visas to Jewish refugees in Austria persecuted after the Nazi Anschluss.
Between 1933 and 1939, 14,000 anti-Jewish laws are passed in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.
78,000 Jews leave Germany.
100,000 Jews leave Austria by May 1939.
By the end of 1939, most young Jews have left Austria. 55,000 to 60,000 Jews, most of them elderly, remain.
650,000 children are moved from London and other major cities to rural areas in England.
300,000 Germans, 90% of them Jewish, apply for visas to the United States.
US admits only 90,000 immigrants in 1939.
Laurence A. Steinhardt is appointed US Ambassador to the Soviet Union. This is one of the most sensitive assignments in the US Department of State. Steinhardt is one of the rare Jewish senior diplomats in the US Foreign Service. Although Steinhardt has been involved in Zionist movements since the 1920s, he is at first unreceptive to helping Jewish refugees.
George Mandel-Mantello, a Romanian Jew, is appointed Honorary Consul of El Salvador in Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, stationed in Geneva. He will use this post to issue thousands of protective papers to Jews in Eastern Europe.
Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas appoints Gilberto Bosques Consul General in France. He maintains consulates in Paris and Marseilles. Bosques issues thousands of visas to Spanish Republican soldiers who are trapped in southern France. Eventually, he issues more than 40,000 visas to these anti-Fascist fighters. Many of them immigrate to Mexico. Bosques also issues visas to thousands of Austrian and German Jews. Most of these Jews use the transit visa to escape out of southern France. 1,800 of these Jews eventually immigrate to Mexico.
Great Britain sets up major effort to break the German enigma codes. It is called Project Ultra.
Jewish groups in the US are pessimistic about the plight of German and Austrian Jews, but few of these organizations realize the extreme danger the Jews will face in the near future. The Jewish community in the US cannot agree on a unified or effective plan to help German and Austrian Jews.
Moses A. Leavitt returns from Palestine to become the Secretary of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. He appoints Joseph J. Schwartz has Assistant Secretary. The Jewish Joint is virtually the sole representative of American Jews in Europe. It sets up its European headquarters in Paris.
Between 1929 and 1939, the American Jewish Joint spends $24.4 million for Jewish rescue and relief. JDC claims to have helped 177,500 German Jews leave greater Germany.
By the end of 1939, Jewish welfare organizations support 52,000 Jews in Germany, mostly elderly.
In the summer of 1939, the American Jewish Joint helps the 900 Jewish passengers from the ship St. Louis who are forced to return to Germany.
The Joint works with the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees (IGCR), set up in London. It also establishes the Coordinating Foundation to provide money to help German Jews emigrate.
The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) is established to raise money for overseas agencies outside of Palestine. This funds refugee rescue and relief efforts of the American Joint Distribution Committee and the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society.
60 anti-alien proposals are introduced into the US Congress in 1939. These proposed laws are supported by so-called patriotic and nativist organizations. American public opinion polls indicate that opinion against changing immigration laws to favor refugees goes from 67% in 1938 to 83% in 1939.
American public opinion against liberalizing immigration for refugees goes from 67% in 1938 to 83% in 1939.
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.
Jews banned from working with German citizens.
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 14, 1939
Pope Pius XI urges foreign diplomats accredited to the Holy See to give as many visas as possible to victims of German and Italian racial persecution.
January 24, 1939
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.”
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.
January 30, 1939
Hitler states in his speech in the Reichstag: “It is a shameful spectacle to see how the whole world is oozing sympathy for the poor, tormented Jewish people, but remains hard-hearted and obdurate when in comes to helping them.”
January 31, 1939
Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas promises to protect life and property for Jewish immigrants throughout Mexico.
February 3, 1939
The Finnish people begin a nationwide collection of funds for Jewish German refugees.
February 5, 1939
The President of France rebukes the racist policies of Nazi Germany.
February 9, 1939
The Wagner-Rogers bill is introduced into the US Congress. It proposes to allow 10,000 refugee children under 15 years of age to be admitted to the US in 1939-1940. The Non-sectarian Committee for German Refugee Children advocates for this legislation. The children will be taken care of with private money and assistance. This bill is supported by Eleanor Roosevelt, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, Frances Perkins, Francis Biddle, and former US President Herbert Hoover. Due to complications, the bill is stalled and eventually put aside.
February 10, 1939
Achille Ratti, Pope Pius XI, dies in Rome at age 79.
13,600 Viennese Jews are evicted from their apartments.
March 2, 1939
Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli is elected Pope Pius XII.
March 11, 1939
A law is passed in Hungary establishing the Hungarian Labor Service.
March 14, 1939
Slovakia is made into an independent country. It is ruled by a pro-Nazi government.
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. A total of 350,000 Jews are trapped in the Nazi web.
March 17, 1939
A census determining the degree of Jewishness is taken of Austrian Jews. Jews who have three or four Jewish grandparents are counted as a full Jew. With two Jewish grandparents, they are categorized as “part Jew, grade I.” With one Jewish grandparent, “part Jew, grade II.” This census targets Jews for future arrests and deportations.
March 22, 1939
Germany annexes Memel, Lithuania, and forces Lithuania to sign Treaty of Acceptance.
March 28-29, 1939
Spanish Republican government surrenders to General Francisco Franco in Madrid, ending the Spanish Civil War.
Consul Sugihara opens a Japanese consulate in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania. His primary mission is as a military intelligence officer observing Russian troop movements.
March 31, 1939
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the French President Edouard Daladier declare that Britain and France will go to war with Germany if Poland is attacked.
After the Spanish Civil War ends, thousands of anti-Franco Republican soldiers flee to southern France.
The US recognizes Franco’s Nationalist government.
First concentration camp is established in France. It is designed to hold thousands of Spanish Republican soldiers who are fleeing into southern France.
April 3, 1939
German government declares Danzig, Poland, a free city. This is part of a strategic plan for the future invasion and war with Poland.
April 7, 1939
Italy invades and occupies Albania. Albanian king flees to Greece.
Great Britain reinstates conscription.
Spain joins Anti-Comminturn Pact with Germany, Italy and Japan.
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.
April 10, 1939
A retroactive vote approves Germany’s annexation of Austria.
April 11, 1939
Hitler orders his generals to plan for the attack and invasion of Poland. It is code-named “Operation White.”
April 15, 1939
President Roosevelt requests Hitler to respect the independence and sovereignty of 31 independent European nations. Hitler soon mocks this request in a speech at the Reichstag.
April 27, 1939
England reinstitutes draft into its armed forces.
Hitler nullifies 1935 naval treaty with England.
April 28, 1939
Great Britain enacts legislation punishing crews and passengers of illegal immigrant ships to Palestine.
US Consul General in Berlin Raymond Hermann Geist sends warning to the US Secretary of State that Jews are in danger. Geist has been issuing visas to help Germany Jews escape Germany.
May 3, 1939
Antisemitic laws are enacted in Hungary. Jews are forbidden in the professions of banking, teaching, law and serving in the legislature.
May 5, 1939
A second anti-Jewish law is enacted in Hungary. It defines who is a Jew and severely restricts Jewish participation in the Hungarian economy.
May 8, 1939
Franco’s Spain withdraws from the League of Nations.
May 15, 1939
Ravensbrück is established as a concentration camp for women in Germany. It is located 50 miles north of Berlin.
May 17, 1939
White Paper (MacDonald White Paper) of 1939: The British government restricts Jewish immigration to Palestine. As of April, only 75,000 Jewish immigrants will be allowed to enter Palestine in the next 5 years. It also restricts the ability of Jews to purchase and own land in Palestine.
May 22, 1939
Italy and Germany sign a ten-year “Pact of Steel” political and military alliance.
July 13, 1939
British Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald announces in the House of Commons that illegal immigrants to Palestine will be deducted from the established White Paper quotas.
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.
July 30, 1939
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain writes “No doubt Jews aren’t a lovable people; I don’t care about them myself. But that is not sufficient to explain the pogroms.” This statement reflects many European leaders’ attitudes toward Jews and refugee problems.
August 2, 1939
German physicist and Nobel prize winner Albert Einstein, who has recently immigrated to the US, writes to President Roosevelt about developing an atomic bomb for the United States.
August 11, 1939
Eichmann demands 70,000 Jews leave Czechoslovakia within one year. All Jewish property in Czechoslovakia is ordered registered. Six Jewish communities are dissolved and 50 synagogues closed.
August 23, 1939
Germany and the Soviet Union sign the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact). Germany and the USSR agree not to attack each other. According to this pact, in the event of war, Hitler gives Stalin Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and eastern Poland, almost half of the country.
August 25, 1939
Great Britain and Poland sign an Anglo-Polish Alliance. England agrees to defend Poland if it is attacked.
August 30, 1939
A French government memorandum reads: “All foreign nationals from territories belonging to the enemy must be brought together in special center.” This memorandum is in response to the flood of German, Austrian, Czech and Spanish refugees entering France.
Ruth Kleiger, a Mossad agent operating in Romania, is able to help 1,400 Jews escape to Palestine.
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.
The French government opens numerous concentration camps throughout France to house the influx of refugees entering the country. Thousands of Jews and refugee Spanish Republican soldiers are interned in the camps. Eventually, they become deportation centers to the Nazi death camps.
Roosevelt calls Congress into special session, urges repeal of the arms embargo mandated by the Neutrality Act of 1937.
The Gestapo orders the Jewish community in Vienna to produce an alphabetical list of all residents in the city.
The Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (RVE) intensifies its efforts to help Jews leave Germany.
September 1, 1939
Germany invades Poland. World War II begins. This is the first major Blitzkrieg (lightening war) of World War II. It is devastatingly effective. 48 German divisions with 1,400 aircraft invade on three fronts. Poland’s soldiers are outnumbered three to one by Germany’s 1.5 million men. Poland collapses in three weeks. 2,212,000 Polish Jews come under Hitler’s control.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 Polish Jews in Germany are arrested and put into concentration camps. Few survive.
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.
The British and French Armies mobilize, but do nothing to intervene in the attack on the West. They lose an important opportunity to stop German aggression.
A euthanasia program to kill physically and mentally handicapped people in Germany begins. It is called Operation T-4. Hitler authorizes doctors to kill mentally and physically disabled persons.
The French government enacts anti-Jewish measures against the Jews in Paris.
The French government arrests German and Austrian nationals who have landed in French ports but who are bound for the western hemisphere. Most of these are Jews fleeing the Nazis. Most are interned in Les Milles detention camp.
Night curfew for Jews in Germany is enforced.
By the outbreak of war, nearly 70% or 185,246 Jews in Austria have emigrated. Many go to southern France.
The Relief Committee for the War-Stricken Jewish Population (RELICO) is established in Geneva by the World Jewish Congress (WJC). It is headed by Dr. Abraham Silberschein. RELICO obtains and distributes more than 10,000 passports and visas through foreign consulates and representatives throughout Europe.
Two American relief agencies help Polish Jews after the German invasion. They are the American Red Cross, headed by William MacDonald, and the Commission for Polish Relief, led by John Hartigan and Columba Murray. These groups lead to the establishment of the Jüdishe Soziale Selbsthilfe (JSS; Jewish Self-Help), supported by the JDC.
September 2, 1939
Stutthof concentration camp is established in Poland.
The Jewish Joint announces that the Central Committee has been established in Warsaw, Poland.
September 3, 1939
In response to the German invasion of Poland, France, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand officially declare war on Germany. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain forms a wartime cabinet with Winston Churchill as the First Lord of the Admiralty.
September 4, 1939
All Austrian and German male refugees residing in France between the ages of 17 and 50 years are ordered to report for internment.
September 9, 1939
All radios are confiscated from Jews in Germany.
September 10, 1939
Germany occupies and controls most of Western Poland.
September 12, 1939
The Luftwaffe begins bombing Warsaw.
September 17, 1939
Soviet Army invades and occupies Poland’s eastern section. The army enters virtually unopposed. Hundreds of Jews trapped in the German section escape behind Soviet lines. Eventually, between 300,000-400,000 Jewish refugees flee. Though they are treated badly by the Soviet government, many survive the war.
Eventually, more than one million Jews escape from Eastern Europe into the Soviet Union. Fifty percent of them enter the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR). Most of these Jews survive the war.
Wehrmacht reaches the city of Brest-Litovsk on the Polish/Soviet border.
September 18, 1939
Wehrmacht occupies Lublin. Jews are required to wear a yellow star and work in forced labor battalions. Synagogues are destroyed and religious services banned.
September 19, 1939
Soviet army occupies Vilna, Lithuania.
The Central Jewish Committee in Warsaw takes the name Koordinatzie-Komitet (KK). Lieb Neustadt becomes Chairman. His Secretary is Dr. Emmanuel Ringelblum, a member of the JDC. The KK begins supplying relief and shelter for Warsaw 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 deport them.
September 25, 1939
In Austria, a night curfew is enforced for Jews.
September 27, 1939
Warsaw surrenders after three days of intense bombardment by the Luftwaffe.
The Germans move large numbers of Jews away from more than 100 areas in western Poland.
The Reichssicherheitshauptamt [Reich Security Main Office; RSHA] is established. This office will be one of the main instruments for the deportation and murder of millions of Jews and others throughout Europe.
September 28, 1939
Warsaw surrenders. Germany and the Soviet Union partition Poland. German forces occupy Warsaw.
September 29, 1939
Jews seized for forced labor throughout Poland. Jewish schools are shut down.
By September 1939, nearly 70% of the 185,246 Jews in Austria (approximately 130,000 Jews) had emigrated.
Between September 1939 and early 1941, 12,000 Jews escape Europe and enter Palestine illegally.
US Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes submits a proposal to US President Roosevelt to allow European Jews to immigrate to the Territory of Alaska or the Virgin Islands. Ickes is sympathetic to the plight of Jewish refugees. Roosevelt tentatively agrees to these plans, but severely limits the quota of Jews to Alaska. These plans are never implemented.
Hitler extends power of doctors to kill mentally and physically disabled persons.
October 1, 1939
The Polish government in exile is established in Paris, France. After the invasion and occupation of France, it moves to London, England.
October 3, 1939
US declares neutrality in the European war.
October 4-5, 1939
Poland surrenders to Germany.
Hitler tours Warsaw, Poland, and views victory parade.
Warsaw Judenrat (Jewish Council) is established. Adam Czerniakow, its leader, will be forced to cooperate in enforcing German policies.
October 7, 1939
Eichmann is ordered to prepare deportation of Jews from Vienna to the Lublin district.
October 10, 1939
Germany creates Generalgovernment headed by Hans Frank in German-occupied Poland. Its headquarters are in Krakow. The soon-to-be-established murder camps will be located in this area.
October 12, 1939
Germany begins deportation of Austrian and Czech Jews to Poland to the so-called Lublin Reserve.
October 16, 1939
The Intergovernmental Committee meets in Washington to discuss the refugee crisis. FDR calls for a major plan to resettle Jewish refugees from Europe into a “supplemental national home.” A number of major proposals are submitted to Roosevelt. Because of Roosevelt’s indifference and lack of attention, no plan is adopted.
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.
Hans Frank issues an order that forces all Jews between 14 and 60 into mandatory labor.
October 28, 1939
Lithuanian army enters Vilna. Lithuanians instigate a pogrom against Jews that lasts three days.
October 29, 1939
Warsaw Judenrat is ordered to conduct census of Jews.
October 30, 1939
Himmler orders Jews to be removed from the rural areas of Western Poland. Hundreds of Jewish communities are dispersed and destroyed forever.
A report critical of the treatment of Jews in concentration camps is released by the British government.
US passes the Neutrality Act of 1939. US repeals arms embargo.
Plot to overthrow Hitler planned by the German generals at Zossen, Germany, is never implemented.
November 4, 1939
Roosevelt signs bill enabling belligerent nations to purchase war material from the US on a cash and carry basis. Due to the British Naval blockade, only Britain and France are able to purchase materials.
November 8, 1939
Plot to kill Hitler by using a bomb at Bürgerbraukeller in Munich.
November 11, 1939
Portuguese Foreign Ministry issues foreign policy statement that Jews and other refugees “expelled from countries of their nationality from whence they came” were forbidden entry into Portugal.
November 12, 1939
All the Jews from the newly established area of Warthegau, Poland, are to be removed.
Deportation of the Jews from Lodz, Poland, begins.
November 15, 1939
The Fideikommussirat (The Estate Commission) is established by German occupation authorities in Poland to confiscate Jewish property.
November 23, 1939
The Nazis order Polish Jews in the occupied area of the General Government to wear a yellow Star of David. Jewish businesses must also be marked with a yellow star.
November 28, 1939
A law to establish Jewish councils, called Judenräte, in the Nazi general government in Poland, is enacted. These councils convey German occupation orders to the Jewish community.
November 29, 1939
SS chief Himmler signs order to kill Jews who do not report to deportation.
November 30, 1939
Soviet Union invades Finland. War lasts until March 13, 1940.
By the end of 1939, approximately 1.8-1.9 million Jews live in German occupied Poland. 610,000 live in Northwest Poland. 360,000 live in the Warsaw area. Approximately 1.3 million Jews reside in the Russian occupied area of Eastern Poland.
4,000 Jews are leaving Austria monthly. A Nazi report declares there are too many Jews remaining in Vienna and in Austria.
FDR appoints his friend Myron C. Taylor as personal representative to the Vatican. Roosevelt hopes to move the Vatican toward the rescue of refugees.
December 2, 1939
Initiation of poison gas vans to murder mental patients in Germany.
December 5-6, 1939
Germans seize Jewish property in Poland. This includes homes, businesses and bank accounts.
December 14, 1939
Soviet Union expelled from the League of Nations following their invasion and occupation of Poland.
December 18, 1939
Food rations for Jews living in Germany are significantly reduced.
President Roosevelt designates Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long to be in charge of Jewish immigration policies. Long and his associates in the State Department implement anti-Jewish immigration policies. This policy lasts until the creation of the War Refugee Board in January 1944.
French Premier Edouard Daladier resigns. He is succeeded by Paul Reynaud. Reynaud appoints World War I French hero Marshal Pétain as the Vichy Premier.
Six “euthanasia centers” are established throughout Germany. They murder Jews, handicapped, mentally ill and elderly persons. The use of gas chambers and poison gas is established in these centers.
13,000 Jews successfully emigrate from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. 55,000 Jews remain in Austria. Since 1933, more than 300,000+ Jews have left the Old Reich and Greater Reich.
Estonia is occupied by the Soviet Union.
He Ústredna Zidov (Jewish Center) is established in Slovakia. Jewish community leader Gisi Fleischmann is appointed its head of Alia (immigration department).
Joseph J. Schwartz is appointed head of the American Jewish Joint in Europe, with headquarters in Paris. JDC’s operation is soon transferred to Brussels, Belgium. Moses Leavitt returns to the Jewish Joint.
Great Britain’s Secretary of State for War Leslie Hore-Belisha, a Jew, resigns his office under pressure. This is largely due to antisemitic sentiment among high British officials.
HICEM aids 10,500 refugees leaving Poland between 1940 and 1942. HICEM establishes an affiliate organization in Belgium called BELHICEM. It is led by Alice R. Emanuel. Jewish emigration from Allied territory is supervised by HICEM.
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.
President Roosevelt appoints Breckinridge Long as Assistant Secretary of State for Special Problems. Long supervises 23 of the 42 divisions of the State Department. Among his duties is overseeing the visa section, civilian internees, overseas relief, prisoners of war, immigration and refugee policies. From the outset of his appointment, Long is opposed to helping refugees escape Nazi Germany and its occupied territories. Long claims that refugees entering the country pose a major security risk for the United States. This, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Long and his associates in the State Department implement anti-Jewish immigration policies. This policy lasts until the creation of the War Refugee Board in January 1944. Further, Long exploits divisions among American Jewish groups. He states in his diary, “there is no cohesion, nor any sympathetic collaboration—rather rivalry, jealousy and antagonism…”
Roosevelt submits a list of 200 people to the State Department to be given special consideration, i.e., emergency visas.
Numerous refugee committees are established in the US. These committees represent refugee scholars, writers, artists, musicians, physicians, labor leaders etc.
Among these groups are the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton and the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Scholars (University in Exile). Eventually, hundreds of intellectuals will be placed in universities, colleges, and other institutions throughout the US. Besides Jewish committees, numerous other groups are established, representing Protestants, Catholics, Spanish loyalists from the Spanish Civil War, political, social and labor groups.
January 5, 1940
Great Britain announces that German and Austrian Jews will not be allowed into Palestine because they are considered “enemy aliens.”
Curfew is imposed for Jews in the area of the General Government in Poland. Jews are forbidden to change residences.
January 20, 1940
Jewish Council in Lublin is established.
January 24, 1940
Jews must register all property in the area of the General Government in Poland.
January 31, 1940
By the end of January 1940, 20,000 Jews from Lodz are deported.
10,000 Jews are deported from Vienna to Lublin.
In Germany, clothing coupons are taken from Jews.
The Alaskan Development Bill is introduced into the US Congress as a possible refuge for German, Austrian and Czech Jews. It is introduced by Senator William H. King and congressman Frank Havenner. It is strongly supported by US Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes. It is opposed by Assistant US Secretary of State Sumner Wells. The proposal is also opposed by government representatives and special interest groups in Alaska. FDR opposes the idea and the bill never gets out of committee.
February 8, 1940
Lodz ghetto is established in Poland.
February 2, 1940
New law requires that Jews leaving Germany must pay large tax.
February 12-13, 1940
First deportation of Jews from Germany.
March 5, 1940
The Central Immigration Office, under Adolf Eichmann, maintains complete control of all Jews in Czechoslovakia.
March 12, 1940
The Russian-Finnish War ends. Finland and Russia sign peace treaty.
April 3, 1940
Winston Churchill is appointed Chairman of the British government’s Military Committee.
April 8, 1940
Soviet army massacres 26,000 Polish officers in the Katyn forest near Smolensk, Russia.
April 9, 1940
Germany invades and occupies Denmark and Norway. Anti-Jewish measures are immediately applied by Nazi government.
April 10-14, 1940
British and German naval forces fight major battle off the Norwegian port of Narvik. Ten German destroyers are sunk, greatly weakening Germany’s naval capabilities.
April 14-17, 1940
British Army lands in Namos and Andolsnes, Norway, to help Norway repel the German invasion. This operation will soon fail.
April 15, 1940
The British begin to break the German enigma cipher codes.
April 25, 1940
Slovak parliament enacts law to confiscate Jewish property.
May 10, 1940
Germany invades the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. 136 German divisions participate in the invasion. Germans enforce anti-Jewish measures in each area. In the wake of the German invasions, more than 8 million persons are displaced all over Europe. In Belgium, there are between 85,000 and 90,000 Jews, among whom 30,000 are refugees. In Holland, there are 140,000 Jews. 110,000 are native Dutch Jews, and 30,000 are refugees from Germany and Austria. In Luxembourg, the Jewish population is 3,500, many of whom are German and Austrian refugees.
The HICEM office in Belgium is evacuated.
Neville Chamberlain resigns as Prime Minister of Great Britain due to the failure of the Norway expedition. Winston Churchill becomes new Prime Minister. Lord Halifax is appointed Foreign Secretary.
May 12, 1940
Germany invades France.
May 13, 1940
Churchill gives “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat” speech in the House of Commons.
May 14, 1940
Luftwaffe bombs Rotterdam, Holland, heavily damaging the city. Many civilians are killed.
May 15, 1940
The Netherlands surrender to Germany. Thousands of German, Austrian and Czech Jews who sought refuge in Holland are now trapped.
May 16, 1940
German Governor-General Hans Frank orders AB-Aktion (extraordinary pacification) to begin in Poland. 3,500 Polish leaders are murdered, along with 33,000 others.
May 17, 1940
German army enters Brussels, Belgium.
General Weygood declares that the battle of France is lost and advises the French government to maintain order and avoid chaos of war.
A million French soldiers are taken prisoner by the German armed forces.
French government evacuates Paris.
May 20, 1940
Concentration camp established at Auschwitz, Poland. It will become the largest and deadliest death camp in the Nazi system. More than 1.2 million Jews, and tens of thousands of others, will be systematically murdered there.
May 22, 1940
British Parliament grants wide emergency powers.
May 24, 1940
Canada’s war cabinet meets to discuss the refugee situation. Canadian Ambassador to France, Georges Vanier, proposes that Canada accept a number of Jewish refugees from southern France. Vanier finds little support in the Canadian cabinet for accepting Jewish refugees. There are tens of thousands of German and Austrian Jews in southern France.
May 26-June 4, 1940
Following the encirclement of Allied forces in northeastern France, the British, French and Belgian forces are evacuated from Dunkirk, France. 338,226 soldiers are rescued by 861 ships.
May 28, 1940
Belgium surrenders to Germany. The Prime Minister and members of the Belgian cabinet flee to southern France. King Leopold III remains in country. 65,696 Jews come under Nazi rule. 34,801 Jews will eventually be imprisoned or deported. 28,902 Jews in Belgium will be murdered. 56% of the Belgian Jewish community will survive the war.
May 30, 1940
Saly Mayer accepts the honorary post of JDC head in Switzerland.
Consul General Ho is transferred from Vienna. Under Ho’s watch, the Chinese Consulate in Vienna had issued an average of 500 visas a month for the two years following the Anschluss. Chinese consulate closed the following year.
Marshal Pétain is installed as head of state with Pierre Laval his Vice President of the Council of Ministers. Pétain is granted executive powers under the armistice agreement and the French National Assembly is merely a “rubber stamp.”
The Third French Republic no longer exists.
Civil liberties in France are suspended.
The French begin to implement Nuremberg-style antisemitic laws imposed on all Jews in France. These laws and policies are initiated entirely by the Vichy government. These restrictive laws and decrees will eventually disenfranchise most foreign Jews in France.
After the fall of France, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) moves its main European office from Paris to Lisbon. The JDC transfers millions of dollars to beleaguered Jewish communities throughout Europe.
JDC relief efforts in Lisbon are supervised by Moses B. Amzalak. HICEM/JDC help more than 40,000 refugees in Lisbon between June 1940 and early 1942. The JDC and HICEM charter medium sized Portuguese ships to evacuate refugees. These ships are called Nyassa, Guinee, Teneriffe, Serpapinto, Magallanes, Mouzinho and Colonial. The JDC and HICEM transported Jewish refugees to the United States, Cuba, West Indies, Latin and South America.
There is a refugee committee called the Commisao Portuguesa de Assistencia aos Judeos Refugiados, headed by Augusto d’Esaguy. His Secretary was Samuel Sequerra.
Luis Martins de Souza Dantas, Brazilian Ambassador to France, issues visas to hundreds of Jews in occupied France. He does this against the strict orders of the pro-fascist Brazilian government headed by Getulio Vargas, and at great risk to his diplomatic career. Several of the Jews arrived in Brazil and were detained by the Brazilian government, but were later released.
Jan Zwartendijk, Director of Philips Electronics in Lithuania, is appointed Acting Dutch Consul. He lives in Kovno, Lithuania.
Amelot, a Jewish rescue organization, is created in Paris. Throughout the war, it will aid in the rescue of Jews. It provides food, medicine and false papers. It also hides children and adults in the countryside.
Belgium surrenders to Germany. 60,000 Jews come under Nazi domination.
US embassies and consulates in Nazi-occupied Europe (Germany, Austria, France, Holland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Luxembourg) are ordered to begin closing. US embassy in Paris will be moved to a new headquarters in Vichy.
US Congress passes the Alien Registration Law of 1940.
Visa regulations for refugees are severely tightened. A refugee must now be able to prove that they can return to the country of their origin from which they are fleeing. This is, in most cases, impossible because they are subject to arrest in their home country. Further, visa waiting periods are significantly lengthened.
Breckenridge Long’s Special Problems Division of the State Department is pressured by these organizations to help refugees. He writes disparagingly of this pressure: “There is a constant pressure from Congressional and organized groups in this country to have us proceed on behalf of non-Americans…. So far, I’ve been able to resist the pressure.”
Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC) is established in the US under the leadership of Frank Kingdon. It is established to coordinate various US rescue efforts. Eleanor Roosevelt agrees to lobby on behalf of this organization.
After the surrender of France, a US Gallup Poll shows that 58% of Americans are willing to admit French and British children to the US during the war.
James Grover McDonald complained that certain refugees, particularly those with political affiliations, such as labor leaders, Spanish nationalists and intellectuals, were targeted for stricter screening regulations by the State Department. McDonald and Chamberlain, of the National Refugee Service, offer to pay the expenses of refugee children while in the United States. They ask that children be admitted outside the normal immigration quotas.
Long writes in his diary in 1940, “The list of Rabbis has been closed and the list of labor leaders has been closed and now it remains for the President’s Committee to be curbed.”
Many rescue advocates are well aware of Long’s obstructionism. Whether it is antisemitism or unjustified paranoia based on security concerns, there are numerous complaints. Long is aware of this criticism by both refugee advocates and Jewish community leaders. In his diary, Long writes: “[James Grover] McDonald…has developed a very definite and violent antagonism to me, he thinks I have been non-cooperative and obstructive…”
June 9, 1940
Norway surrenders to Germany. Approximately 2,000 Jews are now subject to Nazi occupation.
June 10, 1940
Italy enters the war as a German ally, declares war on Great Britain and France, and invades France.
June 13, 1940
Mexico ends its immigration quota.
June 14, 1940
First deportation to Auschwitz death camp arrives.
Monsignor Giuseppe Burzio, who has been appointed Vatican Chargé d’Affaires to Bratislava, arrives at his post.
The President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (PACPR) submits list of 600 refugees to be issued special emergency visas.
June 14-15, 1940
Paris falls, the German army occupies Paris and the French government is transferred to Bordeaux. There are 100,000 Jews living in Paris. More than 1 million refugees pour into Bordeaux.
Various foreign consuls issue transit visas for refugees to leave Nazi controlled areas.
Soviets invade and occupy Lithuania.
June 16, 1940
French Vichy collaborationist government is established under Marshal Philippe Pétain, a hero of World War I. Pétain becomes head of the French cabinet. He asks for an armistice eight days before the fighting ceases.
June 17-19, 1940
The Portuguese Consul General Dr. Aristides de Sousa Mendes, his staff and his son, Pedro Nuno, issue thousands of Portuguese visas to Jewish and non-Jewish refugees in Bordeaux, France. This is completely unauthorized and against Portuguese immigration regulations.
June 17, 1940
Lithuania declares itself a Soviet Socialist Republic.
June 18, 1940
A police regulation for immigrants is instituted in Switzerland. It regulates the entry of military and civilian refugees.
June 20, 1940
Representatives from the Portuguese foreign office are dispatched to relieve de Sousa Mendes of his post and return him to Portugal to face charges of insubordination. A few days later, de Sousa Mendes and his family travel to Bayonne, France; several thousand additional visas are issued there; Mendes helps these refugees cross closed borders.
June 21, 1940
The Bloom-Van Nuys Immigration Law is passed and takes effect on July 1. It gives US consuls stationed in Europe wide latitude to deny immigration to the US by refugees based on the possibility that they may endanger public safety.
June 22, 1940
France surrenders to Germany. The French sign an armistice with Germany; in Article 19 of this document, the French agree to “surrender on demand” all persons named by the German authorities in France. France is divided into two zones. The French Army is limited to 125,000 officers and soldiers in metropolitan France.
Approximately 350,000 Jews reside in France at the time of the German invasion. They constitute less than one percent of the total population of France, which is 45 million. France becomes the largest population center for Jews in Western Europe.
France is divided into two zones. The northern zone is administered by German military forces. The south, called the “Free Zone,” is established in the resort town of Vichy. The Nazi military occupation forces control about two thirds of France.
France is forced to pay Germany 400 million francs a day as a war indemnity.
Italy and France sign a peace agreement.
June 23, 1940
General Charles de Gaulle, head of the French National Committee in London, pledges war against Germany.
June 26, 1940
Assistant US Secretary of State Breckinridge Long implements a policy to effectively block or obstruct the granting of US visas to Jews seeking asylum in the US. Long argues that immigration can be “delayed and effectively stopped” by ordering US consuls “to put every obstacle in the way [to] postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of visas.” His instructions are secretly sent to US consular office all over the world.
June 27, 1940
Mrs. Roosevelt influences her husband to issue emergency visas to notable Jewish artists, labor leaders and other refugees in France.
June 28, 1940
The British government recognizes General Charles de Gaulle as leader of the Free French organization during the German occupation of France.
Following the deportation of Jews from the occupied and unoccupied zones of France, Spain’s border becomes a vital escape route for Jewish refugees. By October, several thousand Jewish refugees have escaped across the border.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) moves its main European offices from Paris to Lisbon, Portugal. The JDC arranges for thousands to leave Nazi-occupied Europe for neutral Spain and Portugal. JDC transfers millions of dollars to beleaguered Jewish communities throughout Europe. This money is used to provide documents to feed, transfer, transport or hide Jews.
Gastone Guidotti, Secretary of the Italian legation in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, issues unauthorized visas to Jews.
Henri François Deroover, Belgian Consul in Bayonne, France, issues 150 blank Belgian passports to French and Belgian Jews. The visas are filled out by the Jewish refugees themselves, who use them to escape to neutral Portugal.
Boyan Atanassov, Bulgarian Diplomat in Paris, France, issues unauthorized visas to Bulgarian Jews and other refugees to escape France under the Nazi occupation.
An estimated 30,000 Jews escape from France into Spain and Portugal with the help of rescuers and relief organizations. Upon arrival in Lisbon, these refugees are helped by Jewish relief agencies such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Hebrew Immigration and Sheltering Society (HIAS).
Soviet authorities order all foreign embassies to leave Kovno; Sugihara requests and gets 20-day extension and requests permission from Tokyo to issue visas to Polish Jews. His request to issue visas is denied.
Jews can shop for food only during the late hours in Germany.
July 1, 1940
The French government moves to Vichy, France.
July 5, 1940
Vichy France severs relationship with Britain.
Roosevelt bans shipment of oil and strategic materials to Japan.
July 8, 1940
Eleanor Roosevelt writes Varian Fry explaining that she is trying to get the President to get cooperation of South American countries to accept refugees.
July 10, 1940
Hitler orders the implementation of the invasion of England, called Operation Sea Lion. He orders the Luftwaffe to attack British air bases, convoys and ports. Battle of Britain begins.
The French National Assembly gives Pétain full powers to govern occupied France. The next day, Pétain abolishes the French constitution of 1875 and dismisses the French Senate and Chamber of Deputies.
America First committee is established in the United States. This is an isolationist group that lobbies to keep America out of the war. There are strongly antisemitic elements to this organization.
July 11, 1940
Marshall Petain becomes President of Vichy France. It is a collaborationist regime to administer central and southern France.
Jan Zwartendijk issues first “Curacao” visa. He is authorized to do this by Dutch Ambassador to the Baltic States L. P. J. de Decker.
July 12, 1940
Pierre Laval is appointed Prime Minister of France.
July 21, 1940
The British government recognizes the Czech national government in exile in London.
July 22, 1940
A French commission is set up to review French citizens who have been naturalized since 1927. It is set up with the intention of revoking the citizenship of citizens who are considered “undesirable.” 15,000 people, including 6,000 Jews, have their citizenship revoked.
German writer Lion Feuchtwanger is hiding in US Vice Consul Hiram Bingham’s house in Marseilles. Bingham tells Feuchtwanger “all about the work that emigrants are making for him. He is always tired and exhausted.”
July 27-August 28, 1940
Consuls Sugihara and Zwartendijk issue visas to Polish Jews in Kovno. At least 2,139 visas are issued to individuals and families. One group was the famous Mir Yeshiva from Poland. An estimated 3,500 Polish refugees escape using these visas. Additional visas are forged by the Jewish community and used to escape. Many of the refugees find haven in the Japanese controlled city of Shanghai, China.
British consul in Kovno Thomas Preston issues more than 800 visas and papers for Jews to go to Palestine. Another 400 of these are forged.
An estimated 30,000 Jews escape from France into Spain and Portugal with the help of diplomatic rescuers. Upon arrival in Lisbon, these refugees are helped by Jewish relief agencies.
In Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania, British Consul Thomas Preston provides 400 illegal and 800 legal travel certificates for Jews to escape through Istanbul to Palestine. A few hundred of these Jews are able to cross the Baltic Sea to neutral Sweden.
De Sousa Mendes returned in disgrace to Lisbon, unceremoniously discharged from the diplomatic service and stripped of rank and pension. Mendes unsuccessfully fights a lifelong battle to have his good name restored. Ironically, Portuguese dictator Oliveira Salazar takes credit for Mendes’ rescue work.
American private citizen Varian Fry, appointed by the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC), arrives in Marseilles, France. He is empowered to save artists, writers, composers and other intellectuals who are on Hitler’s arrest lists. Fry and his volunteers make contact with numerous foreign consular officials who issue him hundreds of legal and extra-legal visas and other documents to help Jews escape the Nazis. These diplomats include US Vice-Consul Hiram “Harry” Bingham and Mexican Consul General Gilberto Bosques, along with a Chinese diplomat. These diplomats also work with Vladimir Vochoc, the Czech Consul in Marseilles. Vochoc also issues false visas and passports to Jews and anti-Nazis to escape to Spain and Portugal. Vochoc is soon arrested, but manages to escape to Lisbon. Fry and his associates organize escape routes over the Pyrenees mountains for refugees. Hans and Lisa Fittko are among his most able guides. The Fry group will rescue an estimated 2,500 persons.
The Armée Juive (AJ; Jewish Army) is founded in Toulouse, France. This group is headed by David Knout (Zionist), Abraham Polonsky and Leo Lublin (socialist-Zionist). It fights for France as a segregated group. By war’s end, there are 900 Jews fighting in the Armée Juive.
August 1, 1940
Institution of antisemitic laws to be enforced in the General Government in Poland.
August 5, 1940
Britain recognizes the Polish government in exile in London of General Sikorski.
August 6, 1940
The French order a census of all foreigners.
August 7, 1940
British government signs agreement with the Free French organization of French exiles under Charles de Gaulle.
August 8, 1940
The Battle of Britain begins with an attack by the Luftwaffe in southern England.
August 10, 1940
Romania enacts antisemitic laws.
August 15, 1940
Madagascar Plan is announced by Adolph Eichmann to send the Jews of Europe to the island of Madagascar.
August 21, 1940
Phillipe Pètain rescinds 1939 French law that prohibits the French press from inciting racial hatred.
August 23, 1940
Germans launch an all-night air raid against London, England.
August 25, 1940
British Royal Air Force (RAF) conducts night bombing raid against Berlin. This escalates into a terror bombing campaign between Germany and Great Britain.
August 27, 1940
The US Congress amends US Neutrality Act with the enactment of the Hennings Bill. It permits rescue and refugee ships to evacuate and bring refugee children under 16 years old from war zones, including France and Portugal, to the United States. 4,200 children and 1,100 adults come to the US by the fall of 1940 under this provision.
August 30, 1940
Hungary annexes northern Transylvania.
US State Department authorizes the United States Committee for the Care of European Children (USC) to evacuate 5,000 Jewish children from Vichy France. The Allied invasion of North Africa on November 8 prevents this rescue.
Ion Antonescu, head of the antisemitic National Legionary Government, takes power in Romania.
September 5, 1940
Vatican nuncio in Slovakia, Msgr. Giuseppe Burzio, writes an official dispatch to Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Maglione informing him of anti-Jewish regulations and persecutions in Slovakia.
Germans impose antisemitic Nuremberg Laws in occupied Luxembourg. Jewish businesses and property are confiscated.
Cardinal Roncalli of Turkey is told of the fate of Jews in Nazi occupied Poland.
September 6, 1940
King Carol II flees Romania. Ion Antonescu becomes Prime Minister of Romania. It is a fascist dictatorship. The Iron Guard becomes the sole legal party.
September 7, 1940
Hitler initiates terror bombing of London. Called the “Blitz,” it lasts for 57 days.
September 11, 1940
The Quanza, a Jewish refugee ship chartered out of Lisbon with nearly 300 refugees, is granted temporary asylum in Virginia. Many of these refugees have received visas from the Mexican ambassador Castillo in Lisbon. Eleanor Roosevelt intercedes on behalf of these refugees.
September 17, 1940
Due to the setbacks of the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, Hitler puts off the invasion of England. This is the first major setback for Hitler.
50,000 Jews, mostly refugees and elderly, are driven from the Warsaw district into the capital.
September 27, 1940
Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis alliance is signed.
First antisemitic German law (Verordnung) is enacted in the occupied zone of France. It defines Jews by race and requires Jews to register with the police in the French prefects.
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.
350,000 Jews, out of a total of 1.9 million, are now in German ghettoes in Poland.
Vice-Admiral Jean-Pierre Estéva, the French Governor General of Tunisia, refuses to apply antisemitic laws against the Jews in Tunisia. The Moslem leader in Tunisia, Beysidi Mohammed al Mounsof, is also sympathetic to the Jews of Tunisia.
October 3, 1940
Statute des Juifs, a set of Nuremberg-style anti-Jewish laws, is passed by the French Vichy government. Law removes many civil rights for Jews in France.
Breckinridge Long meets with President Roosevelt and convinces him to implement a policy that will let local US consuls make the final decision regarding visas to be issued to refugees. Long does this because he believes most US consulates will deny visas on the issue of a possible threat by the refugee to “national security.” He states in his diary, “About noon I had a long satisfactory conversation with the President on the subject of refugees. McDonald, Chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee on Refugees, has developed a very definite and violent antagonism to me. He thinks I have been non-cooperative and obstructive and has given evidence of his personal animosity. In a recent conversation in Mr. Welles’ office he indicated that he had a superlative ego and a vindictive mentality added to his disregard, to put it lightly, of me.” He goes on to say: “I found that [Roosevelt] was 100% in accord with my ideas.”
Rescue leaders such as Myron C. Taylor, James Grover McDonald and Stephen Wise find it very difficult meeting with the President to advocate rescue.
October 4, 1940
Vichy government is empowered to arrest and imprison Jews in concentration camps in the southern unoccupied zone in France. 31 of these camps are established throughout France. Eventually, more than 50,000 Jews will be interned in these French-administered camps. 4,000 Jews will die from the poor health conditions in the camps. Eventually, these will become centers for deportation to the death camps in Poland.
October 5, 1940
Laws passed in Romania to confiscate Jewish property.
October 7, 1940
German troops enter Romania. Romania allows Germany to take control of oil fields.
The Bulgarian government approves the antisemitic Law for the Protection of the Nation. The Law severely curtails Jewish civil rights. 21 leaders in the Bulgarian parliament will send a protest letter to the Prime Minister.
The Vichy Law of October 7, 1940, strips Algerian Jews of citizenship. They had been citizens for more than 75 years.
October 8, 1940
James G. McDonald and representatives of rescue groups meet with FDR to complain that Undersecretary Breckinridge Long and the US State Department are unjustly using security as a reason to block legitimate rescue of needy refugees. McDonald states: “[I] cannot believe, that those without visas present threats to the national interest.” Specifically, McDonald criticizes US consuls in Europe. FDR takes no action on this. 567 names are submitted to the State Department in August and September, yet only 40 visas are issued.
James McDonald states that refugees, despite reaching Portugal, “are still refused visas. To close this last avenue of escape is to condemn many scientists, scholars, writers, labor leaders and other refugees to further sacrifices for their belief in democracy and to bring to an end our tradition of hospitality to the politically oppressed. The original arrangements were wisely and soundly planned. Their purpose is still to be achieved.” Breckinridge Long defends his policies using the security issue as a rationale. After the complaint by McDonald, Long states: “In view of reports indicating that Nazi and other totalitarian agents are endeavoring to enter the United States in the guise of refugees, it has been considered essential in the national interest to scrutinize all applications carefully.” Reports by the FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover state that there was negligible entry of foreign agents into the United States during World War II.
October 10, 1940
German occupying government in Belgium asks Belgian government to implement economic sanctions against Jews. The Belgian government refuses. Nazi decrees in Belgium define who is a Jew and order a census of Jews and their businesses. Antisemitic laws prohibit Jews from working in public professions, teaching and journalism.
46,000 Belgian Jews over 15 are registered. By the end of the war, 31,416 are deported, of whom only 3,000 survive. 26,000 Jews survive in Belgium, which is 50% of its Jewish population.
October 12, 1940
Warsaw ghetto is established. Ghetto walls begin to be constructed on October 16.
Hitler again postpones Operation Sea Lion (the amphibious invasion of Great Britain). The German air force switches its attacks from military targets to English cities.
October 18, 1940
German decree in France orders all Jewish property to be transferred to Aryan ownership.
October 21, 1940
149,734 Jews are registered in the French census. 86,664 are French Jews. 65,070 are foreign Jews.
Central Commission on Jewish Relief Organizations (Commission Centrale des Organizations Juives d’Assistance; CCOJA) is created to unite Jewish relief organizations.
October 22, 1940
Jews in Holland must register business and property with the German occupying forces.
Hitler and French leader Philippe Pétain meet in Montoire for two days.
October 28, 1940
Italy invades Greece. Many Greek Jews participate in the defense against the Italian invasion.
Antisemitic law in Belgium removes Jews from public administration. This law will cause widespread resentment against German occupying forces.
October 31, 1940
The Belgian government in exile is established in London. It agrees to support the Allied cause.
In Belgium, King Leopold III and Queen Mother Elizabeth try to prevent the deportation of the Jews. The Ministry of the Interior refuses to legislate against the Jewish community. The University of Brussels states that it will not “participate in the execution of these orders.”
The Nîmes Committee (Camps Committee) is created, consisting of 25 organizations, including the American Friends’ Service Committee (Quakers), Unitarian and Catholic organizations, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and the American Federation of Labor (AFL). It unites to bring relief and rescue to thousands of Jews in Vichy France. They are helped by countless French civilians and entire towns and villages. French Catholic and Protestant clergy are particularly helpful in hiding, transporting and feeding Jewish refugees. The organization is headed by Dr. Donald Lowrie, an American representing the International YMCA, Dr. Charles Joy of the Unitarian Committee, and Varian Fry of the Emergency Rescue Committee. Cardinal Gerlier, of Lyon, Dr. Marc Boegner, President of the Protestant Federation of France, and Archbishop Saliège, of Toulouse, are among those who protest the outrages against Jews by Nazi authorities. Abbé Glasberg, an assistant of Cardinal Gerlier, rescues thousands of Jews. Father Charles Devaus, of the Pères de Notre Dame de Sion, rescues one thousand Jews. Jewish self-help and rescue organizations, including the OSE, FSJ and CAR, are also extremely active in hiding and sheltering thousands of Jews. Many of these rescue operations are financed by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. These funds are distributed by Catholic and Protestant churches. Thousands of Christians shelter Jews throughout the countryside. These organizations provide false ration cards, baptismal certificates, and identity cards.
40,000 Jews are deported from Lorraine to Lyon, France.
Roosevelt elected to an unprecedented third term as US President. Democrats retain majority in Senate and House of Representatives.
New and more complicated screening procedures for approving visas to refugees are implemented by the State Department. The procedure involves a review of visa applicants not only by the State Department, but also by the Justice Department, the FBI and US Military and Naval Intelligence. This system requires that if a diplomat or consul in the field rejects an applicant for any reason, the visa would have to be approved by these various government departments. The visa process is slowed to a trickle.
November 7, 1940
In France, Jews must have passports, visas stamped with “Jew” in prominent letters.
November 11, 1940
An article appears in the New Republic magazine exposing terrible conditions in the French concentration camp Le Vernet. They call it the “French Dachau.”
November 15, 1940
The Warsaw Ghetto is sealed. There are 450,000 Jews crammed into a few square blocks.
November 16, 1940
Undercover Polish diplomat Jan Karski visits the Warsaw ghetto and a concentration camp. He prepares a written report for the Polish government in exile on his observations.
November 20-24, 1940
Hungary, Romania and Slovakia join the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis.
During the Italian occupation of Tunisia in North Africa, Italian officials there prevent the implementation of anti-Jewish laws. They demand that the French refrain from confiscating the property of 5,000 Jews in Tunisia who held Italian passports. After December 1942, thousands of Jews are made to do forced labor under harsh conditions. In the Italian forced labor camps, the Jews are treated far better than in German camps. On May 7, 1943, the Allies liberate Tunis and thousands of Jews are saved from annihilation.
Julio Palencia, Spanish Minister Plenipotentiary in Bulgaria, organizes protection for 150 Jews of Sephardic origin.
SS Haputsturmführer (Captain) Theodore Dannecker, under Eichmann, sets up the Anti-Jewish Institute in Paris.
All Jewish businesses must display a large yellow placard in their windows identifying it as a Jewish business.
Vichy government negotiates with Mexican Consul General Gilberto Bosques regarding the fate of 150,000 Spanish Republican refugees. The object is to send these refugees to Mexico. The Germans object to this plan and are fearful that these repatriated soldiers will fight for the British.
Myron Taylor, a friend of Roosevelt, is appointed Special US Envoy to the Vatican (Holy See) to elicit help from the Vatican for refugees.
US Justice Department rules that all refugees coming to the United States are protected by the Constitution with all rights guaranteed to citizens.
US Congressman Samuel Dickstein introduces new bill to utilize Alaska as a refugee haven. The bill dies in subcommittee.
December 9, 1940
Operation Compass begins in North Africa. The British Army advances from Egypt to Libya.
Roosevelt announces Lend-Lease policy to furnish Allies with ships and armaments. This is the beginning of the end of US isolation.
The United States, a non-belligerent in the war, has a more rigid screening procedure for refugees than does Britain, who had been fighting for two years. As a result of the US State Department’s interference and antisemitic policies, many European Jews are unable to obtain refuge in the United States. In the crucial year of 1941, only 47% of quota for German-Austrian immigration to the United States is filled.
US Minister to Romania Franklin Mott Gunther, stationed in Bucharest, reports to the State Department about the murder of Jews by the fascist Horia Sim Iron Guard.
The New Republic magazine writes a series of articles in 1941 calling for an inquiry into antisemitism in the US State Department. The article categorically states that there is “widespread antisemitism in the Foreign Service.”
José Rojas, Spanish Minister in Bucharest, Romania, criticizes Nazi policy of persecuting Jews. He adamantly opposes the deportation of Jews and the brutal conditions imposed by the Nazis. He posts diplomatic protective signs on more than 300 houses where Jewish families live.
Isaac Weissman, a Turkish-born Jew of Polish ancestry, becomes a representative of RELICO in Lisbon. In 1942, he aids Jewish illegal immigrants who are stranded in Portugal.
Virginia Chase Weddel, wife of the US Ambassador to Spain, and Dorsey Stephens, wife of the US military attaché, help distribute JDC money to refugees stranded in Spain.
January 4, 1941
Great Britain sends soldiers to help its ally Greece.
January 10, 1941
Jews in occupied Holland are forced to register.
The Belgian government in exile in London issues an injunction (arrête-loi) that states that German laws against Jews are invalid and illegal.
January 22, 1941
Bulgarian parliament enacts the antisemitic Law for the Protection of the Nation. It is based on the German Nuremberg Laws. Jews are forced out of many professions and a special tax is levied against Jews. Jewish community leaders in Bulgaria begin an information campaign to counter affect the antisemitic law. A group of 21 leading Bulgarian writers, physicians and lawyers sends strong letter of protest to the Prime Minister. Soon, Bulgarian political leaders endorse the protest. The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church protests the Law. These include Metropolitans Stephan of Sofia, Cyril of Plovdiv, Neofit of Vindin, and Sofroni of Vratsa.
French Vichy officials object to Germans using southern France as a dumping ground for Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria and other occupied territories.
February 1, 1941
Deportation of Jews to the Warsaw ghetto begins.
February 5, 1941
Reinhardt Heydrich states in memorandum that he sees the “later total solution to the Jewish problem” is to “send them off to whatever country will be chosen later on.”
Romanian government passes the antisemitic Law for the Protection of the State.
February 14, 1941
Heydrich tells German foreign ministry representative in France Martin Luther, “After the conclusion of the peace, they [Jews] will be the first transported to leave fortress Europe in the total evacuation of the continent we plan.” Luther then tells his diplomatic representatives that forced Jewish emigration from German territories must take priority.
February 22, 1941
400 Jewish men from Antwerp, Belgium, are deported to Buchenwald concentration camp.
February 25, 1941
Thousands of Dutch Christians go out on general strike to protest the deportation of Jews to Buchenwald. This is the only such strike in Europe in reaction to Jewish persecution. Dutch students go on strike to protest dismissal of Jewish teachers. Dutch citizens wear a yellow flower to protest the Jewish star decree. In Rotterdam, signs are put up to encourage Dutch citizens to respect their Jewish countrymen. Dutch Catholic and Protestant clergy speak up on behalf of Jews.
March 1, 1941
Bulgaria joins the Tripartite Pact with Germany, Italy and Japan. In April, Bulgaria takes part in the attack of Yugoslavia and Greece. In return, Hitler gives Bulgaria Thrace, Macedonia, and parts of eastern Serbia. Bulgaria declares war on the US and England.
Himmler orders the construction of a second death camp in Auschwitz called Birkenau (Auschwitz II).
Thousands of Dutch citizens of all backgrounds aid in the rescue of beleaguered Dutch Jews. Secret organizations come into existence all over Holland to help Jews hide. Jewish children are hidden in private homes and most of them survive. Dutch groups provide Jews with false documentation.
March 2, 1941
German army enters Bulgaria.
March 3, 1941
Krakow ghetto is established.
March 12, 1941
Jewish property is confiscated by Nazi authorities in Holland.
March 25, 1941
Yugoslavia joins the Tripartite Pact.
March 26, 1941
The German general staff gives the approval for the activities of the Einsatzgruppen (murder squads) in the Soviet Union. The Wehrmacht will participate directly in the murder of civilians.
March 29, 1941
The antisemitic General Commission on Jewish Affairs is established in France.
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.
April 10, 1941
Croatia declares its independence after the invasion of Yugoslavia by Germany, Italy and Bulgaria.
April 12-13, 1941
German Army enters Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
April 18, 1941
Yugoslavia surrenders to Germany.
April 24, 1941
Lublin ghetto is sealed.
Portugal announces it will no longer issue transit visas.
April 27, 1941
Greece surrenders to the German and Italian armies. After a protracted battle for conquering Greece, Germany intervenes on behalf of the Italian army. This delays Hitler’s planned attack on the Soviet Union.
As a result of Germany’s invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia, Roosevelt declares a national emergency. The declaration will enable the US Congress to pass extraordinary legislation.
French Admiral Jean-François Darlan meets with Hitler at Berchtesgaden and cedes to Germany military bases in North Africa and Syria. The French receive nothing in return.
By the end of May 1941, the Jewish office of HICEM in Marseilles had received more than 35,000 requests from Jews to leave France. The HICEM managed to help approximately 3,000 Jews leave France in 1941 and another 3,000 Jews emigrated in the first months of 1942.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee intervenes on behalf of refugees with the Portuguese ambassador in Washington, DC.
May 1, 1941
Grossrosen, located in Germany, becomes a major independent concentration camp. 125,000 persons go through the camp; 40,000 are murdered.
May 7, 1941
US Vice Consul Hiram Bingham is notified he is being transferred out of Marseilles.
May 10, 1941
Deputy Führer Rudolph Hess commandeers an airplane and goes on a secret mission to negotiate a separate peace with the British government. This action has not been authorized by Hitler and it is disavowed. Hess is imprisoned by British authorities.
May 14, 1941
Thousands of Jews in Paris are rounded up pending deportation.
Romanian Jews are conscripted for forced labor.
May 15, 1941
French Vichy government declares policy of cooperation with Nazi German government.
May 20, 1941
Gestapo issues circular prohibiting Jewish emigration from Germany and Austria.
May 25, 1941
Under pressure, the Portuguese government lifts its ban on issuing transit visas.
May 31, 1941
Decree in Belgium orders Jews to display signs in businesses and to declare their ownership of properties and assets; limits banking transactions.
Defeated Greece is divided into three occupation zones. Italy occupies most of the Greek peninsula, including Athens, Epirus and the Ionic Islands. The zone is controlled by the Italian army and the Italian Foreign Ministry. This zone has approximately 13,000 Jews. It will become a safe haven for Jews until the Italians surrender in September 1943.
Giuseppe Bastiannini of Italy, acting Governor of Dalmatia, drafts an important memorandum for the signature of Italian leader Mussolini to protect Jews in the Italian zones of occupation. Bastiannini encourages Italian diplomats to protect Jews.
During World War II, the Italian army and Italian diplomats administer three zones of occupation. They are in Athens and the Ionic Islands; Croatia and Yugoslavia; and southern France. The Italian occupying forces actively participate in sheltering Jews from deportations to the Nazi death camps. It is estimated that more than 40,000 Jews are rescued from Nazi murder.
After Hiram Bingham is relieved of his post in Marseilles, France, he is transferred to Buenos Aires, Argentina. While in Argentina, Bingham reports on the activities of pro-Nazi groups and infiltrators. The State Department refuses to act on his recommendations and he resigns from the State Department in protest.
Many Jews join Tito’s anti-German partisan soldiers fighting in Yugoslavia.
Finland joins Germany in its attack on the Soviet Union.
US State Department closes German consulates in the United States. It bans pro-Nazi propaganda in the US.
US Congress passes Russell Bill, which permits US diplomats and consults in Europe to deny visas to refugees who, in their opinion, would “endanger the public safety of the United States.” Breckinridge Long, who lobbied for this bill, did it to keep State Department diplomats in check.
Head of the Justice Department Francis Biddle asserts the right of the Justice Department to rule in favor of refugees in certain visa cases. This removes some power from Breckinridge Long at the State Department.
Louis Darquier de Pellepoix becomes head of Commissariat General aux Questions Juives. He is extremely antisemitic.
Czech Consul Vladimir Vochoc is arrested by Vichy authorities in southern France. He later escapes.
June 2, 1941
The second Statute des Juifs (set of antisemitic laws) is enacted by the French Vichy government. Law calls for the expropriation and Aryanation of Jewish property are enacted. Eventually, 42,000 Jewish businesses, buildings, homes and other properties are confiscated.
June 3, 1941
US State Department institutes additional policies discouraging help for refugees from German occupied countries.
June 6, 1941
Hitler issues the Commissar Order. It authorizes the German army to murder any and all Soviet authorities in the upcoming invasion of the Soviet Union.
June 7, 1941
Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star in occupied France. Many Jews refuse to wear the star and some French citizens wear stars and yellow flowers in solidarity with persecuted Jews.
June 18, 1941
Turkey and Germany sign a treaty.
June 22, 1941
Breaking the non-aggression pact of 1939, Hitler orders the German army to invade the Soviet Union. The plan is called “Operation Barbarossa.” Germany is now fighting a two-front war. The Wehrmacht, with 150 divisions and more than three million men, invade and occupy much of the western Soviet Union.
Following the German army, 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.
June 24, 1941
Wehrmacht occupies Kovno and Vilna, Lithuania. Einsatzgruppen [murder squads] immediately begin murdering Jews.
June 25, 1941
15,000 Jews are murdered by the Iron Guard in Romania.
June 27, 1941
Hungary enters the war against the Allies.
June 28, 1941
The Wehrmacht occupies the Soviet city of Minsk in the western USSR. It surrounds 27 Soviet divisions.
June 30, 1941
Wehrmacht occupies Lvov, Poland. Almost 4,000 Jews are murdered immediately.
Jewish relief agency CENTOS establishes 143 residences for refugees in the General Government in Poland. It runs 26 homes and 62 children’s centers, taking care of 12,299 children. It establishes 122 kitchens where 47,000 will eat.
July 1941-January 1942
HICEM sponsors 10,700 Jewish refugees fleeing Europe from Lisbon on JDC-sponsored ships.
July 1, 1941
Wehrmacht occupies Rega, Latvia. 18,000 Jews are murdered by the end of the month.
July 2, 1941
Wehrmacht occupies Ternapol.
July 4, 1941
Jewish Council in Vilna is established.
July 9, 1941
Unable to win the air war over England, Hitler calls off Operation Sea Lion, the planned invasion of Great Britain.
July 15, 1941
US consulates in Nazi occupied Europe are closed. These include consulates in Germany, Austria, France, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium.
July 20, 1941
Minsk ghetto is established.
July 28, 1941
Former US diplomat Alfred Wagg publishes a series of articles in the New Republic magazine highly critical of the visa policy of the US State Department. He accuses the State Department of widespread antisemitism and anti-refugee sentiments in the US Foreign Service.
July 31, 1941
Hermann Göring appoints Reinhardt Heydrich to implement the “final solution of the Jewish question.”
Nazi troops occupy Croatia, part of Yugoslavia, and begin deporting Jews.
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.
Antisemitic Commassariate for Jewish Questions in the Ministry of the Interior in Bulgaria is created. It is headed by antisemite Aleksander Belev.
The Drancy detention/transit camp is established in a suburb of Paris. It is under French administration. Most of the Jews who are deported to the Auschwitz death camp will leave from Drancy.
Bernardo Rolland de Miota, the Spanish Consul General in Paris, actively intervenes in the cases of 14 Jews who were deported to the Drancy concentration camp. At the same time, he embarks on a dangerous mission to transfer 2,000 Jews from Drancy to Morocco. Throughout the war, he denounced Nazi persecution of Jews. By September 1943, Rolland would be partially responsible for the escape of hundreds of French Jews to Spain.
Queen Mother Elizabeth of Belgium intervenes on behalf of Belgian Jews. She appeals directly to Hitler to stop the deportations. This action leads to widespread protest and postponement of deportations. The Red Cross distributes parcels to Jews in hiding in Belgium.
August 1, 1941
Bialystock ghetto is established.
August 4, 1941
Kovno ghetto is sealed.
August 8, 1941
Deportation of 11,485 Jews begins from the Gurs and Rivesaltes camps in the southern zone. The Coordinating Relief Committee for the Camps (CIMADE), a Protestant relief organization comprised of the Red Cross, the Quaker Relief Committee, the Swiss Service Civil International and the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, is allowed to rescue Jews.
Ross McClelland, Dr. Donald Lowrie and Father Arnoux, representing Catholic Archbishop Gerlier, lobby Philippe Pétain to save Jews.
August 14, 1941
Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill sign Atlantic Charter. This is an eight point document declaring joint US and British peace aims.
August 15, 1941
German government stops issuing exit visas to Jews.
August 20, 1941
The Eleventh District in Paris is sealed off and 4,000 Jews are interned and sent to Drancy. French officials protest the arrests.
Protestant Minister Marc Boegner sends protest letter to Marshal Pétain: “…the indescribable sadness that our Churches feel at the news of the decisions taken by the French government, with regard to foreign Jews, whether converted to Christianity or not.”
August 21-September 26, 1941
Wehrmacht encircles city of Kiev and captures 665,000 Soviet prisoners.
August 23, 1941
Monsignor Saliège, Archbishop of Toulouse, France, publicly disapproves of the deportations. He orders a message to be read in churches by his priests at mass.
August 26-28, 1941
A massive roundup of Jews in Lyons, France. In response, Monsignor Théas, Bishop of Montauban, issues a protest.
August 29, 1941
Jews in Belgium can reside only in major cities and are subject to curfew.
Samuel Sequerra represents the Jewish Joint in Barcelona, Spain. Sequerra disburses funds in support of 600 refugees receiving financial aid. After September 1941, he looks after refugees who have entered the country illegally.
September 1, 1941
Hitler ends the T-4 euthanasia program in Germany under pressure from church and civic leaders. Between 70,000 and 93,000 people are killed in this program.
September 2, 1941
Francis Biddle and James G. McDonald convince FDR to liberalize the “close relative clause” and the visa policy for refugees. In a small way, this helps refugees in their appeals process. The rate of visa rejection is lowered by 15%.
Rabbi Wise contacts US State Department with information about the Nazis’ plan to murder European Jews. The State Department advises Wise to remain silent until the information is verified.
September 3, 1941
Experimental gassing of Soviet POWs in Auschwitz.
Vilna ghetto is established.
September 6, 1941
The Nazis forbid emigration of Jews between 18 and 45 years old. The RVE in Germany helps Jews escape to Spain and Portugal.
September 17, 1941
The beginning of the general deportation of German Jews to the death camps in Poland.
September 19, 1941
In Germany, Jews are forced to wear the yellow star.
September 20, 1941
German forces capture Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
September 23, 1941
Experimental gassing tests on prisoners are conducted at Auschwitz.
September 24, 1941
The Nazi government blocks 60 million marks that had been earmarked for emigration assistance to Jews.
September 29-30, 1941
German murder squads kill 33,771 Jews in Babi Yar, near Kiev. Eventually more than 100,000 people will be murdered there.
German and Austrian Jews are deported to ghettoes in Eastern Europe.
In France, the Archbishop of Lyons, Pierre Cardinal Gerlier, of L’Amité Chretienne [Christian Friendship], protests anti-Jewish decrees and instructs French Catholics to help Jews. Many nuns, priests and monks are arrested, deported and killed in their efforts to save Jews.
The Archbishop of Toulouse, France, protests Nazi terror.
pe Burzio, Vatican Nuncio in Bratislava, Slovakia, reports to the Vatican about Jews being murdered by the Germans.
Only 4,800 visa applications out of 9,500 have been approved by the US State Department for refugees. The US State Department and Department of Justice disagree on refugee visa policy and security issues.
October 1, 1941
All legal emigration out of Germany and the occupied territories is stopped by Gestapo order.
The German armies advance from Smolensk, Russia, toward Moscow.
October 10, 1941
Cardinal Roncalli, Nuncio to Turkey, has an audience with Pope Pius XII. Roncalli writes in his private diary, “He [the Pope] asked me if his silence regarding Nazism was not judged badly.”
October 15, 1941
The Soviet government in Moscow is evacuated to the city of Kuybyshev, on the Volga River. Stalin remains in Moscow.
Jews from Germany and Austria are deported to the Kaunus, Lodz, Minsk and Rega ghettoes.
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.”
October 16, 1941
Wehrmacht occupies Odessa, Russia. Soon 19,000 Jews are murdered by Einsatzgruppen [special killing squads].
October 19, 1941
Jews from Luxembourg deported to Lodz, Poland.
October 23, 1941
Himmler orders that no more Jews are to emigrate from the German occupied zones. This order takes effect in France in February 1942.
October 24, 1941
The German Army captures the city of Kharkov in the Ukraine.
October 25, 1941
The first part of the German army’s offensive against Moscow fails.
October 27, 1941
Monsignor Burzio sends a detailed report to the Vatican regarding the systematic murder of Jews in Europe. This is the first Vatican-produced report regarding the massacre of Jews.
October 28, 1941
9,000 Jews are murdered in the old Czarist Ninth Fort in Kovno, Lithuania.
Late October 1941
After being forced to leave Marseilles, Varian Fry returns to New York City.
The early onset of the Russian winter greatly slows the German army’s advance in the Soviet Union.
Swiss Minister René de Weck contacts Red Cross urging them to protect Jews being murdered in Bucharest.
There are approximately 17,500 internees in French camps in the southern unoccupied zone. 11,150 are Jews (63%). Many will receive exit visas to leave these camps.
A Catholic resistance organization called Temoignage Chrétien publishes a brochure that directly addresses the issue of French antisemitism. It mentions the concentration camps, Nazism, and French hypocrisy.
November 10, 1941
All emigration of Jews from Austria now officially prohibited. 126,445 Jews have been able to emigrate from Austria, thousands with the Ho, Bosques and other diplomatic visa.
November 12, 1941
Franklin Mott Gunther, the US Minister in Bucharest, Romania, sends Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull a detailed report describing the atrocities committed by the Iron Guard in Romania against Jews. Gunther will continue to send reports regarding the deportation of Jews. The State Department’s Eastern European Division replies to Gunther that “endorsing of such a plan is likely to bring about new pressure for an asylum in the Western Hemisphere…We are not ready to handle the whole Jewish problem.” Nothing was done on Gunther’s reports or proposals.
November 20-December 7, 1941
30,000 Jews are murdered in the Rumbula Forest near Rega, Latvia, by SS murder squads.
November 25, 1941
Decree in Belgium orders the establishment of the Association of Jews in Belgium (Association des Juif en Belgique; AJB). At its head is Chief Rabbi of the Belgian Army Solomon Ullman. All Jews must be registered and some Jewish children are expelled from public school.
November 29, 1941
Under German pressure, Vichy orders the dissolution of all Jewish organizations in France. Their records must be turned over to Vichy officials. Vichy forms the Union General de Isrealites du France (UGIF), which the Germans hope to turn into a Judenrat (Jewish Council). The UGIF refuses to take part in selecting Jews for deportation during the roundups. The UGIF helps Jews escape and provides them with food and shelter.
Germany Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories declares, “As a matter of principle, no consideration should be given to economic interest…” This statement declares that killing Jews takes precedence over all other considerations, including use of Jewish labor for the war effort.
The US Congress authorizes $10 billion of lend-lease assistance to the Allies.
The Swiss Red Cross launches a relief operation specifically to save French Jewish children. The Swiss Red Cross has delegations located in Paris, Marseilles, Lille, Lyon, Toulouse and Arles.
Harry Bingham, US Vice Consul in Marseilles, hides painter Marc Chagall in his home, issues him visa to leave France.
December 1-5, 1941
The German army reaches the outer suburbs of Moscow.
December 5, 1941
The Soviets launch a major counteroffensive against the German army’s attack on Moscow.
December 7, 1941
Japanese Imperial Navy attacks US forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Night and Fog Decree: Hitler orders the suppression of anti-Nazi resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe. This order is carried out by the German army in Eastern Europe. Tens of thousands are murdered under this order.
December 8, 1941
The United States, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Japan.
Gassing of Jews begins at Chelmno extermination camp in Poland. Jews are herded into trucks and vans, where they are asphyxiated. 320,000 Jews are eventually murdered in Chelmno.
By the end of December 1941, the Nazis have murdered more than one million Jews.
December 9, 1941
China declares war on Germany and Japan.
December 10, 1941
The United States declares war on Germany and Italy. The vast majority of the war effort will be directed at winning the war against Germany.
December 14, 1941
Churchill and Roosevelt meet in Washington, DC.
Major deportations in France are announced. Due to lack of rail transportation, the deportations to the death camps do not begin until March 1942.
The German occupying force in France fines the Jewish community one billion francs.
December 16, 1941
The German army forces of Army Group Center, who are attacking Moscow, begin to retreat as a result of Soviet Marshall Zhukov’s counterattack.
December 25, 1941
British armed forces in Hong Kong surrender to the Japanese army.
December 31, 1941
United Partisans’ Organization in Vilna, Lithuania, which is founded by Jewish leader Abba Kovner, calls Jews to resist the Nazis. Kovner states, “We must not go like sheep to the slaughter.”
The French village of Le Chambon begins rescue work to hide 5,000 Jews. This rescue is led by Pastor André Trocmé. All survive until the end of the war.
The Dutch village of Nieuwlande succeeds in saving all the Jews of its town. All 117 townspeople hide Jews in their homes. All of the Jews in the town survive the war.
Many Christian organizations help to rescue Jews in France. Among them are the Sisters of Zion at the Hospice de la Vieille Charité, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Dominican Order of St. Baume, led by Father Régis de Perceval in Boulogne. Fathers Perrin and Pipro hide Jews in their houses. CIMADE helps Jewish evacuees interned at Gurs to escape to Switzerland. Fathers Perceval and Perrin are arrested in August 1943 for helping Jews. Father Abbé Blanc and 50 agents provide Jews with false records. During this period, Church people issue thousands of false Baptismal Certificates.
Father Marie-Benoit, a Capuchin priest, works with the UGIF and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to print and distribute false documents and hide Jews. He establishes a Jewish children’s refuge in the French province of Var. He is credited with rescuing as many as 4,000 Jews.
A number of French prefectural officials in southern France are helpful to Jews. Among them are Jean Séguy, Marseilles police captain Dubois, Monsieur Roux and Madame Esmiol of the Aliens’ Bureau, Marie-Ange Rodriguez, Secretary General of the Cassis Town Hall, Monsieur Boyer, also of Cassis, Antoine Zattara and Georges Barellet.
A number of guards at the French concentration camps take great risks to help Jewish internees survive and eventually escape. Among them are Lucien Mercier, Auguste Boyer, Aimé Bondi, and Jean-Louis Kissy. The Commandant of Les Milles, Robert Maulavé, helps individual Jews. He is later put in jail for these efforts.
Father Pierre Chaillet of the Amitié Chrétienne [Christian Friendship], centered in Lyons, organizes an association of priests and laypersons under the guidance of Archbishop Gerlier and Pastor Boegner.
A major conference planning the murder of millions of Jews is held on January 20, 1942, in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee. Heads of major German departments gather to plan the largest organized murder in history.
2.7 million Jews will be murdered this year. The Aktion Reinhardt death camps are established in Poland. They are Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. These camps are established with the specific purpose of murdering Jews. They are named after SS security chief Reinhardt Heydrich, who was assassinated earlier in Czechoslovakia. 1.7 million Jews are killed in these camps from March 1942 through November 1943. Most of the Jews killed are from the area of the General Government of Poland.
Numerous reports reach the Allies regarding the murder of millions of Jews in Eastern Europe.
The Jewish Combat Organization is established in Warsaw, Poland.
Necdet Kent, Consul for Turkey in Marseilles, France, issues numerous Turkish certificates of citizenship to Jewish refugees, preventing them from being deported to Nazi death camps. On one occasion, Kent boards a deportation train with Jews loaded on a cattle car. He successfully intervenes to have them released to his custody.
Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, Papal Nuncio to Greece and Turkey, participates in the aid and rescue of thousands of Jews in Eastern Europe. He reports to the Vatican on the murder of the Jews of Eastern Europe. He works with other Nuncios, including Monsignor Angelo Rotta in Hungary. He also works with US Ambassador in Turkey Laurence A. Steinhardt and Raymond Courvoiser, International Red Cross Director in Turkey. Among the Jews saved by Roncalli are Slovakian Jews caught in Hungary and Slovakia, Jews trapped in Transnistra, a Romanian-administered territory, and Jews in Budapest. He distributes, by diplomatic pouch to Vatican representatives, various Vatican documents that place Jews under the protection of the Holy See. He also works with the Agency for Palestine (Yishuv) and distributes immigration certificates. Roncalli eventually participates in helping an estimated 24,000 Jews.
Diplomatic rescuers who worked in Slovakia intervened with Vatican and Slovakian officials to try to save Jews. Among these diplomats were Monsignor Giuseppe Burzio, Vatican Nuncio in Bratislava; Max Grässli, Consul General for Switzerland in Bratislava; and Georges Dunand, International Red Cross.
Diplomats who reported on Nazi atrocities and helped Jews in Bucharest, Romania (Transnistria), were: Hamdullah Suphi Tanriöver, Turkish Ambassador; José Rojas y Moreno Conde de Casa, Spanish Minister; Monsignor Andrea Cassulo, Vatican Nuncio; René de Weck, Swiss Consul General; Karl “Charles” Kolb, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Franklin Mott Gunther, U.S. Minister; Edouard Chapuisat, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Vladimir de Steiger, Delegate to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); José Carlos Ponti, Secretary of the Argentine Legation; and Selbarty Istinyell, Turkish Chargé d’Affaires.
Dutch bishops and clergymen protest first deportation of Jews from Holland.
Swiss Consul General Ernst Prodolliet procures and distributes life-saving passports to Dutch Jews in Amsterdam.
Belgian police intentionally lose or destroy files on Jews. Belgian officials in the Ministry of Justice save Jews by intervening with the Nazi occupying government. Belgian Jews are given false documents and are successfully hidden in Belgian homes and institutions. Belgian clergy actively protest deportations and participate in rescuing Jews, particularly children. Abbé Joseph André and Father Edouard Froidure rescue hundreds of Belgian children with the help of Belgian citizens, businessmen and public officials. Cardinal van Roey, the Primate of Belgium, denounces pogroms against Jews. The Dowager Queen Elizabeth pleads with Nazi occupying forces to save Jews.
Johannes Bogaard, a farmer in the Dutch village of Nieuw Vennup, near Amsterdam, begins rescue operation ot save Dutch Jews by hiding them in the countryside. More than 300 Jews are eventually saved by him during the Nazi occupation.
Eight European governments in exile meet in London and refuse to condemn the Nazi murder of Jews in Europe. The Allies refuse to acknowledge that Jews were being targeted for murder as Jews and not just as Europeans.
US Ambassador Laurence A. Steinhardt is transferred from Moscow to Ankara, Turkey. From this posting, Ambassador Steinhardt becomes extremely active in helping Jews and other refugees escape from Eastern Europe. Turkey becomes a natural area of refuge and an escape route for Jews from Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.
Comité des Assistance aux Réfugiés (CAR) helps 13,000 Jews in France.
January 1, 1942
The United Nations is founded in Washington, DC. 26 nations sign an agreement to defeat Hitler and his allies.
The Counter-Intelligence Corps is established to investigate and apprehend Nazi war criminals. Many Holocaust survivors will volunteer for this organization after liberation.
January 2, 1942
Consul Lutz assigned to Chief of the Department of Foreign Interests of the Swiss Legation in Budapest.
January 10, 1942
Japanese army invades and occupies East Indies.
January 12, 1942
Nine European nations and China sign a resolution to hold Nazi war criminals responsible for war crimes, “whether they have ordered them, perpetuated them or in any way participated in them.”
January 13, 1942
The governments in exile of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Holland, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland and Yugoslavia condemn the murder of their citizens by the Germans. Jews are not specifically mentioned.
January 14, 1942
Concentration of Dutch Jews in Amsterdam begins.
January 16, 1942
Deportation of Jews from Lodz ghetto to the Chelmno death camp.
January 17, 1942
Law forbids Belgian Jews from leaving the country.
January 20, 1942
Wannsee Conference in Berlin: Heydrich outlines plan to murder Europe’s Jews.
January 21, 1942
Jews in Vilna organize major partisan resistance group called The United Partisan Organization.
January 27, 1942
President Roosevelt, in a private conversation with Leo Crowley, Wartime Alien Property Custodian, states: “Leo, you know this is a Protestant country, and the Catholics and the Jews are here on sufferance. It is up to both of you [Crowley and Henry Morgenthau, a Jew and Secretary of the Treasury] to go along with anything that I want at this time.”
Paul Komor is arrested by Japanese secret police in Shanghai; imprisoned on suspicion of being a spy; Komor is later released and prevented from working with the IC for the duration of the war.
In France, Germans order Jews and others to report for the Obligatory Labor Service (STO; Service du Travail Obligatoire), which will deport workers to Germany by mid-February.
February 1, 1942
SS creates Economic Administrative Main Office. It is headed by Oswald Pohl. It manages slave labor operations in the concentration camps.
February 8, 1942
First deportation of Jews from Salonika, Greece, to Auschwitz.
February 15, 1942
First transport of Jews murdered at Auschwitz using prussic acid (Zyklon B) poison gas.
British army surrenders to Japan in Singapore.
February 24, 1942
The ship SS Struma is sunk off the coast of Turkey. The ship is carrying 700 Jewish refugees attempting to reach Palestine. All drown except one.
Vatican Nuncio in Slovakia, Giuseppe Burzio, informs Cardinal Maglione that 80,000 Jews will be deported from Slovakia to certain death. In May 1942, the Jews are in fact deported.
Jewish community leaders in Slovakia, including Gisi Fleischmann and Rabbi Dov Weissmandel, form the rescue group called the Working Group (Prácovna Skupina). Its purpose is to save Jews from deportation by bribing Adolph Eichmann and SS representative in Slovakia Dieter Wisliceny with funds provided by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee offices in Geneva. The Working Group appeals to members of the Slovak government and leaders of the Catholic clergy.
Consul Lutz issues more than 10,000 “Palestine certificates,” and invents a document called the Schutzbrief (protective letter) to protect Jewish refugees. Lutz helps organize transports to Palestine. By the end of the war, Lutz has helped more than 62,000 Jews.
The French Jewish Scouts (Eclaireus Israelites de France; EIF) creates The Sixth (Sixième) to develop a rescue network for Jewish children in France.
US government orders the forced removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast and interns them in ten camps in the country’s interior. Canada and Peru follow the US policy and intern their Japanese populations.
March 1, 1942
Construction of the Sobibor death camp in Poland begins. It begins its murderous activities in May 1942.
March 3, 1942
Belgian Jews are to do forced labor.
March 5, 1942
The British War Cabinet reaffirms its previous decision to refuse Jewish immigration to Palestine.
March 6, 1942
In Switzerland, JDC head Saly Mayer is authorized by headquarters to provide “relief to needy Jews who cannot be helped by American organizations.”
March 9, 1942
Monsignor Burzio in Slovakia cables Vatican Secretary of State Maglione regarding the deportation of Slovakian Jews. Burzio protests the deportations to Prime Minister Tuka. Tuka tells Burzio that he sees nothing inhumane or harsh about the deportations.
March 10, 1942
Catholic Archbishop Fellipo Bernardini, the Vatican nuncio in Switzerland, appeals to leaders in Slovakia to cancel deportations.
March 12-April 20, 1942
30,000 Jews are deported to and murdered in the Belzec death camp.
March 13, 1942
Vatican Nuncio in Budapest, Monsignor Angelo Rotta, forwards an appeal from the World Jewish Congress requesting Pope Pius XII to persuade Slovakian leader Tiso, a Catholic and a former priest, to cancel the deportation of Slovak Jews. A subsequent note of protest to the Slovak government from the Vatican Secretary of State is ignored.
March 19, 1942
Archbishop Bernardini sends a report to the Vatican on the condition of Jews in Central and Eastern Europe. He reports information received from Gerhardt Riegner of the World Jewish Congress. Bernardini asks for Papal intervention on behalf of Jews.
March 25, 1942
British envoy to the Holy See, Francis de Arcy Osborne, requests that the Vatican intervene on behalf of Jews being deported in Slovakia.
March 26 - June 1942
57,000 Slovakian Jews are deported.
March 27, 1942
Introduction of the yellow star in Belgium leads to widespread protest by the Belgian people to this order. Many Belgians wore a similar badge in solidarity with their Jewish countrymen.
First deportation of Jews from France to Auschwitz. 1,112 Jews are sent; only 19 survive the war. Vichy says nothing about this deportation.
March 31, 1942
Monsignor Burzio sends the Vatican a report on the deportation of Jews in Slovakia. The Slovakian government claims that there was no pressure from Germany to deport its Jews.
The City Council of Helsinki, Finland, refuses to introduce anti-Jewish legislation by pro-Nazis. The Finnish parliament also refuses to enact anti-Jewish measures. Popular protests against anti-Jewish legislation are held throughout Finland, led by the Social Democratic Party.
Admiral François Darlan, Deputy Head of Vichy, and his staff resign from the Vichy government.
Switzerland admits 2,380 Jewish refugees.
April 9, 1942
US Armed Forces surrender to the Japanese Army in Bataan, Philippine Islands.
April 26, 1942
In France, Pierre Laval is returned to his post in the cabinet. Laval becomes head of the Departments of the Interior, Information and Foreign Affairs. He becomes virtual head of state.
April 29, 1942
Jews in the Netherlands are forced to wear yellow Jewish star.
Belgians protest the enforcement of the Jewish star. There is widespread protest by the Belgian population. Many Belgians wear Jewish stars in solidarity. A mayor’s conference in Brussels protests the order.
May 2, 1942
German anti-Jewish measures are enforced in Yugoslavia and Greece.
May 7, 1942
Reinhardt Heydrich arrives in Paris to speed up and oversee lagging deportation efforts in France.
Battle of the Coral Sea. Victory of the US Navy over Japanese.
May 10-11, 1942
The Biltmore Resolution is adopted by the Conference of American Zionists. It advocates a policy to establish a state to be the Jewish homeland in Palestine.
May 26, 1942
The Soviet Union and Great Britain sign a mutual assistance treaty.
May 27, 1942
Reinhardt Heydrich is mortally wounded by Czech partisans near Prague. He dies on June 3.
Forcing the Jews to wear yellow stars leads to protests in Belgium. The Greater Brussels City Council will not distribute the star.
May 28-June 8, 1942
6,000 Jews from Krakow are deported and murdered in Belzec.
May 30-31, 1942
A “thousand bomber” air raid by the British air force is launched against Cologne, Germany.
In Marseilles, the Emergency Rescue Committee is forced to close by the French police for subversive activities in helping refugees. The ERC continues to operate secretly. The Villa Air-Bel estate outside Paris becomes a haven for the Alsatian refugees.
Jules Jefroykin is made JDC representative in Marseilles, France.
Monsignor Burzio attempts to persuade Prime Minister Tuka of Slovakia to investigate the fate of deported Jews.
In Belgium, the local Jewish council leader at Charleroi presents a false list to the Nazis, enabling Jews to escape deportation.
June 3, 1942
U.S. declares war on Romania.
June 3-6, 1942
The Battle of Midway, between US and Japanese naval forces. The US sinks three Japanese aircraft carries, resulting in the turning of the tide in the war of the Pacific in favor of the Allies.
June 7, 1942
All Jews in France are ordered to wear the Jewish star. Many Jews decide not to wear the star. French population resists identifying Jews with the stars, and the French people are outspoken in their protests.
June 10, 1942
The Czechoslovakian villiage of Lidice is destroyed, and all of its inhabitants murdered, by the Gestapo in reprisal for the killing of SS General Reinhardt Heydrich.
June 11, 1942
Himmler orders increased deportations to Auschwitz from southeastern Europe. He includes 100,000 Jews to be deported from both zones in France. The French are asked to revoke the citizenship of the deportees and even pay for the cost of their deportation, which is set at 700 DM per Jew.
June 20-October 9, 1942
13,776 Jews from Vienna are deported to Theresienstadt.
June 21, 1942
German victory over the British army at Tobruk.
June 22, 1942
Eichmann orders ten thousand Belgian Jews to be deported from Belgium to the death camps.
June 25, 1942
Roosevelt and Churchill meet in Washington, DC.
June 26, 1942
Deportations from the Netherlands to Auschwitz begin.
June 27, 1942
Vichy is asked to round up 50,000 Jews from the southern zone for deportation.
Pierre Laval agrees to cooperate with the deportation of stateless (i.e., German, Austrian and Czech) Jews. He later claims to have done this to save French Jews from deportation. Later, he states “I did all I could, considering the fact that my first duty was to my fellow countrymen of Jewish extraction whose interests I could not sacrifice.”
In Bordeaux, the SS sends a train to deport the Jews there. In a lightening raid, the SS could find only 150 stateless Jews. Eichmann is furious and cancels the train transport. Eichmann says, “This never happened before.”
Himmler asks Finnish government to hand over its Jews for deportation. His request is denied by Finnish Prime Minister Johann Wilhelm Rangell. Rangell tells Himmler, “Wir haben keine Judenfrage” [We have no Jewish Question]. The Jews of Finland are not deported, and survive the war.
When Nazi deportations begin in Belgium, there are widespread rescue efforts on behalf of Jews in Belgium. As many as 80,000 Jews go into hiding to avoid forced labor. More than 25,000 Jews remain in hiding in Belgium. Many of them are helped to escape to Switzerland.
Franz Neumann, a Jewish convert to Christianity, helped save most of the Jews of Arad, Hungary, from deportation by lodging a protest and paying bribes to local officials.
The United States and Great Britain agree to plan an invasion of North Africa.
Deportation of Jews to the killing centers of Sobibor, Treblinka, and Belzec, from Belgium, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, and Poland.
The World Jewish Congress publishes a report about the Nazi mass murder in Eastern Europe. According to this report, gathered from reliable sources, the Congress estimates that more than a million Jews have been murdered.
In Lyon, France, General Robert de Saint-Vincent refuses to use his military troops in the roundup and deportation of Jews. He is immediately relieved of his command. Other French officials refuse to participate in the deportations.
In Belgium, the Comité de Defense des Juifs (Jewish Defense Committee; CDJ) is organized. With ties to the Belgian resistance, it finds hiding places for Jewish children.
In Belgium, the Oeuvre Nationale de l’Enfantes (National Children’s Committee), led by Yvonne Nevejean, hides 4,000 children.
In Brussels, the AJB card index file is intentionally burned by the Jewish underground CDJ.
Students in Holland place 1,000 children in hiding. By the end of the war, 4,500 Jewish children are hidden.
Joop Westerwell forms the Westerwell Group and works with Jewish Zionist pioneer organizations and successfully rescues Jews from Holland, taking them to France and then to Spain.
July 1, 1942
The Polish government in exile issues a report to the Allied nations detailing the murder of 700,000 Jews since the German invasion and occupation in September 1939. This report reveals the use of mobile gas vans at Chelmno. Ninety Jews are murdered at a time in each of these vans by carbon monoxide. More than a thousand people are murdered a day.
July 4, 1942
Deportation of Jews from Belgium to Auschwitz begins. 25,000 Jews go into hiding with non-Jewish Belgian families.
Vichy agrees to deport foreign Jews in both zones. The Germans call this deportation operation “Vent Printanier” [spring wind].
Jews from the Netherlands and other foreign Jews residing in Holland are helped to escape to France and Switzerland. Father André of Namur in Bastogne, Bishop Lewis Joseph Kerkhofs of Liege, and the Bishop of Mechelen, help hide numerous Jews. Belgian Red Cross also helps hide Jews. Catholic Cardinal Von Roey helps Jews who are arrested.
July 15, 1942
First deportation from the Westerbork transit camp in Holland to Auschwitz. The AJB in Belgium is ordered to organize a labor draft for Jews.
July 16-17, 1942
12,887 Jews are arrested and sent to the Drancy deportation camp near Paris. From there, these Jews are deported and murdered in Auschwitz.
July 19, 1942
Himmler orders the Jews in the General Government of Poland to be killed by the end of the year.
July 20, 1942
French Ministry of the Interior suspends issuing exit visas for foreign Jews except for those from the Benelux countries.
Jewish uprising in Nesvizh.
July 22, 1942
Construction begins on the Treblinka death camp near Warsaw. It begins its murderous operation in August 1942. More than 870,000 Jews are murdered there. Most are from the Warsaw ghetto.
July 22-September 12, 1942
265,000 Jews from Warsaw are murdered in Treblinka.
July 28, 1942
The Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB) is created in the Warsaw ghetto.
July 30, 1942
Heinrich Himmler travels to Finland to encourage Finnish leaders to participate in the deportation and murder of Jews. There are 2,000 Jews living in Finland. Himmler talks with Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rolf Witting. Witting firmly refuses to cooperate with Germany in the handing over of Jews. The Finnish cabinet decides unanimously to protect its Jews. Not one Jew is surrendered. Witting says, “Finland is a decent nation. We would rather perish together with the Jews…We will not surrender the Jews.” On February 3, 1943, the Finnish government withdraws from the war. Due to war reversals, too few German soldiers are stationed in Finland to enforce a deportation. As a result, Finnish Jews and other Jewish refugees survive the war.
Eduard Schulte, an important Germany industry leader, reports on the planned murder of Jews in Europe.
25,000 Jews in France are deported to Auschwitz. Most of them are murdered upon arrival.
Gabriel Zivian, a Jewish refugee who escapes, gives an eyewitness account of the massacre of Jews in Riga, Latvia.
The Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) are able to get a few hundred Jewish children out of southern France to Spain, Portugal and Switzerland.
Father Pierre Chaillet and his group, the Amitié Chrétienne [Christian Friendship], hide Jewish children in a number of religious institutions. The Christian Friendship organization also rescues Jewish children from deportations. Among those who take part in the rescue are Madeleine Barot and Abbe Glasberg. Father Chaillet is placed under house arrest for three months, and he refuses to give up the address where Jewish children are being hidden. Archbishop Gerlier also refuses to give the addresses of the children’s shelters to the regional police in Lyons.
Germans demand that Laval enforce sanctions against clergy and church groups who aid Jews.
General de St. Vincent, the military governor of Lyons, refuses to assist in the deportation of Jews and uncovering hidden Jewish children, and is dismissed from his position.
24 French prefects in the southern zone stated that public opinion was overwhelmingly shocked by the deportation of Jews there.
H. Pinkney Tuck, the US Chargé d’Affaires in Vichy France, discusses with Laval the deportation of Jews. In a letter to the US Secretary of State, he writes, “It is evident from Laval’s attitude that he had never interest nor sympathy in the fate of the Jews who he callously remarked were already too numerous in France.”
The United States and Great Britain send aid to millions of starving Greeks by shipping food to the beleaguered country. Great Britain ships 35,000 tons of food per month, with the United States paying for it.
The Papal Nuncio in Bucharest, Romania, Archbishop Andrea Cassulo, along with Swiss diplomat René de Weck, protests the Romanian government’s announcement that they would deport Jews.
Rabbi Alexander Safran, Chief Rabbi of Romania, and Wilhelm Filderman, leader of Romanian Jewry, persuade the Archbishop of Transylvania, Nicolae Balan, to intervene with Romanian leader Ion Antonescu against the upcoming deportation of Jews.
George Mandel-Mantello, an honorary diplomat representing El Salvador, publishes and publicizes a report of two escapees from Auschwitz death camp. It is published in more than 400 newspapers worldwide. Mantello is arrested by Swiss authorities for violating Swiss neutrality laws.
August 1, 1942
Gerhardt Riegner, representative of the World Jewish Congress stationed in Geneva, Switzerland, learns from a top German industrialist, Eduard Schulte, that Nazi Germany is planning to murder Jews using poisonous prussic acid gas (Zyklon B).
Queen Mother Elizabeth of Belgium promises to intervene with senior German general to postpone deportation of Jews. She meets with the Jewish delegation. Her husband, King Leopold, strongly protests Nazi actions against Jews.
August 3, 1942
The Nimes Committee in southern France and the Quakers, led by Lindsey Nobel, meet with Pierre Laval to plead humanity and to protect Jews. Laval turns them away.
August 4, 1942
Tracy Strong, of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in France, meets with Marshal Pétain and informs him of the adverse publicity regarding the deportation of Jews and how it affects American public opinion.
August 5, 1942
In France, order for all foreign Jews to be sent to the occupied zone. All legal exit visas are now cancelled. As a result, only 600 Jews emigrate legally in the last half of 1942.
August 6, 1942
The Quakers in France meet with US Chargé d’Affaires in Vichy H. Pinkney Tuck and inform him about their meeting with Pierre Laval. They indicate that Laval stated that “these foreign Jews had always been a problem in France and that the French government was glad that a change in German attitude towards them gave France an opportunity to get rid of them.”
August 8, 1942
Gerhardt Riegner cables Rabbi Stephen S. Wise in New York and Sydney Silverman in London regarding Nazi implementation of a plan to murder European Jewry. Riegner hopes that this report will initiate a worldwide mass rescue effort to save Jews. Most of Europe’s Jews are still alive. The US State Department delays delivery of the cable to Wise.
This information is sent to the State Department by US diplomat Howard Elting, Jr., who is stationed at the US Embassy in Bern, Switzerland.
August 9, 1942
Mir ghetto uprising in Poland.
August 10-23, 1942
50,000 Jews from Lvov are murdered in Belzec.
August 13, 1942
Swiss Alien Police Commissioner Rothmund instructs border police to admit political refugees only. Ironically, he states, “Refugees for racial reasons only, for instance Jews, do not count as political refugees.”
August 13-14, 1942
Foreign Jews residing in Antwerp, Belgium, are arrested and sent to the Malines deportation center.
August 13-20, 1942
Large part of the Croatian Jewish community is deported and murdered in Auschwitz.
August 20, 1942
Swedish Consul General in Stettin, Poland, forwards report on the murder of Jews in Poland.
August 20-24, 1942
18,000 Jews in Kielce, Poland, are deported to Treblinka.
August 21, 1942
Goran von Otter, a Swedish consular official in Berlin, receives a secret report from German SS officer Kurt Gerstein, who has personally witnessed a gassing of Jews in a Polish killing center. Gerstein is a member of a Protestant resistance group.
August 26, 1942
Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr., the US Ambassador to several European governments in exile, forwards a report written by Ernest Frischer, a member of the Czechoslovakian State Council, to the US State Department. It outlines the murder of Jews in central Europe. Frischer’s report stresses that the Jews are being singled out for total destruction by the Nazis.
George Garel, a French Jew, establishes a rescue network throughout France.
August 27 and 31, 1942
US Consul Paul Chapin Squire, stationed at the embassy in Bern, Switzerland, forwards a report to the US State Department by Dr. Donald A. Lowrie representing the YMCA in Geneva. Lowrie describes the deportation of Jews from southern France. He concludes that the deportation would eventually lead to their murder.
In France, 27,000 Jews in 13 separate deportations are sent to Auschwitz from both French zones. These deportations are accomplished with the cooperation of French authorities and police. Pierre Laval expresses reservations about cooperating in future deportations of French Jews by the Germans.
Germany’s allies in France, including Hungary, Romania, and Italy, refuse to cooperate with deportations.
3,800 Jewish refugees enter Switzerland.
Swiss newspapers censor stories about the murder of Jews in Europe. They call these “foreign rumor propaganda of the worst type.”
60 clergymen, briefed by Pastor Marc Boegner, create a secret rescue network known as the “Refuge Cévenol.” This network throughout the southern zone is established by Amitié Chrétienne [Christian Friendship]. Refugees are hidden in convents and churches. Escape routes are established from Toulouse to Spain and from Lyons, Grenoble and Valence to Switzerland. Clergy in Haute-Savoie become guides. The nuns of Notre-Dame-de-Sion in Lyons provide forged documents. Protestant hostels in Lyons are used as refuges.
Monsignor Rémond, Bishop of Nice, forbids the checking of baptismal certificates by anti-Jewish police. On September 30, a report states, “it is of public notoriety that he [the bishop] sets himself up as champion in defence of the Jews.”
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film corporation donates one million dollars toward rescue of Jews in southern France.
Italian consul general in Nice Alberto Calisse refuses to cooperate with German officials in interning Italian stateless Jews. He asks the Italian foreign ministry for permission to protect Italian Jews. This prompts the Italian foreign ministry to issue a decision paper that will in fact protect Italian Jews throughout France. Calisse informs Italian police official Ribiere that Italians have authority over Jews in the Italian zone. Calisse is not required to enforce the regulation of having “Jew” stamped in the identity cards and ration books of Jews in the Italian zone.
Summer 1942-September 1943 - Italian Diplomatic Rescue in Croatia and Yugoslavia
With German cooperation, the anti-Semitic Ustasha party in Croatia destroys entire villages and murders thousands of Jews and Serbs. Italian soldiers and diplomats refuse to look the other way. Without instructions, they rescue thousands of Jews by allowing them into the Italian protected zones. Word spreads in Croatia and thousands of other Jews and Serbs flee from German to Italian zones. Germans vigorously protest these rescue activities. Eventually, these complaints go all the way to fascist leader Mussolini.
Convinced by his diplomatic corps, Mussolini resists Hitler’s order to deport Jews to concentration camps. He continues to let Jewish relief groups operate throughout Italy.
Three thousand Jews under the protection of the Italian occupation forces in Yugoslavia are transferred to the Island of Arbe, off the coast of Yugoslavia, where most survive the war. All told, nearly 80% of the Yugoslavian Jews who fled to the Italian-occupied zone were saved.
The following Italian diplomats were involved in the rescue of Jews in Croatia: Vittorio Castellani, Liaison Officer, Foreign Ministry; Ambassador Roberto Ducci, Head of the Croatian Department of the Italian Foreign Ministry; and Gastone Guidotti, Secretary at the Italian Legation in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
Gisi Fleischmann, a Jewish community leader in Slovakia, organizes a major rescue of Jewish children from Poland into Slovakia and later from Slovakia into Hungary.
Franz Neumann, a Jewish convert to Christianity, is responsible for saving the Jews of Arad, Hungary, by paying bribes to local Nazi and Hungarian officials.
September 2, 1942
The Lachva ghetto uprising in Poland. 6,000 Jews escape but are later caught and murdered.
September 4, 1942
Macedonian Jews are forced to wear the yellow star.
September 6, 1942
French Archbishop Gerlier issues a public protest about the deportations.
September 8, 1942
Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during a meeting of the British House of Commons, reports on the Nazi deportation of French Jews.
September 11, 1942
US Chargé d’Affaires in Vichy France Pinkney Tuck obtains 1,000 blank US entry visas for Jewish children trapped in southern France. He eventually gets permission from US Secretary of State Cordell Hull to obtain a total of 5,000 visas to the US. Pierre Laval, reacting to German pressure, rescinds the offer to release the Jewish children. The rescue efforts fail.
September 22, 1942
Pastor Marc Boegner protests Jewish deportations from France. He personally tries to intervene with Vichy leader Pierre Laval. Laval refuses.
September 26, 1942
Myron Taylor, the US representative to the Holy See, writes to Cardinal Maglione asking him to reply to Taylor’s earlier communications regarding reports of the murder of Jews. In Taylor’s note, he reports stories of the deportation of Jews from Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, Lithuania and Slovakia.
Leland Harrison, the US Minister to Switzerland stationed in Bern, informs the US State Department about the deportation of Polish Jews. He states that between 5,000 and 10,000 Jews in Warsaw are being collected in “lots” and shipped east, “their whereabouts and fate unknown.”
Swiss immigration regulation states the principle that Jews should be allowed refuge in Switzerland. It ironically concludes that this does not include the sick, pregnant women, people over 65, close relatives of refugees already in Switzerland, refugees under 16, and parents of these children. It further states that French Jews should be refused immigration because the are not in danger.
September 27, 1942
Tymczasowy Komitet Pomocy Zydom [Provisional Committee for Aid to Jews] is founded in Poland by Zofia Kossak-Szczucka. It is made up of Catholic activists and has 180 members. On December 4, the organization becomes known as Zegota. It is one of the few organizations where Jews and Christians serve together. Until the liberation of Poland, it successfully hides, feeds and provides forged documents to thousands of Jews.
September 28, 1942
Gerhardt Riegner gives US Consul Paul Squire in Geneva two sets of documents outlining the murder of Jews in Eastern Europe. The first was prepared by an anti-Nazi officer in the German high command. The second is an eyewitness account, by a Jew in Warsaw, of the deportation of the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. The report states that Jews are being murdered. These reports are forwarded to US Secretary of State Cordell Hull.
As a result of these reports, US Undersecretary of State Sumner Wells asks Minister Leland Harrison, in Bern, to submit additional reports verifying the reports of the extermination of Jews.
September 30, 1942
In a speech at the Sports Palace in Berlin, Hitler acknowledges plans to murder Jews. Hitler says, “if Jewry should plot another world war in order to exterminate the Aryan peoples of Europe, it should not be the Aryan peoples which would be exterminated, but Jewry…”
Several Vatican diplomats request that Pope Pius XII end his public silence on Nazi atrocities against Jews. The Pope declines to take direct action to help Jews who are being murdered. He states: “The Holy See has done, is doing, and will do all in its power to help.”
There are 25,000 Jews in hiding in Holland. Dutch make every effort to save them.
The Jewish Council in Ternapol refuses to turn over fellow Jews for deportation.
The Working Group, in Slovakia, establishes three camps that serve as safe havens for 40,000 Jews. They are Novaky, Sered and Vyhme. The Working Group begins helping Jews escape to Hungary.
Attempts by the Germans to round up and deport 1,500 Jews living in Norway raise an outcry among the Norwegian public and clergy. The Norwegian Lutheran Church continues to protest actions against Jews.
1,904 Jewish refugees are allowed to enter Switzerland.
Norwegian rescuers smuggle approximately 930 Jews across the border into neutral Sweden to keep them from being deported.
October 9, 1942
Cardinal Joseph Ernst van Roey and Belgium’s Queen Elizabeth intercede on behalf of Belgian Jewish community leaders for their release from jail. Five of six are freed.
The Italian racial laws are put into force in Libya.
October 22, 1942
Gerhardt Riegner submits a summary report to US Minister in Bern, Leland Harrison, regarding the Nazi murder of Jews. It states, “four million Jews are on the verge of complete annihilation by a deliberate policy consisting of starvation, the ghetto system, slave labor, deportation under inhuman conditions and organized mass murder by shooting, poisoning and other methods. This policy of total destruction has been repeatedly proclaimed by Hitler and is now being carried out.” Riegner pleads for urgent rescue efforts to save Jews in Hungary, France, Romania, Italy and Bulgaria. On October 24, Harrison submits these reports to the US State Department. Harrison continues to investigate information and passes it along to the State Department. Harrison is in sympathy with Riegner and the plight of Jews in Europe.
Paul Squire continues to collect material regarding the murder of Jews in Europe. He receives reliable information from eyewitness sources, including Red Cross officials.
October 29, 1942
Winston Churchill, in a protest meeting in London led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, criticizes Nazis for the murder of European Jews.
US breaks off diplomatic relations with Vichy France.
US Secretary of State Sumner Wells meets with Dr. Stephen Wise regarding the reports from the Swiss embassy in Bern. He confirms the accuracy of the reports and tells Dr. Wise, “I regret to tell you that these [reports] confirm and justify your deepest fears.”
Swedish government provides refuge for Jews who escape across the Norwegian-Swedish border. Swedish diplomats in Oslo try to protect Jews with any Swedish connections.
President Roosevelt announces that the US will propose the establishment of a war crimes commission to collect information on the acts of war criminals and to establish criteria for punishment of the perpetrators after the war. The US Ambassador to Britain, John G. Winant, is asked to prepare information regarding the proposed war crimes commission. He collects additional reports and information about Nazi war crimes. Winant receives more than 200 appeals demanding support for the creation of this commission and in support of actions on behalf of Jews. The US State Department delays issuing its recommendations.
The Jewish community in British controlled Palestine, called the Yishuv, receives information about the murder of Jews in Europe.
In the first week of November 1942, more than 170,000 Jews are murdered in Belzec, Treblinka and the Auschwitz death camps.
The Allied armies turn the tide of the war in North Africa at the battle of El Alamein in Egypt. German General Rommel’s army retreats.
November 4, 1942
German General Rommel’s Italian and German forces retreat in North Africa.
November 8, 1942
The Allied armies land in Algeria and Morocco, in North Africa. The invasion is called Operation Torch. The landing guarantees the safety of 117,000 Algerian Jews.
November 9, 1942
The German and Italian armies occupy Tunisia in reaction to the Allied invasion of North Africa. Italian occupying officials will protect Jews in Tunisia.
The First Secretary of the American Embassy in Madrid intervenes with the Spanish government to prevent deportation of Jewish refugees. As a result, Spain no longer deports refugees.
November 11, 1942
After the Allied landings in North Africa, Germans and Italians occupy southern France. This occupation extends to the Mediterranean coast. The operation is called “Attila.” There is no French resistance to this occupation. France is now a fully occupied country. Vichy maintains a limited sovereignty. The SS and Gestapo now have complete authority over Jewish issues in the south, except in the Italian zone of occupation.
During the Nazi occupation of the south, 22,000 refugees are able to flee successfully to Spain. By the end of the year, more than 30,000 refugees have crossed the border.
Norwegian Protestant clergymen publicly protest the deportation of Norwegian Jews.
November 18, 1942-January 12, 1943
15,000 Jews are killed in the Lvov ghetto.
November 19, 1942
Soviet army launches major counteroffensive against German General von Paulus’ army, west of Stalingrad. This will result in his being encircled and cut off.
November 27, 1942
French naval officers sink their own ships at Toulon to prevent them from falling into the hands of the German navy. The Allies occupy all of French overseas possessions. The Jews in French North Africa are protected from deportation.
The Vatican rejects attempts by the Allies to sign a solemn resolution condemning Nazi war atrocities.
8,467 Jewish refugees are admitted to Switzerland.
December 4, 1942
In Poland, Provisional Committee for Aid to Jews (Tymczasowy Komitet Pomocy Zydom) is renamed Zegota. Together with Jewish resistance fighters and partisans, they rescue thousands of Jews.
Zegota, the Polish Council for Aid to Jews, begins actions to rescue thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland. Zegota is administered by Polish Catholics and Jews together. Catholic churches and monasteries in Poland hide Jewish children. Polish Boy Scout units (Grey Ranks) cooperate with the Jewish rescue organization Ha Shomer ha-Tsa’in. The number of Aryan gentiles who help Jews in Nazi occupied Poland is eventually estimated to be between 160,000 and 360,000, or between 1-2.5% of the total population. At least 872 Poles are executed for helping Jews.
December 7, 1942
The London Times observes, “The question now arises whether the Allied governments, even now, can do anything to prevent Hitler’s threat of extermination from being literally carried out.” The German government gives occupied countries deadlines for the expulsion of their Jews. The Times further reports, “The dates are freely given on the Axis wireless or in reports from Berlin… In all parts of Europe, the Germans are calling meetings, or issuing orders, about what they call ‘the final solution of the Jewish problem.’” German newspapers state that since September 1942, 185,000 Jews have been deported from Romania to Transnitria. They reprot that all the Jews of Croatia and Slovakia have been moved to Eastern Poland.
December 8, 1942
Stephen Wise and a Jewish delegation meet with President Roosevelt in the White House. They give the President a document entitled Blueprint for Extermination. It is a detailed analysis of the murder of millions of Jews. The President expresses profound shock.
December 9, 1942
Vichy government dismisses the military governor of Lyons, General Robert de Saint-Vincent for refusing to arrest Jews.
December 10, 1942
The Polish government in London issues a report called The Mass Extermination of Jews in German-Occupied Poland. This report is widely publicized.
Poland asks for the Allies to retaliate for the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
December 12-23, 1942
German General von Paulus’ army remains trapped by Soviet army near Stalingrad after German General Manstein fails to break through. The German air force cannot supply von Paulus’ army.
December 13, 1942
Propaganda Minister in Nazi Germany, Josef Goebbels, enters in his diary, “The question of Jewish persecution in Europe is being given top news priority by the English and the Americans…At bottom, however, I believe both the English and the Americans are happy that we are exterminating the Jewish riff raff.” He also complains about Italy’s halfhearted persecution of its Jews.
December 17, 1942
The United States, Great Britain, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, and the French government in exile make a joint declaration of condemnation against the murder of European Jews. They declare their intention to prosecute Nazi war criminals after the war. This declaration makes headlines around the world. Thousands of letters are sent to the US State Department and the British Foreign Ministry at Whitehall regarding this declaration. Swiss officials continue to state that reports of atrocities are unverified Allied propaganda. These reports are, in fact, verified by the liberal press in Switzerland.
December 18, 1942
Francis d’Arcy Osborne, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, states that Pope Pius XII “does not see that his silence is highly damning to the Holy See.”
Deportation of Jews from Germany, Greece and Norway to killing centers; Jewish partisan movement organized in forests near Lublin.
3,500 Jews are interned at the Miranda Camp in Spain. They are cared for by the Jewish Joint and the Spanish Red Cross. In January, Spanish authorities begin to release people from this camp.
November 1942-September 1943 - France
Beginning in November of 1942, the Italian Army and Foreign Ministry officials occupy and administer eight French departments east of the Rhône River, in southern France. A French government remains in place, but the Italians control the area. In these zones, French Jews and other refugees are protected until the Italians surrender and leave southern France in September 1943.
Italian forces and diplomats refuse to enforce anti-Semitic measures in their zones. They refuse to allow any forced labor camps in their occupation zones. Further, the Italian occupying Army prevents any arrests or deportations of Jews in their area. By 1943, more than 50,000 Jews flee to the Italian zone. Twenty to thirty thousand of these are non-French Jews. Many gravitate to the area around Nice.
For nearly 10 months, Italian diplomats and the occupying military forces thwart the Nazis' "final solution" in southern France.
The following Italian diplomats are active in rescue of Jews in southern France: Gino Buti; Alberto Calisse, Consul in Nice; Guido Lospinoso, Foreign Ministry Official and 'Inspector General of Racial Policy,' Nice; Vittoriano Manfredi, Consul in Grenoble; Gustavo Orlandini, Italian Consul in Paris; and Vittorio Zoppi.
Hundreds of thousands of Jews are murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka, near Warsaw. 250,000 Jews are murdered in Sobibor’s gas chambers. On November 3, 1943, 42,000 Jews are rounded up and shot in the Lublin district of Poland. The code name for this operation is Erntefest, which means harvest festival. In 1943, it is estimated that 500,000 Jews are murdered in Nazi-occupied Europe.
There are Jewish armed revolts in the Treblinka and Sobibor death camps.
The Working Group in Slovakia, along with Jewish rescue organizations, smuggles between 6,000 and 8,000 Slovak Jews into Hungary. This rescue operation is known as the Tiyyul.
Pope Pius XII states that the Vatican and Holy See can only help peoples through “our prayers.”
Mexico, Brazil and several other Latin American countries declare war against Germany, Italy and Japan.
The Joint Relief Commission of the International Red Cross is allowed to operate in the occupied zone of France. They supply food, medicine and other supplies to Jews and others in the internment camps. In addition, the Commission tries to help Jews by redefining their legal status by having them declared prisoners of war and entitled to protections under the Geneva Convention. The Red Cross is able to improve some of the conditions in the camps.
The French Red Cross provides relief to Jewish prisoners at the internment camps at Hôtel Terminus des Ports, Bombard, and Les Milles.
The Red Cross and Quaker missions continue to collect information on internees and conditions in the camps. They report these conditions to the Allies.
Mexican Consul General Gilberto Bosques, Mexican Ambassador Luis I. Rodriguez, and the entire Mexican legation are arrested by German and French officials. The Brazilian Ambassador and the Brazilian legation are also arrested. The diplomats and their families are interned in the German city of Bad Godesberg for a year. This action is in violation of international conventions.
Ira Hirschmann becomes involved with one of the most active rescue organizations, the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe.
Gerhart Feine, the German Consul General in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, rescues several Jewish families. He issues false German papers to help them escape deportation.
Julio Palencia, Spanish Minister Plenipotentiary in Bulgaria, steps up his actions to protect Jews from deportation. He actively protests Nazi persecution of Jews. Palencia contributes to the saving of the lives of more than 600 Bulgarian Jews. For his actions, he is declared persona non grata and forced to return to Madrid. Upon his return, he is reprimanded for his actions in Bulgaria.
Archbishop Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, who later became Pope John XXIII, intercedes on behalf of Bulgarian Jews with King Boris of Bulgaria.
Carvalho da Silva, Vice Consul for Portugal in Paris, France, personally intervenes on behalf of 40 Portuguese Jews who are at the deportation center of Drancy, France. He convinces the Gestapo to free them and personally accompanies the group through a border crossing of France into Spain. He rescues a second group of about 100 Jews, and accompanies them across the border as well.
Protestant churches in Switzerland pressure the Swiss government to alleviate the restriction on Jewish refugees entering Switzerland. More than 16,379 refugees are allowed to enter the country. The churches provide material aid to Jewish refugees.
The Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople writes a letter to all of the bishops under his authority asking them to help Jews. He states that concealing Jews is a sacred duty.
The Bishop of Wurttemberg, Theophil Wurm, protests the deportation and murder of Jews in Germany.
The World Council of Churches, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, becomes the center for rescue and relief efforts on behalf of Jews. Further, it disseminates information about the Holocaust throughout the world.
A group of German generals near Stalingrad, Russia, plans to overthrow Hitler. The plot is never implemented.
61,000 Jews are murdered at Auschwitz, Treblinka and Belzec.
The US State Department thwarts attempts to save Jewish children in Europe.
When the German army occupies Marseilles, they arrest and intern members of the Quaker, Unitarian and Mennonite committees in Baden Baden, Germany. All legal and semi-legal rescue groups in Marseilles are shut down.
The Joint Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency is set up to rescue Jews in Europe.
The Relief and Rescue Committee of Budapest (Va’ada) begins functioning in Budapest as part of the Jewish Agency.
January 1, 1943
Jews in Holland can no longer have private bank accounts.
January 3, 1943
Wladislaw Racziewicz, President of the Polish government in exile, asks the Pope to denounce Nazi atrocities against Poles and Jews.
January 13, 1943
1,500 Jews are deported from Radom, Poland, to Treblinka.
January 14-24, 1943
Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt confer in Casablanca, Morocco, to discuss the future of the Allied war effort against Germany.
January 17, 1943
Catholic bishop Konrad Graf von Preysing threatens to resign unless the collaboration of German bishops with Nazi policy ceases. He sends communication to Pope Pius XII.
January 18, 1943
The German Luftwaffe begins new attacks on London.
January 18-22, 1943
Second phase of the deportation of the Jews of Warsaw begins.
First Warsaw Ghetto Uprising begins.
January 21, 1943
Gerhardt Riegner provides additional information about the murder of Jews to Minister Harrison at the US Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. He reports that 6,000 Jews are being killed every day in Poland. He further reports on the 130,000 Romanian Jews who had been forcibly deported to Transnistria in 1941. Sixty thousand Jews had already been murdered, and the rest were being starved.
January 22, 1943
Jewish revolt at the Treblinka death camp is started by a transport of Jews from Grodno, Poland.
January 22-27, 1943
Ten thousand French police and several thousand German soldiers are sent to move the 22,000 residents of the old port of Marseilles and destroy it. In the process, 2,000 Jews are arrested.
January 23, 1943
British Army liberates Tripoli, Libya.
January 26, 1943
Members of the Swedish parliament propose legislation to curb anti-Semitism.
January 27, 1943
Members of both houses of the British parliament, in special committees, urge government to help persecuted Jews in Nazi-occupied areas.
Leland Harrison, US Ambassador to Switzerland, submits a report on the murder of Jews in Europe.
David J. Blickenstaff, a Quaker representative, and his Spanish wife Janine begin supervising relief activities on behalf of Jewish refugees in Spain. Relief expenses are paid by the JDC. On April 10, 1943, Spain officially recognizes Blickenstaff. The JDC and the Quakers work in Spain.
The UGIF refuses to hand over to the Nazis lists of foreign Jews residing in France.
1,230 Jewish children, many of whom are orphans, and 369 adults arrive in Palestine via Iran. This is known as the Teheran Children’s Transport.
Swedish consul in Oslo, Norway, Claes Adolf Hjalmar Westring, issues visas for 50 Norwegian Jews to emigrate to Sweden.
February 2, 1943
The German Sixth Army surrenders to the Soviet Army at Stalingrad, Russia. This event is considered the major turning point in World War II. Total German casualties in the Sixth Army are 160,000 dead and 107,000 captured.
February 4, 1943
Field Marshall Montgomery’s British forces are victorious over Rommel’s Africa Corps at El Alemein.
Archbishop of Canterbury, in England, condemns murder of Jews in Europe.
February 5, 1943
Mussolini takes over the post of Italian Foreign Minister.
February 5-15, 1943
10,000 Bialystock Jews are deported to Treblinka. Some resist deportations.
February 8, 1943
The Soviet Army retakes the city of Kursk.
February 10, 1943
US Ambassador to Switzerland Leland Harrison is sent a message from the US State Department not to communicate with private citizens regarding reports of atrocities against Jews. This is sent despite the US and British pledges to help Jews and punish war criminals.
February 12, 1943
The New York Times reports, “The Romanian government has communicated to United Nations officials that it is prepared to cooperate in the transferring of 70,000 Romanian Jews from Transnistria to any refuge selected by the Allies, according to neutral sources. This proposal, which was made in specific terms, suggests the refugees would be moved in Romanian ships which would be permitted to display the insignia of the Vatican to ensure safe passage.” The Allies fail to respond to this offer.
February 16, 1943
The French Vichy government publishes a law promising to supply French labor to Germany. This unpopular law marks the beginning of major resistance to Vichy authorities.
February 18, 1943
There are an estimated 140,000 Jews in the south of France, not including the Italian zone. French police are ordered to round up French and foreign Jews and send them to the Gurs concentration camp, and then to Drancy. The Germans have limited success in this action due to increasing French resistance.
February 22, 1943
Bulgaria and Germany sign an agreement to deport Bulgarian Jews to Poland. Bulgarian officials agree to deliver 50,000 Jews to the Germans. This is the only time that a formal contract for the murder of Jews is written. The contract is signed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Aleksander Belev and Theodore Danneker, Eichmann’s SS representative in Bulgaria. The agreement states, “As a first step, 20,000 Jews will be deported to German territories to the East.” On March 2, the Bulgarian government will approve the agreement.
Dr. Harald Feller is posted as Second Secretary to the Swiss embassy in Budapest.
In Lyons, France, occupying Italian soldiers order local French chief of police to rescind German deportation order.
February 24, 1943
Salonika ghetto is established.
The Spanish ambassador in Berlin suggests that Spanish Jewish passport holders would be allowed Spanish transit visas for immigration to the United States or Portugal.
February 25, 1943
The US and Britain begin day and night bombing raids of Germany.
February 26, 1943
H. Shoemaker, the former US Ambassador to Bulgaria, makes a broadcast appeal to the Bulgarian people to resist the impending deportation of Jews.
February 27, 1943
Christian wives of Jews who have been arrested begin protest at the Berlin Gestapo headquarters on Rosenstrasse. By March, the protest gains the attention of Goebbels and Hitler. The husbands are soon released.
German foreign ministry and SS authorities are increasingly dissatisfied with French and Italian cooperation in the deportations.
Italian police in the cities of Valence, Chambery and Anecy prevent French prefects from arresting Jews in their zones.
In Grenoble, Italian soldiers protect Jewish internees about to be deported. They are released from custody.
The Hebrew Immigration Aid Society releases a report that shows that only 228,964 visas, fewer than half of the 460,000 visas available, were issued by the US State Department.
Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu visits Hitler and is pressured to agree to the resettlement of Romanian Jews to the East. He rejects Hitler’s demand to deport the remaining 70,000 Jews.
The US State Department blocks the rescue of 70,000 Jews from France and Romania by refusing to transfer money to support a plan worked out by the World Jewish Congress. Funds are blocked in Swiss bank accounts until the end of the war. Agents of the Treasury Department discover this intentional delaying of the transfer of money. They determine that this is being done by Breckinridge Long and other officials at the State Department. A report on these activities is eventually submitted to Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the Treasury. Morgenthau submits this report to President Roosevelt, which eventually leads to the creation of the War Refugee Board.
The Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency in Turkey (Va’ad ha-Hatsala be-Kushta), acting on behalf of the Jewish Rescue Committee, is established in Istanbul, Turkey. Headed by Chaim Barlas, it helps thousands of Jews escape from the Balkans to Palestine.
Eleanor Rathbone, a non-Jewish Member of the British Parliament, founds the National Committee for Rescue from Nazi Terror. The group denounces the British government’s lack of support for refugees. She urges public demonstrations against the British refugee policy.
March 1, 1943
A massive rally in support of the rescue of Jews is held in Madison Square Garden. The rally is sponsored by the Church Peace Union, the AFofL/CIO, and many other groups. 37,000 people attend the rally.
Papal Nuncio Andrea Cassulo requests permission to visit the concentration and transit camps in Romania and Transnistria. After visiting the camps, he receives promise to improve conditions in the camps; however, little is accomplished.
March 2, 1943
Italian General Avarna de Gualtieri delivers a note to the French secretary of state, Admiral Charles Platon, stating that “henceforth, not only non-French Jews were under Italian protection but French Jews as well. No Jew in the Italian zone could be coerced or arrested by anyone except Italian authorities, except for violations of the common law.”
March 4, 1943
Bulgarian government evicts 11,000 Jews from the Bulgarian occupied territories of Thrace, Macedonia and eastern Serbia. By the end of March, most of these Jews are sent to the gas chambers of Treblinka.
March 6, 1943
SS Obersturmführer Heinz Röthke estimates there are 270,000 Jews remaining in France, including 200,000 in the southern zone. He hopes to deport 8,000-10,000 Jews per week beginning in April. Under new ordinances, Germans are free to arrest Jews without French police present.
March 9, 1943
Metropolitan Stephan, of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Sofia, and the Metropolitan of Plovdiv Kiril, protest the planned deportation of Bulgarian Jews and bring their objections directly to King Boris.
King Boris X and members of the Bulgarian parliament defy the Nazis by rescinding the order to deport Bulgarian Jews. Although Bulgaria has previously allowed the deportation of thousands of Jews to Treblinka from Thrace, Macedonia and Serbia, they prevent the deportation of 50,000 Bulgarian Jews. With the help of the local population, Jews are dispersed and hidden in the countryside.
José Rojas, Spanish Minister in Bucharest, criticizes Nazi policy of persecuting Jews. He adamantly opposes the deportation of Jews and the brutal conditions imposed by the Nazis. He posts diplomatic protective signs on more than 300 houses where Jewish families live.
The US passes the Barkley Resolution, which strongly advocates for the punishment of Nazis for war crimes. The US House of Representatives passes a similar resolution on March 18.
March 13, 1943
An assassination attempt on Hitler fails.
Spanish Foreign Minister Francisco Gomez Jordana notifies the Germans that some Jewish Spanish nationals will be repatriated.
March 20, 1943
Mussolini transfers authority over Jews from the Italian army to the Italian ministry of the interior. He appoints Guido Lospinoso Commissioner for Jewish Questions in Nice. Lospinoso does everything in his power to thwart German plans to deport Jews. He is successful in helping Jews through September 1943. He works closely with Jewish banker and rescuer Angelo Donati and Catholic monk Father Benoit. Benoit operates out of a monastery in Marseilles.
March 20-August 18, 1943
Jews deported from the Salonika ghetto to Auschwitz.
Spanish government issues a statement reiterating its position that it will repatriate Jewish Spanish nationals.
March 22-29, 1943
7,158 Jews from Macedonia are deported to Treblinka.
March 23, 1943
4,226 Jews from Thrace and the city of Pirot are deported to Treblinka.
Archbishop Papandreou Damaskinos, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, publishes a letter denouncing the deportation of Greece’s 77,000 Jews. The letter is signed by 28 Greek leaders. The letter further states that all Greek citizens must be entitled to the same treatment from the occupation authorities, regardless of race or religion.
March 25, 1943
Von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, complains to Mussolini regarding lack of cooperation by the Italian diplomatic corps and Army in the Italian occupied zone of southern France.
March 27, 1943
Rabbi Wise receives information regarding the mass murder of Jews in Treblinka. He calls on presidential envoy Myron Taylor with a proposal to establish a rescue group.
March 28, 1943
Jewish Congressional delegation and committee meet with FDR to protest State Department’s sabotaging of rescue efforts by its complicated screening procedure for visa applicants. FDR does nothing.
March 29, 1943
Non-governmental leaders in Athens appeal to Euginio Prato, the Political Secretary in the Italian embassy in Athens, to halt the deportation of Greek Jews.
March 31, 1943
Germany gives Spain until March 31, 1943, to repatriate its Jewish Spanish nationals. Jews not repatriated would be treated as all other Jews.
US Ambassador to Turkey Laurence Steinhardt is instrumental in getting Turkey to accept nearly 30,000 Balkan Jews, including many from Romania, for temporary refuge and transit for Palestine.
The Greek leader, Ioannis Rallis, protests to the Gestapo regarding the deportation of Jews. The Greek Minister of Education, Nikolaos Louvaris, greatly helps Jews. More than 600 Greek clergymen are arrested, some deported, for helping Jews. The Greek underground hides many Jews and smuggles them to unoccupied areas. A number of Jewish communities in Greece survive virtually intact. They include Thessaly, Volos, Katerine, Larrissa, Trikkola, Cardhitsa, Cholis and Patris.
An internment camp on the island of Rab (Arbe), of the Dalmatian coast of Yugoslavia, is established by Italian military and diplomatic authorities. More than 3,500 Jews are protected on the island. The camp is liberated on September 8, 1943. Virtually all of the Jews survive.
Sebastián Romero Radigales, Spanish Consul General in Athens, intervenes on behalf of more than 800 Jews of Athens and Salonica, preventing their deportation to Nazi concentration camps. In one instance, he manages to evacuate 150 Jews from a deportation train. Throughout the war, Radigales continues to protest German actions against Jews. As a result, the German Ambassador in Athens lodges a complaint against Radigales asking the Spanish government to instruct Radigales not to interfere in deportations. By the end of the war, Radigales is able to provide protection for numerous Jews in Greece and save them from deportation to Auschwitz.
April 2, 1943
Bulgarian church leader Metropolitan Stephan, in meeting Holy Synod, warns of the imminent danger of deportation of Bulgarian Jews.
April 7, 1943
Winston Churchill warns Spanish ambassador that closing the border to Jewish refugees could cause “destruction of good relations” between Spain and Great Britain. As a result, Spain keeps its borders open. Between July 1942 and September 1944, more than 7,500 Jewish refugees cross into Spain.
Papal nuncio in Slovakia Monsignor Giuseppe Burzio protests deportation of Slovakian Jews.
April 10, 1943
Spanish officials give approval for American relief organizations to operate in Spain. These relief organizations have offices in the US embassy and funds for rescue efforts are provided by the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
April 13-14, 1943
The British Council of Churches condemns anti-Semitism in all forms.
April 17, 1943
Hitler summons Hungarian Regent Admiral Horthy to Salzburg, Austria, to urge him to allow the Jews of Hungary to be ‘resettled.’ Horthy refuses: “The Jews cannot be exterminated or beaten to death.”
April 19-20, 1943
The Jewish underground in Belgium attacks a deportation train from the Mechelen camp bound for Auschwitz. 231 Jews escape, 23 are shot.
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. The US has guaranteed the failure of this conference by significantly limiting any realistic or significant actions that could aid in the rescue of Jews. The conferees declare “it would be unfair to put nationals who profess the Jewish faith on a priority list for relief.”
April 19-May 16, 1943
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; Jews in the Warsaw ghetto resist German deportations to the Treblinka death camp. This uprising lasts nearly a month and is the most successful Jewish revolt in Nazi-occupied Europe. The news of the revolt spreads throughout Europe and inspires other ghettoes to resist.
April 20, 1943
Gerhardt Riegner proposes the rescue of 100,000 Jews in Romania and France. This requires the transfer of rescue and relief money from Jewish relief agencies to Romania. The US State Department effectively delays and blocks the transfer of this money for many months.
April 26, 1943
The American military general staff in North Africa refuses to allow the Allies to set up refugee camps, fearing it would alienate local Arabs.
April 30, 1943
Revolt of Jewish prisoners deported from Wlodawa, Poland to the Sobibor death camp. This revolt fails and all Jewish participants are killed.
Winston Churchill addresses joint session of the US Congress. He predicts the defeat of Hitler and Japan.
Spring 1943 - Greece
After the German occupation of Greece, the Nazis begin rounding up the Jews of Salonica for deportation to Auschwitz. The Italian consulates in Salonica refuse to participate in the roundup of Jews. Italian consulates impede the deportations be engaging in lengthy discussion on defining what a Jew is. Italian consulates also issue naturalization papers to Jews. This action protects many Jews from deportation.
Pellegrino Ghigi, Italian Minister Plenipotentiary in Athens, with the help of General Carlo Geloso, Italian Commander of the 11th Army in Greece, protects Jews in the Italian zone and rescues as many as possible from the German occupied areas such as Salonica.
Guelfo Zomboni, Italian Consul General in Salonica, Greece, on his own authority and without permission from the Italian Foreign Ministry, provides hundreds of Greek Jews Italian birth certificates and certificates of citizenship, which protect Greek Jews from deportation to Auschwitz. He is challenged by the German authorities, but is able to pretend he has authority from the Italian government.
Giuseppe Castruccio replaces Guelfo Zomboni as Italian Consul General in Salonica, Greece. Castruccio plays a key role in saving 350 Salonica Jews by placing them on an Italian military train that takes them out of Salonica into the Italian neutral zone. He does this on his own authority. Like his predecessor, Castruccio issues identification papers and other protective documents to Jews.
Italian soldiers are sent to German detention camps in Salonica on a mission to save Jewish women. They falsely claim they are their wives. The Germans release the women to their "husbands."
Italian military trains carry protected Jews from the German occupied zone to Athens, where they remain temporarily under the protection of the Italian army.
The head of the Italian legation in Athens, Pellegrino Ghigi, and General Carlo Geloso of the Italian Army, agree to protect Jews. As a result, more than 10,000 Jews in Athens are saved by the Italian diplomatic and military forces there.
As long as the Italian army remains as an occupying force, these Jews are fed, housed and remain under Italian protection. After the Italian surrender and withdrawal, many of the Jews are deported and murdered.
Spain decides to protect Jews of Sephardic heritage. By the end of the war, 11,500 Jews will be saved because of Spanish diplomatic intervention.
May 13, 1943
Tunisia is liberated by the Allied armed forces.
May 14, 1943
President Roosevelt decides it would be “extremely unwise” to bring Jewish refugees to camps in military zones in North Africa.
May 18, 1943
The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) is established.
May 19, 1943
The British Foreign Office approves of the idea of a Swedish proposal that would request that Germany release 20,000 Jewish children who would be transferred and taken care of in Sweden until the end of the war. The Swedish government requests the United States and Great Britain to share the cost of food and medicine for these refugees. The Swedish government had already allowed 35,000 Jews into Sweden up until this time. The US State Department and British Foreign Ministry do not reply until January 1944, nearly eight months later. The Swedish plan is abandoned.
May 20, 1943
The Italian Army establishes an internment camp as a safe haven for Yugoslavian and Slovakian Jews on the island of Rab (Arbe).
May 24, 1943
Bulgarians hold protest in Sofia against the proposed deportation of Jews.
May 27, 1943
The secret organization, National Resistance Council, is created in France. Jean Moulin is its head.
Dutch Catholic Church forbids Dutch Catholic policemen to participate in the roundup and deportation of Jews, even if they may lose their jobs.
Episcopal clergy in Holland actively support and participate in the rescue of Dutch Jews.
Himmler orders the liquidation of all ghettos in Poland and the Soviet Union.
June 6, 1943
19,153 Bulgarian Jews are dispersed from Sofia into the Bulgarian countryside. They are housed and fed by their neighbors.
June 25, 1943
Armed rebellion by Jews in Czestochowa, Poland.
June 28, 1943
Herbert Morrison, British Home Secretary, comes out against sending life-saving Palestine immigration certificates to Jews under Nazi control. His objection is on the grounds that the Allies should not negotiate with the Nazis.
June 30, 1943
Churchill asks Roosevelt to provide relief for victims of the Nazis. A refugee camp is set up in Fedhalla in North Africa. By August 1944, 630 Jewish refugees will be moved to Fedhalla from Spain.
Swiss Minister (ambassador) René de Weck saves more than 2,000 Jewish orphans in Moldavia from deportation. He also manages to protect Hungarian Jews in Romania.
Eichmann sends his SS assistant Alois Brunner to Paris with 25 men to speed up the deportations. Brunner takes over operations at the Drancy camp. Vichy announces it will no longer actively cooperate with the Germans in the arrest of French Jews.
July 5, 1943
The Wehrmacht conducts its last major offensive in the German occupied territory of the Soviet Union. Soviet offensives around Kursk fatally weaken the Wehrmacht at the front.
July 9-10, 1943
US and British Allied forces invade Sicily. This is the beginning of the liberation of mainland Europe.
July 10, 1943
The Gestapo in Marseilles reports that Italian police commissioner Guido Lospinoso has moved thousands of Jews out of the German area to Megéve, St. Gervain and Vence, which are Italian protected areas.
July 16, 1943
British government tells Jewish Agency for Palestine that Jewish refugees who escape to Turkey will be given permission to enter Palestine.
Catholic priest Father Marie-Benoit has audience with Pope Pius XII. He presents the Pope with documents regarding the persecution of Jews in France. He asks for assistance in rescuing Jews in the Italian occupied zone in France. Working with Jewish Italian businessman Angelo Donati, he begins preparation for evacuating 30,000 Jews from the south of France to Italy, Spain and North Africa. The project is approved by the Vatican, by Sir Arcy Osborne, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, and by Harold Tittman, US Ambassador to the Vatican. The evacuation plan fails due to the Italian withdrawal from the war on September 8, 1943.
July 20, 1943
Hitler orders the Wehrmacht in the Soviet Union to launch no additional offensives.
1,700 Jews are deported from the island of Rhodes to Athens.
July 21, 1943
Himmler orders the liquidation of all ghettoes in Ostland.
July 23, 1943
Jean Changeneau, police prefect of the Alpes Maritimes, replaces French policeman Ribiere. Changeneau announces that he will protect Jews in his area.
July 25, 1943
Benito Mussolini is overthrown; Marshal Pietro Badoglio sets up a new government in Italy.
Italian Foreign Ministry orders the Defense Ministry not to release Jews on the island of Rab into German custody.
The Italian Foreign Ministry reiterates to the Italian army not to release Jews from its zone for deportation. In addition, the Foreign Ministry tries to arrange for transport of Jewish refugees to Italy.
July 28, 1943
Jan Karski, Polish diplomat/courier, meets with President Roosevelt and gives him eyewitness details of the murder of Jews in Eastern Europe.
Between August and December 1943, 10,708 refugees are allowed to enter Switzerland.
August 2, 1943
Jewish uprising at the Treblinka death camp near Warsaw.
August 3, 1943
Jewish uprising in the Bedzin ghetto in Poland is unsuccessful.
August 5, 1943
The Soviet Union launches major counteroffensives against German armies around Orel and Belgorod. This ends the German attempts to break through Soviet defenses.
King Boris III of Bulgaria, whose country was officially aligned with Germany, refuses Hitler’s demands to deport Bulgaria’s Jews to Germany for extermination. Jews hide in the countryside. Two weeks later, on August 28, the king dies under mysterious circumstances.
August 14-24, 1943
The Quadrant Conference between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill is held in Quebec, Canada. Churchill and Roosevelt agree to defeat Germany before Japan and aim for an invasion of France in May 1944.
August 16-20, 1943
Hundreds of Jewish resistance fighters at the Jewish ghetto in Bialystok, Poland, battle Nazis for several days. Using only small arms, bayonets and axes, they hold off the Nazis for several days. The revolt fails.
August 23, 1943
The Soviet army recaptures Kharkov.
Adam Czerniakov, head of the Warsaw Jewish Council, commits suicide rather than supply more Jews for Nazi deportations.
August 29, 1943
A major crisis erupts between the German occupation authorities and the Danish government. Nazis impose state of emergency. Danish public rises up in acts of sabotage and civil disobedience against the German occupiers. German authorities declare martial law and the Danish government resigns.
Germans order the Vichy government to recruit French and foreign Jews for forced labor in Germany.
The American Unitarian Committee sends a representative to Spain to help refugees.
September 1, 1943
The uprising in the Vilna ghetto is stopped. Fighters escape to forests and meet up with partisans.
September 3-4, 1943
The last deportation of Jews from Belgium, it is called Operation Iltis.
September 3-8, 1943
The Allies invade southern Italy. Italy surrenders. An armistice is signed with the Allies, with Italian Marshal Badoglio. The German Army and SS units move into Italy. Mussolini is arrested.
September 8, 1943
The Italian government surrenders to the Allies and withdraws from the war. Italian Armed Forces in Yugoslavia and southern France return to Italy. Thousands of Jewish refugees flee with them.
Some Italian units flee to Switzerland. They are disarmed and permitted to enter the country.
German forces occupy Athens. Italian forces surrender to the Germans.
Metropolitan Theophilos Damaskinos protests the proposed deportation of Jews from Athens. Damaskinos tells clergy under him to help Jews escape the Nazi net. Jews are hidden and Greek Orthodox religious institutions.
Greek Jews are welcomed into Greek underground resistance organizations. The Nazis demand resignation of Damaskinos. He replies: “The priests of the Orthodox Church never resign. They stay in the place where God put them, even if they are hanged for it!”
The Greek Orthodox Metropolitan in the town of Volo in Thessaly warns the local rabbi of imminent deportation. 822 Jews are taken out and hidden. Most survive. The police chief of Athens, Anghelos Evert, authorizes police forces to give protective papers to Jews. Police units are active in helping Jews during the occupation.
Dr. Werner Best, the Nazi Plenipotentiary in Denmark, requests permission from Hitler to arrest and deport Danish Jews.
September 9, 1943
German army occupies former Italian zone in southern France. Thousands of Jews are trapped around Nice.
Italy is cut in two. The south is held by the Allies. The central and north of Italy are occupied by the German army.
Most Jewish communities are concentrated around Rome and in the northern areas and are now subject to Nazi deportations.
September 10, 1943
Germany Army occupies Rome.
Pope Pius XII opens Vatican properties, including churches, monasteries, convents, and schools, to house Jewish refugees who are seeking protection. Some Jews are even hidden in Vatican City.
Late 1943-May 1945
After the German takeover, most Italian Jews go into hiding and into the underground. Most get sanctuary from their neighbors and the general population. Many are hidden in houses, farms and in the rural countryside. Despite the extreme danger of hiding Jews from the Nazis, the greater part of the Italian people, for humanitarian reasons alone, risked their lives to save Jews.
Many Jews were saved by Catholic religious institutions. Over 200 Jews were saved by Catholic organizations in Assisi, Italy, by a number of priests in numerous institutions.
Approximately 2,000 Jews served in the Italian partisan forces. More than 100 were killed in partisan actions.
By the end of the war, more than more than 35,000 Jews, 85% of the Italian Jewish population, was saved from the Nazi murderers. This was a completely spontaneous, altruistic rescue effort.
September 12, 1943
Mussolini is rescued from his fortress prison in Italy by German troops.
King Christian X of Denmark intercedes directly with the Germans on behalf of the Jews. He is later placed under house arrest.
September 13, 1943
German Consul Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, in Copenhage, tries to prevent deportations of Danish Jews by personally intervening with German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop.
September 15, 1943
Mussolini tries to establish a new fascist government at Saló, on Lake Garda in Italy.
September 17, 1943
Recommendation to deport Danish Jews is passed on to Hitler, who gives authority for implementation of the action.
September 20, 1943
Jewish Council is established in Athens, Greece.
September 25, 1943
Soviet forces recapture Smolensk.
Duckwitz secretly flies to Stockholm and meets with Swedish Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson. Duckwitz tells of plans to deport Danish Jews. Sweden agrees to grant refuge.
Swedish ambassador to Denmark Gustav von Dardel participates in the rescue of Danish Jews.
The headquarters of the SS sends an order to all of its offices stating that, “in agreement with the Foreign Office,” all Jews are now to be deported. Italian Jews are to be arrested and deported first, with the order to be carried out immediately.
Friedrich Möllhausen, the German Acting Consul General in Rome, tries personally to intervene with German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop to stop the deportation of Rome’s Jews. As a means to spare them, Möllhausen suggests that Jews be used for labor. Instead, his suggestion is refused and he is censured by von Ribbentrop’s staff.
German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, Commander of the Army Group South in Italy, refuses to give approval for the use of German troops for deportations of Jews in Rome.
September 29, 1943
Duckwitz warns Danish political leaders about imminent deportation of Danish Jews. Jewish community leaders are warned on the eve of the Jewish High Holidays. The Danish community mobilizes and successfully hides the Jewish community in preparation for a mass escape to Sweden.
SS confiscate Jewish lists of names and addresses from the main synagogue in Rome.
2,000 Jews in Amsterdam are sent to the Westerbork transit camp.
End of September 1943
By the end of September, a total of 52,000 Jews are deported from France. 6,000 are citizens. 13,000 are refugees from Vichy, 4,000 of which are from Marseilles. This was less than half the figure Eichmann had projected. He concluded the French “no longer wished to follow [them] in the Final Solution in France.”
SS officer Theodore Dannecker arrives in Rome with a detachment of 44 SS men to deport the Jews of Rome.
October 2, 1943
Rescue of 7,900 Danish Jews. Danish fisherman and policemen smuggle 98% of the nation’s Jews to neutral Sweden. This is the most successful rescue operation by percentage of Jews in the war. This action is supported by virtually the entire nation. 400 Jews are captured during the Nazi roundups. Of these, fewer than 50 are killed by the Nazis, largely due to the interest and intervention by the Danish King and parliament.
Jewish partisans from the Solim ghetto in Poland help liberate and rescue Jews in Kosovo. 400 Jews escape into the forests.
October 7, 1943
SS general and police chief Jürgen Stroop in Athens orders Jews to register. Only 2,000 register.
October 13, 1943
Italy declares war on Germany.
October 14, 1943
A Jewish revolt in the Sobibor death camp in Poland results in the deaths of 11 guards and the escape of more than fifty Jewish prisoners. As a result, the camp is closed and demolished.
October 15-16, 1943
SS troops begin “Black Sabbath” raid on the Jews of Rome. 1,127 Jews are rounded up and deported to Auschwitz. Thousands of Jews go into hiding. The German ambassador in Rome warns the Pope about the imminent deportation. The Pope subsequently instructs priests to give the Jews sanctuary. The Vatican hides 477 Jews and 4,238 Jews are hidden in convents and monasteries and religious orders in Rome. In addition, many Italians take Rome’s Jews into their homes. In all, 5,615 Jews of Rome are successfully hidden and could not be found by the Nazis. This is 90% of the Roman Jews.
Bishop Ludwig Hudal of the German church in Rome, asks the German military commander to stop the deportation.
Roman 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.
October 18, 1943
Italy declares war on Germany.
In Nazi-occupied Rome, 1,035 Jews are arrested and deported to Auschwitz.
October 18-30, 1943
The Moscow Conference, between US, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, is held. It discusses the future of Europe after the Allied victory.
October 20, 1943
The World Jewish Congress requests that the American Red Cross declare Jews in ghettos and concentration camps to be treated as Prisoners of War. This would provide Jews with Red Cross and Geneva Convention protection. The Red Cross rejects the idea on the grounds that Germans consider Jews to be an internal problem.
International Committee of the Red Cross representative Charles Kolb is sent to Bucharest, Romania. He tours camps in Transnistria and attempts to bring aid to Jewish survivors.
November 1, 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. The declaration does not mention Jews.
November 3, 1943
42,000 Jews are murdered in Poland in an action called “Ernfest” [harvest festival].
November 6, 1943
Soviets retake Kiev.
November 9, 1943
US Senator Guy Gillette, along with Congressmen Will Rogers, Jr., and Joseph Baldwin, introduces a resolution to establish a presidential commission “of diplomatic, economic, and military experts to formulate and effectuate a plan of action to save the surviving Jewish people of Europe.” The resolution becomes the basis for the War Refugee Board, which will be created in January 1944.
The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRRA) is established.
November 19, 1943
Jewish Sonderkommando [prisoners] in the Janowska camp rise up in revolt. Several dozen escape.
November 24, 1943
Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau drafts a letter to the Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, objecting to the State Department’s slow approval of the transfer of funds for the rescue of Jews in France and Romania.
November 28-December 1, 1943
Teheran Conference is held with Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.
November 30, 1943
SS officer Theodore Dannecker is put in charge of the arrest and deportation of Italian Jews.
The Nazis order all Jews in Italy into concentration camps.
Series of intensive air raids against Berlin is begun. It is called the Battle of Berlin.
Breckinridge Long continues his campaign against Jewish immigration to the United States. He gives misleading testimony about immigration before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Between December 1941 and the end of the war, only 21,000 refugees are admitted to the US and they comprise only ten percent of the US quota available for Axis-controlled countries.
Nazis destroy the death camp of Treblinka.
Inmate resistance at the Majdanek death camp. Hundreds are killed, but ten prisoners escape.
40 deportation trains leave France for Auschwitz. There are no deportations in December and January 1943-1944.
Several French prefects destroy the Jewish census and registration files. Refugees are helped by French citizens to flee to the Spanish border by sympathetic French police and civilian officials.
December 3, 1943
Under pressure, Swiss authorities agree to accept all Jewish refugees entering the country.
December 20, 1943
US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau and his assistant, John Pehle, meet with US Secretary of State Cordell Hull and his assistant, Breckinridge Long. Morgenthau complains about the State Department’s almost complete non-cooperation in approving the transfer of funds to be used for the rescue of Jews. Morgenthau assigns Randolph Paul, General Counsel of the Treasury Department, to prepare a background paper documenting the eight month delay in granting World Jewish Congress representative Gerhardt Riegner the license to transfer money. Josiah E. DuBois, Jr., prepares the paper with John Pehle and the Foreign Funds Control Division. Pehle and DuBois investigate the State Department’s inaction on this and other matters, and they prepare a document entitled Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of Jews. It is signed by Randolph Paul. The full report is never published.
December 23, 1943
Gerhardt Riegner is finally given a license to transfer funds from Jewish agencies for the relief and rescue of the Jews of Romania and France. This is eight months after Riegner first requested permission from the US State Department to do so.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representative Charles Kolb tries to protect Jewish deportees in Romania. Kolb visits camps to ascertain living conditions of Jews. Kolb intervenes on behalf of the thousands of Romanian Jews who had been sent to Transnistria.
In 1944, more than 600,000 European Jews will be murdered.
Early in 1944, US Ambassador Laurence Steinhardt manages to have the Turkish government intercede on behalf of ten thousand Turkish Jews living in France. Steinhardt uses his good relationship with Turkish foreign minister Noman Menenencioglu in helping to untangle bureaucratic rules that prevented Jews from passing through Turkey as an escape route. Hirschmann and Steinhardt are able to get Turkish official in charge of visas, Kemel Aziz Payman, to liberalize some of the Turkish immigration laws. The World Jewish Congress estimates that by the end of the 1944, 14,164 Jews escaped through Turkey. Many more, however, entered Turkey illegally through Romania.
The Representative Council of French Jewry (Conseil Représentatif des Juifs de France; CRIF) is founded to coordinate rescue activities among Jewish groups. They work with the Armée Juive to arrange rescue of Jews through Spain. They also participate with the French underground, both in the north and the south.
Dr. Hans Georg Calmeyer, a lawyer serving in the German embassy in Holland, saves many Jews by having them classified as Aryan.
A national underground organization in the Netherlands is set up to support Jews in hiding in Holland.
José Rojas, Spanish Minister in Ankara, is directly responsible for the evacuation of 65 Jews to Spain.
Consul General Rives Childs, head of the US legation in Tangier, Morocco, makes connections with the Spanish authorities in Madrid and Morocco and helps save more than 1,200 Jews. He persuades Spanish authorities to issue visas to Jewish refugees and to provide access to Spanish safe houses until they can emigrate.
The Mexican and Brazilian diplomatic delegations, held in Bad Godesberg, Germany, are released and repatriated in a prisoner exchange with Germany.
When Gilberto Bosques returns to Mexico City, he is greeted by thousands of cheering refugees who had received his life-saving visas. Bosques then serves on the commission of the Secretary of Foreign Relations.
January 14, 1944
Soviet Army launches a major offensive against the German siege of Leningrad.
January 16, 1944
US Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau and Treasury Department officials meet with President Roosevelt and present to him a report on the State Department’s suppression of information on the murder of the Jews of Europe. In his report, renamed Personal Report to the President, Morgenthau states that the State Department:
- Utterly failed to prevent the extermination of Jews in German-controlled Europe…
- Hid their gross procrastination behind such window dressing as “intergovernmental organizations to survey the whole refugee problem…”
- “The matter of rescuing the Jews from extermination is a trust too great to remain in the hands of men who are indifferent, callous, perhaps even hostile.”
January 22, 1944
British and US Allied forces land at Anzio, Italy, southeast of Rome. The invasion beachhead is sealed off by German forces.
President Roosevelt establishes the War Refugee Board (WRB) in response to the report by Morgenthau and the Treasury Department regarding the failure of the US State Department to take significant action to protect Jews from mass murder. The WRB is put under the administration of Henry Morgenthau and the Treasury Department. It is charged with “taking all measures within its power to rescue the victims of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger of death.” John Pehle, of the Treasury Department, is appointed Director of the WRB. He has 30 employees. The US government appropriates one million dollars for the operation of this new agency. The vast majority of funds for operating the WRB will come from Jewish rescue and relief agencies, including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Hebrew Immigration Aid and Sheltering Society (HIAS).
Raoul Wallenberg is later selected for a mission representing the War Refugee Board to protect Hungarian Jews from deportation.
Notable employees of the War Refugee Board include Josiah E. DuBois and Randolph Paul (headquarters), Ira Hirschmann (Turkey), Roswell McClelland (Switzerland), Iver Olson (Sweden), Leonard Ackermann (North Africa and Italy).
In joint operations between the World Jewish Congress, the Joint Distribution Committee, and the War Refugee Board, between October 1943 and October 1944, 1,350 children and adolescents escaped to Switzerland, 770 children reached Spain with 200 parents, 700 children were hidden in Vichy France along with 4,000-5,000 adults. During this period, Lisbon was a center of false papers, including baptismal certificates, birth certificates and legitimate and illegitimate passports, visas and affidavits. By the end of the war, hundreds of thousands of Jews and other refugees escaped through Lisbon.
Statistics will later indicate that the War Refugee Board was successful in saving as many as 200,000 Jews in Eastern Europe.
January 27, 1944
The siege of Leningrad is broken, after more than 900 days and one million civilian deaths.
January 31, 1944
The National Committee Against Nazi Persecution and Extermination of Jews is organized. It is headed by Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy and includes Wendell Wilkie, Vice President Henry A. Wallis, and other prominent members of the Roosevelt administration.
Jean Marie Musy, Former President of the Swiss Council, arranges with SS officials for the rescue and transportation of 1,200 Jews in Theresienstadt concentration camp to safety in Switzerland.
February 2, 1944
The WRB proposes that the US State Department urge Spain to remove restrictions on refugees entering its territory. The US ambassador to Spain refuses to implement the plan.
February 10, 1944
Greek Jews from Salonika in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp who hold Spanish citizenship are repatriated to Spain. This is largely due to the work of Spanish diplomat Radigales.
February 12, 1944
Ira Hirschmann, appointed a War Refugee Board representative, is assigned to Ankara, Turkey. He works closely with Ambassador Steinhardt in the rescue of thousands of Jews. Hirschmann effectively streamlines the procedure by which refugees escape through Turkey. Hirschmann actively publicizes the Turkish rescue operation and Steinhardt’s role in it. In addition, Hirschmann negotiates with the Romanian ambassador in Turkey, Alexander Cretzianu, for the rescue and rehabilitation of 48,000 Jewish survivors of concentration camps in Transnistria.
February 14, 1944
Josef Winniger, an officer in the German intelligence, tells Jewish leaders in Budapest of a plan for German occupation of Hungary.
Under pressure from the Allies, Romanian leader Ion Antonescu agrees to return Jewish deportees to Romania from Transnistria.
February 19-26, 1944
German Luftwaffe carries out heavy raids against London. It is known as the “Little Blitz.”
War Refugee Board representative in Turkey, Ira Hirschmann, persuades the Romanian ambassador to Turkey, Alexander Cretzianu, to persuade the Romanian government to transfer 48,000 Jews to the interior of the country, thus saving their lives.
March 6, 1944
US Army Air Force (AAF) begins major daylight bombing of Berlin.
March 15, 1944
Soviet Army begins liberation of Transnistria.
March 19, 1944
Germany occupies Hungary and immediately implements anti-Jewish decrees; places the Hungarian government at the disposal of Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Final Solution. Consul Lutz begins to issue thousands of additional Schutzpässe (protective letters). These Swiss documents are in fact honored by German SS authorities. Lutz appeals to the other neutral legations in Budapest, including Sweden, Spain, Portugal and the Vatican, for a united front against the deportations of the Hungarian Jews.
March 20, 1944
Eichmann orders the establishment of Judenrat (Jewish councils) representing Hungarian Jews. This is a preliminary step to ghettoization and deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
March 24, 1944
President Roosevelt sends a stern warning to Hungarian officials against harming the Jews.
Miguel Angel de Muguiro, Spain’s diplomatic attaché in Budapest, is openly critical and protests Hungarian and German antisemitic policies. Muguiro is recalled to Spain for his outspoken denunciation of the murder of Hungarian Jews.
Swedish government accepts 160 Jewish refugees from Finland.
Ira Hirschmann’s activities with Steinhardt to rescue Eastern European Jews appear in major news articles throughout the world. This publicity helps the War Refugee Board promote its future rescue activities.
The SS in France conduct arrests without the help of French police. As a result, the arrests are way below German anticipated quotas.
The Polish government in exile in London appoints a Council for the Rescue of the Jewish Population. It operates until the summer of 1945.
International Red Cross representative in Romania Charles Kolb attempts to organize the relief and rescue of Jews from Romania to the Black Sea, to Turkey and then to Palestine. He is aided by the Swiss Minister in Romania, Rene de Weck and Swiss consular officer Hans Keller, the Romanian Red Cross and representatives of the War Refugee Board.
April 2, 1944
Soviet Army in Ukraine crosses into Romania.
April 5, 1944
Jews of Hungary forced to wear the star; Jewish businesses and bank accounts confiscated; Jews placed in ghettoes.
Joel Brand and Rudolph Kasztner, of the Rescue and Relief Committee in Budapest, meet with SS with a plan to ransom Jews from deportation. This plan ultimately fails.
April 7, 1944
Two Jewish prisoners, Alfred Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba, escape Auschwitz and reach Slovakia with detailed information about the mass murder of Jews in the camp. Their report, called the Auschwitz Protocols, (supplemented by information brought by two more escapees) reaches the free world in June.
April 11-18, 1944
The Allied forces in Italy break through the major German defensive line at Monte Cassino. This enables Allied troops to break out of the Anzio beachhead.
April 15, 1944
Thousands of Hungarian Jews move into newly established ghettoes.
April 28, 1944
Deportations of Hungarian Jews from the ghettoes in the countryside to Auschwitz begin.
Only one transport leaves France for Auschwitz.
Friedrich Born, representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, arrives in Budapest and begins to issue thousands of Swiss Red Cross documents to protect Jewish refugees.
George Mandel Mantello issues thousands of El Salvador visas to Jewish refugees in Budapest through Consul Lutz’s office. He is later arrested by Swiss police for violating Swiss neutrality.
May 2, 1944
First Jews deported from rural Hungary arrive in Auschwitz.
May 15-July 9, 1944
More than 438,000 Hungarian Jews from the countryside are deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where most of them are murdered on arrival. It takes 148 trains to carry them there.
May 15, 1944
Dean of the diplomatic corps in Budapest and Papal Nuncio Angelo Rotta condemns the deportation of Jews.
May 17, 1944
Assembly of Reform Churches in Hungary protest the treatment and deportations of Hungarian Jews.
May 27, 1944
Two additional Jewish prisoners escape from Auschwitz. They are Czeslan Mordowicz and Arnost Rosin. They report on the murder in the death camp to members of the Working Group in Slovakia.
June 2, 1944
Chairman of the Jewish Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency requests bombing of the rail lines to the Auschwitz death camp.
June 3, 1944
German troops withdraw from Rome, declaring it an open city.
June 4, 1944
The 5th US Army, commanded by General Mark Clark, liberates Rome.
June 6, 1944
D-Day: Operation Overlord is launched. Allied invasion at Normandy, in northwestern France, opens second front. Seven Allied divisions attack in the largest amphibious operation in history. The invasion involves more than 4,000 ships and 1,000 transport planes.
Deportations from France are halted. Himmler and Eichmann consider the deportation from France to be a failure. Nearly 80% of French Jews survive.
June 7, 1944
The first part of the deportation and murder of Hungarian Jews is complete. 290,000 Jews have been killed in 23 days.
June 11, 1944
Dr. Waldemar Langlet, Swedish Red Cross delegate in Budapest, Hungary, and his wife Nina Langlet along with his assistant, Alexander Kasser, launch a humanitarian campaign to issue Swedish Red Cross protective passes to Hungarian Jews.
June 13, 1944
Germany launches secret weapon called the V-1 (Vergeltungswaffen [vengeance weapon]). This is an unmanned flying bomb that uses jet technology. It is launched from mainland France to bomb English cities.
June 24, 1944
Jews in Budapest ordered to wear the yellow Star of David.
June 25, 1944
Pope Pius XII sends telegram to Hungarian Regent Horthy to stop persecution of “a large segment of the Hungarian people because of their race.” The Pope does not specifically mention Jews.
June 25-28, 1944
Negotiations with SS officials result in 21,000 Jews from southern and southeastern Hungary, including the areas of Baja Debrecen and Szeged, being transferred to Strasshoff, Austria, where they survive the war.
June 27, 1944
US government issues warning to Hungarian government and people regarding treatment of Hungarian Jews.
June 29, 1944
US War Department refuses request to bomb Auschwitz. The request is denied on the grounds that it would ostensibly divert resources needed in order to win the war. It is later discovered that US Air Force bombing raids routinely flew over the Auschwitz death camp.
July 3, 1944
Soviet Army retakes Minsk from the German Army.
July 4, 1944
The Soviet Army reaches the 1939 Polish-USSR border.
The War Refugee Board organizes the establishment of a temporary safe haven for more than 1,000 Jewish refugees. It is established in an old Army base in Oswego, New York.
The Archbishop of Canterbury in England appeals to Hungarian government to stop deportation of Jews.
July 7, 1944
Hungarian Regent Miklós Horthy reassumes power and temporarily halts deportation of Jews. There are 300,000 Jews left in Hungary, 170,000 in and around Budapest. They are concentrated into two ghettoes. Lutz and other neutral diplomats place Jews under their diplomatic protection in over 100 safe houses. Nazi and Arrow Cross gangs continue to raid and murder in these areas.
July 8, 1944
The Kovno ghetto is liquidated. 2,000 Jews are killed and 4,000 deported to Germany.
July 9, 1944
The Allied Armies capture the city of Caen in Normandy, France.
Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg arrives in Budapest. He is employed by the War Refugee Board of the US Treasury Department. His mission is to save as many Jews as possible.
July 12, 1944
Don Angel Sans Briz, Minister (Ambassador) of Spain stationed in Budapest, issues 500 visas to Budapest Jews providing them protection from deportation and death marches. Also rents buildings that become protected by the Spanish legation.
July 13, 1944
Vilna is liberated by the Red Army.
July 18, 1944
Horthy announces deportation of Jews will be halted in Hungary.
Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo resigns after the defeat of the Japanese army by US forces on the Island of Saipan.
July 19, 1944
Cardinal Angelo Roncalli, Vatican Nuncio in Turkey (future Pope John XXIII) appeals to Hungarian Regent Horthy on behalf of 5,000 Hungarian Jews with Palestine visas. Roncalli provides Vatican certificates for Jews in hiding. Roncalli works closely with members of the Yishuv rescue committee in Turkey, including Ira Hirschmann and Joel Brand.
July 20, 1944
Attempted assassination of Hitler by opposition military officers at his headquarters in Rastenberg fails. In reprisal, thousands of Germans are murdered.
July 22, 1944
The Soviet Army captures Lublin, Poland. They liberate the German death camp of Majdanek, near Lublin.
July 28, 1944
The Soviet Army recaptures the city of Brest-Litovsk on the Polish-Soviet border. This Soviet offensive has virtually annihilated the army of German Field Marshal Ernst Busch.
Turkish Consul General Selahattin Ülkümen intercedes on behalf of Jewish Turkish nationals who are being deported from the island of Rhodes. More than 40 Jewish families were spared deportation to Auschwitz. In retaliation, the Nazis bombed the Turkish embassy, fatally wounding Ülkümen’s wife.
August 1-October 2, 1944
Polish resistance army in Warsaw begins actions against the German occupation. The Soviet Army outside the city fails to come to their aid.
August 14, 1944
Operation Anvil. Allied forces land on the south coast of France. They quickly advance 20 miles on the first day.
August 17, 1944
US forces break out of the German defenses in western Normandy.
August 21, 1944
The diplomatic legations in Budapest of Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, the Vatican and the Red Cross protest the resumption of deportations of Jews to Auschwitz. The diplomats from these legations were active in saving Jews from deportation to Auschwitz and the death marches. They all issued protective papers, documents, and other forms of identification. They housed, fed and provided medical care for more than 100,000 Jews in Budapest. They set up apartments and homes as protected houses that were under the protection of the various legations. The following diplomats were active in saving Jews. Sweden: Carl Ivan Danielsson, Per Anger, Lars Berg, Raoul Wallenberg, Göte Carlsson, Dénes von Mezey. Swedish Red Cross: Sandor Kasze-Kasser, Dr. Valdemar Langlet and Nina Langlet, Asta Nilsson. Switzerland: Dr. Harald Feller, Maximillian Jaeger, Charles Lutz and Gertrud Lutz, Peter Zürcher, Ernst Vonrufs, Franz Bischof, Ladislaus Kluger. Swiss Red Cross: Jean de Bavier, Friedrich Born, Dr. Robert Schirmer, Hans Weyermann, Dr. Gyorgy Gergely. Vatican: Monsignor Angelo Rotta, Father Gennaro Verolino, Father Köhler (volunteer). Portugal: Carlos de Liz-Texeira Branquinho, Dr. Carlos Almeida Afonseca de Sampayo Garrido, Gyula Gulden, Count Ferenc Pongrácz. Spain: Miguel Angel de Muguiro, Don Angel Sanz-Briz, Giorgio Perlasca. Poland: Henryk Slawik, Zimmerman. Romania: Florian Manoliu. Turkey: Abdülhalat Birden, Pertev Sevki Kantimir. Argentina: Alberto Bafico. Slovakia: Dr. Spisiak. International Red Cross: Sándor Újváry. Hungarian Red Cross: Sarolta Lukács. Germany: Gerhart Feine.
August 23, 1944
Horthy informs Eichmann that he will not cooperate with the deportation of Hungarian Jews.
August 24-25, 1944
Paris is liberated by Allied forces. The French forces, led by de Gaulle, lead the victory procession.
August 25, 1944
Himmler orders the halt of deportations from Budapest.
August 28-29, 1944
The Slovak National Uprising breaks out. 2,000 Jews take part; 269 are killed.
August 31, 1944
Soviet Army enters Bucharest, Romania.
The Working Group in Slovakia comes up with a major proposal to rescue Jews. It is called the Europa Plan. The Plan calls for bribing SS officials to stop the deportations in Central and Eastern Europe. They negotiate with Alois Brunner and Kurt Becher. Gisi Fleischmann and Rabbi Dov Weissmandel are credited with devising this plan. It ultimately fails.
September 3, 1944
Brussels is liberated by British forces. More than 20,000 Jews remain alive; many had been in hiding.
Last deportation from the Westerbork transit camp.
As a result of a suggestion by Winston Churchill’s son Randolph, evacuation begins by air of 650 German, Austrian and Czech Jews from areas of Yugoslavia to Bari in Allied occupied Italy.
September 4, 1944
Finland surrenders to the Soviet Union.
British capture Antwerp, Belgium, and secure the port.
September 5, 1944
A new Slovak government is formed under Dr. Stefan Tiso (nephew of former president).
Soviet Union declares war on Bulgaria.
September 8, 1944
Bulgaria changes sides and declares war on Germany.
The first V-2, German-built rocket, is launched against London. V-2s are built by Jewish slave laborers in the Dora-Nordhausen concentration camp.
September 11-16, 1944
The Octagon Conference is held in Quebec, Canada, between Roosevelt and Churchill. They plan the postwar occupation and demilitarization of Germany.
September 12, 1944
Soviet Army begins offensive on Budapest, Hungary.
September 16, 1944
Bulgaria surrenders to the Soviet Army.
September 17-18, 1944
Military operation called Market Garden is launched in the Netherlands and Germany by British and US divisions.
September 19, 1944
Germany disbands Danish political parties and ends Danish general strike.
September 20, 1944
Monsignor Angelo Roncalli sends protest about deportations to Dr. Stefan Tiso.
September 25, 1944
Hitler calls up remaining men between 16 and 60 in Germany for military service in the Volkssturm [people’s home army]. This is a last desperate attempt to defend the German homeland.
September 28, 1944
Members of the Working Group in Slovakia, including Gisi Fleischmann, are arrested by the SS.
September 29, 1944
Soviet Army invades German occupied Yugoslavia.
Slovak National Uprising is suppressed by the German army.
Gisi Fleischmann is deported to and murdered in the Auschwitz death camp.
International Red Cross representative Georges Dunand arrives in Slovakia and intervenes on behalf of Jews. He works closely with Jurag Revesz, a Jewish youth leader.
October 2, 1944
International Committee of the Red Cross, under pressure, finally makes official inquiry to Germany on the status of all foreign prisoners in Germany and German-occupied territories.
The Polish resistance forces in Warsaw end the uprising against the German occupiers. The nearby Soviet forces refuse to aid the Poles in their uprising. 250,000 Poles are killed.
October 4, 1944
The British Army lands in German occupied Greece.
October 5, 1944
The British Colonial Office allows only 10,300 Jews to immigrate to Palestine. This will be at the rate of only 1,500 per month. This order rescinds an original offer made to the Jewish Agency of Palestine, which would originally allow all Jews reaching Turkey to enter Palestine.
October 6, 1944
Soviet Army enters Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
October 6-7, 1944
Jewish Sonderkommando [those working in the gas chambers and crematoria] managed to smuggle in gunpowder and blow up one of the gas chambers at Birkenau.
October 9, 1945
Pierre Laval, the Prime Minister of France in Vichy, is convicted in a French court of treason. He is sentenced to death.
October 9-19, 1944
Churchill, Stalin and Averell Harriman of the US, meet at the Moscow Conference in the Soviet Union. They discuss the war.
October 13, 1944
Soviet army liberates Rega, Latvia.
October 14, 1944
British Army liberates Athens.
German armored division enters and occupies Budapest. Hungarian Prime Minister Lakatos is removed. Ferenc Szálazi, head of the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross party, is appointed Prime Minister.
War Refugee Board hears rumors of Jews being concentrated outside of Budapest for deportation. The WRB warns the Arrow Cross, “None who participate in these acts of savagery shall go unpunished…All who share the guilt shall share the punishment.”
October 15, 1944
Admiral Horthy tries to sue for peace with Soviet Union. Horthy is soon arrested by Nazi puppet government. Hungarian Arrow Cross, under Ferenc Szálasi, and Nazis introduce new reign of terror and murder thousands of Budapest Jews. Death marches to Austria are instituted. Lutz, Wallenberg, Sanz-Briz, Perlasca, Born, Rotta and many other neutral diplomats and their helpers succeed in stopping death marches and protecting their safe houses. By the end of the war, the courageous diplomats are able to save the lives of more than 100,000 Jews in Budapest.
Dr. Sampayo Garrido, Portuguese Chargé d’Affaires in Budapest, and later his replacement, Carlos Branquinho, issue more than 800 protective passes and establish safe houses to shelter Jews.
The Relief and Rescue Committee of Budapest (Va’ada), headed by Otto Komoly, helps in the relieve efforts of Jews in the Budapest ghettoes. 5,000 Jewish children are housed in specially designated buildings.
October 20, 1944
SS troops under Eichmann round up 27,000 Jews in Hungary who were marched to the Austrian border, bound for deportation. Raoul Wallenberg and other neutral diplomats in Budapest follow behind these death marches and manage to rescue thousands of people.
Tito’s partisans liberate Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
October 23, 1944
Adolf Eichmann leaves Budapest along with his SS troops.
October 27, 1944
Hungarian Regent Horthy resigns.
October 31, 1944
Himmler orders the murder of Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau to cease. The SS begin dismantling the camp.
Henryk Slawik, the Polish Chargé d’Affaires in Budapest, issued thousands of documents certifying that Polish Jewish refugees were Christian. Slawik was caught and deported to Mauthausen, where he was killed.
An Italian refugee living in Budapest, Giorgio Perlasca, becomes a Spanish citizen and volunteers with Minister Sans-Briz in mission to protect Jews in Budapest. By November, 3,000 Jews received Spanish protection in eight safe houses.
Georges Dunand, delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross, arrives in Slovakia with money from the Joint Distribution Committee (JCD) to save Jews. Dunand distributes these much-needed funds to refugees and helps a number of Jews escape deportation.
Roosevelt elected President of the US for a fourth term.
November 4, 1944
Jewish, Nazi and other allied leaders meet in Switzerland in a proposed rescue effort of Hungarian Jews.
November 8, 1944
Beginning of a new round of death marches of approximately 40,000 Jews from Budapest to Austria. Himmler orders the end of the death marches in mid-November. Eichmann is summoned to Berlin and is confronted by Himmler, who orders him to stop all murder actions. Himmler orders all killing in the extermination camps to cease.
German Consul Gerhard Feine, Director of the Jewish Department of the German Plenipotentiary of Budapest, secretly informs Swiss Consul Lutz of Veesenmayer’s and Eichmann’s plans to deport and murder the Jews of Budapest.
November 10, 1944
Refusing to recognize the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross regime, the Swiss government recalls head of legation Maximilian Jaeger from Budapest. As Lutz’s supervisor, Jaeger has been active until then in protesting the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz.
November 11, 1944
British and Greek Armies complete the liberation of Greece.
November 13, 1944
In Budapest, a ghetto is set up for Jews without protection of neutral nations.
November 23-27, 1944
Swiss diplomats Leopold Breszlauer and Ladislaus Kluger issue 300 protective papers to Hungarian Jews at the Austro-Hungarian border.
November 26-29, 1944
Pest ghetto, with 63,000 Jews, is established. The ghetto contains 293 houses and apartments, with up to 14 persons per room.
Spanish Minister Don Angel Sans-Briz leaves Budapest and is recalled to Spain. Perlasca appoints himself Spanish “Ambassador” and continues to issue Spanish protective passes through the end of the war. The Nazis honor his protective papers.
Dr. Harald Feller assumes post as Swiss Interim Chargé d’Affaires to Budapest, replacing Maximilian Jaeger. Feller works closely in support of Consul Lutz’s rescue activities. He personally hides 32 Jews in his own home.
Under pressure from the Allies and the Red Cross, SS General Kurt Becher allows the Allies and relief agencies to supply medical and food supplies to inmates in concentration camps.
December 6, 1944
Saly Mayer, the Swiss representative of the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, arranges for the transport of 1,355 Orthodox Jewish refugees from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to Basel, Switzerland.
December 16, 1944
German Army launches major offensive against the Allied Armies in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium. It is called the Battle of the Bulge.
December 26, 1944
The US Third Army, under General Patton, liberates trapped US forces in the Belgian town of Bastogne.
The Soviet Army completes the encirclement of Budapest.
The Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects is created by the Supreme Allied Headquarters. Its purpose is to catch and prosecute Nazi war criminals.
January 1, 1945
Carl Burkhardt becomes head of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
January 1-16, 1945
By the beginning of 1945, the German Ardennes offensive, called the “Battle of the Bulge,” for which the Nazi leadership had risked so much, fails.
January 5, 1945
Five thousand Jews are taken from Swedish protective houses and moved to the central Pest ghetto.
January 7, 1945
Arrow Cross attacks Swedish protected houses on Jokai Street, Pest ghetto.
January 9, 1945
US Army, under General MacArthur, lands in Luzon, Philippine Islands.
Peter Zürcher and Ernst Vonrufs, acting representatives of Swiss interests in Budapest, along with Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, thwart Nazi plans to blow up the Pest ghetto with 70,000 Jewish inhabitants.
January 16, 1945
Soviets liberate Budapest.
January 17, 1945
Auschwitz-Birkenau is closed and evacuated, 66,000 prisoners are taken away on a series of death marches.
The Soviet Army enters and liberates Warsaw, Poland. Warsaw is completely destroyed.
Wallenberg was last seen in the company of Soviet soldiers; he said: “I do not know whether I am a guest of the Soviets or their prisoner;” he has not been seen as a free man since.
January 18, 1945
Soviet Army liberates Pest.
January 19, 1945
Soviet Army liberates Lodz, Poland.
January 27, 1945
Soviet troops enter and liberate Auschwitz concentration camp. Seven thousand remaining prisoners are free.
The German troops in Budapest surrender to Marshall Malinovsky of the Soviet Army.
February 1, 1945
On Himmler’s orders, 2,700 Jews are taken from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and sent to Switzerland.
February 3, 1945
US Army begins the liberation of Manila in the Philippines.
February 4-11, 1945
An Allied conference is held at Yalta in the Russian Ukraine between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. It defines the postwar spheres of influence in Europe and Germany.
February 5, 1945
International Committee of the Red Cross arranges for small transport of Jews from Terezin KZ to Switzerland.
February 11, 1945
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee representative Saly Mayer meets with SS officer Kurt Becker to arrange for the release of Jews from concentration camps. 1,691 Jews are rescued from Hungary and brought to Switzerland. 17,000 other Jews are later rescued under these negotiations.
February 13, 1945
German Army surrenders in Budapest.
February 13-15, 1945
The German city of Dresden is firebombed by the British and US air forces. 60,000 are killed.
February 19, 1945
Count Folke Bernadotte, head of the Swedish Red Cross operating in Germany and nephew of King Carl Gustav V of Sweden, negotiates with SS commander Heinrich Himmler and General Walter Schellenberg, Chief of Himmler’s Office of Information, for the release of thousands of Scandinavians held in Nazi concentration camps. An agreement is made to release thousands of prisoners and Jewish inmates. The Swedish and Danish Red Cross are allowed to supply food and medicine to the inmates of the camps. Iver Olson of the War Refugee Board in Stockholm is also involved in these negotiations.
February 23, 1945
Turkey declares war on Germany.
Soviets arrest Swiss Minister Dr. Harald Feller and send him to Moscow, where he is imprisoned for more than a year in the Lubianca prison.
March 4, 1945
Finland declares war on Germany.
March 5, 1945
The Ninth US Army reaches the Rhine River near Düsseldorf.
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 rescinds anti-Jewish laws.
March 19, 1945
Hitler issues the Nero Order (Nero-Befehl). This orders German troops to leave German cities ruined for advancing troops.
March 22, 1945
US Army crosses the Rhine River into Germany at Oppenheim.
April 1, 1945
US Army lands on the island of Okinawa, in the Pacific.
April 4, 1945
German Army withdraws from Hungary.
Ohrdruf concentration camp is liberated by the US Army.
April 9, 1945
New Allied offensive in Italy begins. It is called the Gothic Line campaign.
SS begins evacuating prisoners from Mauthausen.
April 10, 1945
US Army captures Hanover, Germany.
April 11, 1945
US troops reach the Elbe River, near Wittenberg.
Buchenwald concentration camp is liberated by the US Army.
April 12, 1945
US President Franklin Roosevelt dies. Harry Truman becomes the new President.
Generals Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton visit the liberated Ohrdruf camp. Eisenhower orders troops and local Germans to witness the atrocities. Eisenhower also encourages the press to cover the liberation of the camps.
April 13, 1945
Soviet Army enters and liberates Vienna, Austria.
April 15, 1945
British soldiers liberate Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Red Cross transfers 413 Danish Jews from Czechoslovakia to Sweden.
April 16, 1945
The Soviet Army launches its last assault on Berlin.
April 19, 1945
Danish Red Cross volunteers help with the release of surviving inmates at the Neuengamme concentration camp, who are brought safely to Denmark.
April 20, 1945
Himmler meets with Swedish diplomat Norbert Masur to arrange to free 7,000 women from Ravensbrück. Half of them are Jewish.
Himmler orders the evacuation of thousands of Jews in deadly death marches away from the concentration camps.
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 23, 1945
US Army liberates Flossenberg concentration camp.
April 25, 1945
US and Soviet troops link up at Torgau, Germany, on the Elbe River.
The United Nations meeting in San Francisco, California, drafts charter of the United Nations.
April 27, 1945
Sachsenhausen concentration camp is liberated by the Soviet Army.
The Landsberg-Kaufering concentration camps are liberated by the 36th Division of the US Army.
April 28, 1945
Italian partisans kill Mussolini as he tries to escape to Switzerland.
April 29, 1945
The German Army unconditionally surrenders to the Allies in Italy.
The Soviet Army occupies Slovakia.
In the day before he commits suicide, Hitler dictates his last will and testament. In it, he exhorts “the government and the people to uphold the race laws to limit and to resist mercilessly the poisoners of all nations, international Jewry.”
Hitler appoints Admiral Karl Donitz to be his successor.
Dachau concentration camp is liberated by the 42nd and 45th US Divisions of the 7th US Army.
April 30, 1945
Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin.
US Army captures Munich, Germany.
The Soviet Army captures the old German Reichstag building in Berlin.
The Soviet Army liberates Ravensbrück concentration camp. They find 3,500 women there.
May 1, 1945
The Soviet Army liberates the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland.
May 2, 1945
Berlin falls to the Soviet Army. The German troops defending Berlin surrender.
May 4, 1945
German forces surrender to British Commander Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.
The German occupying forces in the Netherlands and Denmark surrender.
Soviet Army liberates concentration camp in Oranienberg.
The Red Cross takes over concentration camp at Theresienstadt.
May 5, 1945
Mauthausen concentration camp is liberated by the US Eleventh Armored Division.
The German Army in Norway surrenders.
The 71st Division of the US Army liberates the Gunskirchen concentration camp in Austria.
May 6, 1945
The Eleventh Armored Division of the US Army liberates the Ebensee concentration camp in Austria.
May 8, 1945
Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day): German General Alfred Jodl surrenders at Eisenhower’s headquarters, the end of the Third Reich.
The German army in northeast Germany surrenders to Field Marshal Montgomery.
55 million people are dead. Nearly half are civilians.
More than six million Jews and five million others have been murdered. Two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe is murdered. 90% of the Jewish Polish population has been murdered. However, in more than half of the countries in Europe, 50% or more of the population of Jews survives. These include the countries of Denmark, Bulgaria, Italy, France, Germany and Austria.
The Soviet Army liberates Grossrosen concentration camp.
The US Army captures Hermann Göring.
Jewish returnees to Denmark have their property, including houses, businesses and money, returned to them. All Jews are granted the sum of $4,505 Kroner to help rebuild their lives.
May 9, 1945
Prague, Czechoslovakia, is liberated by the Soviet Army.
May 10, 1945
The German Army in Czechoslovakia surrenders to the Soviet Army.
May 23, 1945
SS chief Himmler is arrested by a British Army unit. Later that day, he commits suicide by taking a cyanide capsule.
Pio Perucchi dies at the age of 75 in Lugano, Switzerland.
July 16, 1945
First detonation of an atomic bomb in New Mexico. The bomb in code-named “Trinity.”
July 17-August 2, 1945
A conference is convened in Potsdam, Germany, between Stalin, Churchill (Attlee), and President Truman.
August 6, 1945
Americans detonate atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. It destroys two-thirds of the city.
August 8, 1945
The victorious Allied powers meet and develop an outline for an International Military Tribunal to try German war criminals.
The Soviet Union declares war on Japan and invades Japanese occupied Manchuria.
August 9, 1945
Americans detonate atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. It destroys half of the city.
August 11, 1945
Anti-Jewish riots in Crackow, Poland.
August 12, 1945
The Soviet Army occupies Japanese-held North Korea.
August 13, 1945
The World Zionist Congress demands the admission of one million Jewish refugees to Palestine.
August 14, 1945
Japanese Emperor Hirohito accepts Allied surrender terms. He tells his people to accept the terms and not to resist the occupation.
August 15, 1945
V-J Day: Victory over Japan proclaimed.
Marshal Philippe Pétain, former head of the Vichy government, is convicted in a French court of treason and is sentenced to death. His sentence is later commuted to life imprisonment.
August 26, 1945
British Labor Party wins in a landslide.
August 28, 1945
First US troops land in Japan to prepare for surrender and occupation.
September 2, 1945
Victory in Japan (V-J Day). Japanese diplomats and soldiers surrender at MacArthur’s headquarters aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. End of World War II.
More than 55 million people have been killed in the deadliest war in history. For the first time in history, more civilians are killed than soldiers.
Europe and Japan are in ruins.
September 20, 1945
The Jewish Agency for Palestine submits a claim against Germany for war crimes committed against the Jewish people.
October 9, 1945
Pierre Laval, the Prime Minister of France in Vichy, is convicted in a French court of treason. He is sentenced to death.
October 24, 1945
The United Nations comes into formal existence after its charter is ratified in New York City.
Former Secretary of State Cordell Hull is awarded Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in creating the United Nations.
November 13, 1945
Charles de Gaulle is elected President of France.
November 15 – December 14, 1945
Dachau trials are conducted at the site of the former concentration camp. Forty former guards and administrators are tried. Many are sentenced to death.
November 22, 1945 – August 31, 1946
Nazi war leaders are put on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, for crimes against humanity. They are tried by the International Military Tribunal (IMT). The IMT rules that obedience to superiors’ orders is insufficient defense for crimes against humanity. The defendants include Hermann Göring, Rudolph Hess, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Julius Streicher, Joachim von Ribbentrop, General Wilhelm Keitel, General Alfred Jodl, Albert Speer, Admiral Karl Donitz and others. They are charged with: 1) crimes against the peace, 2) war crimes, 3) crimes against humanity, and 4) conspiracy to commit any of these crimes. The military tribunal finds 12 of the defendants guilty and sentences them to death. Seven others receive prison terms and three are acquitted.
US diplomat Hiram Bingham resigns from US Foreign Service in protest for the US government failing to thwart Nazis’ activities in South America during and after the war.
It is estimated that 250,000-350,000 Jews are liberated from the concentration camps. 1.6 million come out of hiding. The first wave of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust emigrate to Palestine (142,000), the United States (72,000), Canada (16,000), Belgium (8,000), and other places (10,000), including Central and South America and Australia. A very few stay in Europe.
The International Court of Justice is established in The Hague, The Netherlands. It is the official judicial body of the United Nations.
The United Nations establishes International Refugee Organization (IRO). It takes over from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRRA).
April 27, 1946 – November 12, 1948
The International Military Tribunal for the Far East opens war crimes trials against members of the Japanese Imperial government and the armed forces. The IMT indicts former war Prime Minister Tojo and 27 others.
April 29, 1946
US/British commission report advises against partition of the British mandate in Palestine between Jewish and Arab states.
May 1, 1946
The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry recommends allowing 100,000 Jewish survivors to immigrate to Palestine. The British government refuses the recommendation.
July 4, 1946
A violent attack against Jews breaks out in Kielce, Poland. A Polish mob kills 42 Jews, including two children. Other anti-Jewish pogroms break out across Poland. Many Jews decide not to try to return to Poland.
August 13, 1946
British government opens detention camps on the island of Cypress to detain Jewish refugees who try to enter Palestine.
October 1, 1946
Nuremberg trial verdicts are pronounced. Guilty: Göring, Borman (in absentia), Ribbentrop, Kaltenbrunner, Keitel, Rosenberg, Frank, Frick, Streicher, Jodl, Sauckel – all to hang; Funk, Räder, Hess – life sentences; Speer, Donitz, Schirach – 20 years; Von Neurath – 15 years. Acquitted: Fritzche, Schacht, von Poppen.
October 11, 1946
Nuremberg defendants are denied appeals of their convictions.
October 15, 1946
Göring commits suicide just before he is scheduled to be hanged.
October 16, 1946
Nuremberg war criminals are hanged.
October 25, 1946
The Nuremberg doctors trial. 23 Nazi doctors are tried for war crimes. The charges include performing medical experiments on prisoners.
Twelve separate trials are conducted against Nazi war criminals. 185 war criminals are prosecuted.
Belgian government institutes a law to memorialize Jewish victims of the Nazis.
Chiune Sugihara is forced to resign from the Japanese Foreign Ministry because of “that incident in Lithuania.”
Soviet Union produces a death certificate to substantiate claim that Raoul Wallenberg died of a heart attack in Lubianca prison in 1947. Few actually believe the authenticity of this statement.
The American Friends’ Service Committee (AFSC) of the Society of Friends/Quakers, receives the Nobel Peace Prize for its activities in helping refugees escape the Nazis in Europe.
January 4-December 4, 1947
The Nazi Judges’ Trial in Nuremberg, Germany.
March 29, 1947
Rudolph Höss, former commander of the Auschwitz death camp, is sentenced to death by hanging.
Simon Wiesenthal founds Documentation Center of Nazi War Criminals in Linz, Austria.
April 16, 1947
Rudolph Höss is hanged.
May 8, 1947 – July 30, 1948
I. G. Farben board of directors’ trial at Nuremberg. Of the 24 board members, 13 are convicted, 10 are acquitted, and one is not tried.
May 10, 1947 – February 1948
“Hostage trial” of senior German Army officers at Nuremberg. 8 are convicted, 2 acquitted, 1 commits suicide and 1 is released due to ill health.
July 1, 1947 – March 10, 1948
14 SS leaders are tried in Nuremberg. 13 are tried and convicted and sentenced to prison. One is acquitted.
July 3, 1947 – April 10, 1948
24 senior SS and SD commanders are tried at Nuremberg. 14 sentenced to death.
August 16, 1947 – July 31, 1948
The Krupp trial is held. 12 Krupp officials are tried. 11 are sentenced to prison and one is acquitted.
November 29, 1947
The United Nations votes for partition of Palestine. This leads to the creation of a Jewish state.
Pope Pius XII requests mercy for Nazi war criminals condemned to death. This appeal is turned down.
May 14, 1948
Britain’s mandate to govern Palestine officially expires. The state of Israel is established. Palestine is divided between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan.
May 15, 1948
The Egyptian and Jordanian armed forces invade the newly-created State of Israel.
May 20, 1948
United Nations Security Council appoints Folke Bernadotte to mediate between Jewish and Arab armies. Bernadotte is able to secure a 4-week temporary truce and cease-fire.
September 17, 1948
UN mediator Folke Bernadotte is assassinated by Jewish resistance group called Hazit ha-Moleder [Fatherland Front] in Jerusalem.
A genocide convention, enacted to react against future genocidal wars, is called by the United Nations.
A new Geneva Convention is signed in 1949. It establishes rules for treatment of civilians in times of war.
January 7, 1949
A cease-fire is signed between Arab and Israeli governments.
May 11, 1949
United Nations votes to admit Israel.
The State of Israel passes the “Law of Judging Nazi Criminals and the Helpers.” This allows the Israeli government to try former SS and Nazis.
René de Weck dies in Rome at the age of 63.
January 12, 1951
The United Nations Genocide Convention Treaty is passed. Article 56 of the UN charter bans murder and deportation of peoples based on racial, religious or political reasons.
April 12, 1951
The Israeli parliament establishes an annual commemorative memorial day to honor victims of the Holocaust.
September 27, 1951
German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer apologizes for the Nazi persecution and murder of Jews. Adenauer further offers to pay reparations.
Germany agrees to pay restitution for the persecution of Jews during World War II.
September 10, 1952
Luxembourg Treaty is signed by Israel and West Germany. West Germany agrees to pay reparations in the amount of 820 million dollars.
Establishment of a Holocaust Museum in Israel. It is called Yad Vashem [Hebrew for place and name], the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority.
The state of Israel passes a law to honor those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust; a commission was established to recognize Righteous Among the Nations, non-Jews who saved Jews during the war.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz is awarded the Cross of the Commander of the Dannebrog Order by the Danish King Frederik IX for his actions in saving Danish Jews.
Gilberto Bosques is appointed Mexican Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Cuba. He becomes a lifelong mentor to Cuban President Fidel Castro and Latin American revolutionary Che Guevarra.
January 12, 1953
Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli is made a Cardinal by Pope Pius XII.
Dr. Aristides de Sousa Mendes dies in poverty in a hospital for the poor in Lisbon at the age of 69.
Luis Martins de Souza Dantas dies in Paris, France, at the age of 78.
Jews under the Italian Occupation, by Leon Poliakov and Jacques Sabille, is published. It outlines the rescue of Jews by Italian soldiers in France, Yugoslavia and Croatia.
February 28, 1955
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz is appointed German Ambassador to Denmark.
Street named after Carl Lutz in Haifa, Israel.
Soviet government asserts that Raoul Wallenberg died of a heart attack in prison in 1947. The Soviet Union produces documents to support their claim. No major efforts by the US or Sweden to find Wallenberg are instituted.
Swedish government officials announce that the search for Raoul Wallenberg is over.
November 6, 1957
A memorial to “Christian Heroes who helped their Jewish Brethren escape the Nazi terror” is dedicated in New York City by the Anti-Defamation League and B’nai B’rith.
October 8, 1958
Archbishop Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the Papal nuncio in Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and France during World War II, is elected Pope. He takes the name John XXIII. During his term as Pope, he institutes major reforms in the Catholic Church, including the Vatican II council. He becomes the first Pope to enter a synagogue.
British diplomat in Berlin Frank Foley dies.
Swiss Minister in Budapest Maximilian Jaeger dies in Switzerland at the age of 74.
January 25, 1959
Pope John XXIII announces his intention to convene an Ecumenical Council. It becomes known as Vatican II.
The Jewish community of Italy gives gold medals to Christians who played important roles in rescuing Jews. Monsignor Montini (later Pope Paul VI), head of the Holy See’s Aid Service to Refugees during the war, declines to accept a medal. He states: “I acted in the line of duty and for that I am not entitled to a medal.”
Pope John XXIII calls for a change in the Catholic church’s relationship with Jews. He eliminates the phrase “perfidious Jews” from the Good Friday liturgy. He also removes the phrase “let us pray for the unbelieving Jews.”
Portuguese diplomat Sampayo Garrido dies at age 77.
Former SS officer responsible for the deportation of Jews to death camps, Adolf Eichmann, is captured by Israeli agents in Buenos Aires, Argentine.
Adolf Eichmann trial opens in Jerusalem, Israel.
Simon Wiesenthal reopens his Documentation Center in Vienna.
December 15, 1961
Adolf Eichmann is convicted by an Israeli court and sentenced to death.
Israel’s Holocaust museum inaugurates the Avenue and Forest of the Righteous. Carob trees are planted in honor of individuals who saved Jews during the Shoah.
May 31, 1962
Eichmann is hanged and his ashes are scattered in the Mediterranean.
October 11, 1962
Pope John XXIII opens Vatican II. Jewish and Protestant clergy, as well as scholars, are invited as observers.
February 20, 1963
A play by Rolf Hochhuth entitled Der Stellvertreter [The Deputy] opens in Berlin. The play is critical of Pope Pius XII’s silence during the Holocaust.
June 3, 1963
Pope John XXIII dies.
Israel honors first of the Righteous Among the Nations. Every person honored for saving Jews receives a tree planted in his or her name and is awarded a certificate and medal. German businessman Oskar Schindler was the third person so honored.
Raoul Wallenberg awarded Righteous Among the Nations medal.
Red Cross representative in Budapest Friedrich Born dies in Switzerland.
65,000 Nazi war criminals have been tried, convicted and sentenced.
Carl Lutz is honored as Righteous Among the Nations.
Nostra Aetate [In Our Time] is approved as part of the final session of Vatican II. It includes key statements pertaining to Jewish-Catholic relations. The document deplores anti-Semitism and rescinds the idea that Jews are “rejected, cursed, or guilty of deicide [killing of Jesus].”
Swedish Red Cross rescuers Dr. Valdemar and Nina Langlet are honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.
Spanish Minister in Budapest Don Angel Sanz-Briz is designated Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
June 5-10, 1967
Responding to continuing threats along its border, Israel fights Six Day War against Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Israel occupies the West Bank and the Sinai Peninsula.
Portuguese Consul General in Bordeaux Dr. Aristides de Sousa Mendes receives Righteous Among the Nations award from Yad Vashem.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz is appointed Staatssekretär (State Secretary), the highest civilian post in the German Foreign Ministry. He is given this posting for life.
The first Sugihara survivor finds Chiune Sugihara.
Bruno Kreisky, an Austrian Jew, is elected Chancellor of Austria. He is the first Jew to be elected to this high office. Kreisky left Austria in 1938 as a refugee.
October 22, 1970
The American dramatic television series Holocaust is broadcast in West Germany.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz and Paul Grüninger awarded Righteous Among the Nations medals.
Former Swiss Police Captain Paul Grüninger dies at the age of 81.
The Bulgarian Jews and the Final Solution, 1940-1944, by Frederick B. Chary, is published. It details the rescue of the Jews in Bulgaria.
Ambassador Feng Shan Ho retires to San Francisco after four decades of diplomatic service for the Chinese Nationalists. He is discredited through a political vendetta by his own government and denied a pension.
Portuguese diplomat Carlos de Liz-Texeira Branquinho dies at the age of 71.
February 16, 1973
Ambassador Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz passes away in his hometown of Bremen, Germany, at the age of 68.
October 6, 1973
Yom Kippur War. Syria’s military engages in surprise attack against Israel. Its forces are turned back.
Israel’s Holocaust museum holds a major conference entitled Rescue Attempts During the Holocaust. The conference papers are published in 1977.
Vatican issues Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing “Nostra Aetate.”
February 13, 1975
Swiss Vice Consul in Budapest Carl Lutz dies in Bern, Switzerland at the age of 80.
Polish diplomat Jan Karski is honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in Israel.
Acting Swiss diplomat in Budapest Peter Zürcher dies in Zürich at the age of 61.
Polish diplomat Henryk Slawik is designated Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies opens in Los Angeles.
Presidential commission to establish an American memorial to the victims of the Holocaust is convened by Jimmy Carter.
The Office of Special Investigations is created by the US Congress to investigate Nazi war criminals in the US.
Swedish Ambassador Per Anger is honored as Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
US State Department and CIA provide records and information to Sweden regarding the Wallenberg case.
US Congress passes a law creating the United States Holocaust Memorial Council for the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
US Congress and President Ronald Reagan award Raoul Wallenberg honorary citizenship. Wallenberg is only the third person to receive this honor, after Winston Churchill and the Marquis de Lafayette.
A national registry of Holocaust survivors is established by US Holocaust survivors.
Swedish Minister Carl Ivan Danielsson is designated Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Swedish diplomat Lars Berg is honored as Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Swiss diplomat Ernst Prodolliet is declared Righteous Among the Nations.
Brazilian diplomat Aracy de Carvalho-Guimaraes Rosa is honored as Righteous Among the Nations.
March 28, 1982
Italian Ambassador Gastone Guidotti, who helped Jews in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, during the war, passes away.
Swiss Consul in Bregenz, Austria, Ernst Prodolliet dies at his home in Amriswil, Switzerland.
Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara receives the Righteous Among the Nations award.
Canada awards honorary citizenship to Raoul Wallenberg.
Claude Lanzmans’ 9-hour documentary Shoah is broadcast worldwide.
The landmark book The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War, by Sir Martin Gilbert, is published.
May 5-7, 1985
President Ronald Reagan visits cemetery in Bitburg, Germany, which has Waffen SS graves. This visit is highly controversial.
Vatican publishes paper on Jewish-Christian relations. It is called “The Common Bond: Christians and Jews: Notes for Preaching and Teaching.” It is the first time that the Holocaust and Israel are mentioned in a Vatican document.
Kurt Waldheim is elected Secretary General of the United Nations despite his wartime service as an officer serving with the German Army in the Balkans. Waldheim served as an intelligence officer in an area that had numerous genocidal actions against Jews and other minorities in Yugoslavia.
July 31, 1986
Chiune Sugihara dies in Kamakura, Japan at age 86.
The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue, Survival, by Susan Zuccotti, is published.
Aristides de Sousa Mendes posthumously reinstated to the diplomatic corps in Portugal.
Raoul Wallenberg monument is dedicated in Budapest, Hungary.
Raoul Wallenberg receives honorary citizenship from the State of Israel.
Friedrich Born receives the Righteous Among the Nations award.
January 12, 1988
US diplomat in Marseilles, France, Hiram “Harry” Bingham dies in Salem, Connecticut.
Candido Porta dies in Switzerland at the age of 96.
Samuel and Pearl Oliner publish The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe, their landmark study of rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.
Brazilian diplomats in France Dr. Jose and Carmen Santaella are designated as Righteous among the Nations.
Italian Giorgio Perlasca honored with the Righteous Among the Nations award.
Soviet Union presents Wallenberg family his diplomatic passport and other personal belongings.
The Soviet Union collapses.
East and West Germany are reunited.
Selahattin Ülkümen awarded Righteous Among the Nations medal.
Dr. Feng Shan Ho’s memoirs, “Forty Years of My Diplomatic Life” is published. His rescue work is barely mentioned in just 70 characters.
Polish President Lech Walesa apologizes for antisemitism throughout Polish history.
Monument to Carl Lutz is dedicated in the former ghetto of Budapest.
Several antisemitic incidents take place in Germany.
Giorgio Perlasca dies in Milan, Italy at age 82.
Hill of Humanity monument dedicated in honor of Sugihara in his hometown of Yaotsu, Japan.
Samuel and Pearl Oliner publish The Altruistic Personality. This book outlines the psychological and social characteristics of Holocaust rescuers.
Sweden asks the US government to tone down its efforts on behalf of the Raoul Wallenberg case.
George Mandel Mantello dies in Rome at the age of 90.
April 27, 1993
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is formally dedicated by President Bill Clinton and Elie Wiesel. Many European heads of state are present.
The Vatican recognizes the State of Israel. It exchanges ambassadors with Israel.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center opens its Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California. A major component of this museum is on the Holocaust.
French President Francois Mitterand publicly denounces the actions of the French Vichy government during World War II.
Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List is released. This popular motion picture tells the story of a German rescuer during the Holocaust. This film increases public awareness of rescue during the Holocaust.
Turkey and the Holocaust: Turkey’s Role in Rescuing Turkish and European Jewry from Nazi Persecution, 1933-1945, by Stanford J. Shaw, is published.
A bronze bust of Gilberto Bosques, donated by the exiled Germans and Austrians, was unveiled at the Instituto del Derecho de Asilo y las Libertades Públicas, Museo Casa de Leon Trotsky. “A Gilberto Bosques Dank an Mexiko, Los Exilados Alemanes y Austriacos.” [Institute of Asylum Rights and Public Liberties. Leon Trotsky House Museum.]
December 30, 1993
At Jerusalem, signing of an agreement on some basic principles regulating relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel. The Vatican recognizes the State of Israel.
Stephen Spielberg finances and founds the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. In ten years, the project interviews 52,000 Holocaust survivors. The project raises 120 million dollars.
Street in Bern named after Carl Lutz.
Visas for Life project to honor Chiune Sugihara is launched in Japan.
Former Jewish immigrants return to Mexico City to present Ambassador Bosques, who is 102 years old, with a document of gratitude. It states: “To Gilberto Bosques, whose human greatness will be present in our hearts forever.”
A documentary film entitled “Flucht nach Mexiko: Deutsche im Exil” [Fleeing to Mexico: Germans in Exile] is produced on Gilberto Bosques, documenting his rescue of Jews and other refugees. It is broadcast in Mexico.
April 7, 1994
The Vatican organizes its first memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust. More than 200 Jewish Holocaust survivors are asked to participate in the commemoration.
July 16, 1994
France for the first time commemorates wartime deportation and murder of 76,000 French Jews.
International Committee for the Red Cross in Geneva apologizes for its passivity and inaction in helping Jews during World War II.
In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, the President of Switzerland, Kaspar Villiger, officially apologizes to the Jewish people for its disastrous refugee policy.
The World Jewish Congress, under the leadership of Dr. Israel Singer and Edgar Bronfman, demands that Swiss banks account for Jewish money and assets in World War II accounts.
Visas for Life: The Story of Sugihara exhibit and program is launched in the United States. It is shown in the California State Capitol and at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance.
Ambassador Gilberto Bosques dies in his home in Mexico City. He is 103 years old.
Carl Lutz und die Juden von Budapest, by Dr. Theo Tschuy, is published (NZZ Buchverlag, Zurich). This well-researched biography stimulates interest in Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz.
Aristides de Sousa Mendes presented with the Gran Cross of the Order of Christ, the highest medal awarded to civilians in Portugal.
November 30, 1995
Paul Grüninger acquitted of all charges related to allowing more than 3,600 Jews to enter Switzerland.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats Project premieres exhibit depicting multiple diplomatic rescuers of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.
The Visas for Life Project edits and publishes Mrs. Sugihara's manuscript, Visas for Life, in English.
World Jewish Congress and Swiss bankers establish an investigative body to look into confiscation and misappropriation of Jewish funds during and after World War II.
Jan Zwartendijk awarded Righteous Among the Nations medal.
Angelo Rotta, the Vatican Nuncio in Budapest, is awarded Righteous Among the Nations medal.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and at the Holocaust Museum Houston.
Book on Ambassador Per Anger, A Quiet Courage: Per Anger, Wallenberg's Co-Liberator of Hungarian Jews, by Elizabeth R. Skoglund, is published.
February 20, 1997
The Polish parliament votes to return nationalized Jewish property from the end of World War II. These include synagogues, schools and cemeteries.
Monument for Raoul Wallenberg is dedicated in London, England.
93 million dollars is allocated for the preservation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau site.
September 28, 1997
Dr. Feng Shan Ho dies in San Francisco at the age of 96.
The term Righteous Gentile is changed to Righteous Among the Nations in Yad Vashem’s publications.
Visas for Life project nominates new diplomats for the Righteous Among the Nations program at Yad Vashem.
Visas and Virtue, a short theatrical film on Sugihara, is released and wins an Academy Award.
Alexander Kasser, Swedish Representative for the Red Cross in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45, receives the Righteous Among the Nations award. Kasser passes away shortly thereafter.
Peter Zürcher is designated Righteous Among the Nations.
Book on Aristides de Sousa Mendes, A Good Man in Evil Times: The Story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes--The Man Who Saved the Lives of Countless Refugees in World War II, by José-Alain Fralon, is published.
A major monument honoring Raoul Wallenberg is dedicated in New York City, in front of the United Nations world headquarters.
Swiss banks agree to pay Holocaust survivors who lost money in bank accounts. Six hundred million dollars in reparations will be paid by the Swiss government.
“We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah” is issued by the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. This document acknowledges the Catholic Church’s role in antisemitic actions against Jews.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, with tour of diplomats’ families. Israel issues commemorative stamp in honor of Righteous Diplomats.
Swiss banks agree to pay 1.25 billion dollars to Holocaust victims who had assets in Swiss banks during World War II.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens in Bern, Switzerland. In attendance is the President of Switzerland.
Museum of Jewish Heritage opens in New York City.
Visas for Life exhibit tours cities throughout Switzerland.
Jean-Edouard Friedrich, the International Red Cross representative in Berlin during World War II, is made Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
May 31, 1999
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens in Budapest, Hungary, at the National Library. Attended by the President of Hungary.
Diplomat Foley awarded Righteous Among the Nations medal.
Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews, by Michael Smith, is published in England.
The Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, under the Vatican’s auspices, announce the creation of the International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission to review the previously published 11 volumes of material published by the Vatican between 1965 and 1981. Three Jewish and three Catholic scholars serve on the Commission.
Dr. Harald Feller, Swiss diplomat in Budapest, receives the Righteous Among the Nations award.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at the International Forum on the Holocaust in Stockholm, Sweden. This program is attended by 40 heads of state and the exhibit is visited by the King and Queen of Sweden.
March 12, 2000
The Day of Pardon of the Holy Year 2000 celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica. Document, prepared by the International Theological Commission. (7 March 2000).
Pope John Paul II officiates at a special penitential rite asking God’s forgiveness for the sins, past and present, of the Catholic Church. Among the sins for which he asks pardon are sins against the Jewish people.
March 20-26, 2000
Jubilee Pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II to Israel. He visits Jordan and Israel, meeting with religious and government leaders. This is the first time that a Pope officially visits Israel and enters through the front door.
March 23, 2000
Pope John Paul II visits Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority at Har Hazikaron in Jerusalem. This is the center of the Jewish people for Holocaust commemoration. In the Hall of Remembrance, the pontiff delivers speech… “the heart feels an extreme need for silence.” He visits with six Holocaust survivors, including one he helped save at the end of the war. The Pope visits the Western Wall and places a note in the wall asking the Jewish people for forgiveness.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Opening program is held in the hall of the General Assembly.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the national convention of the American Jewish Committee. Dinner attended by U.S. Secretary of State, the Prime Minister of Sweden and the President of Germany.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., dedicates exhibit honoring diplomats Sugihara and Zwartendijk, called Flight and Rescue.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Exhibit is sponsored by the Secretary General and the Chief of Protocol, Mehmet Ülkümen.
July 7, 2000
Israel designates Dr. Feng Shan Ho with Righteous Among the Nations status.
September 3, 2000
Pope John Paul II beatifies (declares “blessed”) Pope John XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli). Roncalli was the Papal Nuncio in Turkey who saved 24,000 Jews. The Visas for Life Project supports the beatification.
Ambassador Per Anger becomes honorary citizen of the state of Israel.
The Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diplomatic Institute, publishes Spared Lives: The Actions of Three Portuguese Diplomats in World War II.
Japanese foreign ministry dedicates memorial to Sugihara in its headquarters. Ministry formally apologizes to Mrs. Sugihara for not recognizing Sugihara’s work earlier.
Film Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness wins prestigious Independent Documentary Association award and first place in Hollywood Film Festival.
Documentary film on diplomatic rescue, Diplomats for the Damned, premieres at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Theater. Film is distributed along with student guide to schools and airs on the History Channel.
December 29, 2000
L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official newspaper, publishes “The Legacy of Abraham, Gift of Christmas.” It is written by Cardinal Ratzinger, who writes about the Holocaust: “…it cannot be denied that a certain measure of insufficient resistance to these atrocities on the part of Christians is explained by the anti-Jewish legacy present in the souls of no small number of Christians.”
Ernst Vonrufs is awarded the Righteous Among the Nations status by Yad Vashem.
Visas for Life exhibit and speaker’s program participates in more than 100 programs since its inception in 1994.
Polish diplomat Jan Karski, who warned the western world of the Holocaust, passes away.
Book on Carl Lutz, Dangerous Diplomacy: The Story of Carl Lutz, Rescuer of 62,000 Hungarian Jews, by Dr. Theo Tschuy, is published.
The Man Who Stopped the Trains to Auschwitz: George Mantello, El Salvador, and Switzerland’s Finest Hour, by David Kranzler, is published.
Book on Spanish diplomat Don Angel Sanz-Briz, Un Español Frente al Holocausto, by Diego Carcedo, is published.
Children's book on Chiune Sugihara, A Special Fate: Chiune Sugihara: Hero of the Holocaust, written by Alison Leslie Gold, is published.
Howard Elting, Sr., US Consul in Bern, Switzerland, who passed on the Auschwitz Report to the State Department with an endorsement of credibility, passes away.
Portuguese government obtains the old Aristides de Sousa Mendes estate in Cabanas de Viriato, begins raising money for its restoration as a tribute to his rescue work.
Portuguese President Mario Soares apologizes to the Portuguese Jewish community for the injustices of the Portuguese Inquisition in 1496. He does this in conjunction with honoring de Sousa Mendes.
An official Russian Working Group issues report acknowledging the possibility of Raoul Wallenberg’s death in 1947. It stresses that current evidence does not exclude the possibility of Wallenberg having lived some time beyond 1947.
Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson formally apologizes to Raoul Wallenberg’s family for the country’s handling of his case.
Monument dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg is unveiled in Stockholm, Sweden.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the Memorial du Martyr Juif Inconnu at the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine in Paris, France. Exhibit opening ceremony takes place at the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) of Paris. Opening is attended by the Mayor of Paris and members of the Rothschild family.
Dr. Feng Shan Ho commemorated on the 100th anniversary of his birth in his hometown of Yiyang, China. As part of the commemoration, an extensive exhibit on Dr. Ho is shown in his home province of Hunan, and later tours Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu.
Ambassador Per Anger, Raoul Wallenberg's colleague in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45, passes away.
Consul General Necdet Kent, Turkish Consul in Paris who saved Jews, passes away.
Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas, the Brazilian Ambassador to France in 1940-1943, is designation Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Visas for Life Project has documented over 100 diplomats from 27 countries.
Pope John XXIII, written by Thomas Cahill, is published. Extensive references about his rescue of Eastern European Jews are presented in the book.
Becsület és batorsag: Carl Lutz és a budapesti zsidok (Honour and Courage: Carl Lutz and the Budapest Jews), by Dr. Theo Tschuy, is published in Hungary.
The Visas for Life Project sponsors commemorative medals honoring Raoul Wallenberg and Carl Lutz. These medals are issued by the Israeli State Coins and Medals.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the London Jewish Cultural Centre. Many European ambassadors are in attendance. Several new European diplomatic rescuers are discovered.
Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, honors Harry Bingham in a special ceremony at the US State Department. Bingham receives Courageous Diplomat award posthumously.
August 4, 2002
Raoul Wallenberg’s 90th birthday is celebrated. Renewed interest in his rescue story is generated.
Sugihara memorial statue is dedicated in Los Angeles.
The first independent, non-governmental commission on the Raoul Wallenberg case presents its findings in Stockholm, Sweden. Headed by Ingemar Eliasson, the commission examined the Swedish political leadership’s action in regard to Raoul Wallenberg, 1945-2001. The commission concludes that the Swedish government mishandled the Wallenberg case through its lack of initiative during the early years, 1945-1947.
June 4, 2003
A street in Vienna is named for Gilberto Bosques.
June 7, 2003
Turkish diplomat Selahattin Ülkümen passes away in Istanbul, Turkey.
Visas for Life exhibit tours in South Africa to the communities of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.
The Visas for Life Project sponsors a commemorative medal, issued by the Israeli State Mint, honoring Chiune Sugihara.
The Visas for Life Project nominates 50 Italian diplomats, soldiers and policemen, representing the occupied zones of Yugoslavia, Athens and southern France, for the Righteous Among the Nations Award of Yad Vashem.
US Postal Service announces it will issue a commemorative stamp honoring Hiram “Harry” Bingham IV.
The book The Righteous, by Martin Gilbert, is published.
September 7, 2003
Visas for Life exhibit opens at the City Hall in Vienna, Austria.
Visas for Life exhibit shows in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC, sponsored by Congressman Tom Lantos and Senator Charles Schumer.
Visas for Life families meet with US Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Visas for Life exhibit opens in Miami, Florida.
Visas for Life Project nominates Vatican diplomat Gennaro Verolino to be declared Righteous Among the Nations.
Gennaro Verolino receives the Per Anger prize. At 99 years old he is the only surviving diplomat.
Visas for Life exhibit opens at Binyaneh Ha’oomah, Jerusalem, Israel. This is in conjunction with an international conference of the American Jewish Committee.
Visas for Life Project has program in Washington, DC, and New York City to honor diplomats who saved Jews in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45.
Yad Vashem honors Hiram “Harry” Bingham IV with a letter of commendation in appreciation for “facilitating the immigration of Jewish persons from France during 1940-1941.”
Yad Vashem opens its new museum, making it the largest installation on the Holocaust in the world.
Visas for Life exhibit opens in Montreal, Canada, and has a one-year tour. The exhibit also opens at the Cleveland Public Library.
Visas for Life documents 300 diplomats who helped or saved Jews.
Exhibit is opened honoring Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz in the former Glass House on Vadasz Utca.
September 19, 2005
Simon Wiesenthal dies at his home in Vienna at the age of 96. He is buried in Israel.
October 17, 2005
Plaque is placed at the Carl Lutz monument, in the old Pest Ghetto, in Budapest. Agnes Hirschi, daughter of Carl Lutz, is in attendance.
November 17, 2005
Cardinal Gennaro Verolino passes away at his home in Rome. He is 99 years old. He is the last living diplomat who rescued Jews during the war.
US Postal Service will officially issue series of stamps honoring US diplomats. Hiram Bingham stamp will be issued at a stamp convention at the Washington, DC, Convention Center.
The Red Cross Tracing Services archives at Bad Arolson, Germany, are opened for the first time for public viewing.