Holocaust Timeline: 1933 to 1938

Prelude to World War II

Within two months of Adolf Hitler becoming chancellor of Germany, the first concentration camps was established at Dachau. At first, only political prisoners were kept there, but the population soon expanded to include others. 

It was during these pre-war years that the Nazis began the process of removing Jews from everyday German society. Starting with declaring who was and was not Jewish in the Nuremberg Laws, further laws took Jews out of civil service, hospitals, and even parks. 

During these years, Hitler also consolidated power, became the undisputed Fuhrer of Nazi Germany, and prepared his country for war.

1914 to 1932 |  1933 to 1938 | 1939 to Present

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A member of the SA throwing confiscated books onto a bonfire in 1933.
A member of the SA throws confiscated books into the bonfire during the public burning of "un-German" books on the Opernplatz in Berlin. (May 10, 1933). (Photo courtesy the USHMM)

January 30 -- Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany

February 27 -- Reichstag Fire

February 28 -- Series of emergency decrees declared in Germany - government suspends many civil rights including freedom of press, speech, and assembly

March 20 -- Dachau established (originally a concentration camp for opponents of the Nazis)

March 24 -- Enabling Act passed

April 1 -- Government organized boycott on Jewish stores (Germany)

April 7 -- Minister of the Interior (Germany) issued law of civil servants;
Quotas on number of Jewish students allowed in higher education (Germany)

April 26 -- Formation of the Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei)

May 10 -- Book burnings

June -- Hitler outlaws all political parties other than the Nazi Party

July 14 -- Decree declares the Nazi Party to be the sole political party within Germany

July 14 -- The Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring passes, beginning forced, mass sterilization of large groups of people

August 25 -- The Haavara agreement signed

September -- Jews removed from various fields of entertainment including music, art, and literature

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Hitler holding the
Grasping the "Blood Flag" in his hand, Adolf Hitler moves through the ranks of SA standard bearers at a 1934 Reichsparteitag (Reich Party Day) ceremony. (Sept. 4-10, 1934). (Photo courtesy USHMM)

January 26 -- Germany and Poland sign a ten year non-aggression pact

June 30 -- The "Night of Long Knives" - the SS purge the SA under Hitler's orders

August 2 -- Paul von Hindenberg dies

August 3 -- Hitler assumes powers of both President and Chancellor 

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Reproduction of the first page of an addendum to the Reich Citizenship Law (one of the two Nuremberg Laws).
Reproduction of the first page of an addendum to the Reich Citizenship Law of September 15, 1935. This is the first of thirteen addenda to the original legislation that was issued from November 1935 to July 1943 in order to implement the policy aims of the Reich Citizenship Law. (Photo courtesy the USHMM)

January 13 -- Germany retakes the Saarland

September 15 -- Nuremberg Laws (the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law to Protect German Blood and Honor) passed

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German citizens saluting Hitler at the 1936 Olympics.
German citizens saluting Adolf Hitler at the opening of the 11th Olympiad in Berlin. (August 1, 1936). (Photo courtesy the USHMM)

March 7 -- Germany forces enter the Rhineland

August 1 -- The Olympic Games begin in Nazi Germany

October 25 -- The Rome-Berlin Axis agreement signed

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A German soldier searching a Roma (Gypsy).
A German soldier searches a Roma (Gypsy) man who is forced to stand with his arms in the air. (1940). (Photo courtesy the USHMM)

 July 16 - Buchenwald camp opens

November 25 -- Germany and Japan sign pact

December 14 -- Decree states that Gypsies are "inveterate criminals"

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The burning of the synagogue in Ober Ramstadt during Kristallnacht. Photograph from the Trudy Isenberg Collection, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives.

March 13 -- Annexation of Austria (Anschluss)

March 23 -- Jewish community organizations are no longer recognized by the government (Germany)

April 24 -- Jews must register their property (Germany)

April 26 -- Jewish property expropriated (Austria)

May 29 -- Jewish role in economy restricted to 20 percent - first anti-Jewish law in Hungary

June 25 -- Jewish physicians only allowed to treat Jewish patients (Germany)

July 5-15 -- Evian Conference - 32 countries met to discuss the refugee and immigration problem

July 21 -- Introduction of identity cards (effective January 1, 1939)

August 17 -- Jews are required to add "Israel" to their name for men and "Sarah" for women (Germany)

August 26 -- The Zentralstelle für Jüdische Auswanderung (Central Office for Jewish Emigration) is set up in Vienna under Adolf Eichmann

September 27 -- Jews barred from practicing law (Germany)

September 29 -- Munich Conference

October 5 -- Jewish passports are marked with the letter "J" for "Jude"

November 7 -- Hershel Grynszpan assassinates Ernst vom Rath

November 9-10 -- Kristallnacht (Germany & Austria)

November 12 -- Hermann Goering announces plan to send Jews to Madagascar

November 15 -- Jewish children expelled from German schools

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* For an even more thorough timeline of the Holocaust, check out the Chronology at the end of the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, edited by Israel Gutman.