Holocaust Timeline: 1939 to Present

The Evolution of the Final Solution

The beginning of World War II was a perfect way to hide the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. At first, the Nazis simply shot Jews and other "undesirables" and dumped them in mass graves, such as at Babi Yar

The Nazis, however, felt that process was not fast enough and so they created gas vans and then gas chambers to speed up the killing process. Mass-killing facilities were created at Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor, and Treblinka in order to kill millions.

Other large and elaborate concentration camps were created to force prisoners to work with such meager rations and harsh conditions that many of them also perished.

It was only in 1945, when these camps were liberated by the Allies, that the true horrors of the Holocaust were fully discovered.

1914 to 1932 |  1933 to 1938 | 1939 to Present

1
1939

German troops paragde through Warsaw after invading Poland in September 1939.
German troops parade through Warsaw, Poland. PK Hugo J.ger, (September 1939). (Picture courtesy of the U.S. National Archives)

January 1 -- The Measure for the Elimination of Jews from the German Economy - bans Jews from working with Germans

May 5 -- Law enacted that defines who is a Jew and further restricts participation in the economy to 6 percent (Hungary)

May 15 -- Ravensbrück camp established

August 23-24 -- Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact

September 1 -- Hitler announces that he will invade Poland; Curfew for Jews set at 8:00 p.m. (Germany)

September 2 -- France and Britain order Hitler to leave Poland or they will declare war; Stutthoff concentration camp established

September 3 -- France and Britain declare war on Germany

September 17 -- Soviet Union invades Poland in the east

September 21 -- Heydrich orders ghettos established in occupied Poland under Judenräte (Jewish councils)

September 27 -- Warsaw (Poland) surrenders

October 8 -- Piotrkow, Poland first ghetto established (unguarded)

October 12 -- Government General established in Poland

October 18 -- Jews must wear a Star of David in Wloclawek, Poland (first time introduced)

November 15-17 -- German authorities destroy all the synagogues in Lodz

November 17 -- Decree forbade Gypsies to leave their residences

November 23 -- All Jews over the age of twelve must wear a white arm band with a blue Star of David (Government General, occupied Poland)

December -- Leczyca ghetto established (closed in January 1941)

December 5-6 -- German authorities seize Jewish property (Poland) 

2
1940

Large numbers of Jews walk along a street in the Warsaw ghetto.
Large numbers of Jews walk along a street in the Warsaw ghetto. (1941). (Photo courtesy of the USHMM)

February 8 -- Lodz ghetto established (guarded)

April 9 -- Germany attacks Denmark (lasts 5 days) and Norway

April 27 -- Heinrich Himmler orders creation of Auschwitz

May 1 -- Lodz ghetto sealed

March 7 -- "Bloody Tuesday" in the Lodz ghetto

May 10 -- Germany attacks Belgium (surrenders May 28), Netherlands, and Luxembourg; Churchill becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain

May 26 - June 4 -- British troops evacuated at Dunkirk

June 5 -- Germany attacks France

June 22 -- France surrenders

June - December -- Battle of Britain

July 9 -- German blitzkrieg on London begins

July 19 -- Telephones confiscated from Jews (Germany)

October 16 -- Warsaw Ghetto established

September 20 -- Breendonck camp (Belgium) gets first prisoners

September 27 -- Pact of Berlin (Tripartite Pact) signed between Germany, Italy, and Japan

October 22 -- Jewish businesses are registered (Netherlands)

November 16 -- Warsaw Ghetto sealed 

3
1941

Auschwitz II - Birkenau
Auschwitz II - Birkenau. (Photo by Massimo Pizzotti / Getty Images)

January 10 -- All Jews are registered (Netherlands)

February 5 -- The Law for the Protection of the State - Jews get double punishment for crimes (Romania)

March 3 -- Krakow Ghetto established

March 1 -- Heinrich Himmler orders a camp at Birkenau (Auschwitz II) built

April 6 -- Germany invades Yugoslavia (surrenders April 18) and Greece

April 13 -- Japan and the Soviet Union sign a neutrality pact

April 24 -- Lublin Ghetto sealed

June 22 -- Germany invades the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa)

June 29 -- "Black Sunday" - in the courtyard of the Iasi police headquarters, several thousand Jews are shot

June 29-July 2 -- In Dvinsk, all Jewish males from 16 to 60 years old are arrested

July 8 -- Jews in Baltic countries must wear Star of David

July 12 -- Anglo-Soviet Mutual Assistance Pact

July 20 -- Minsk Ghetto established

July 24 -- Kishinev ghetto established

July 25-27 -- The "Petliura Days" - pogrom in Lvov

August 1 -- Bialystok Ghetto established

August 14 -- Atlantic Charter signed

September 19 -- Jews who are six years old or older must wear a yellow Star of David (Germany)

September 1 -- Euthanasia Program officially ended

September 3 -- First gassing tests at Auschwitz

September 3-6 -- Two ghettos in Vilna established

September 19 -- All Jews in the Reich must wear the yellow Star of David in public

September 29-30 -- Babi Yar

October 8 -- Vitebsk Ghetto liquidated

October 10 -- Theresienstadt Ghetto established

October 11 -- Chernovtsy Ghetto established

October 23 -- Jewish emigration from Germany prohibited

November 1 -- Belzec Death Camp begins construction

November 25 -- The Association des Juifs en Belgique (Association of Jews in Belgium) established

December -- Lwow Ghetto established

December 7 -- Japan attacks the United States at Pearl Harbor; Night and Fog Decree

December 8 -- Chelmno Death Camp opens near Lodz, Poland

December 10 -- Germany and Italy declare war on the United States, the United States reciprocates

4
1942

Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler talking with an officer
Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler converses with an officer. On the back of this photograph are the following words: "Mein Lieber Puppi vom Puzzi." (July 17, 1941). (Photo courtesy of the USHMM)

January 20 -- Wannsee Conference, where the Final Solution was planned

January 21 -- Jews in Vilna create the Fareynegte Partizaner Organizatsye (United Partisan Organization) -- Abba Kovner will become leader in June 1943

February 23 -- The Struma sinks after being refused entry into Palestine

March -- Start of "Aktion Rheinhard," the plan to kill the 2 million Jews in the Generalgouvernement section of occupied Poland

March -- First transports of Jews to Auschwitz

March 1 -- Sobibor camp established

March 16 -- Belzec Death Camp established

March 25 -- Kolomyia Ghetto established

April 29 -- Jews in Netherlands must wear the yellow Star of David

April 30 -- Pinsk Ghetto established

May 1 -- Dvinsk Ghetto is virtually liquidated

May 27 -- Reinhard Heydrich is severely wounded after being hit by a grenade (dies on June 4)

June 3 -- Jews in Belgium must wear the yellow Star of David

June 7 -- Jews in occupied France must wear the yellow Star of David; United States wins battle at Midway

June 10 -- Nazis revenge death of Heydrich - wipe out Lidice, Czechoslovakia

June 12 -- Anne Frank receives a red-and-white checkered diary for her birthday

July 6 -- Anne Frank and her family go into hiding

July 20 -- Jewish uprising at Nesvizh

July 23 -- Treblinka Death Camp established

July 28 -- The Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa (Jewish Fighting Organization) established in Warsaw

August 9 -- Mir Ghetto liquidated - Armed Jews resist

August 16-18 -- Radom Ghetto liquidated

Sept. 15 - Jan. 31, 1943 -- Battle of Stalingrad

November 8 -- Operation Torch (Allied invasion of North Africa) begins 

5
1943

View of the destroyed grounds of the former Warsaw ghetto.
View of the destroyed grounds of the former Warsaw ghetto. (1946). (Photo courtesy of the USHMM)

January 18-22 -- Resistance fighters attack SS guards during a deportation in the Warsaw Ghetto (this is a prelude to the large Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that starts on April 19)

February 24 -- Salonika Ghetto established

February 26 -- First transport of Gypsies to Auschwitz - placed in Auschwitz II in the "Gypsy Camp"

February 29 -- The Kolomyia Ghetto is liquidated

April -- Bergen-Belsen established

April 13 -- Katyn Forest Massacre graves are discovered

April 19 -- The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (resisted for 27 days)

June 20 -- The Ternopol Ghetto is liquidated

June 25 -- Revolt in Czestochowa, Poland Ghetto

July -- Abba Kovner becomes leader of the FPO, a resistance organization in the Vilna Ghetto

July 5 -- The Sobibor Death Camp is made a concentration camp under Himmler's orders

August 2 -- Revolt at Treblinka Death Camp

August 16 -- Revolt of Bialystok Ghetto

September 14 -- The Minsk Ghetto is liquidated

September 24 -- The Vilna Ghetto is liquidated

October 13 -- Italy declares war on Germany

October 14 -- Revolt in Sobibor

November 3 -- Aktion Erntefest (Harvest Festival) begins - liquidates the Trawniki, the Poniatowa, and the Majdanek camps

Nov. 28 - Dec. 1 -- Teheran Conference

6
1944

A man walks through a wooded area near Bergen-Belsen filled with rows of corpses of prisoners who perished there.
A man walks through a wooded area near Bergen-Belsen filled with rows of corpses of prisoners who perished there. (April 15 to May 1, 1940). (Photo courtesy of the USHMM)

March 19 -- Germany invades Hungary

April 5 -- Jews in Hungary must wear the yellow Star of David

April 7 -- Alfred Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba escape from Auschwitz - their descriptions of Auschwitz reach the world and become known as the Auschwitz Protocols

June 6 -- D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy

July 8 -- The Kovno Ghetto is liquidated

July 20 -- Soviet troops liberate Majdanek Concentration Camp; assassination attempt on Hitler called the July Plot

July 28 -- First major death march begins - Warsaw to Kutno

August 1 -- Zigeunernacht - 40,000 Gypsies gassed in a single action at Auschwitz

August 1 - October 2 -- Polish rebellion in Warsaw

August 4 -- Anne Frank and her family are discovered hiding in the Secret Annex - they will be sent to Westerbork

October 6-7 -- An uprising at Auschwitz by the Sonnderkommandos

November 2 -- Gassings at Auschwitz terminated

December 16 -- Battle of the Bulge 

7
1945

Prisoners liberated from Mauthausen, many crowded into a wooden bunk, celebrate their liberation by the American 11th Armored Division.
Prisoners liberated from Mauthausen, many crowded into a wooden bunk, celebrate their liberation by the American 11th Armored Division. (May 1, 1945). (Photo courtesy of the USHMM)

January 17 -- Soviet troops liberate Warsaw; "Death March" from Auschwitz begins; Raoul Wallenberg is arrested by the Soviets

January 19 -- Soviet troops liberate the Lodz Ghetto (877 left out of 250,000 Jews)

January 27 -- Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz

February 4-12 -- Yalta Conference

Late February or Early March -- Anne Frank and her sister Margot die of typhus in Auschwitz

April 5-6 -- Buchenwald evacuated

April 9 -- Mauthausen evacuated

April 11 -- American troops liberate Buchenwald

April 12 -- Franklin D. Roosevelt dies; Harry S. Truman becomes President of the U.S.

April 15 -- British troops liberate Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp

April 21 -- Ravensbrück evacuated

April 28 -- American troops liberate Dachau; Benito Mussolini shot by Italian partisans

April 29 -- Ravensbrück is liberated

April 30 -- Hitler commits suicide in the Berlin bunker

May 2 -- Soviet troops take Berlin

May 3 -- Nazis hand over Theresienstadt to the International Red Cross

May 5 -- Liberation of Mauthausen

May 7 -- The Germans surrender

May 8 -- War in Europe ends (V-E Day)

May 23 -- Heinrich Himmler captured

July - August -- Potsdam Conference

August 6 -- Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

August 8 -- The Soviet Union declares war on Japan; Allies establish the War Crimes Tribunal

August 9 -- Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki

August 15 -- Japan surrenders

October 18 -- Nuremberg Trials begin (ends October 1, 1946) 

8
1948

May 14 -- Israel is established

9
1957

Foehrenwald, the last displaced persons camp, closes 

10
1961

A picture of Adolf Eichmann.
Adolf Eichmann (1940). (Picture courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives)

April 11 -- Adolf Eichmann's trial begins 

11
1962

May 31 -- Adolf Eichmann is hanged