To view ‘Coming of Age During the Holocaust’ survivor histories alongside world events of the time, select survivor name below.
Adolf Hitler takes office as Chancellor of Germany (View Lesson 2)
The German government begins dismissing Jews from the civil service, health service, and courts.
German students burn books by Jews and other "undesirable" authors.
Nazis outlaw and arrest many Jehovah's Witnesses. In June, they toughen existing laws against homosexuals, bringing persecution and imprisonment.
The Olympics open in Berlin. America participates, reversing a 1933 vote by the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union to boycott the games.
At the Evian conference, called by the United States, 32 nations discuss the refugee crisis yet take little action. The U.S., under its restrictive 1930 immigration rules, accepts fewer German Jews than its quotas allow.
Nazis order all Jews to have "Jewish" first names. Men and women who do not are forced to take the name "Israel" or "Sara."
Eager to avoid war, Britain and France sign the Munich Pact letting Germany take over the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia with a large German population.
The Nazis, using the assassination of a German official as an excuse, organize Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass"). In anti-Jewish attacks across Germany and Austria, 91 Jews are killed, over 1,400 synagogues are desecrated, shops are destroyed, and 30,000 Jewish men are arrested. View Lesson 3, read Inge's story, or read Albert's story)
Decrees force Jews to pay one billion marks for damage planned and done by Nazis on Kristallnacht, order Jewish firms to close, and expel Jewish schoolchildren.
Heinrich Himmler issues a racist directive for "Combating the Gypsy Plague," ordering registration, identification, and round-up of Sinti and Roma people.
Britain issues a "White Paper" sharply restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine.
Germany signs a non-aggressive pact with the Soviet Union, making way for its invasion of Poland.
German troops invade Poland. Polish defenses crumble under a massive mechanized land and air assault. View Lesson 4
Britain and France declare war on Germany but take no military action to aid Poland.
Warsaw falls. Poland's capital, home to 350,000 Jews, surrenders to German troops after a three-week siege.
Hitler instructs doctors to kill physically or mentally "defective" Germans, the first order to murder a group of people based on racist ideology.
April 9-June 14
Germany invades Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, and France. Most of Western Europe is in Nazi hands. Read Yvonne's story
Germany deports 2,800 Roma and Sinti to the Lublin region. In November, 5,000 Roma and Sinti are sent to the Lodz ghetto.
German troops invade the Soviet Union, followed the next day by mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) that massacre about 1.25 million Jews by September 1943. View Lesson 5
Hermann Goering, Hitler's deputy, orders planning of a "Final Solution to the Jewish Problem in Europe." View Lesson 5
Chelmno, the first Nazi death camp, uses poison gas vans to begin the mass murder of Jews in Poland. View Lesson 5
Abba Kovner calls for armed resistance in the Vilna Ghetto, leading to the first Jewish fighting force, the United Partisan Organization. View Lesson 7
At the Wannsee Conference near Berlin, German officials discuss details of the "Final Solution," a plan to kill an estimated 11,000,000 Jews in Europe. View Lesson 5
March 17-July 23
Nazis complete a network of six death camps, all located in Poland. In addition to Chelmno and Auschwitz, these include Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Majdanek. View Lesson 5
Beginning in Holland, Germany further isolates the Jews in occupied lands by ordering them to wear a yellow star of David.
Gerhart Riegner cables Rabbi Stephen Wise in New York detailing Nazi plans to murder Jews. U.S. officials withhold the news for three months.
Jan Karski, an emissary of the Polish underground, arrives in London with eyewitness reports of atrocities against Jews. He briefs British and American leaders, but few believe him. View Lesson 8
Activists and ghetto residents unite to launch the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the first civilian armed resistance in any Nazi-occupied city.
An Anglo-American conference in Bermuda decides not to divert resources from the war effort to rescue Jews. View Lesson 7
Jews in the Treblinka death camp revolt, using stolen SS arms. Many prisoners flee. View Lesson 7
Danish resistance groups launch a two week operation that ultimately smuggles more than 7,000 Jews to safety in Sweden.
Pope Pius XII remains silent when the Nazis deport the Jews of Rome.
May 15-July 9
As Soviet troops advance on Hungary, Adolf Eichmann hurries to complete the last mass deportation of the Holocaust. The Nazis' Hungarian collaborators deport 434,351 Jews to Auschwitz in 147 sealed freight cars. Read Elli's story
D-Day: Allied forces land in France.
Soviet troops liberate Majdanek, the first death camp freed. Though journalists visit its gas chambers, the camp receives little world attention. View Lesson 9
Hungarian Nazis start death marches to Germany and plan a ghetto in Budapest. Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and others work to save the remnants of Hungarian Jewry. View Lesson 9
Germans begin evacuating Auschwitz, forcing 66,000 on a death march. At least 15,000 die. Some 7,000 sick and starving prisoners left behind are liberated by the Soviets. Read Esther's story
American troops liberate Buchenwald. British enter Bergen-Belsen three days later. In both overcroweded camps, many of the weakest die even after liberation. View Lesson 9
An International Military Tribunal convenes in Nuremberg, Germany, to try 22 Nazi leaders for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
December 8, 1946-April 11, 1949
An American military court in Nuremberg tries 177 people, including industrialists who used slave labor and doctors who took part in Nazi euthanasia programs.
Establishment of the State of Israel declared. David Ben Gurion declares the establishment of the state of Israel in Tel Aviv.