It’s easy to mix up historical events within the Holocaust timeline or World War II timeline. Although far from a comprehensive timeline of the Holocaust and all that happened, this list of key historical events helps show the progression of persecution to mass murder, relevant events of WWII, and the subsequent liberation of concentration camps.
The following details a list of key chronological events of the Holocaust, spanning from 1933 to 1945. Use our glossary of Holocaust terms as a reference throughout the Holocaust timeline.
- January 30: Adolf Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany
- March 22: Dachau concentration camp opens
- April 1: Boycott of Jewish shops and businesses
- April 7: Laws for Re-establishment of the Civil Service barred Jews from holding civil service, university, and state positions
- May 10: Public burnings of books written by Jews, political dissidents, and others not approved by the state
- July 14: Law stripping East European Jewish immigrants of German citizenship
- June 30-July 2: In the “Röhm Affair,” also known as “Night of the Long Knives,” Hitler orders the purge of the top leadership of the Nazi Party paramilitary formation, the SA (Sturmabteilungen; Assault Detachments). Pressured by German army commanders, whose support Hitler needed to become President of Germany upon Hindenburg’s impending death, Hitler used the SS to murder SA Chief of Staff Ernst Röhm and his top commanders.
- August 2: German President von Hindenburg dies. With the support of the German armed forces, Hitler becomes President of Germany.
- August 19: Hitler abolishes the office of President and declares himself Führer of the German Reich and People, in addition to his position as Chancellor. In this capacity as Führer, Hitler’s decisions are not bound by the laws of the state. Hitler now becomes the absolute dictator of Germany; there are no further legal or constitutional limits to his authority.
- November-December: SS chief Himmler consolidates control over and de facto unifies the German state political police forces into the Gestapo office in Berlin under the authority of his deputy, Reinhard Heydrich.
- December 10: SS chief Himmler creates the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps under the leadership of SS General Theodor Eicke. This move formalizes the SS takeover and centralization of the concentration camp system that had taken place in July 1934.
“We were hoping that there would be a war against Germany even though we were living in Germany at that time, because we felt the only way to defeat Hitler was through a war.” – Fred Katz, Holocaust survivor
- September 15: “Nuremberg Laws”: Anti-Jewish racial laws enacted; Jews no longer considered German citizens; Jews could not marry Aryans, nor could they fly the German flag
- November 15: Germany defines a “Jew”: Anyone with three Jewish grandparents; someone with two Jewish grandparents who identifies as a Jew
- March 3: Jewish doctors barred from practicing medicine in German institutions
- July: Sachsenhausen concentration camp opens
- July 15: Buchenwald concentration camp opens
“It seems almost unbelievable, but this had been done by human beings, one toward another, but those are the facts as we saw them and heard them first-hand.” – Sam Klein, Holocaust survivor
- March 13: Anschluss (incorporation of Austria): All antisemitic decrees immediately applied in Austria
- April 26: Mandatory registration of all property held by Jews inside the Reich
- August 1: Adolf Eichmann establishes the Office of Jewish Emigration in Vienna to increase the pace of forced emigration
- September 30: Munich Conference: Great Britain and France agree to German occupation of the Sudentenland, previously western Czechoslovakia
- October 5: Following request by Swiss authorities, Germans mark all Jewish passports with a large letter “J” to restrict Jews from immigrating to Switzerland
- November 9-10: Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass): Anti-Jewish program in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland; 200 synagogues destroyed; 7,500 Jewish shops looted; 30,000 male Jews sent to concentration camps (Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen)
- November 12: Decree forcing all Jews to transfer retail businesses to Aryan hands
- November 15: All Jewish pupils expelled from German schools
- December 12: One billion mark fine levied against German Jews for the destruction of property during Kristallnacht
“I was told the danger of it, to be quiet, not to talk, not to cry, not to think, not to do, otherwise they would just kill all of us. And I was just petrified.” – Sara Moses, Holocaust survivor
- March 15: Germans occupy Czechoslovakia
- September 1: Beginning of World War II: Germany invades Poland
- October 28: First Polish ghetto established in Piotrkow
- November 23: Jews in German-occupied Poland forced to wear an arm band or yellow star
- April 9: Germans occupy Denmark and southern Norway
- May 7: Establishment of Lodz Ghetto
- May 10: Germany invades the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemberg, and France
- May 20: Concentration camp established at Auschwitz
- November 16: Establishment of Warsaw Ghetto
“I have a vivid memory of when the war started or when the Germans invaded the Netherlands because from my home you could see the smoke coming out of the gasoline tanks that had blown up when they invaded.” – Jan Verdonkschot, Holocaust survivor
- January 21-26: Anti-Jewish riots in Romania, hundreds of Jews murdered
- April 6: Germany attacks Yugoslavia and Greece, occupation follows
- June 22: Germany invades the Soviet Union
- September 28-29: 34,000 Jews massacred by Einsatzgruppen at Babi Yar outside Kiev
- October: Establishment of Auschwitz II (Birkenau)
- December 8: Chelmno death camp begins operations
- January 20: Wannsee Conference in Berlin: Plan is discussed for “Final Solution of the Jewish question.
- March 17: Gassing of Jews begins in Belzec
- May: Gassing of Jews begins Sobibor
- June: Jewish partisan units established in the forests of Byelorussia and the Baltic states
- Summer: Deportation of Jews to killing centers from Belgium, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, and Poland; armed resistance by Jews in ghettos of Kletzk, Kremenets, Lachva, Mir, and Tuchin
- Winter: Deportation of Jews from Germany, Greece and Norway to killing centers; Jewish partisan movement organized in forests near Lublin
- March: Liquidation of Krakow ghetto
- April 19: Warsaw Ghetto revolt begins
- Summer: Armed resistance by Jews in Bedzin, Bialystok, Czestochowa, Lvov, and Tarnow ghettos
- Fall: Liquidation of large ghettos in Minsk, Vilna, and Riga
- October 14: Uprising in Sobibor
- October-November: Rescue of the Danish Jewry
“I gave my baby to my mother, and my mother went to the gas with him. And that’s how I lived. Otherwise, I would have been put with them together… in the gas.” – Helena Schonfeld, Holocaust survivor
- March 19: Germany occupies Hungary
- May 15: Nazis begin deporting Hungarian Jews
- July 24: Russians liberate Majdanek
- October 7: Revolt by inmates at Auschwitz; one crematorium blown up
- November: Last Jews deported from Terezin to Auschwitz
- January 17: Evacuation of Auschwitz; beginning of death marches
- January 27: Beginning of death march for inmates of Stutthof
- April 6-10: Death march of inmates of Buchenwald
- April 15: Liberation of Bergen-Belsen by British Army
- April: Liberation of Nordhausen, Ohrdruf, Gunskirchen, Ebensee and Dachau by American Army
- May 5: Liberation of Mauthausen and Gusen by American Army
“[On May 1, 1945] all of a sudden I feel, I see, I hear doggone something is rumbling, the tanks. I says, I start wavin’ with the hand and finally the tank’s passin’ me by. And I was surprised with the first tank, what its number was, 874. This was my number when I went into Grajevo, to the first camp. And he liberated me. The boys jumped down and they gave me a cigarette. They says, ‘Man, don’t worry about a thing now. You’re a free man now. We’re chasing the Germans now,’ he says.” – Herman Schwartz, Holocaust survivor
Hear From the Survivors
Learn the history from those who lived it. Hear firsthand accounts from survivors of the Holocaust who lived through the sobering events listed in the Holocaust timeline. The Oral Histories project offers these stories as a celebration of life and a crucial part of honoring and remembering the past.Listen to Survivors
To learn more about the events in the Holocaust timeline and Holocaust history, check out our recommended readings on the Holocaust, as well as answers to common historical questions.