From 1933 to 1945, Germany was ruled by the Nazi Party, an anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish) political organization that blamed Jewish people for the country’s misfortunes. The Nazis built thousands of concentration camps, where they imprisoned and killed 6 million Jews, and 5 million homosexuals, disabled people, Romanies, and political prisoners.
Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl living in the Netherlands when World War II broke out. She later died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Her diary survived, though, recording her thoughts and experiences while she was hiding from the Nazi regime. Her writing is a reminder of the constant fear and hardship felt by many who lived under Nazi occupation.
Railway tracks lead right up to the entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. During the Holocaust, more than 1 million people were killed at Auschwitz. Today, the camp is preserved as a memorial.
Dachau concentration camp (March 1933)
Just months after seizing power, the Nazis open the first concentration camp at Dachau, near Munich. It holds 12,000 prisoners, mostly communists and those considered "enemies of the state."
Nuremberg race laws (September 15, 1935)
At its annual rally in Nuremberg, the Nazi Party passes more anti-Semitic laws, that further restrict the rights of Jewish people. The laws mean that Jews lose their citizenship and can no longer marry non-Jews.
Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938)
In a night of violence, Nazis terrorize Jews across Germany and Austria, attacking stores, homes, and synagogues. Thirty thousand Jews are rounded up and transported to concentration camps.
Kindertransport (December 2, 1938)
After Kristallnacht, many Jews try to leave Germany, but some countries refuse to accept them. As part of a rescue effort known as Kindertransport, 10,000 Jewish children escape to Britain, leaving their parents behind.
Jewish ghettos (September 21, 1939)
When Nazi troops invade Poland, Polish Jews are forced to move into ghettos, restricted areas controlled by Nazi troops. Food and water are scarce, and living conditions are very cramped.
Auschwitz opens (June 14, 1940)
The first prisoners arrive at Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The prisoners, mostly Polish political rebels, are tattooed with numbers in order of their arrival.
Star of David (September 1, 1941)
From this date, Jewish people over the age of 6 in Nazi-occupied Europe are gradually made to wear a badge in the shape of the Star of David (a traditional Jewish symbol), so that they can be easily identified.
The final solution (January 20, 1942)
High-ranking Nazis meet to discuss the "Final Solution," their plan to exterminate Europe’s Jews, who they see as Untermenschen (subhumans) and a problem to be solved. They agree to deport all Jews to Poland, where they will be killed in death camps.
The death camps (1942)
Six "death camps" are established across Nazioccupied Poland. Jews from all over Europe are rounded up. They are transported by train in appalling conditions to the camps, where they are selected for slave labor or immediate execution.
Gas chambers (February 15, 1942)
The Nazis use increasingly systematic methods to commit mass murder. They release poison gas into sealed shower rooms, which are full of prisoners. The bodies are buried in mass graves or cremated.
Liberation (July 1944 - May 1945)
As Allied troops march toward Germany, they liberate the concentration camps from Nazi control. The soldiers are appalled by the death and devastation they find. Prisoners are weak, starving, and sick. After liberation, thousands continue to die from illnesses they caught while imprisoned.
The Nuremberg Trials (1945 - 1949)
After World War II ends in September 1945, the Allies seek to bring those responsible for the Holocaust to justice. The trials are fully televised, and for the first time, the public learns the horrific extent of Nazi war crimes.
A Jewish homeland (May 14, 1948)
After the horrors of the Holocaust, the international community faces pressure to find land for Jewish survivors to establish a homeland. The new state of Israel is created in the Middle East.