European Jewish History Timeline 1848-1948

1848 – 1849 – The Revolutions of 1848 in the German states; which start to become modern day Germany. Each European state treated Jews differently; they were not emancipated in Germany at this time. Many German Jews favored a unified Germany as they hoped that this would lead to one national law banning discrimination based on religion. While this did happen, it was interpreted differently across Germany.

1863 – Social Democratic Party of Germany (Socialist) formed. Many Jews found Socialism attractive, as it would mean the end to the persecution they had faced for hundreds of years.

1864 – Danish-Prussian War; Prussia and Austria defeat Denmark over control of Schleswig-Holstein, and then feud over who will be in charge

1866 – Austro-Prussian War

1867-1870 – North German Confederation formed after German Confederation collapsed.

1870 – Franco-Prussian War; defeat of France; Alsace-Lorraine acquired. In Sweden, Jews and Catholics were allowed to run for public office

-Edict of Pope Nicolas- The Edict forcing Jews to hear conversion sermons was abolished after close to 600 years. 

1870 July 19, NAPOLEON III (France) Declared war on Prussia (Franco-Prussian War. A number of Jews, including Jules Moch and Leopold See, attained high rank in the French army.. After the War the region of Alsace and part of Lorraine became annexed to Germany. Many Jewish families preferred to emigrate rather than be under German rule.

1870 September 20, ROME (Italy) After the defeat of Napoleon, Victor Emanuel seized the Capital, breaking the power of the Papal State. On October 13 the Jews were proclaimed free while the Roman ghetto, one of the oldest and cruelest ghettos in Europe, was torn down and soon abolished. This was the last ghetto system to fall. It had lasted three hundred and fifteen years. Wilhelm I of Prussia becomes German Emperor (“Kaiser”); Bismarck largely controls his policies. 

1871 – German Empire (Second Reich) merges all German states except Austria 

1871-90 – Otto von Bismarck (1815–98) as powerful Chancellor of Germany

1871-80 – Bismarck launches Kulturkampf to weaken the Catholic Church and bring it under his control; half the bishops are imprisoned or driven to exile. But 37% of the people are Catholic and they form their Centre Party. Bismarck finally reverses when secularists and Socialists take the opportunity to attack all religion. The Catholics then support Bismarck’s policies.

1878 June 13, BERLIN CONGRESS (Romania) At a summit of European powers discussing the Balkan region, civil rights were “guaranteed” for Romanian Jews. The Romanian populace and government soon ignored this order.

1881- Violent massacres erupted throughout Russia, followed by a series of regulations that severely restricted Jewish settlement, commerce, and participation in professions. These events undermined the prevalent belief that Russian Jews could achieve equality through acculturation.

1881 – 1920 NEARLY THREE MILLION JEWS (USA) Arrived in the United States, mostly from Eastern Europe.

1881 – 1914 RUSSIA Mass emigration. Each year more then 50,000 Jews left Russia. By the beginning of World War I 2,500,000 Russian Jews had left. Some years the numbers reached well over 100,000.

1881 – 1900 USA 600,000 Jews entered from Russian and Romania. 

1889 RUSSIA Jews were not allowed to practice law without a special permit.

1903 – 1907 RUSSIA During these 4 years, 500,000 Jews fled Russia, with 90% of them going to the United States.

1905 ALIENS IMMIGRATION ACT (England) Slowed the number of Jews allowed to immigrate.

1910 WERNER SOMBART (Germany) A Christian economist and historian, he published a treatise on the evils of capitalism, which he ascribed to the Jews.

1920 February 24, NSDAP (National Socialist) Party (Germany) The Nazi party endorsed its own platform which consisted of twenty-five points. Seven of these points concerned the Jews. As part of their program they insisted that Jews could never be citizens or a part of the German Volk (people). That same year the German National Peoples Party (DNVP) also came out “against the predominance of Jewry in government and public life”.

1914 August 1, (Av 9) OUTBREAK OF WWI  In all, out of the 65,000,000 men who fought in WW I, 1,500,000 were Jews. 

1916 GERMANY Jews were accused of evading active service despite the fact that approximately 100,000 Jews served in the German army, 12% higher then their population ratio.

1916 RUSSIA Under Brusilov, returned to its offensive along the Polish and Galician borders. The Jews in those areas were accused of siding with the Germans. 

1919- Treaty of Versailles brings an end to WWI, imposes war guilt clause, blaming Germany for WWI; strips Germany of its colonies; imposes reparations on Germany. This leads to Germany inflation, which is blamed on the Jews.

1919 GERMANY Anton Drexler, Dietrich Eckhard and Karl Herrer founded the German Workers Party, which became the Nazi or National Socialist Party.

1919 January 26, POLISH ELECTIONS Although the Jews won about 10% of the vote they were only allowed to elect 4% of the representatives due to the electoral system.

1919 March, POLAND An anti-Jewish boycott became a serious threat. Cooperatives were created to undersell Jews and numerous laws were passed to force Jews out of business and the legal and medical professions.

1919 August 1, HUNGARY Limited the number of Jews in commerce, law, medicine and banking. The new definition of a Jew was someone who converted after August 1, 1919. An estimated 5,000 Jews converted to Christianity during the weeks before the law went into effect.


1932 September, GERMANY Chancellor von Papen, frightened by communist inroads into Germany, persuaded President von Hindenburg to offer Hitler the chancellorship, hoping to keep Hitler as a puppet.

1933 – 1939 BRITAIN Admitted 75,000 Jews.

1933 – 1939 GERMANY More than 1400 anti-Jewish laws were passed.

1933 POLAND Members of anti-Semitic political organizations (Endeks and Naras) attacked Jews in the streets.

1933 PRIOR TO THIS YEAR Eleven of the thirty-eight Germans to win the Nobel Prize and three of the six Austrians were Jewish. 

1933 January 1, HINDENBURG RESIGNED (Germany) Hitler was appointed chancellor of the Reich on Jan 30th.

1933 March, BRESLAU (Germany) Jewish lawyers and judges were attacked by the Nazis. This was the first official violence against Jews.

1933 March 5, HITLER (Germany) Needing support for his minority government, he called for elections. He terrorized all the opposition, including the communists whom he accused of setting a “mysterious” fire in the Reichstag. After the election, Hitler asked his new majority government to grant him dictatorial powers, which they did. 

1933 March 10, DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMP (Germany) Was established. It was the first of the SS run imprisonment camps. A month earlier Germany passed a law, which would allow people to be imprisoned for an unlimited period of time if they were deemed hostile to the regime.

1933 March 20, VILNA (Lithuania) At the initiative of the Jews of Vilna, an anti-Nazi boycott began. It eventually spread all over Poland and to many countries in Europe. Yet within 6 months Poland itself signed a non-aggression treaty with Hitler, which called for the cessation of all, boycott activities.

1933 March 27, NEW YORK CITY PROTEST (USA) Against the Nazi regime brought out over 50,000 people.

1933 April 1, GERMANY Embarked on an anti-Jewish boycott. 

1933 April 7, BEGINNING OF ANTI-JEWISH LEGISLATION (Germany) The Civil Service Law prohibited Jews from holding public service jobs. These included the civil service, army, labor service, commerce, teachers and lawyers. 

1933 April 11, NICHTARIER (“non-Aryan”) (Germany) Became a legal classification, known as the Arierparagraph (Aryan Clause). According to this, anyone who had a Jewish grandparent was considered Jewish even if the person had converted. This made it “legal” to discharge Jews from their position in the universities, hospitals, and legal professions. In some countries under later NAZI occupation (Italy, Bulgaria, etc.) this definition was modified so that it didn’t include the children of converts or converts who were married to local Christians.

1933 April 26, THE GESTAPO (Geheime Staatspolizei) (Germany) Secret State Police was established.

1933 May 10, GERMANY All “un-German” books were ordered to be burned in public. Over 20,000 mostly Jewish books were burned.

1934 – 1945 UNITED STATES Only agreed to accept around 1000 refugee children. Britain, Belgium, Sweden, France, and Holland all took in more. 

1934 January 26, GERMAN-POLISH NON-AGRESSION PACT was signed. Poland promised not to engage in anti-Nazi propaganda and all criticism of Germany was suppressed. Poland signed a similar pact with Russia in July 1932.

1934 March 23, LAW REGARDING EXPULSION FROM THE REICH (Germany) was passed. It became the basis for the deportation of Eastern European Jews. 

1935 GERMANY  In an interview with London journalists, Dr. Joseph Goebbels asserted that the goal of Nazism was that “Jewry must perish”.

1935 September 15, NUREMBERG LAWS (Germany) “The law for the protection of German Blood and Honor” was instituted. As part of these laws, it became a capital offense to marry or have intimate relations with a Jew.

1937 July 19, – 1945 April 11, BUCHENWALD (Germany) Concentration camp. In all, almost 240,000 people were interned in Buchenwald. Over 56,500 of them died from disease, starvation or were murdered. During the last few days of Buchenwald, an underground succeeded in taking over the camp, preventing the German’s mass evacuation plans. 

1938 January 21, ROMANIA  Jewish citizenship was revoked. Miron Cristea – patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church and successor to Goga – declared: “The Jews are sucking the marrow from the bones of the nation.” 

1938 September 30, MUNICH AGREEMENT  Hitler convinced Chamberlain and Daladier, heads of the governments of England and France, that he wanted to protect German rights in Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland by annexing it, and that he had no further demands or plans for expansion. Chamberlain gave in, claiming that by doing so he had achieved “peace in our time”. Within 2 days German troops began to occupy the Sudetenland.

1938 October, GERMANY  Forcibly deported 17,000 Jews to Poland. Poland refused them entry, forcing them to remain in No Man’s Land. 

1939 January 1, GERMANY All Jewish retail businesses were eliminated. All Jewish owned stocks were forbidden to be traded on the free market but had to be sold to a German competitor or association. 

1939 January 30, HITLER (Germany) Announced to the Reichstag “If international Jewry…should involve the European people in a new war…the result will (be) the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe.”

1939 September 1, GERMANY ATTACKED POLAND  Beginning of World War II. Out of the 3,351,000 Jews in Poland, 2,042,000 came under Nazi rule while 1,309,000 came under Soviet rule. Within two days the British and French declared war on Germany.

1939 September 27 – 28, POLAND SURRENDERED  Warsaw fell. Poland’s capital, home to 350,000 Jews, surrendered to German troops after a three-week siege.

1940 February 8, LODZ (Poland) Nazi Germany ordered the setting up of the Lodz Ghetto.

1940 February 12, GERMANY First deportation of German Jews into occupied Poland.

1940 April 27, AUSCHWITZ (Poland) Under Himmler’s orders, work began on Auschwitz. The first and smallest camp was used for German criminals. At its peak, Auschwitz was able to “process” 10,000 people in 24 hours. Hoess was later captured by the British and hung on April 16, 1947 on the one-person gallows outside the entrance to the gas chamber.

1940 July 3, MADAGASCAR PLAN (Berlin, Germany) Adolph Eichmann prepared a detailed plan for the transfer of four million Jews to Madagascar to be paid for by Jewish confiscated property. The idea was to rid Europe of its Jews and at the same time use them as “hostages” to insure the “correct behavior” of world Jewry. On February 1, 1942 the plan was discarded and replaced with the Endloesung, or the “Final Solution”. 

1940 July 22, VICHY GOVERNMENT (France) In its first anti-Jewish decree, it revoked the citizenship of naturalized Jews.

 1941 March, ADOLPH EICHMANN (Germany) Within a few months, he was in charge of implementation of the “Final Solution” in all of its aspects. In 1944, Eichmann visited Auschwitz and proposed a method for speeding up the killings by twenty percent. 

1941 September 3, AUSCHWITZ (Poland) The first test use of hydrogen cyanide, better known as Zyklon-B gas.

1941 October, GERMAN AND AUSTRIAN DEPORTATIONS Began. Jews were sent east to Polish ghettos.

1941 December 8, – 1945 January 18, CHELMNO/KULMHOF (Poland) The first camp to be created specifically as a death camp was opened using the exhaust from mobile vans. 

1942 March, – 1945 January 17, AUSCHWITZ (Poland) The largest concentration and death camp began to take in Jews.

1942 March 2, – 1943 April, BELZEC (Poland) The second death camp (and former labor camp) became operational. Over 600,000 Jews, mostly Polish, were murdered in the camp before it was closed by the Germans.

1942 March 2, MINSK ROUNDUP (Belarus) The Nazis demanded that the Judenrat, hand over 5000 people for deportation.

1942 July 10, DR. JOSEF MENGELE (Auschwitz, Poland) Began medical experiments in Auschwitz.

1942 August 11, MOSCOW RADIO BROADCAST (Russia) Described how Jews were forced to dig their own graves in the Nazi-occupied Minsk region.

1942 August 13, SWITZERLAND For the first time, Swiss police hand over to the Germans Jewish refugees who had entered Switzerland “illegally.” 

1942 September 12, WARSAW (Poland) Only 60,000 Jews remained in the ghetto.

 1942 November 11, GERMANS OCCUPIED ALL OF FRANCE In response to the allied invasion of North Africa, Germany and Italy occupied all of France. Nazis began to round up Jews in Marseilles. Many Jews in the Vichy areas fled to southern France (which was still occupied by Italy).

1942 December 19, THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION OFFICE (New York, USA) Published a report confirming that the Nazis had made Poland “One vast center for murdering Jews.”

1943 February, STATUS REPORT (Europe) Out of the approximately 2,700,000 Jews in areas occupied by the Germans since June 1941, less then 10% were still alive.

1943 February 2, STALINGRAD (Russia) The German 6th army was defeated, marking the turning point in the war. This eventually had an effect on countries such as Romania regarding a newly found reluctance in cooperating with the Germans on Jewish deportations to concentration camps. 

1943 February 18, TEHERAN CHILDREN (Europe – Eretz Israel) 858 Polish children saved from the Holocaust made their way from Europe though Iran and India to arrive in Eretz Israel with the help of the Jewish Agency and were absorbed by Aliyat HaNoar

1943 February 26, BERLIN (Germany) Was declared Judenrein (free of all Jews).

 1943 March 15, SALONIKA (Greece) The first transport left to Auschwitz under the direction of Eichmann’s deputy, Dieter Wisliceny. By August 7, the last of the 19 transports left Salonika. Of the 46,091 Jews deported, only about 2000 survived.

1943 June 11, HIMMLER Ordered the liquidation of all ghettos in Poland and the Soviet Union. On July 21, liquidation of ghettos began at Nieswiez, in Poland, and soon spread to other ghettos.

1943 November 9, DRANCY CONCENTRATION CAMP (France) German guards led by Commandant Alois Brunner found a tunnel being built under the camp. Prisoners had been working twenty-four hours a day for three months and had only thirty meters left to dig. The underground leader, Col. Robert Blum, as well as others were shot in response. The rest were deported on November 25. Twelve out of the fourteen succeeded in jumping from the train and rejoined the resistance.

1943 November 19, JANOWSKA CAMP (Janow) REVOLT (Lvov, Ukraine) Although a number of underground groups were formed they did not unify and many of their leaders were betrayed by informants. Despite this, a number of them tried to fight back when the camp was liquidated. Only a few survived; most were killed by the Ukrainian police.

1944 March, DETAILED REPORT ON AUSCHWITZ (Poland – USA) Prepared by the Polish underground, it was distributed to the Office of Strategic Services, the War Department and the U.N. War Crimes Commission. None of them released the report. 

1944 May 14, – July 8, HUNGARIAN JEWS DEPORTED (Hungary) Mostly to Auschwitz. According to German reports, 437,402 Jews were deported in 55 days on 148 trains.

1944 August 6, LODZ GHETTO (Poland) The last ghetto in Poland was liquidated. 60,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz.

1944 August 17, DRANCY CONCENTRATION/TRANSIT CAMP (France) Was liberated. From August 21, 1941 until it was liberated over 61,000 Jews were deported from Drancy “to the East.”

1944 October 30, AUSCHWITZ (Poland) Last use of gas chambers. 

1945 January 18, AUSCHWITZ EVACUATED (Poland)

1945 March 15, ANNE FRANK (Bergen Belsen, Germany) Died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp from typhus, shortly before the liberation. She was 15 years old. 

1945 April 27, Mussolini is captured and executed.

1945 April 29, German forces in Italy surrender

1945 April 30, Hitler commits suicide

1945 May 2, German Forces in Berlin Surrender

1945 May 6, Nazi leader and Hitler’s second-in-command, Hermann Göring, surrendered.

1945 May 7, Germans surrender unconditionally.

1945 August 21, GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON (Poland) Turned back four trainloads of 650 Jews organized by the Brichah movement. They attempted to cross the Allied zones near Pilsen, Czechoslovakia hoping to enter Germany and the special camps being set up for Jewish refugees. Although there had been a request from the “top authorities” of the US army’s XXII corps to allow the transports through, General Patton ordered his 8th armored Division to use force to send them back to Poland and many Jews were injured. The uproar in the press, combined with the soon-to-be-released Harrison Report, once and for all stopped the Americans from prohibiting Jews from enter into the American zone in Germany. 

1946 December 8, NUREMBERG TRIALS (Germany) An American military court tried 177 people, including industrialists who directly profited from slave labor. The longest sentence was given to Alfred Krupp (twelve years). Krupp was released from prison with all his co-defendants on February 4, 1951. Although Krupp’s industries had been confiscated, his personal fortune of around fifty million pounds sterling was returned to him. Over three million people were liable to be judged. Out of the 622,300 judged to be guilty, ninety-five percent were given fines or labor without imprisonment. Of the 93,000 major offenders, less then 300 were still in jail after 1949.

1947 May 14, UNITED NATIONS (New York City, USA) After a number of strong speeches supporting the establishment of a Jewish state, a special commission was established. Known as UNSCOP (United Nations Special Commission of Palestine), it consisted of eleven members. In their report, published on August 31, 1947, the majority recommended partitioning Palestine into two states. Jerusalem was to be internationalized corpus separatum.  This was the beginning of the formation of Israel as a country.