When did the Holocaust start? The Holocaust (Ha-shoah in Hebrew) took place between 1933 and 1945 and is associated with the persecution and murder of over 6,000,000 Jews and other people, including gays and Roma people. During the Holocaust, two thirds of all Jews in Europe were killed and one third of the world’s Jewish population, but when did it all start? Anti-Semitism in Germany existed for quite some time before the Nazi rule and the ethnic cleansing plan that they called the “Final Solution” developed gradually, making it hard to tie a set date to the start of the Holocaust. Most historians however agree that the 30th January 1933 when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, was the main turning point that set everything in motion, marking this date as the start of the Holocaust.
Some Important Early Holocaust Dates
After Hitler came to power, there were however also certain other early events that can be seen as important starting points to what became the Holocaust:
- April 1, 1933 – only 3 months after Hitler was appointed chancellor, the boycott of Jewish-owned businesses and shops in Germany started.
- September 15, 1935 – The famous Nuremberg Race Laws were passed, providing a legal basis for the exclusion of Jews from German society and implementing a very restrictive Jewish policy.
- November 9, 10 1938 – Attacks on the Jews become violent for the first time after the Jewish Hershel Grynszpan assassinates Ernst vom Rath in Paris. In what is now known as Kristallnacht, Jewish businesses, homes and synagogues are looted and destroyed. Many Jews are beaten and killed and 30,000 Jewish people are arrested and taken to concentration camps.
There were obviously other important Holocaust dates, such as the invasion of Poland and establishment of Jewish ghettos, the brutal murder of Jews in the U.S.S.R and the final mass killings at the Nazi death camps, but by that time the Holocaust was already in full swing.
This post is part of our larger historical resource on the Holocaust. Click here for our comprehensive article on the Holocaust.