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auschwitz: inside the nazi state
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Timeline: 1944

Key

Auschwitz Related

January

President Roosevelt creates the War Refugee Board, which works with Jewish organizations, diplomats, and resistance groups to rescue Jews from the Holocaust.

After advancing up the Italian peninsula, Allied forces meet stubborn German resistance between Naples and Rome. Months of battles take tens of thousands of lives on both sides until the Allies can break through to approach Rome.

February

Allied forces seize the Gilbert and Marshall Islands from Japanese forces.

March

As Soviet troops approach the Hungarian border, German forces occupy Hungary, which is allied with the Axis. Subsequently, Hungary requires Jews to wear a yellow star and orders Jews into ghettos. Deportations to Auschwitz begin soon thereafter.

May

Rudolf Höss returns to Auschwitz to plan for the annihilation of Hungarian Jews. Nearly 440,000—half of the Jews in Hungary—are sent to Auschwitz. Many are gassed within days of their arrival.

May-July: The Nazis send Hungarian Jew Joel Brandt on a mission to try to trade one million Jews to the Allies in exchange for ten thousand trucks. The British reject the offer.

June

June-October: Soviet troops attack German forces, pushing them out of the USSR and into Poland. In mid-July the Soviets near Warsaw, prompting Polish resistance fighters in the city to rise up against the Germans, confident that the Soviets are on their way to liberate them. The Soviet troops stop their advance, however, giving the Germans time to crush the Warsaw rebellion in October.

June 5: Allied troops enter Rome.

June 6: D-Day. The Allied invasion of Europe arrives at Normandy in northwest France; thousands of troops cross the English Channel to land on several beaches, preceded by airborne troops who parachute behind German defenses. After intense morning fighting, the Allies begin to take control of the beaches.

President Roosevelt discusses plans to establish the United Nations after the war.

June 30: A train carrying more than 1,600 Jews leaves Budapest for Switzerland. Handpicked by Hungarian Zionist leader Rudolph Kasztner after making a deal with Adolf Eichmann, each person on the train paid the equivalent of $1,000 (U.S.) for safe passage. The train stops at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where the passengers stay for months before most are finally sent on to Switzerland.

June-August: The Allied troops who landed in France struggle for more than two months to solidify their hold. Not until late August do they control most of France, highlighted for the French troops by the liberation of Paris on August 24.

July

An international conference held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, creates plans for the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to prepare for postwar economic cooperation.

July 9: Hungarian leader Miklos Horthy halts deportation of Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz.

July 20: An attempt to assassinate Hitler in East Prussia fails. The coup plotters had hoped to negotiate an end to the war. The Nazis hunt down many military commanders and suppress the conspiracy to overthrow Hitler. They also take in German war hero Erwin Rommel, who, although sympathetic, had not actually joined the conspiracy. He was doomed, however, for failing to warn Hitler. Thousands were killed or sent to concentration camps in retribution.

July 23: An International Red Cross delegation visits the Theresienstadt ghetto. In preparation for the visit, the Nazis embark on a beautification process and show the ghetto as a model camp. The resulting Red Cross report on the treatment of Jews is favorable.

1944 pocket calendar, printed by the Lodz ghetto printing house

1944 pocket calendar, printed by the Lodz ghetto printing house

August

August 2: The Gypsy Camp at Auschwitz is liquidated. Nazis send some four thousand Gypsies to the gas chambers.

August 7-30: The Lódz ghetto is liquidated. Sixty thousand Jews and an undetermined number of Gypsies are sent to Auschwitz.

August 23: A pro-German regime in Romania is overthrown. The new government declares war on Germany and fights alongside Soviet troops through Hungary and Germany.

August 29-30: The last transport of Jews leaves the Lódz ghetto for Auschwitz.

August-September: Allied bombers strike the IG Farben plant near Auschwitz. Requests from Jewish organizations to bomb the camp and the railways leading to it are denied by the U.S. military.

October

October 6: The Sonderkommandos at Auschwitz stage a revolt, destroying Crematorium IV. Some prisoners escape briefly but are recaptured. The SS kill many Sonderkommandos—even some who had not participated—in retaliation.

October 15: As the Soviets approach the country, the Hungarian government of Miklos Horthy announces a truce with the Allied powers. Horthy is overthrown and replaced by the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party.

November

The last people are gassed at Auschwitz. The last recorded transport of Jewish prisoners arrives at Auschwitz.

Franklin Roosevelt is reelected to a fourth term as president, with Harry Truman as vice president.

November 5: Adolf Eichmann deports Jews from Budapest, forcing them to march to Austria on foot. Some 75,000 start the death marches, but many die on the way.

November 14: The U.S., British, and Soviet governments agree that postwar Germany will be divided into zones of occupation governed by the victorious Allies.

November 25: The SS begins the destruction of the Auschwitz crematoria.

December

December-January: Battle of the Bulge: A stalemate sets in between the Allies and the Germans in Western Europe. In mid-December, taking advantage of widely spread out Allied troops, reinforced German armies attack several positions, hoping to break through and divide the Allied forces. The Germans push hard against the Allies, creating a huge bulge in the Allied line, but they cannot break through. The Allies regroup and counterattack, eventually encircling the Germans.