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Maps of the Holocaust

Reports about large-scale Nazi massacres of European Jews began reaching the West in late 1941. But it wasn't until January 1944 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the War Refugee Board, an agency that was probably responsible for helping to save as many as 200,000 Jewish lives. While the Allied nations procrastinated, millions of Jews were slaughtered. The following timeline and maps describe a few instances of Allied inaction and show just a small selection of the atrocities being committed in one area of Eastern Europe at the same time. 

Jewish Population in Europe Pre-WW II 1939

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Map: 1939 International boundaries. Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust; editor in chief, Israel Gutman

March-April 1942

Events Ocurring in United States
On January 20, 1942, the Nazis held the Wannsee Conference, during which they outlined a plan to kill 11,000 Jews in Europe. Although the Western Allies didn't know about that plan yet, reports of massacres were already reaching the United States. On October 26, 1941, for example, a "New York Time" story reported on the murder of thousands of Jews in Galicia. In March, 1942, a Jewish aid organization reported that eyewitness accounts indicated the Nazis had already massacred 240,000 Jews in the Ukraine alone.

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Some atrocities occurring in Eastern Europe.

From March 17 until mid-April, 1942, during the first four weeks of the killing operation at the Belzec death camp, the Nazis murdered 80,000 Jews. 30,000 of them came from the Lublin ghetto; 15,000 had been transported to the camp from Lvov.

May 1942

Events Ocurring in United States
In May 1942, members of the Jewish Labor Bund in Poland managed to transmit a message to the exiled Polish government in London listing verified massacres. Their report described the killing center at Chelmno: "For gassing a special vehicle (gas chamber) was used in which 90 people were loaded at a time... On average 1,000 people were gassed every day." The contents of the last report were broadcast by the BBC in early June.

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Some atrocities occurring in Eastern Europe.

Between May 4th and 15th, 1942, the Nazis transported 11,860 Jews from the Lodz ghetto to the Chelmno death camp, where they were murdered.

July-September 1942

Events Ocurring in United States
In August 1942, the representative of the World Jewish Congress in Sqitzerland, Gerhart Riegner, was informed of a German plan to annihilate the Jews of Europe. His source was a German industrialist with access to top Nazi circles. Riegner immediately took the information to the American consulate in Generva, where he asked the Vice-Consul to send the information to Washington. The State Department decided that the information passed on by Riegner was nothing more than a "fantastic war rumor." It did not pass the teleram to Jewish leaders.

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Some atrocities occurring in Eastern Europe.

Between the end of July and the end of September 1942, 2540,000 Jews from other locations in the Warsaw district were murdered at the Treblinka death camp.

November-January 1942-1943

Events Ocurring in United States
On November 24th, 1942, Rabbi Stephen Wise called a press conference to announce that the Nazis were deporting Jews throughout German-occupied territory to Poland for mass slaughter. Wise had received information about this plan at the end of the summer, but State Department officials had asked him not to make a public announcement until they were able to confirm it. This process took more than two months. The news made little impact. Most U.S. newspapers buried the story deep in their inside pages. 

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Some atrocities occurring in Eastern Europe.

The Nazis transported more than 107,000 from the Bialystok distric in Poland to be murdered at Treblinka. Most of them were departed between November 1942 and 1943.

April 1943

Events Ocurring in United States
On November 24th, 1942, Rabbi Stephen Wise called a press conference to announce that the Nazis were deporting Jews throughout the German-occupied territory to Poland for mass slaughter. Wise had received information about this plan at the end of the summer, but State Department officials had asked him not to make a public announcement until they were able to confirm it. This process took more than two months. The news made little impact. Most U.S. newspapers buried the story deep in their inside pages.

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Some atrocities occurring in Eastern Europe.

On April 19, the Nazis moved to liquidate the Warsaw ghetto. They met unexpectedly fierce resistance. The Jewish underground fighters managed to hold out until May 15th. By the end of the fighting, 56,000 Jews had been captured. Seven thousand were immediately shot, some were deported to labor camps and the rest were taken to the Treblinka and Majdanek death camps.

Estimated Minimum Jewish Losses - 1945

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Map: 1939 International boundaries. Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust; editor in chief, Israel Gutman.
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