Before 1938


  • After 1918: After World War I, Poland becomes an independent nation, and serves as a buffer between Germany and the Soviet Union.
  • 1920s-1930s: Jewish groups continue to advocate for a Jewish national homeland, a movement called Zionism.
  • January 1933: Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany. He eventually consolidates all power and turns Germany into a dictatorship.
  • September 1935: The Nuremberg Race Laws mark a key legal step toward segregating Jews from German society.



  • March 1938: Germany annexes and occupies Austria.
  • September 1938: The Munich Agreement permits German expansion into the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia.
  • November 1938: A wave of anti-Jewish violence and destruction of Jewish property moves through Germany on Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” on November 9-10.



  • March 1939: Germany conquers and occupies the remainder of Czechoslovakia.
  • September 1939: On September 1, German forces invade Poland, which is the beginning of World War II.
  • September 1939: On September 4, Nazi Germany occupies Będzin and a few days later set fire to the town’s Great Synagogue.
  • November 1939: Germans install Będzin’s Jewish Council (Judenrat).



  • 1940: Nazi Germany invades Western Europe: Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, France.
  • 1940: Nazi Germany cracks down against all dissenters and perceived enemies at home and in occupied territories.



  • June 1941: Nazi Germany invades the Soviet Union.
  • Summer 1941: Expanded operations of Mobile Killings Units (Einsatzgruppen)
  • December 1941: The first killing operations begin in Nazi extermination camps.



  • January 1942: At the Wannsee Conference, Nazi officials coordinate the implementation of the genocide of Jews, referred to as the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”
  • May 1942: The first mass deportations from Będzin to Auschwitz begin.
  • July 1942: Gas chambers begin operating in Auschwitz.
  • August 1942: A major selection occurs at the Będzin Hakoah stadium.
  • October 1942: All of Będzin’s Jews are forced to move into the Kamionka ghetto.



  • January 1943: German army loses the Battle of Stalingrad, a turning point in the war.
  • Spring 1943: Jewish Uprising in the Warsaw ghetto.
  • Summer 1943: Final deportations of Będzin Jews to Auschwitz begin in June. By August, Będzin and the ghetto of Kamionka are “judenfrei” (free of Jews).



  • Summer 1944: Over 400.000 Hungarian Jews are sent to Auschwitz.
  • June 1944: Soviet army launches major offensive and Western allies land in Normandy.
  • July 1944: High-ranking Germans plot to assassinate Hitler on July 22. It failed.
  • August 1944: Polish uprising against German occupiers in Warsaw.
  • September 1944: Hitler mobilizes the Volkssturm in Germany. All men between ages 15 and 60 are forced into the military.



  • January 1945: Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz.
  • Winter-Spring 1945: In death marches, Jewish prisoners are marched across Europe from camp to camp.
  • May 1945: Germany unconditionally surrenders, ending World War II in Europe. The Polish nation comes under Soviet influence.

After 1945


  • 1947: Tensions between the communist East and the democratic West lead to the Cold War. Poland comes under Soviet influence.
  • May 1948: The State of Israel is created.
  • May 1949: Western Germany becomes a democratic state.
  • June 1989: Free elections are held in Poland.