1939

January 30, 1939. Hitler makes a speech to the Reichstag where he claims that a war in Europe would be the end of European Jewry.

February 21, 1939. The Surrender of Precious Metals and Stones in Jewish Ownership is enacted by the German government. It requires all Jews to hand over gold, silver, and diamonds, amongst other precious things. 

March 14, 1939. Pressure from the Nazi government succeeded in convincing Slovakia from separating itself, thereby destroying the Czechoslovakian unity.

March 15, 1939. The Germans then proceed to occupy the remaining Czech territory.  They establish The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

May 15, 1939. Germans establish Ravensbruck concentration camp for women. 

July 4, 1939. Germans establish the Reich Association of Jews in Germany (Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland) as the sole representation of Jews in the legal realm of Germany.

August 23, 1939. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact is signed between the Soviet Union and Germany.  It promises non-aggression and secretly provides for the dividing of Poland between the two nations.

September 1, 1939. World War II begins as Germany invades Poland.

September 3, 1939. France and The United Kingdom declare war on Germany. 

September 17, 1939. Soviet troops invade Poland from the east. 

September 21, 1939   Reinhard Heydrich issues the order for Einsatzgruppen soldiers to start herding people into ghettos. This order also included the establishment of Judenrats in Polish towns; a census of Polish Jewry; and the deportation of the Jews in the northwest of Poland.

September 28, 1939. Poland is partitioned and split between the Soviet Union and the Nazis.  The Nazis get everything east of the Bug River.

October 26, 1939Germany formally adds the Polish regions of Upper Silesia; West Prussia; Pomerania; Poznan; Ciechanow (Zichenau); part of Lodz; and the Free City of Danzig (Gdansk). The Germans divided the newly annexed areas into two different administrive districts (Reichsgaue) – Danzig-West Prussia and Posen. The areas that were not occupied by the Soviets nor the Germans, were placed under a German civilian government.  

 October 28, 1939. The first ghetto is established at Piotrków Trybunalski.  

November 8, 1939. Attempted assassination of Hitler.

December 14, 1939. Soviet Union is ousted from the League of Nations over its pact with Germany and subsequent occupation of Poland.      

1940

February 12, 1940. Germans deport approximately 1,000 Jews from Stettin towards Lublin.

April 9, 1940. German forces invade Norway and Denmark.

April, 1940. 22,000 Poles are murdered by Soviets in the Katyn Massacre.

May 10, 1940 – June 22, 1940. Germans invade Netherlands; Belgium; Luxembourg; and France. By the end of June they will occupy all of these territories (excluding unoccupied Vichy France.)  On June 10, 1940, The Italians enter the war as an ally of Germany, on the side of the Axis nations.

June 15, 1940 – August 6, 1940. The Soviet Union retakes and occupies the Baltic states of Latvia; Lithuania; and Estonia.  On June 28, 1940, The USSR was encouraged [by the Germans] to occupy eastern Romania; Bukovina; and Bessarabia (modern-day Moldova.)

July, 1940. Thousands of Alsatian Jews are expelled from Alsace to southern France. 

August 30, 1940. Mussolini and Hitler work out the dividing of the territory of Transylvania.  The northern part of the territory is awarded to Hungary – on September 6, The Romanian King Carol abdicates the throne due to his outrage over the issue.  This leaves the Romanian government in an unstable coalition with Ion Antenescu as a top leader.

September 27, 1940. Japan; Italy; and Germany sign the Tripartite Pact.   These three countries promise mutual assistance if any one of the signatories is attacked by a country not already involved in the war.  On November 20, 1940 Hungary will sign the pact as well.  They are followed by Romania; then Slovakia; and eventually Bulgaria (1941) and The Free State of Croatia (1941.) 

November 15, 1940. The Warsaw Ghetto is sealed.  It is the biggest ghetto in both population and area – at times during the ensuing years, the ghetto population will approach 500,000.