The History Place - Holocaust Timeline

The execution of Polish hostages in retaliation for an attack on a Nazi police station by the underground organization "White Eagle." In all, fifty-one civilians were shot.

In Nazi-occupied Poland, SS leader Heydrich, with the cooperation of the Wehrmacht, vigorously pursued Hitler's plan for the destruction of Poland as a nation. "...whatever we find in the shape of an upper class in Poland will be liquidated," Hitler had ordered.

Heydrich formed SS Special Action (Einsatz) Groups to systematically round up and shoot Polish politicians, leading citizens, professionals, aristocracy, and the clergy. Poland's remaining people, considered by the Nazis to be racially inferior, were to be enslaved.

Nazi-occupied Poland had an enormous Jewish population of over 2 million persons. On Heydrich's orders, Jews who were not shot outright were crammed into ghettos in places such as Warsaw, Krakow, and Lodz. Overcrowding and lack of food within these walled-in ghettos soon led to starvation, rampant diseases, and the resulting deaths of 500,000 Jews by mid 1941.

(Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives)

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