Timeline of Persecution
(1938 - 1945)
November 25, 1938
The SS transfers
500 male concentration camp prisoners
to the village of Ravensbrück,
north of Berlin, Germany.
The prisoners begin the construction of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Ravensbrück will serve as the main camp for women prisoners in Germany.
May 15, 1939
The SS transfers
almost 900 women prisoners from the Lichtenburg concentration
camp for women to Ravensbrück.
Upon this transfer, Ravensbrück replaces Lichtenburg as the main camp for women prisoners in Germany.
June 29, 1939
A transport of 440 Romani (Gypsy)
women, with their children, arrives in Ravensbrück from the Burgenland in Austria.
By 1945 about 5,000 Romani women will have passed through the Ravensbrück camp.
September 23, 1939
After the German invasion of Poland earlier in September, the first Polish women prisoners arrive in Ravensbrück.
By 1945 more than 40,000 women from Poland and the German-occupied eastern
territories will have been deported to Ravensbrück.
June 6, 1941
300 male prisoners arrive at Ravensbrück from Dachau. The SS holds them in a separate camp for men at Ravensbrück.
The men serve as forced laborers in the construction of factories in the
November 20, 1941
Friedrich Mennecke, the head of the Eichberg State Mental
Hospital and a doctor in the Euthanasia
Program, conducts a selection among the women prisoners at Ravensbrück.
Over the next two months Mennecke determines that about 850 prisoners
are too weak or ill to work. He orders their killing as part of an operation
March 23, 1942
Over the next two days, the SS transfers 1,000 women — mainly German Jewish women but also Romani
(Gypsy) women — from Ravensbrück to Auschwitz-Birkenau in German-occupied Poland.
The SS establishes a women's
camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
July 7, 1942
Almost 200 women arrive in Ravensbrück from the Czech village of Lidice. The Germans destroyed Lidice, a small
village outside Prague, in retaliation
for the assassination of Reinhard
Heydrich, the German governor of Bohemia and Moravia and head of the
Security Police. SS forces
killed all the men of Lidice and more than 50 women. They deported the
remaining 200 women and almost 100 children to camps in Germany. Demolition
squads burned and destroyed the village.
July 20, 1942
Karl Gebhardt begins sulfanilamide
experiments in Ravensbrück on about 80 concentration camp prisoners, mostly Polish women. Gebhardt seeks to determine the effectiveness
of sulfanilamide in preventing infections in battlefield wounds for the
benefit of the German armed forces. He deliberately inflicts wounds on
prisoners and infects them with bacteria. He tests treatments of sulfanilamide
and other drugs. Some women die as a result of these experiments; many
others are crippled or maimed. Other experiments at Ravensbrück include the testing of various methods of setting and transplanting bones
and sterilization experiments on women and children, mostly Roma (Gypsies).
October 5, 1942
The SS transfers
more than 600 Jewish women from Ravensbrück to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The
transfer is a response to an order from the Reich Security Main Office
requiring the transfer of all Jewish concentration
camp prisoners from camps in Germany to Auschwitz.
June 22, 1944
The SS conducts
the first documented gassing in the women's camp at Ravensbrück.
The gas chamber at Ravensbrück uses Zyklon B, crystalline
hydrogen cyanide gas, as the killing agent. The gas chamber is relatively
small; the SS uses it primarily
to kill those prisoners they deemed "unfit" for work. In all,
the SS will kill more than
2,000 prisoners in the gas chamber at Ravensbrück.
January 15, 1945
SS camp officials
report that there are almost 54,000 prisoners in the Ravensbrück camp, including nearly 8,000 men. Beginning in 1944, forced
labor by concentration camp prisoners became increasingly important to Germany's armaments production. Ravensbrück grew into
an administrative center for more than 40 subcamps located near armaments
factories across east-central Germany. Tens of thousands of prisoners
work long hours under intolerable conditions. Many are worked to death.
April 23, 1945
As a result of negotiations between Swedish count Folke
Bernadotte and SS chief Heinrich Himmler, the SS turns over 7,000 women prisoners from Ravensbrück concentration camp to the Swedish
Red Cross. The Swedish Red Cross takes the prisoners to neutral Sweden
April 27, 1945
The SS orders
the final evacuation of the Ravensbrück concentration camp, forcing about
15,000 prisoners on a death march. The SS kills any prisoner who cannot keep pace.
April 30, 1945
Soviet forces liberate the Ravensbrück concentration camp. They discover
between 2,000 and 3,000 sick and dying prisoners in the camp. Between
1939 and 1945, more than 120,000 prisoners, nearly 100,000 of them women,
passed through the Ravensbrück camp system. Ravensbrück camp records indicate that about 90,000 prisoners died in the camp. Thousands
more died without being recorded.
Holocaust Memorial Museum