Study Guide

Hope, Despair and Memory Timeline

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January 30, 1933

Adolf Hitler Becomes Chancellor of Germany

After carrying just enough votes to become chancellor, Adolf Hitler began rolling out his anti-Semitic policies. Historians often look at this as the beginning of the Holocaust, as discriminatory laws turned into outright slaughter.

June, 1941

The "Final Solution" Begins

Hitler shifts his policies straight toward murder. Before death factories like Auschwitz-Birkenau were built, battalions called Einsatzgruppen would execute villages en masse.

April 11, 1945

Buchenwald Concentration Camp Liberated

American troops liberate Buchenwald concentration camp, freeing 21,000 prisoners. A sixteen-year-old Elie Wiesel, left an orphan by the concentration camps, was among them.

May 14, 1948

Nation of Israel Founded

As the British Mandate for Palestine was heading toward its expiration date, David Ben-Gurion, head of the Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared that Israel would be an independent state following the expiration of the mandate. While the U.S. acknowledged the nation formally, its neighbors did not, beginning decades of warfare in the region.


Night First Published

Elie Wiesel publishes his account of what he suffered during the Holocaust in the book that we know as Night. It was originally published in Yiddish and an English translation would come in 1960.

August 5, 1962

Nelson Mandela Imprisoned

Nelson Mandela, a South African activist working for the abolishment of the Dutch colonial government, was arrested by his police. His imprisonment put the eyes of the world on South Africa, and international pressure would start to mount on the government to dissolve.

December, 1979

Soviet Union Invades Afghanistan

After a communist uprising in Afghanistan in 1978, the USSR committed an invasion force to help the fledgling Afghan communist government hold its ground. Naturally, this really riled up the United States, which sent a steady flow of money into the region to prop up anyone who was against the Ruskies.

October 14, 1986

Elie Wiesel Receives Nobel Peace Prize

As a reward for a lifetime of humanitarian work, Elie Wiesel is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. We'd say it couldn't happen to a better guy…but generally speaking the recipients of this prize are the world's best guys by default.

December 11, 1986

Elie Wiesel Gives His Nobel Lecture

The main event: Elie Wiesel delivers his customary Nobel Lecture, taking his stage time to urge mankind to reflect on the mistakes of the past and learn something from them.

November 4, 1988

U.S. Signs the Genocide Convention

The UN had been sitting on its anti-genocide stance since 1952, but thirty-six years later America decided to bite the bullet and adopt the policy.

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