Glossary

 

Annex
To take possession of another country by conquest or occupation.
Anti-Semitism
Persecution and hostility against Jews.
Anti-Jewish decrees
Laws against Jews passed by the Nazis in Germany and the occupied countries.
Aryan
Non-Jewish. Used by the Nazis to mean white Western European. For the Nazis, a typical Aryan was blond, blue-eyed and tall. This ideal was based on the mythical ancestors of the German people.
Anschluss
The annexation of Austria to Germany.
Auschwitz-Birkenau
A camp in Poland used for both slave labour and as an extermination centre.
Blocks
In the camps, barracks for housing prisoners were divided into blocks.
Boycott
Non-Jewish citizens were forbidden to buy from the Jews as a means of protest by the Nazis.
Bystander
Those who refused to speak out or act against the Nazi regime.
Collaborator
A person who who aided the Nazis in their plans to destroy Jews.
Communism
An economic or political system based on the sharing of all work and property by the whole community.
Concentration camp
Centres used to imprison Jews, political opponents of the Nazis and other minority groups. Conditions were terrible. Some were transit or work camps, others were built as death camps. The death camps used gas chambers as a means to kill thousands of people at a time.
Crematorial chimney
Ovens built to burn the dead bodies of those killed in camps. Survivors describe the chimney of a crematorium on this website.
Crusades
The first Crusade occurred in 1096, when armies from Western Europe set out to rescue the holy places of Christianity from Arab conquerors. On route they killed Jews in France and Germany, believing the myth they were killers of Christ.
Death march
In 1945, as the end of the war seemed likely, the Nazis began to force surviving camp inmates from Poland to Germany on what became known as death marches. Thousands froze, starved or were shot on the way.
Dehumanise
An attempt by the Nazis to brutalise or take away the human qualities of a person or people.
Deportation
Trains, usually used for cattle cargo, transported Jews to the camps. They were often told they were to be 'resettled' in order to deceive them.
Einsatzgruppen/ Einsatzkommando
Mobile killing units of the SS that followed the German army into Poland and the Soviet Union.
Eugenics
Derived from Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest. The Nazis used false scientific arguments to discourage procreation by members who they considered were 'unfit' to live in society, either physically, mentally or socially.
Final Solution
The Nazi term for their plan to murder every Jew in Europe.
Gas chambers
Built in extermination camps and capable of killing thousands of people at a time.
Genocide
A systematic attempt to annihilate a racial group or nation. The word was first used in 1944.
Gestapo
Nazi State secret police.
Gentile
A person who is not Jewish (especially Christian).
Ghetto
Fenced-off, densely populated areas in which Jews were forced to live in European cities. Many died in ghettos from hunger and disease.
Gottchen
Yiddish word for God.
Gypsies
Roma and Sinti were viewed by the Nazis as racially inferior and a biological threat to the Aryan race. They suffered greatly as victims of Nazi persecution.
Adolf Hitler
Leader of the Nazi Party; known as Fü hrer (German for leader).
Holocaust
The word, Holocaust, derives from Greek words, meaning complete destruction, usually by fire. By the end of the 17th century, the word came to mean a great slaughter or massacre. It is now used to describe the genocide against the Jews in Europe by the Nazis.
Jews
Those who follow a religion called Judaism. Both Christianity and Islam developed from Judaism.
Kapo
Concentration camp inmates who were selected by Nazis to control other inmates. They were granted privileges.
Kindertransport
The movement to evacuate children to Britain from Nazi Germany. The first transport was in 1938. By the outbreak of war 9,354 children had arrived, 7,482 of them Jewish.
Kristallnacht
'The night of broken glass': a state organised pogrom where Jews were beaten and deported that took place throughout Nazi Germany on 9-10 November 1938.
Lagerstrasse
The road leading to the gas chambers and crematoria.
Liquidation
A means of clearing out the ghettos by deporting or killing Jews.
Messiah
In Judaism - the awaited king of the Jews, to be sent by God to free them. Christians believe Christ is the Messiah, when regarded in this role.
Nationalist
One who works for the unity, independence, interests or domination of a nation.
Nazi
A member of the Nazi Party.
Nazi Party
Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). The political party led by Adolf Hitler, which was elected by the democratic process to government in Germany in the 1930s.
Occupation
The act of taking and keeping control of a foreign country using military power.
Partisan
A member of a military force, but not part of a regular army, fighting for the liberation of his or her country.
Passover
A Jewish festival of freedom remembering when the Jews were led out of Egypt and out of slavery by Moses.
Perpetrator
A person committing crimes against individuals/groups.
Persecution
Persistent ill treatment or harassment.
Pogrom
Mob violence against the Jews.
Propaganda
Opinions promoted in a biased or false way.
Race
All human beings are biologically of the same race, but the word is used to differentiate ethnic groups and also in terms like 'racial discrimination'.
Racism
The belief that one 'racial group' is inferior to another and the practices of the dominant group to maintain the inferior position of the dominated group. Often defined as a combination of power, prejudice and discrimination.
Refugee
Someone who has left his or her homeland because of fear of persecution.
Resistance
Secret organisation in an enemy or occupied country, working for liberation.
SA (Sturmabteilung)
Storm Troopers or brown shirts. Military style group organised to protect Nazi rallies and to terrorise those not sympathetic to the Nazis.
Sabbath
The Jewish Sabbath day of rest, welcomed into the home on Friday evening and ending on sunset on Saturday.
Sabotage
Deliberate destruction or damage of equipment in order to hinder a particular group.
Scapegoat
A person or people blamed or punished for things done by others.
Shmutters
A Yiddish word meaning clothing.
Socialism
A system based on public ownership of the means of production and distribution of wealth.
Sondercommando
Prisoners granted temporary reprieve from death who were forced to remove corpses from gas chambers and cremate them.
SS
Schutzstaffel, protection squad. Established in 1925 as Nazi protection squads, included the Gestapo; squads that ran the Nazi concentration and death camps; squads that fought with the German army.
Third Reich
A term used to describe Nazi empire.
Totalitarian
A political system based on absolute power of a single party or dictator.
Underground
Secret groups working as resisters or partisans.
Weimar Republic
At the end of the First World War, Germany was declared a republic after the King abdicated. Weimar in Germany was where the new constitution was written and the new republic was named after it.
Wehrmacht
The German army.
Yellow Star
A six pointed star that looks like two overlapping triangles. David was the King of the Jews in 1000 BCE and his shield/star was adopted as a symbol of the Jewish people. Under Nazi rule Jews were ordered to wear a Star of David at all times so that they could be easily identified. Failure to do so usually resulted in death. Known as 'Magen David' in Hebrew.
Yiddish
A language based on German, Hebrew and Balto-Slavic languages, spoken by the majority of Jews in Eastern Europe before the Second World War.
Zionism
The movement which worked toward the establishment of a national homeland in Palestine for Jews.
Zyklon B
Crystals giving off poisonous gas and used to kill Jews in extermination camps.