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A Glossary of Terms Pertaining to the
- Aktion- Operation involving the assembling of
Jews for transport to the concentration and death camps.
- A.K. (Armenia Krajowa)- The Polish underground freedom fighters
- "Alles heraus"- German for
- Allies - The four major opponents of Germany in World War II:
France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States.
- Anti-Semitism - Prejudice against Jews; dislike of Jews;
discrimination or persecution of Jews.
- Appel - Roll call
- Appelplatz - Location of roll call
- "Arbeit Macht Frei" -
German for "Work will set you free"; these words appeared in a sign over the
main entrance to many concentration camps
- Aryan - Hitler's "Master Race" of blue-eyed, blond haired
caucasians. Has no biological validity as a racial term.
- Aufseherin - Female supervisor
- Aufstehen - German for "Get up"
- Auschwitz - Name for concentration and death camp Oswiecim,
located in southern Poland, which was in fact a complex of forty smaller
camps in the region
- Aussenkommando - A forced labor crew working outside the barbed
wire confines of a camp
- Aussiedlung - "Resettlement" of Jews in Eastern territories which
in reality meant the deportation of Jews to the death camps
- Babi Yar - The site of mass executions, located
outside of Kiev in the Ukraine.
- Belzec - A concentration camp outside of Lubin, Poland
- Bergen-Belsen - Concentration camp in Germany. After the death
and labor camps in the East were taken apart, thousands of the emaciated
prisoners were forced into Bergen-Belsen.
- Betar - "Brit Trumpeldor", the youth movement of the Zionists
- Birkenau - One of the Auschwitz sub-camps; site of the gas
chambers and the crematorium
- Block - Barrack
- Blockaltester - A person chosen by the Germans to supervise the
concentration camp barracks
- Brotappel - Meal call to receive bread
- Bricha - "Flight": The name of the underground operation that
moved Jews out of Eastern Europe, USSR and the Balkans into Central Europe
for immigration to Palestine
- Buchenwald - A concentration camp located near Weimar, Germany
- Bund - Jewish Socialist Party active in Poland
- Canada - A depository of belongings confiscated
from prisoners arriving at the Auschwitz camps
- Chelmno - The first death camp, located in Poland, constructed in
1941 for the purpose of murdering Jews. The victims of Chelmno died in gas
vans and were buried in mass graves. An estimated 100,000 Jews were murdered
- Commisariat General Aux Questions Juives - General Commission for
the Jewish Question, the French bureaucratic organization in charge of
implementing the anti-Jewish program in France
- Concentration Camp - Place in which prisoners of the state are
kept. In Germany, concentration camps began as an instrument of intimidation
for political opponents of the Nazis and because the prisons were full.
Later, they became a standing weapon of terror. Ultimately, over 100 camps
were set up where people were "concentrated," that is, kept in one place.
While they were related to the labor and death camps, they were not the
same. Probably millions of people died in the concentration camps, but they
were not set up as death camps like Treblinka, Sobibor, and Auschwitz II (Birkenau).
Auschwitz I was the concentration camp of the Auschwitz complex.
- Cracow/Krakow - A large city in Southern Poland
- Crematorium - Ovens or furnaces where concentration and death
camp prisoners' bodies were burned.
- Dachau - The first concentration camp opened by
the Nazis in 1933 near Munich, Germany. It served as a camp to concentrate
political opponents of the Third Reich, democratic supporters of the Weimar
Republic, Socialist, Communists and others who were mainly non-Jews.
- Death Camps - These camps were Nazi centers of murder or
extermination. Jews and non-Jews were brought to them to be put to death as
part of Hitler's "Final Solution." The six death camps (Auschwitz,
Treblinka, Sobibor, Majdanek, Chelmno and Belzec) were established solely
for the murder of Europe's Jews. Eventually, had the war continued, they
would have been used to annihilate other groups the Nazis considered
inferior, like the Poles. The death camps, especially Auschwitz, were also
the places of death for nearly a half million Gypsies.
- Death Marches - The prisoners of Auschwitz and other camps in
Poland were forced by the Germans to march to camps in Germany as the
Russian armies approached from the east. The death camps were taken apart
and the prisoners were forced onto the roads in the bitter January cold of
1945. About one third of the prisoners died on the death marches.
- Deportation - Term used for the forced removal of Jews in Nazi
occupied lands under the pretense of "resettlement." Most Jews were shipped
to the death camps.
- Der Stuermer - "The Assailant": A Nazi anti-Semitic newspaper
- D.P. - Short for "Displaced Person": A term used to describe
people who had become refugees as a result of World War II
- Drancy - A concentration camp located near Paris, France
- Effektenkammer - Storehouses for the clothes and
valuables taken from Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners by the Nazis. In
Auschwitz, a section of storehouses were referred to as "Canada"
- Einstatzgruppen - "Action Teams": Mobile killing squads operating
in German-occupied Russia
- Endloesung - "The Final Solution": The planned mass-murder of
- Extermination - Term used to refer to the annihilation or total
destruction of the Jews. Extermination calls up images of pests or non-human
creatures to be killed by use of pesticides.
- Extermination Camps - Six camps established in Poland for the
purpose of killing Jews -- Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Majdanek, Chelmno,
- Final Solution - The Nazi term for their program
to annihilate the Jews of Europe. A Euphemism or substitute term for mass
murder or genocide. The term refers to the last in a line of "solutions" to
the "problem" of what to do with Jews.
- Fuehrer - German word for leader. Hitler was called the Fuehrer,
meaning the supreme leader of his people. The term implies prestige and
- Funferreihe - Five in a row
- Gas Chamber - Buildings or parts of building which
were sealed off and airtight so that large numbers of people could be
murdered by poison gas which was released into the chamber.
- Genocide - Deliberate extermination of a race or
- Genralgouverment - The territory of Southern and
Western Poland under German rule during World War II
- Gesamtloesung - "Total Solution"; see also
- Gestapo - Short for "Geheime Staats Polizei": The
State Secret Police
- Ghetto - The section of a city in which Jews were
required to live. Ghettos were established in cities with railroad
connections. The ghettos were sometimes surrounded by guards, barbed wire or
brick walls. If Jews were found outside the ghetto without special
permission, they were killed.
- Gross-Rosen - A concentration camp in Western
- Gurs - A concentration camp in Southern France
- Haftling - Prisoner
- Hashomer Hatzair - "The Young Guard", a socialist
- Hehalutz - "The Pioneer", a Zionist youth group
- Heimlosen - Stateless people
- Holocaust - the systematic, bureaucratic,
annihilation of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and their collaborators
as a central act of state during World War II.
- Iron Guard - Rumanian Fascist Party
- Judenrat - The official Jewish leadership within a
- Juden unerwuenscht - German for "Jews not welcome"
- Judenrein - German term meaning "pure" or "clean"
of Jews. The goal of the Nazi "Final Solution" or the Holocaust.
- Juden Raus - German for "Jews Get Out"
- Kapo - A concentration camp prisoner put in charge
of a group or work detail of fellow prisoners
- KZ (Konzentrationlager) - Concentration Camp
- Kristallnacht - "Crystal Night" or "Night of Broken
Glass": Name for anti-Jewish attacks organized by the Nazis in Germany and
Austria which took place over November 9th and 10th, 1938
- Labor Camps - A camp whose prisoners were used for
slave labor by German businesses, SS, the government or the military.
- Lager - Camp
- Lageralteste - Senior camp inmate
- Lagerfurherin - Female camp commander
- Lagerkommandent - Camp commander
- Lebensraum - German word for "living space."
Hitler's goal in World War II was to gain Lebensraum for Germans in the
East. This meant enslaving or killing the native populations of Poland and
other Eastern European countries.
- Lvov - City in the Ukraine, called Lemberg in
- Majdanek - A death and concentration camp located
near Lubin, Poland
- Mauthausen - A concentration camp located in Austria
- Mein Kampf - "My Struggle", 1924: Title of book written by
Adolf Hitler which presented his political and social agenda for Germany
- Musselman - A camp slang word for a prisoner who has given up the
will to live
- National Socialism - The political and social
philosophy of Hilter and of Germany from 1933-1945. National Socialism meant
dictatorship and included the philosophy of racism as its rationale. German
fascism was called National Socialism.
- Nazi - Abbreviation for National Socialist German Workers Party
- Nuremberg Laws - A series of Nazi anti-Semitic laws passed on
September 15th, 1935. These laws defined Jews, excluded Jews from German
society, and removed all their civil rights.
- Organisation/Organizacja - To acquire or steal
- Partisans - Underground freedom fighters
- Perpetrator - A participant in the killing of the Jews. This term
includes all those who were involved even from far away: bureaucrats,
lawyers, architects, chemists, businessmen, railroad officials, diplomats,
- Poalei Zion - "Labor Zionists", a socialist Zionist organization
- Ponar - The site of mass executions located outside of Vilna,
- Posten - The S.S. officers who functioned exclusively as guards,
either in the watchtowers that surrounded the camps, or in the field,
watching the work crews
- Pogrom - Massacres carried out on Jewish villages
- Prague - The capital of Czechoslovakia
- Reichsvereinigung - The body of all Jews in Nazi
Germany following the abolition of their citizenship on July 4,1939
- Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland - Voluntary German
Jewish organization founded in 1933. Its main task was to organize the
emigration of Jews from Germany
- Revier - Station, hospital
- R.S.H.A. (Reichssicherheitshauptampt) -
Office for State Security
- S.A. (Sturm Abteilungen) - Storm Troopers
- S.D. (Sicherheitsdienst) - Security Service, the
Intelligence organization of the Nazi Party
- S.S. (Schutzstaffel) - Elite Nazi guard which
carried out many of the plans of the Final Solution
- Selection - The process of choosing ghetto
residents and camp inmates for life or death
- Shoah - Hebrew word for the Holocaust
- Sobibor - Death camp located near Lubin, Poland
- Sonderbehandlung - "Special treatment": A Nazi code
name for murder
- Sonderkommando - "Special commandos": Prisoners in
the death camps charged with dealing with the corpses of their fellow
inmates, i.e. removing gold teeth and shaving off the hair for use by the
- Strafhafling - Punished prisoner
- Swastika - An ancient symbol often used in Eastern
religions as a symbol of life. In 1920, it was taken by the Nazi party as
its symbol. A twisted cross, it came to represent all the evils of Nazism.
- Theresienstadt - A
concentration camp located near Prague in Czechoslovakia, called Terezin in
- Treaty of Versailles - One of the treaties signed
to end World War I. The Versailles Treaty stripped Germany of much land,
forced the government to pay reparations to the Allies and accused Germany
of responsibility for World War I. Treaty was ratified in 1919.
- Treblinka -
A death camp located near Warsaw, Poland
- "Point of Reshippment": A collection point in the ghetto for deportation
- Untermensch - A German term
meaning subhuman, applied to the so-called inferior races (Jews, gypsies and
Vilna - A city formerly
in Poland, now the capital of Lithuania
Warsaw - The capital of
Wannsee Conference - A
Nazi meeting held on January 20, 1942, where it was decided to carry out the
- the German armed forces
- A transit camp for Jews located in Holland
- The German government from 1919-1934. A Democratic
Republic, it was burdened with the aftermath of World War I, terrible
inflation, violent enemies from within like the Nazi party, and an army that
was not committed to defending a democracy. When Hitler combined the offices
of Chancellor and President, in August, 1934, the Weimar Republic came to an
- Colored triangulat patch sewn to the clothes of camp inmates
to indicate the category of offense for which they had been imprioned
- An Israeli institution dedicated to documenting and
memorializtion the Holocaust
- YIVO - "Jewish Scientific
Organization": An institute located in New York dedicated to researching the
Yiddish language and the history, culture and literature of East European
(Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa) - "Jewish Fighting Organization": The name of
the Jewish resistance group in the Warsaw Ghetto
- Zyklon B
- The cyanide gas made of prussic acid which was used to kill Jews in the
gas chambers of Auschwitz. (The other death camps used carbon monoxide gas.)
The gas was produced by a company called DEGESCH that was partly owned by