Glossary of Terms
  • Anti-Semitism: Acts or feelings against Jews; takes the form of prejudice, dislike, fear, discrimination, and persecution.
  • Aryan: A term used by the Nazis to mean a superior race of Nordic-type white people who were the master race. In fact, it is not a racial term, but the name of a family of languages, the Indo-European languages, which include German, English, and Greek.
  • Auschwitz: Largest and most notorious of all the concentration camps; was both a slave labor camp and a killing center.
  • Collective Responsibility: The act of holding a group responsible for the actions of any of its individuals.
  • Concentration Camp: A prison camp where the Nazis sent people considered by them to be dangerous. Although these camps were officially considered labor camps, the people in them were not expected to survive. Prisoners were worked or starved to death. Over 100 of these camps existed.
  • Crematorium: A large oven or furnace where bodies of camp inmates were burned after gassing.
  • Deportation: Forced removal of Jews from their homes in Nazi occupied lands under the pretense of resettlement. Most were shipped to killing centers.
  • Displaced Persons Camp: Camps set up after World War II by the Allies to house Holocaust survivors and other refugees who had no place to go home to.
  • Final Solution: The Nazi term for their plan to exterminate all European Jews. The full name is written, The Final Solution to the Jewish Question.
  • Fuehrer: The title taken by Hitler. German word for leader.
  • Gas Chamber: A room that was sealed off and airtight so that death could be induced through the use of gas.
  • Genocide: Term created after World War II to describe the systematic murder of an entire political, cultural, or religious group. The Nazis used the phrases Final Solution, special treatment, and resettlement as euphemisms for genocide.
  • Gestapo: The secret police organization in Nazi Germany; created to eliminate political opposition. Terror, arrest, and torture were main methods used.
  • Ghetto: An area of a city in which Jews were forced to live until they were transported to a concentration camp or killing center.
  • Holocaust: The systematic, planned extermination of 6 million European Jews by the Nazis during World War II. Many non-Jews perished in the Holocaust. The word is derived from the Greek term meaning burnt whole.
  • Killing Center: A camp whose basic purpose was to kill Jews. Gas chambers were built especially for that use. There were six such camps, all in Poland. Auschwitz was the largest.
  • Kristallnacht: German term for Night of Broken Glass, which took place in Germany and Austria on November 9, and 10, 1938. Nazi police smashed Jewish synagogues, houses, and shops. This event signaled the beginning of the Nazi effort to exterminate Jewish people
  • Liberators: Soldiers who freed the inmates of concentration camps.
  • Mein Kampf: Hitler’s autobiography and political theories published in 1925. Sometimes referred to as the bible of the Nazi party.
  • Nazi: Name used to identify members of the National Socialist German Workers Party, a German fascist political movement which ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945 under Adolf Hitler.
  • Nuremberg Laws: In 1935, Hitler established anti-Semitism as a part of Germany”s legal code through these laws. Laws excluded Jews from German society, deprived them of their citizenship, removed them from jobs, and expelled them from schools and universities.
  • Partisan: A member of a guerilla band operating within enemy territory.
  • Pogrom: A planned, brief, surprise attack against a Jewish community.
  • Prejudice: An opinion formed before the facts are known. In most cases, these opinions are founded on suspicions, ignorance, and the irrational hatred of other races, religions, or nationalities.
  • Reichstag: One of the two houses of the German legislature or parliament.
  • Reparations: The money and goods paid by Germany to the Allies after World War I.
  • Resistance: Acts of rebellion, sabotage, and attempt to escape committed by individuals and groups within the camps and ghettos.
  • Righteous Among the Nations: A Christian honored at Yad Vashem in Israel for risking his or her life to save a Jewish person during the Holocaust.
  • SS: Members of Hitler’s elite force of German storm troopers. Abbreviation for Schutzstaffel or protection squads. Responsible for carrying out Hitler’s Final Solution. Controlled the concentration and death camps.
  • St. Louis Incident: In May 1929, the ship St. Louis left Germany with 937 Jewish refugees seeking asylum in the Americas. Most were denied entry and 907 had to return to Europe where they died at the hands of Nazis.
  • Scapegoat: A person, group, or thing that bears the lame for the mistakes or crimes of others. Hitler blamed the Jews for the defeat of World War I and post-war Germany”s troubles.
  • Survivors: Person who survived Nazi persecution from 1933 to 1945.
  • Swastika: Symbol of the Nazi party adopted in 1920. It is actually an ancient symbol dating back about six thousand years. It is now barred in Germany.
  • Synagogue: Jewish house of worship
  • Third Reich: The German word reich means empire. The Nazis called their government the third empire. The first was the Holy Roman Empire and the second was the German Empire.
  • Underground: A group organized in strict secrecy among citizens in an occupied country fro maintaining communications and initiating activity that will lead to the removal of the occupier.
  • Yellow Star: The six-pointed Star of David made of yellow cloth and sewn to the clothing European Jews to permit easy identification.