Decrease font size  Increase font sizeClick to print page

Glossary

Aktion (Ger.operation, pl. Aktionen): A Nazi military or police operation involving seeking out, assembling, shooting, deporting to labour or death camps.

Allies: Group of nations during World War II including the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union and the Free French, who joined in the war against Germany and other Axis countries.

Antisemitism: Dislike or hatred of and discrimination against Jews.

Aryan: A term for peoples speaking the language of Europe and India. In Nazi racial theory, a person of pure German "blood". The term "non-Aryan" was used to designate Jews, part-Jews and others of supposedly inferior racial stock.

Aryanisation: The euphemistic Nazi term to denote outright stealing, plundering or takeovers of Jewish property.

Axis: A political, military and ideological alliance originally consisting of Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan after they signed a pact in Berlin on 27 September 1940. Eventually Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia joined as well.

Blitzkrieg (Ger. Lightning War): Hitler's offensive tactic using a combination of armoured attach and air assault.

Blood Libel: A vicious antisemitic lie accusing Jews of killing Christian children to use their blood during Passover.

Concentration Camp: Camps established at the beginning of the Nazi regime for the imprisonment and forced labour of "enemies" of the Reich, political and "anti-social", as well as Jews. Disease, maltreatment, starvation and execution led to many deaths.

Crematorium: The ovens and furnaces where bodies of prisoners were burned.

Death/Extermination Camp: Nazi extermination centres where Jews and other victims were sent to be killed as part of Hitler's Final Solution.

Einsatzgruppen (Ger. Operational Task Force): SS murder units supported by units of the uniformed German Order Police and auxiliary units of Ukrainian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian volunteers.

Endlosung (Ger. Final Solution): in Nazi terminology the Nazi planned mass murder and total annihilation of the Jews.

Generalgouvernment (Ger. The General Government): Territory in Poland not incorporated into Germany, administered by a German civilian governor-general after the German occupation in World War II.

Genocide: A term coined by historian Raphael Lemkin during World War II to describe the systematic and planned destruction of an entire religious, racial, national or ethnic group.

Gestapo: Contaction of Geheime Staatspolizei, Secret State Police of the Third Reich, who used physical and psychological torture to create immense fear in the population and to seek out so-called "enemies of the State".

Ghetto: In its original meaning the area of a town or city where Jews were required to live. Under the Nazis the ghetto became a very clearly defined district, often walled - or fenced in - and surrounded by armed guards, in which only Jews were allowed to reside, inevitably in the worst possible conditions. All were eventually dissolved and the Jews were murdered.

Labour Camp: Camp where Jews and other prisoners were subjected to forced labour for either military or government purposes.

Nazi Party: The National Socialist German Worker's Party. Founded in Germany on January 5, 1919 with a centralise and authoritarian structure, its platform was based on militaristic, racial, anti-Semitic, and nationalistic policies. The Nazi Party membership and political power grew dramatically in the 1930s, partly based on political propaganda, mass rallies and demonstrations.

Pale of Settlement: The are in the western part of the Russian Empire in which Russian Jews were allowed to live from 1835 - 1917.

Partisans: Irregular troops engaged in guerrilla warfare, often behind enemy lines. During World War II, this term was applied to resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied countries.

Selektion (Ger. Selection Process): A term describing the process of separating Jews deemed suitable for hard labour from the remainder, who would then be sent to their deaths. This usually took place either at a ghetto roundup or at the entrance to the death camp.

Shoah (Heb. Catastrophe): Denotes the catastrophic destruction of European Jewry during World War II. This term is preferred over "Holocaust" in Israel. It is found in Isaiah 10:3 and means "destruction, ruination".

Sonderkommando (Ger. Special Squads): SS or Einsatzgruppe detachment; also refers to the Jewish slave labour units in extermination camps which removed the bodies of those gassed for cremation of burial.

SS (Schutzstaffel) (Ger. Protection Squad): Oringially Adolf Hitler's bodyguard, led by Heinrich Himmler, it became the elite guard of the Nazi state and its main tool of terror. The SS maintained control over the concentration camp system and was instrumental in the mass shootings conducted by the Einsatzgruppen.

Synagogue (Greek. Gathering): The central institution of Jewish communal worship and study since antiquity and by extension, a term used for the place of gathering.

Yad Vashem: The Holocaust Martyrs and Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, Israel. It is the educational authority and museum for commemorating the Holocaust and Jewish resistance and heroism from that time.

Zyklon B: A cyanide gas made of prussic (hydrocyanic) acid, produced by a German company DEGESH, as a disinfectant, and used in the gas chambers of Auschwitz I and II (Birkenau) and other places.