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AKTION (German)
The mass assembly and deportation of Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators during
the Holocaust.
The nations that fought against Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan during World War II:
from September 1939, Britain and France; from June 1941, the Soviet Union; and from
December 1941, the United States.
Six concentration camps designed and built to kill people, particularly Jews. These
murder sites removed the perpetrators from immediate contact with the victims through
the use of gas chambers. Initially, the dead were buried, later they were burned. Chelmno,
Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka were built solely to murder Jews. Majdanek and
Auschwitz-Birkenau were annihilation camps, but also served as forced- and slave-labor
The annexation of Austria by Germany on March 13, 1938.
Prejudice and discrimination toward Jews.
Nazis used this term to identify “pure” Germans whom they considered superior to
members of all other races.
The largest annihilation camp. Originally used as a concentration camp for Polish
political prisoners, early in 1942 Auschwitz-Birkenau became an annihilation camp.
Auschwitz encompassed three large camps: Auschwitz I (the administrative center of the
camp complex); Auschwitz II (Birkenau), the annihilation camp; Auschwitz III
(Monowitz), the IG Farben labor camp known as Buna; and nearly 40 sub-camps.
Germany, Italy and Japan signed a pact on September 27, 1940 in Berlin becoming the
Axis military alliance. Later, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovakia joined. Basically,
Germany and its allies.
People who stand by, watch, and do nothing to interrupt actions taken by perpetrators
against victims.
Prison camps establish by the Nazis in 1933 to hold internal “enemies” of the State.
These included communists, socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Roma
(derogatorily known as Gypsies), masons, and other “Anti-socials” (Asoziale), as well as
As Soviet troops approached Nazi camps in the east, guards evacuated the camps and
forced prisoners on long marches towards Germany. Brutality, harsh weather, and lack of
food and protective clothing caused the deaths of large numbers of prisoners already
weakened by starvation and illness.
Camps set up in the wake of World War II to house Jews and others freed from
concentration camps or otherwise displaced by the war. These camps were operated by
Allied occupation forces and administered by the United Nations Relief and
Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). The last Jewish DP camp in Germany closed in
EINSATZGRUPPEN (German-plural)
Mobile killing units comprised of police units from Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,
and Ukraine that followed the German Army as it invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.
The Einsatzgruppen murdered Polish intellectuals and clergy and approximately 1.5
million Jews in less than a year.
“EUTHANASIA” (Nazi Euphemism)
The Nazi “euthanasia” program (also referred to as T-4) murdered over 100,000 people.
This program was the Nazis’ first mass murder and it targeted people with physical
mental, and emotional disabilities regardless of race and age.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened this conference to discuss the problem of
refugees. Thirty-two countries met at Evian-les-Bains, France. In essence, they all agreed
to do nothing to help.
“FINAL SOLUTION” (Nazi Euphemism)
Mass murder was not the first means by which the Nazis attempted to deal with what they
perceived as Germany’s Jewish Question. From 1933-1938, they tried to force Jews to
leave Germany. From 1939-1940, they tried to resettle Jews on “reservations” in Poland
or on Madagascar. When these methods proved unworkable and the Nazis saw that the
world community would not interfere, they began large-scale murder of Jews, which
eventually turned into genocide.
The state sponsored destruction of a specific group of people identified by the
perpetrators; often a racial, religious, cultural, or ethnic minority.
GESTAPO (Acronym for Geheime Staatspolizei)
The German state secret police; controlled by Heinrich Himmler from 1936.
The ghetto was a section of a city where all Jews from the surrounding areas were forced
to reside. Surrounded by barbed wire or walls, ghettos were often sealed so that people
were prevented from leaving or entering. Established primarily in Eastern Europe,
ghettos were characterized by severe overcrowding, starvation, slave labor, random
executions, and deportations.
GYPSIES (Derogatory Term)
Used to identify people of Roma, Sinti, and other ethnic groups who have a common
language and culture. Many from this group have engaged in a nomadic lifestyle. Nazis
targeted “Gypsies” for persecution and nearly 500,000 were murdered.
A religious sect whose members believed in literal interpretation of the Bible; they
followed Jesus’s example. Because they held pacifism and egalitarianism dear, many
refused to salute Hitler or join the military; they were sent to concentration camps.
JUDENREIN (German Euphemism)
Literally, “cleansed of Jews.” Nazis used this term to describe areas where most or all of
the Jews who had lived there had been deported or murdered.
Literally, “children’s transport,” this program allowed thousands of Jewish parents to
send their children out of Austria, Germany, and Czechoslovakia via train and ferry to
England. There the children were cared for by Jewish institutions or private citizens for
the duration of the war. Most of the parents perished during the Holocaust.
NOVEMBER POGROM (Formerly know by Nazi euphemism, “Kristallnacht” or
“Night of Broken Glass”)
First nation-wide coordinated Nazi attack on Jews. On the nights of 9-11 November
1938, SS burned synagogues and looted Jewish stores. They destroyed Jewish homes.
Thousands of Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Countless
Jewish women were raped. This was a significant turning point in Nazi policy toward
Jews; it ushered in a new era of physical violence.
Term used to describe the accidental discovery of Nazi camps by Allied forces as the war
in Europe neared its end.
MEIN KAMPF (“My Struggle” – German)
Book written by Adolf Hitler while in jail in1923, in which he outlined his anti-Jewish
and anti-democratic agenda.
Acronym for the Nationalsocialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist
German Worker’s Party), a reactionary, anti-Jewish, nationalist party formed in 1919 and
headed by Adolf Hitler from 1921-1945.
Series of laws passed in 1935 that restricted the political and social lives of German Jews
and deprived them of citizenship
Member of paramilitary group that fought the German Army. Jews were often prevented
from joining gentile partisan groups, so formed their own.
Any person who targets another with physical, verbal or emotional violence. During the
Holocaust, perpetrators included any who played an active role in the formulation or
implementation of anti-Jewish measures. No one person or organization held
responsibility for the annihilation of Europe’s Jews. Instead, initiative and action were
diffused in a widespread bureaucracy. Perpetrators included administrators, clerks,
police, military, nurses, doctors, teachers, and lawyers.
Russian word used to describe organized violence against Jews often with the consent of
the government/ police. Pogroms had occurred throughout Eastern Europe for centuries.
Short for Schutzstaffel (German – “protective squadron”). Nazi paramilitary group
founded in 1925 to protect Hitler. Known as the “black shirts” (in contrast to the brown
shirts of the SA), the SS was led by Himmler and eventually operated the concentration
and death camps. Armed squadrons (Waffen SS) fought alongside the regular military.
A person who stands up for other and does not allow bigotry, intolerance or hatred to
happen without interference or objection.
Any person subject to intolerance. During the Holocaust, a victim was any European
civilian whom the Nazis targeted for persecution or annihilation, including Jews, Roma,
homosexuals, Jehovah’s witnesses, political opponents, clergy, and intellectuals.
Language spoken by many Jews of Eastern Europe. Yiddish is derived from medieval
German and incorporates a number of Slavic and Hebrew words.