This glossary contains definitions of terms that are commonly used on this website, particularly German words. For concise explanations of historical terms relating to the Holocaust, see the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia.

 

Aktion

Operation (military)

Anschluss

The Nazi annexation of Austria (1938)

Appellplatz

Roll-call square

Betar

Revisionist Zionist youth organization

Blockälteste

Block leader

Bund deutscher Mädel (BDM)

League of German Girls

Canada

Warehouse in Birkenau used to sort belongings from newly-arrived transports

Effektenkammer

Property registry office (Auschwitz)

Einsatzgruppen/ Einsatzkommando

Mobile killing units of the SS that followed the German army into Poland and the Soviet Union

Gazeta Żydowska

Official newspaper of ghettos in the Generalgouvernement

Generalgouvernement

General government; name given to parts of Poland not incorporated into the Reich

Gestapo

Nazi State secret police.

Häftlingsselbstverwaltung

Prisoner self-government

Ha’no’ar ha’tsiyoni

Zionist youth; youth movement

Ha’shomer ha’tsa’ir

The Young guard; Zionist youth organization

Hitlerjugend

Hitler youth

Judenrat

Jewish Council; established in the Jewish ghettos on Nazi orders

Kapo

Leader of work commandos in the Nazi concentration camps

Kindertransport

The operation to evacuate children to Britain from Nazi Germany

Kristallnacht

Literally, 'Night of broken glass'; state-organised pogrom that took place throughout Nazi Germany and Austria on 9-10 November 1938

Lager

Camp

Lagerälteste

Camp leader

Nazi Party

Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP); the political party led by Adolf Hitler, elected in 1933

Notenschreiber

Music copyists in the camp orchestras

Partisan

A member of a military force, but not part of a regular army, fighting for the liberation of a country or group

Passover

 A Jewish festival of freedom remembering when the Jews were led out of Egypt and out of slavery by Moses

Sturmabteilung (SA)

 Storm Troopers or brown shirts; Nazi paramilitary group

Schallerabende

Communal sing-songs in the concentration camps

Scheine

Official work-permits issued in the ghettos

Schreibstube

Administration office

Schutzstaffel (SS)

Protection squad; Nazi elite unit

Sonderkommando

Literally, 'special commando'; prisoners forced to work in the gas chambers and crematoria in the death camps

Sonderlager

Special camp for Jewish prisoners (Sachsenhausen)

Warthegau

Territorial administrative unit established in the Polish territories annexed to the Reich

Wehrmacht

The German army

Weimar Republic

At the end of the First World War, Germany was declared a republic after the Kaiser abdicated. Weimar in Germany was where the new constitution was written and the new republic was named after it.

Yiddish

A language incorporating German, Hebrew and Balto-Slavic elements, spoken by the majority of Jews in Eastern Europe before the Second World War

Zionism

Political movement working towards the establishment of a national homeland for the Jewish people