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.


AktionOperation (military)
AnschlussThe Nazi annexation of Austria (1938)
AppellplatzRoll-call square
BetarRevisionist Zionist youth organization
BlockältesteBlock leader
Bund deutscher Mädel (BDM)League of German Girls
CanadaWarehouse in Birkenau used to sort belongings from newly-arrived transports
EffektenkammerProperty registry office (Auschwitz)
Einsatzgruppen/ EinsatzkommandoMobile killing units of the SS that followed the German army into Poland and the Soviet Union
Gazeta ŻydowskaOfficial newspaper of ghettos in the Generalgouvernement
GeneralgouvernementGeneral government; name given to parts of Poland not incorporated into the Reich
GestapoNazi State secret police.
HäftlingsselbstverwaltungPrisoner self-government
Ha’no’ar ha’tsiyoniZionist youth; youth movement
Ha’shomer ha’tsa’irThe Young guard; Zionist youth organization
HitlerjugendHitler youth
JudenratJewish Council; established in the Jewish ghettos on Nazi orders
KapoLeader of work commandos in the Nazi concentration camps
KindertransportThe operation to evacuate children to Britain from Nazi Germany
KristallnachtLiterally, 'Night of broken glass'; state-organised pogrom that took place throughout Nazi Germany and Austria on 9-10 November 1938
LagerältesteCamp leader
Nazi PartyNationalist Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP); the political party led by Adolf Hitler, elected in 1933
NotenschreiberMusic copyists in the camp orchestras
PartisanA 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
SchallerabendeCommunal sing-songs in the concentration camps
ScheineOfficial work-permits issued in the ghettos
SchreibstubeAdministration office
Schutzstaffel (SS)Protection squad; Nazi elite unit
SonderkommandoLiterally, 'special commando'; prisoners forced to work in the gas chambers and crematoria in the death camps
SonderlagerSpecial camp for Jewish prisoners (Sachsenhausen)
WarthegauTerritorial administrative unit established in the Polish territories annexed to the Reich
WehrmachtThe German army
Weimar RepublicAt 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.
YiddishA language incorporating German, Hebrew and Balto-Slavic elements, spoken by the majority of Jews in Eastern Europe before the Second World War
ZionismPolitical movement working towards the establishment of a national homeland for the Jewish people