VOCABULARY FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS

anti-Semitism: Prejudice and/or discrimination against Jews.

Chancellor: The chief minister, or ruler, of Germany. Adolph Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933.

concentration camps: Camps established for the imprisonment of Nazi "enemies." The first camps were built in 1933, the year in which Hitler came to power. Originally established for Nazi political opponents (communists, socialists), camps eventually held Jews, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Gypsies, the mentally handicapped, and criminals. The Nazis imprisoned Jews simply for being Jewish and others for their "deviant" lifestyles. Prisoners never received trials before their arrival at camps. Conditions were horribly harsh, and hundreds of thousands died from starvation, disease, and maltreatment.

death camps: Camps built by Nazis for the sole purpose of killing Jews and other Nazi "enemies." During World War II, the Nazis operated six major death camps.

Final Solution: A term for the Nazi's systematic scheme to destroy the entire population of European Jews. The plan called for the mass genocide of Jews in death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor, and Treblinka.

Gentile: A term for a person who is not Jewish; mainly refers to Christians.

ghetto: A quarter of a city in which Jews were forced to live. During World War II, Jews wee forced to live in isolated sections of certain European cities.. Nazis built large walls or strung barbed wire around ghetto boundaries to stop Jews from escaping. Jews living in ghettos needed special permission to leave. Inside ghetto walls, life was difficult and dangerous: overcrowding, malnutrition, manual labor, and violent treatment at the hands of Nazi soldiers were common.

Gypsy: A member of a race of nomadic people who are believed to have originally come from northern India and first arrived in Europe around the fifteenth century. Evidence of their persecution spans hundreds of years. The Nazis considered all Gypsies to be criminals, and hoped to rid Germany of these "deviants." As many as 500,000 Gypsies died in Nazi concentration and death camps. Other terms for Gypsy are Roma or Sinti.

Adolph Hitler

Hitler, Adolph: The leader of the Nazi party and the master-mind behind the Holocaust. Hitler became chancellor, or chief, or Germany in 1933. Hitler also commanded the Nazi forces. He killed himself in 1945 when he realized that Germany would not win the war.

Holocaust: The systematic and planned murder of six million European Jews and millions of others by Nazis during the years 1941-1945. The term "Holocaust" is a Greek word meaning "fire which consumes all lives." The Hebrew word for Holocaust is Shoah.

Jehovah’s Witness: A member of a religious group that was singled out for punishment by Nazis during World War II. The religious beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses did not allow them to salute the German flag, serve in the Nazi military, or serve in the Nazi government. The Nazis considered Jehovah's Witnesses to be political dissidents; they were forced to wear a badge that identified them as Nazi enemies, and they were often sent to concentration camps. Some were sent to death camps to be murdered.

Theresienstadt: A World War II Nazi concentration camp established in 1942. Two hundred and eighty-one Danish Jews, unable to escape from Denmark in the fall of 1943, were shipped via ship and cattle car to the camp. Theresienstadt was an interim stop for Jews on their way to death camps such as Auschwitz, and conditions were very harsh. Denmark worked to improve the fate of its imprisoned Jewish citizens by sending a steady stream of care packages to Theresienstadt prisoners, pressuring Nazis not to send Danish Jews onto death camps, and arranging an International Red Cross inspection visit to the camp. Prior to the Red Cross’s arrival, however, the Nazis transformed the Danish section of Theresienstadt into a "model" ghetto, with fresh paint and other improvements. Of the original 281 Danish Jews sent to Theresienstadt, all but 51 survived the imprisonment.

yellow star

Yellow Star: This six-pointed star has been a symbol for Jews and Judaism for more than 100 years. During World War II, Nazis forced Jews in almost every European country to sew a yellow-star badge onto their clothing. The yellow star allowed the Nazis to easily identify Jews.

Click here to return to the main menu of The Yellow Star Guide.