|Allies - Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union and twenty-three other countries that fought the Axis powers led by Germany, Italy and Japan during the Second World War.
Anschluss - "linkage" (German) - German annexation of Austria on March 13, 1938.
Antisemitism - Prejudice, or discrimination against Jewish people or Judaism. The term "Semitic" refers to the descendents of Shem, a common ancestor of Middle Eastern peoples, but is now used specifically to refer to Jews.
Aryan - Referring to those speaking Indo-European languages. Hitler used the term to refer to Caucausians of the Nordic type.
Auschwitz - A well-known Nazi concentration camp located in Poland, near Krakow.
Axis - In 1936, Germany and Italy allied to form the Axis, which was joined by Japan and other opponents of the Allies during World War II.
Beer Hall Putsch - An attempt to overthrow the government (known in French as a coup d'etat) that failed in Munich, 1923. Hitler went to jail and came up with his plan for success.
Blut und Boden - "blood and soil" (German) - Phrase used by Hitler to mean that all people of German blood have the right and duty to live on German soil (i.e. in the "German Fatherland").
Bormann, Martin (June 17, 1900 - ?) - Adolf Hitler's personal secretary. One of the most powerful men in the Third Reich since he controlled access to Hitler. He liked to work behind the scenes and to stay out of the public spotlight. Known as "the Brown Eminence" and "the man in the shadows." Helped the Führer with his personal finances. Hitler viewed him as an absolute devotee, but he had high ambitions and kept his rivals from having access to Hitler. Was in the bunker during Hitler's last days. Left the bunker on May 1, 1945 and his future fate has become one of the unsolved mysteries of this century. Hermann Göring was his sworn enemy.
Chancellor - Chief minister of Germany.
Churchill - Winston Churchill succeeded Chamberlain and recognized and worked against the "threat" Hitler presented.
Communism - A concept or system of society in which the collective community shares ownership in resources and the means of production. In theory, such societies provide for equal sharing of all work, according to ability, and all benefits, according to need. In 1848, Karl Marx, in collaboration with Friedrich Engels, published the Communist Manifesto which provided the theoretical impetus for the Russian Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.
Dachau - The first concentration camp, established in Souther Germany in 1933.
Dolchstosslegende - "Stab in the back" (German) a belief which claimed that the German military had not been defeated in World War I, but that the Germans had been "stabbed in the back" by Jews, socialists, and liberals who forced them to surrender.
Dysentery - An infectious disease that plagued camps and ghettos which caused uncontrollable diarrhea and resulted in internal bleeding, uclers, and other stomach problems.
Eichmann, Adolph (1906 - 1962)
SS Lieutenant Colonel and head of the Gestapo department dealing with Jewish affairs.
Eisenhower, Dwight D - As Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, General Eisenhower commanded all Allied forces in Europe beginning in 1942.
Endlösung - "Final Solution" (German) - The idea of a Nazi's program to kill every Jew in Europe.
Evian Conference - An ineffectual meeting of 32 countries called by FDR on July 6, 1938 to discuss the problem of refugees in Evian-les-Bains, France. No countries wanted to accept the emigrants.
Fascism - A social and political ideology with the primary guiding principle that the state or nation is the highest priority, rather than personal or individual freedoms.
Frank, Hans - the governor-general of occupied Poland who worked to make Poland subservient to the Reich and also acted as Hitler's personal lawyer before being executed by the Nuremburg tribunal.
Freikorps - Right wing armed bands that roamed the streets of Germany in the 20's, forming the roots of the SA.
Frick, Wilhelm - Minister of the Interior in 1933 and enacted Nazi racial laws and was executed at Nuremburg.
Fuehrer - German for leader, the title Adolf Hitler assumed.
Generalkomissar - SS Commander of a region.
Gentile - A term referring to someone who is not Jewish.
German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) - As the precursor to the Nazi Party, Hitler joined the right-wing Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP) in 1919. The party espoused national pride, militarism, a commitment to the Volk, and a racially "pure" Germany.
Gestapo Secret State Police - (Geheimnis Staats Polizei) of the Third Reich who utilized brutal torture to find enemies of the state, inspiring fear in the people.
Goebbels, Paul Joseph - was propaganda minister for Hitler who believed that a repeated lie could take on the veneer of truth. His speech set off Kristallnacht.
Goering, Herman - was leader of the Luftwaffe, President of the Reichstag, second in command to Hitler, and intiator of the final solution with an order to Heydrich.
Goose Step - A straight-legged style of marching most closely associated with the Nazis
Great Depression - A deep, worldwide, economic contraction beginning in 1929 which caused particular hardship in Germany which was already reeling from huge reparation payments following World War I and hyperinflation.
Häftlingspersonalbogen - Prisoner registration forms at the camps.
Heil - "Hail" in German. The greeting between officers was "heil Hitler."
Hess, Rudolf (April 26, 1894 - August 17, 1987)
Deputy to the Führer, Reich Minister Without Portfolio, and successor-designate after Hermann Göring. Important role using geopolitics to gain land. Involved in the Anschluss of Austria and the administration of the Sudentenland. Worshipped and devoted to Hitler. In a plea for Hitler's favor, Hess flew to Scotland on May 10, 1940 (without the Führer's approval) in an effort to make a peace agreement with Britain. Britain and Germany denounced him as crazy. Sentenced to life imprisonment. Sole prisoner at Spandau after 1966. In 1987, found in his cell, hanged with an electric cord at age 93.
Heydrich, Reinhard (1904-1942)
An officer of the elite SS, Heydrich assisted with the founding of the Sicherheitsdienst or "SD" and later the Reichssicherheitshauptamt or "RSHA" (Reich Security Office) of which he was in charge. At the beginning of World War II, he was responsible for the governorship of Czechoslovakia. Wounded in Prague during an attempt on his life by British trained assassins in May 1942, he succumbed to injuries a week following the attack.
Himmler, Heinrich (October 7, 1900 - May 21, 1945)
The Reichsführer-SS. Head of the SS, the Gestapo, and the German police. Under his direction, the SS grew into a massive "racially pure" Nazi elite. He was in charge of the concentration camps. Believed that the liquidation of the unhealthy and bad genes from society would help better and purify the Aryan race. In April 1945, he tried to negotiate a peace with the Allies, bypassing Hitler. For this, Hitler expelled him from the Nazi Party and from all offices he held. On May 21, 1945, he attempted to escape but was stopped and held by the British. After his identity was discovered, he swallowed a hidden cyanide pill that was noticed by an examining doctor. He died twelve minutes later.
Von Hindenburg, Paul - General Field Marshal who became a German national hero during World War I and was Reich president from 1925 to 1934.
Hitler, Adolph (Adolf) - Charismatic founder of the Nazi party and leader of Germany during WW2. He proclaimed his plan in Mein Kampf, written during his imprisonment following the Beer Hall Putsch. He reportedly committed suicide in 1945 when it became apparent Germany would lose the war.
Holocaust - A term for widespread that refers specifically to massive killings, especially that of the Jews.
International Military Tribunal - The United States, Great Britain, France, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics charted this court to prosecute Nazi war criminals.
Israel - A state created for the Jewish people following the Holocaust and the recognition that the diaspora were subject to a great deal of persecution.
Jude - "Jew" (German)
Judenfrei - "free of Jews" (German)
Judengelb - "Jewish yellow" (German) - Term for the yellow Star of David badge that Jews were ordered to wear.
Juden raus! - "Jews out!" (German) - A dreaded phrase shouted by the Nazis throughout the ghettos when they were trying to force Jews from their hiding places.
Die Juden sind unser Unglück! - "The Jews are our misfortune!" - Heinrich von Treitschke coined this phrase in 1879 in the Preussische Jahrbücher. This phrase appeared at the bottom of the front page of each issue of the Nazi weekly newspaper, Der Stürmer.
Judenrein "cleansed of Jews" (German)
Jewish Badge - A sign which Jews were required to wear in Nazi Germany and occupied countries, often a yellow Star of David. The Star of David, a symbol of Judaism, is a six-pointed star formed from two interlaced triangles, one inverted, and is also called the Magen David or the Shield of David.
Judaism - The religion of ancient Israelites (the twelve tribes descended from Jacob) and modern Jews founded my Abraham, with Moses as a central figure. Judaism holds that there is one God and that the Jews are chosen people, basing its beliefs on the Torah.
Judenjagd - The "Jew hunt" search for Jews after a massacre.
Judenrein - Purified of Jews, the goal for Europe. Also called Judenfrei (Jew-free).
Kampfzeit - Time of struggle, referring to the period when Hitler executed the plans spelled out in Mein Kampf.
Kapo - Short for Kameraden Polizei, these were prisoners forced to supervise their comrades and act violently less they themselves be killed.
Keitel, Wilhelm - He was Chief of Staff of the High Command of the German Armed Forces and was Hitler's closest military adviser and highly submissive. He was responsible for orders such as the Night and Fog decree and signed the unconditional surrender in Berlin. He was hanged in Nuremberg.
Korps der Politischen Leiter - The Leadership Corps of the Nazi party that was one of the groups indicted at Nuremberg.
Kristallnacht - "Night of the broken glass" involving anti-Jewish violence in early November 1938, carried out by SA men set off by the killing of a German official by a Jew. 35,000 were arrested and 35 killed. There was international outrage.
Labor Camp - These were camps where Jews were forced to work for the military or government, as in the case of Monowitz (Auschwitz III) belonging to chemical conglomerate I.G. Farben.
League of German Girls (Bund Deutscher Mädel) - Female counterpart of the Hitler Youth formed in 1927 but not formerly integrated by Hitler until 1932.
League of Nations - Part of the Treaty of Versailles, this was an international organization that Wilson crusaded for during World War I, as part of his idealistic crusade to "make the world safe for democracy." This international organization was powerless, due in part to the United States' absence. America failed to join when Senator Henry Cabot Lodge objected to the United States relinquishing its sovereignty when it came to declaring war. Whenever a country came under attack within the League, it merely withdrew its membership.
Lebensraum - Living room, which Hitler declared was something Germany needed and could obtain by conquering neighboring countries' land and people.
Lessing, Gotthold - Like Goethe, an Enlightenment philosopher and writer during the 18th century. He advocated reason, tolerance, equal rights, and peace. His play Nathan the Wise about a wise Jew became famous in Germany.
Lidice - A Czech mining village of 700 destroyed after assassination of Heydrich.
Master Race - The plan to create a superior race of purely Aryan descent (blond hair, blue eyes). Toward this end, Jews, people with handicaps, and enemies of the state were killed. In German, Herrenvolk. (The word Volk, originally meaning people, took on the connotation of unity via blood alone under Hitler.) The other races, in contrast, were called Untermenschen (subhuman).
MacDonald White Paper - Issued by Great Britain on May 17, 1939, it limited the immigration to Palestine to 15,000 persons a year. After five years, no Jewish immigration was permitted unless with Arab consent.
Machtergreifung - "seizure of power" - Term used when referring to the Nazi's seizure of power in 1933.
Mein Kampf - Literally meaning "my struggle," this was a book by Adolf Hitler in which he explained that all of life is a struggle and man must do what he can to succeed. He declared Jews to be the enemies of the world and outlined a plan for their destruction.
Mengele, Josef (March 16, 1911 - February 7, 1979?)
Physician at Auschwitz. Conducted experiments, especially on twins in the hopes of finding a faster way to reproduce the Aryan race. Made selections at the ramp. Known for his arbitrary and brutal decisions and actions. After the war, he lived for five years in Germany, then in Argentina and Paraguay. In June 1985, a skeleton was found which forensic experts concluded was Mengele.
Mutterkreuz - Meaning mother's cross, it refers to a program that encouraged women to have Aryan children, for which they could receive gold, silver or bronze crosses for eight, six or four children, respectively.
National Socialist Bond - Dutch Nazi party.
Nazis - Members of the facist National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) founded in 1919, and empowered by Adolf Hitler in '33 (short for Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiter-Partei).
Night of the Long Knives - A night of conflict between the SS and SA.
Nuremberg Code A code for doctors that arose out of the doctors trial at Nuremberg.
Nuremberg Laws - 1935 laws depriving Jews of their German citizenship enacted at the Nazi national convention in Nuremberg in September 1935. Another result was the idea that intermarriage was Rassenschande (race treason).
Nuremberg Trials - War crimes trials following World War II, which punished many Nazis for violations.
Occupation - The takeover and control of a country by a foreign military power.
Operation Barbarossa - Code name for the surprise German attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 which broke the Soviet-Nazi Non-Aggression Pact and plunged the Soviet Union into World War II.
Ordnungsdienst - "order service" (German) - The ghetto police who were made up of Jewish ghetto residents.
Ostara - A series of anti-Semitic pamphlets published by Lanz von Liebenfels between 1907 and 1910. Hitler bought these regularly and in 1909, Hitler sought out Lanz and asked for back copies.
Palestine - British Mandate of In 1920, this territory was assigned to the British following victory against Turkey, and on May 15, 1948, the mandate ended with the division of the land into the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan.
Pogrom - Attacks on Jews by non-Jews that had occurred for centuries and included Kristallnacht.
Propaganda - Advocation of a particular point view through various methods of communication. The Nazis were masters of propaganda which helped make their cause successful. Slogans such as Arbeit macht Frei (Work makes free) and Die Juden sind under Ungluck (The Jews are our Misfortune) drove the point home.
Protocols of the Elders of Zion - A "forgery" by the Russian Sceret Police at the turn of the century that made it appear that there was a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world by creating feuds amongst Christian, corruting and undermining established systems. It fed rampant antisemitism.
Putsch - The violent takeover of power, as that attempted by Hitler in the infamous Beer Hall Putsch.
Red Army - The army of the Soviet Union.
Reichsregierung - The Reich Cabinet, the collection of leaders who aided Hitler.
Reichstag - German lawmaking body (parliament).
Rhineland - A buffer between Germany and West Europe where no troops were allowed.
Riefenstahl, Leni (b. 1902) - Nazi film director chosen personally by Hitler to make propaganda films for the Nazi regime, which include The Triumph of the Will (1935), Olympia (1938), and Reichsparteitag (1935).
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano - President of the United States from 1933 to 1945, responsible for the New Deal and the United States' actions in the war up until a little before the end when his death required Truman to take his place. FDR opted to use resources on strategic targets before liberating the camps.
Rosenberg, Alfred - Reich Minister for Occupied Eastern Territories, Nazi politican, and skilled promoter of Nazi ideology.
SA Sturmabteilung - Storm troopers, Brownshirts, led by Ernest Röhm. Responsible for the Night of the Long Knives and other attacks on the opposition.
SD Sicherheitsdienst - Security Service spies led by Heydrich.
Speer, Albert - Hitler's architect and minister or armaments.
SS The Blackshirts - elite members of Hitler's army during the Holocaust. (short for Schutzstaffel, safety squadron)
Stalin, Josef Leader - of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics between 1924 and 1933 who signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact, thus allowing the invasion of Poland. Hitler attacked the USSR in June 1941, and Stalin's joining of the Allies in part insured Hitler's defeat.
Der Stürmer - Meaning "the attacker," this was the name of an antisemetic German weekly between 1923 and 1945 published in Nuremberg by Julius Streicher.
Sudetenland - Land predominantly populated by German-speakers that belonged to Czechoslovakia until Hitler annexed it.
Swastika - Symbol of the Nazis, a cross with equal arms bent at a right angle. It was an ancient symbol of good luck and is a contemporary symbol of the Hindu religion. Some believe the Swastika was the root of the Indo-European scripts.
Third Reich - The self-declared third empire of Germany established by Hitler. The previous two were the Holy Roman Empire and Germany under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Another name given to Germany after 1933, was Fuhrerstaat (leader state).
Treaty of Versailles - This was the treaty that ended the World War I. A clause in this treaty placed all of the guilt for the war on Germany and burdened them with heavy reparations.
Tuberculosis - An infectious disease, usually attacking the lungs.
Typhus - An infectious disease carried by lice or fleas, making it hard to control in camps. High fever, exhaustion, and death often resulted.
Volk - The concept of Volk (people, nation, or race) has been an underlying idea in German history since the early nineteenth century. Inherent in the name was a feeling of superiority of German culture and the idea of a universal mission for the German people.
Volkswagen - "People's Car" An effort by Hitler to make affordable cars for German families.
Wehrmacht - The German army.
Weimar Republic - The troubled republic established in 1919 and ended in 1934 by Hitler when he combined the offices of Chancellor and President. The Republic had been beleaguered by various problems ever since the end of the war.
Wiesel, Elie - 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his efforts to insure that people remember the Holocaust.
Wiesenthal, Simon - Holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to collecting evidence for the prosecution of war criminals.
World War II - A war fought between 1939 and 1945 where the Axis was defeated by the Allies.
Yiddish - A language made of German and Herbrew elements, written in Hebrew characters and used by East European Jews.
Zyklon B - Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) a common insecticide of the day.