Use the word list below to read the definitions.
(hebrew ”to ascend”), an expression used for Jewish immigration to Palestine and, after 1948, to the state of Israel.
(in this case, German for ”incorporation”), used for the German “incorporation” of Austria in 1938, after German troops marched into the country.
originally the name given to a people who were said to speak an archaic Indo-European language and who were thought to have settled in prehistoric times in ancient Iran and the northern Indian subcontinent. The theory appeared in the mid-19th century and emerged with the notion of white racial superiority and remained prevalent until the mid-20th century. Members of that so-called "race" of Nordic and Germanic people were the purest members and were credited with all the progress that benefited humanity, and were purported to be superior to “Semites,” “yellows,” and “blacks.” That notion was later made into the basis of the German government policy of exterminating Jews, Roma (Gypsies), and other “non-Aryans” by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.
the storage barracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau, which were used to store goods stolen from the newly arrived prisoners, were called Canada. (Canada was considered to represent wealth and prosperity).
detention centres and labour camps where people were detained because of political opinions and activities against Nazi Germany's policies, for religious affiliation, sexual orientation, "asocial", criminal activity or racial reasons. The prisoners in the camp were forced to do hard and exhausting slave labour. The first concentration camp, Dachau outside Munich, was built in 1933. The construction of Dachau was followed by several concentration camps in Germany and later in other countries. Two of them, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau, also served as extermination camps. (See also death camps.)
6th of June 1944, the beginning of Operation Overlord, when the allied forces (mainly American, British and Canadian forces) landed in Normandy, France in order to liberate Western Europe from German occupation.
(German for ”task forces”), mobile SS or Police units, death squads used by Nazi Germany for special purposes, mainly to search for and “incapacitate” political opponents and others that were deemed unwanted/unnecessary by the Nazis. The units were used first in Austria in 1938 and then in Bohemia/Moravia in 1939. During the autumn of 1939 Einsatzgruppen shot more than 60 000 people from the Polish elite, and also several thousand Jews. Particularly infamous are the units for their role in the occupied Soviet territories after the German invasion in June 1941, where the Einsatzgruppen murdered over one million Jews and tens of thousands of Soviet political commissars, Roma, partisans and disabled.
outdated branch of science that was popular in the late 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s. The research tried to describe and demonstrate the existence of different "races" with different intrinsic and innate characteristics. Many biologists in the field of eugenics argued that certain "races" were superior to others. In Sweden a so-called State Institute for Racial Biology was established in Uppsala in 1921, by parliamentary decree. The aim was that its research would help to "promote" the Swedish people's so-called eugenics.
(death camps), special camps set up with the sole purpose of mass murdering people, particularly in gas chambers or gas vans. During the Second World War Nazi Germany established six extermination camps located in Poland where mainly Jews but also Roma were murdered. The six extermination camps were: Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau. The latter two also served as concentration camps. (Also see concentration camps).
a political movement founded by Benito Mussolini in Italy in 1919 and converted into a party, PNF (National Fascist Party) in 1921. Mussolini ruled Italy between 1922 and 1943, from 1926 as the absolute dictator. Italian fascism inspired among others the German Nazis. In a broader sense, fascism means a way of organizing a government according to the ideas and goals that the Italian and other related movements and parties in other countries largely had in common. Fascism was anti-democratic, anti-liberal, anti-communist and ultra-nationalist, usually also racist and antisemitic. Fascism acclaimed "the leader principle" and a corporate social ideal.
specially built rooms in death camps and some concentration camps, where the Nazis carried out mass murder of people using fumes from cars or poison gas. At Auschwitz-Birkenau (Auschwitz II) there were four gas chambers.
a name for crimes motivated by hate towards another person because of religious, ethnic or cultural background, or sexual orientation.
International Tracing Service
(ITS), was formed at the initiative of the Allies in 1943 as a department of the British Red Cross to search for and register missing people. After the Second World War, ITS was moved to Bad Arolsen in Germany. Here, victims of Nazi crimes and their families can seek information about the fate of their relatives.
kapo or capo
a prisoner who was appointed by the Camp Management to oversee the work of other prisoners.
League of Nations (NF)
the predecessor to the United Nations (UN). The victor nations (except the US) and several countries that were neutral formed NF after the First World War to resolve conflicts and promote peace. (See also United Nations.)
National socialism or Nazism.
a German political movement whose ideology was the basis of the German National Socialist Workers Party, NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), established in 1920. NSDAP was headed by Adolf Hitler, dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945. Nazism was an anti-democratic and anti-humanist ideology that united ultra-nationalism, extreme antisemitism and racism, social Darwinism, imperialism, and the pursuit of "living space" (Lebensraum), i.e. expanded territory for the German people. The Nazis wanted to create a "Germanic ethnic community" free of "miscegenation" and "inferior" people, such as gay people or "elements foreign to the German race" such as Jews and Roma. Such groups and individuals were for various reasons regarded as a "problem" that had to be "solved" in one way or another. Jews were for example regarded as a historic and deadly hereditary enemy to the people of Germany and the "Aryan race". The society also had to be "cleansed" of “people unworthy of life" (the Nazi term for people who had a disability, some hereditary disease or who were mentally retarded), "useless eaters" and "anti-social elements." After the outbreak of war in 1939 Nazi policies were quickly radicalized which led to unprecedented crimes against humanity. (See also Holocaust, eugenics and racism.)
mostly used for violent persecutions of Jews.
prejudice against, and discriminatory treatment of other people. According to this ideology, people have different value depending on where they come from and how they look. (See also xenophobia.)
SA Sturmabteilung, German for Storm Detachment. The SA played a key roll as the paramilitary wing of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) during the 1920s and 1930s. The SA was replaced by the SS. (See National Socialism or Nazism as well as SS.)
the name given to the building in Auschwitz-Birkenau that was used for the disinfection and cleaning of clothes, and where the men and women selected to work at Auschwitz-Birkenau underwent registration, shaving, disinfection and shower.
sphere of interest
area that is interesting for a state or several states through its geographical position or other factors. States may also have financial or political interests in the area.
(Schutzstaffel, German for so-called protective groups) a Nazi paramilitary organization in Germany in the years 1925-1945. It was founded as Adolf Hitler's private bodyguard, but grew rapidly from 1929 when Heinrich Himmler became its leader. Under Himmler, the SS became one of Nazi Germany's most powerful organizations. The SS wanted to be an elite within the Nazi Party.
star of David
a six pointed star from two triangles, often used as a symbol for Judaism and Jewish culture. During the Second World War the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe had to wear a yellow star, called a Judenstern, to distinguish them from others. In the central parts of Poland occupied by the Nazis (the so-called General Government), the Jews were forced to wear a white armband with a blue six-pointed star.
symbol of the German Nazi Party NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei). From 1935 the symbol on the official black-white-red flag of the German Empire. Swastikas have been found in many parts of the world for several thousand years. The swastika was partly a symbol of luck and happiness. Antique swastikas are often turned to the left and have arms that some regard as a symbol of the sun – rising from the East, settling in the West. On the Nazi symbol, the arms of the cross are in the opposite direction.
(TB), a disease in which the lungs are damaged by tubercle bacteria. Can be cured with antibiotics and other drugs.
a group of infectious diseases caused by bacteria. There are many different forms of Typhoid that affect people. A variant of the disease is spread by lice or head lice. It causes fever, headache, muscle aches and rash. If not treated with antibiotics there is a significant risk that the person dies. It was a common disease during the Second World War. Soldiers suffered, but also people who were confined in ghettos and labor camps.