Holocaust Garden of Hope Glossary of Key Terms

Definitions of Hebrew words for each exhibit

 זכור (Zachor) Remember!

 גלות (Galut) Exile, Diaspora

 שקר (Sheker) Lie

 גזע (Geza) Race

 שואה (Shoah) Catastrophe/Holocaust

 חסד (Chesed) Lovingkindness

 תקומה (Tkuma) Rebirth

 התקוה (HaTikvah) The Hope, also Israel’s National Anthem

Aktionliterally action; Nazi operations against Jewish communities and ghettoes were called “Aktion

Allied Powers / the Allies – These were nations operating together against the Nazis and their collaborators. The chief allied powers on course of WWII were China, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States.

Aliyah Bet – Hebrew for illegal immigration to Eretz Israel during and after WWII

Anschluss – Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938

Anti-Judaism – negative feelings toward the Jewish religion but also people. Often in evidence in the Middle Ages but exists even today.

Anti-Semitism / Antisemitism – Semite refers to Semitic languages, so this word is commonly used to describe anti-Jewish feelings. The word was invented as a scientific term in 1870’s to mask anti-Judaism.

Arrow Cross – anti-Semitic and violent organization in Hungary during WWII

Axis Powers – These were the Nazis and their collaborators. Chief Axis Powers during WWII were Germany, Italy and Japan.

Balfour Declaration – Great Britain’s declaration of support for a Jewish national home in Palestine given in 1917.

Bekennende Kirche – Confessing Church; Protests theological opposition to Nazism from 1933.

Black Death – a Middle Ages’ Pandemic, killed millions of people worldwide.

Blood Libel – Also called the Ritual Murder accusation; accusing Jews of murdering Gentiles to use their blood and bodies to ritualistic purposes, such as baking the special unleavened Matzah bread for the Jewish Passover, known as Pesach

Brichah – Hebrew for flight; Jewish movement from Eastern Europe towards Italy after WWII with the goal of leaving Europe for Eretz Israel.

Bystanders – Those who see events but do not intervene. This was the majority in Germany and the occupied countries during the Holocaust.

Collaborator – cooperator with the Nazi occupation of his/her nation

Communism – a political movement of the left, which gained power in Russia in 1917.

Concordat Agreement – Hitler’s agreement with the Vatican in 1933

Crusades – Military Campaigns by European knights to free the Holy Land (1096-1271)

Death Camps – Nazi camps designed exclusively for the speedy arrival and murder of the Jews. These are also known as ‘extermination camps’ and ‘killing centers’.

Deportation – Jews were forcibly removed from their homes to transit locations, then to concentration and death camps.

Deutsche Christen – Nationalistic German Christians, a Protestant movement

Diaspora – expulsion and exile of the Jews outside the land of Israel

Dictatorship – a government by one leader/group tolerating no other ideologies

Displaced Person / DP – a WWII postwar refugee displaced by the war. Sometimes this term is used interchangeably with the word refugee.

Dolchstoss Legende – “Stab in the Back” Myth according to which Germany lost WWI due to betrayal.

Einsatzgruppen – Special murder troops at the Eastern Front, which followed the army with the purpose of murdering Jews and Communist Ledaers

Endlösung – German for Final Solution, a Nazi policy and plan to murder the European Jews

Enlightenment – A philosophical movement for individual freedoms 1680-1780

Eretz Israel – Hebrew for Land of Israel

Euthanasia – Assisted suicide; a program in Nazi Germany

Evolutionary Theory – Charles Darwin’s (1809-1882) theory about the survival of the fittest by natural selection

Extermination Camps – Nazi camps designed exclusively for the speedy arrival and murder of the Jews. These are also known as ‘death camps’ and ‘killing centers’.

Final Solution – Nazi Policy and Plan to solve the ‘Jewish Question’ and murder the Jews of Europe

Genocidegeno, Greek for people and cide, Latin for murder. Used to describe mass murders of ethnic, national, racial or religious groups around the world. The UN adopted its Convention on Genocide in 1948.

Gestapo – Political Police in Nazi Germany

Ghetto – a separate and isolated area where the Jews lived in crowded conditions. The first ghetto was established in Venice, Italy in 1516.

Hebrew Scriptures – Christians refer to this as the Old Testament. Tanakh in Hebrew means the Torah, the Prophets (Nevi’im) and the Writings (Ketuvi’im).

Hitler Jugend – Nazi youth organization

Holocaust – Greek for burnt offering; used to describe the mass murder of European Jews by the Nazis.

Holocaust by the Bullets – As German troops entered in the Soviet territory in 1941, Jews were massacred in mass shootings hence the name. For instance, in a place called Babi Yar in Ukraine, about 30 000 Jews were mass murdered by shooting in three days in September 1941. The acts of murder were witnessed by locals, who sometimes watched the murder, as a sporting event and for instance by German army soldiers thus widening the circle of bystanders, and witnesses.

Holocaust Denial – Denying, belittling, or distorting the Holocaust for anti-Semitic or political gain

Huguenots – Persecuted Protestants especially in France from 1500 on. The Protestant Christians rescuing Jews in the village of Le-Chambon-Sur-Lignon were descendants of persecuted Huguenots.

Innere Emigration – Withdrawing oneself to private life in hard societal circumstances

Inquisition – a Catholic Church court to examine purity of faith

International Military Tribunal – post-war trials against Nazi war criminals

Judenfrage – so-called Jewish Question; expression used to indicate that the Jews were a problem to be dealt with in Germany.

Killing centers – Facilities for Euthanasia program where individuals were murdered usually by lethal injection or gas. This term is sometimes used also to describe ‘extermination or death camps’.

Kindertransport – Jewish children were separated from their families and taken into safety in Great Britain in 1938.

Kristallnacht – Night of the Broken Glass in November 9-10, 1938, when Jews were harassed, and their businesses vandalized. Sometimes referred to as a pogrom (riot), word used in Slavic languages.

Lebensborn – SS program for supporting racially pure children

Lebensraum – Living Space, Germany’s rationale (of needing space) for expansion.

Liberation – The war waged by the Allies and taking control of territory from the Axis Powers. Europe was liberated in stages, as the Allies advanced from 1943 on. This included the liberation of various Nazi camps.

Liberators – Soldiers of the Allied Forces who liberated Europe including the Nazi camps.

Liquidation – Terminating the existence of a ghetto/camp including eliminating the residents

Living Space – Lebensraum, Germany’s rationale (of needing space) for expansion.

Mein Kampf (My Struggle) – Hitler’s antisemitic book from 1924

Middle Ages – a historic period from around 500 AD – 1300 AD

Mobile Killing Units – Einsatzgruppen, followed the regular army in the Eastern Front, to find and murder Jews and Communist leaders

Nazi Party – National Socialist (Nationalsozialist) German Workers Party

Nuremberg Laws – 1935 Racial Laws in Nazi Germany. These made Jews second-class citizens.

Operation Barbarossa – Germany’s surprise attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941. The attack was a surprise because there was a peace treaty between the two nations.

Operation Reinhard – deporting the Jews from their homes all over Europe to the East, that is Poland

Ostjuden – Jews from the East mainly Poland and Russia

Partisan – Member of an irregular military force that opposed German occupation in its area.

Perpetrators – Those who commit crimes or atrocities. These may be well-known leaders of political and military groups or individuals working in lower positions.

Pogrom – Originally a Slavic word for a violent riot against an Ethnic/Religious group, usually sanctioned by the authorities.

Propaganda – Communication of an agenda designed to influence the audience. Information may be presented partially or selectively.

Racial Laws – laws to separate the Jews (and some others) from the Aryans by making them second class citizens due to their racial identities.

Ratline – escape routes of Nazi war criminals via Italy or Spain to South America

Reich – German State or Territory and Government

Replacement/Fulfillment Theology – A belief that the Church has replaced the Jews in all of God’s purposes.

Rescuers – Those who try to help a victim or potential victims of atrocities. During the Holocaust rescuers hid those who were persecuted; offered food or shelter; gave false ID cards and undertook other such actions.

Righteous Among The Nations – Rescuers, who risked their lives, or in the case of diplomats, their careers, have been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among The Nations. This is a Talmudic term.

Ritual Murder – Also called the Blood Libel; accusing Jews of murdering Gentiles to use their blood and bodies to ritualistic purposes, such as baking the special unleavened Matzah bread for the Jewish Passover, known as Pesach

 Roman Empire – world government of the Romans 27 BC – 400 AD.

Schutzstaffel – SS, originally Hitler’s personal bodyguard

Selection – prisoners were selected by SS to hard labor or extermination; in concentration camps they were selected upon arrival as well as to make place for new prisoners

She’erit HaPleitah – Hebrew for Surviving Remnant, a Biblical term for Jewish DP’s of postwar Europe.

Shtetel – a Jewish settlement in Eastern Europe

Shoah – Hebrew for catastrophe, destruction; a Biblical term used to describe the mass murder of European Jews by the Nazis

Socialism – a political movement of the left; lost power to Communists in Russia in 1917.

Sturmabteilung – SA, para-military brownshirts

Der Stürmer – a Nazi anti-Semitic magazine

Sudetenland – areas inhabited by Germans in Czechoslovakia

Supercession – Latin for a belief that the Church has replaced the Jews in all of God’s purposes.

Survivors – Holocaust survivors are Jews who survived the Holocaust mainly in Nazi occupied Europe. There are others who survived different situations.

Tanakh – acronym from the Hebrew letters for what Christians call the Old Testament. The word comes from Torah, Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvi’im (Writings) parts of the Hebrew Bible.

T4 – Euthanasia program, named by its physical street address.

THGC/THGAAC – The Texas Holocaust, Genocide, and Antisemitism Advisory Commission

Third Reich – Hitler’s regime following the Holy Roman Empire (800-1806) and the German Empire (1871-1918)

Totalitarianism – supplanting a government, including existing legal and political traditions, with one party pursuing very specific goals. It literally means submitting all things under one power.

Trade Union – an association to protect rights of workers preferably by protective legislation

UNRRA – United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, founded in 1943 to assist postwar refugees and Displaced Persons in repatriation and economic relief.

Upstanders – Those who try to act for someone’s benefit in a bad situation, such as the Holocaust. They may act in a variety of ways all helping the victim of the situation.

Ustasha – a Croatian paramilitary and anti-Semitic group, acted for the Nazis.

Versailles Peace Treaty – This treaty ended WWI; understood as humiliating by Germans.

Victim – target for persecution and hatred. In the Holocaust all Jews of Europe, and potentially elsewhere, were intended victims.

Wannsee Conference – A January 1942 breakfast meeting of various branches of the German administration to discuss how to more efficiently organize the murder of the Jews

Weimar Republic – a democratic German government 1918-1933

Wehrmacht – German army

WWI – a global war 1914-1918

WWII – a global war 1939-1945; the Holocaust took place during this war.

Yiddish – A mixture of Hebrew and mainly German spoken by Eastern European Jews

Yom HaShoah – Hebrew calendar date chosen for its proximity to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising dates to commemorate the Shoah, its heroes and its martyrs





Disclaimer: This glossary does not include every term associated with the Holocaust