Glossary of Holocaust-related Terminology (F-P)

Final Solution - Euphemism adopted at Wansee Conference (January 1942), refers to “the final solution to the Jewish question in Europe.” This was the Nazi code for the murder of all European Jews.

Fuehrer - German word for “leader.” In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler was the supreme leader and called the Fuehrer.

Genocide – The deliberate, systematic annihilation of a racial, religious, cultural, or political group of people. In genocide people are persecuted and murdered because of membership in the targeted victim group. In addition to the Holocaust, genocide against targeted groups has also occurred in Cambodia (Asia), Bosnia (Eastern Europe), Rwanda (Africa), and now in Darfur, (the Sudan, Africa).

Gentile – Someone who is not of the Jewish faith, most often referring to a Christian.

Gestapo – The Nazi Secret State Police, Geheime Staatspolizei, who had absolute power and could arrest without a warrant.

Ghetto – The Nazis revived the medieval sixteenth century term “ghetto” to describe compulsory “Jewish quarters” in the poorest sections of the cities and towns they had conquered. Ghettos were closed off by walls, or fences made of wood and barbed wire. Entire families were imprisoned in ghettos, including young children and the elderly. Ghettos were extremely crowded and unsanitary. Lack of food, clothing, medicine, and other supplies, severe winter weather, and the absence of adequate municipal services led to repeated outbreaks of epidemics and to very high mortality rates. With the implementation of the Final Solution in late 1941, most ghettos were systematically destroyed. Residents were either shot in mass graves located nearby, or deported, usually by train, to death camps. The largest ghetto in Poland was the Warsaw Ghetto (population 450,000); other major ghettos were established in the cities of Lodz, Krakow, Bialystok, Lvov, Lublin, Vilna, Kovno, Czestochowa, and Minsk.

Gypsies – Popular term for Roma and Sinti, nomadic people believed to have come originally from northwest India. Traveling in small caravans, Gypsies first appeared in Western Europe in the 1400s and eventually spread to every country of Europe. Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 Gypsies are believed to have died in Nazi camps, as well as killed by Einzatsgruppen and other shootings.

Holocaust – With a small “h,” holocaust comes form the Greek olokauston, and means “an offering consumed by fire.” With a capital “H,” it means the destruction of the Jewish people of Europe by the Nazis during the period from 1933 to 1945.

Jehovah’s Witnesses – A religious sect that originated in the United States and had about 20,000 members in Germany in 1933. The religious beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses did not allow them to swear allegiance to any worldly power. They were, therefore, persecuted by the Nazis as “enemies of the state.” About 10,000 Witnesses were imprisoned in concentration camps; about 2,500 of them died.

Jewish Council – In German, Judenrat. Councils of Jewish leaders were established by the Nazis in the ghettos of German-occupied towns and cities to impose Nazi decrees on the Jews. The Nazis used Jewish Councils as buffers between themselves and the Jewish populations of the ghettos.

Kindertransport – German for “children's transport.” Between 1938 and 1940 the informal name of a rescue effort which brought thousands of refugee Jewish children to Great Britain from Nazi Germany. About 1,000 children were rescued and also brought to the United States, including a few to Georgia.

Kristallnacht – German for “night of broken glass,” for nation-wide pogroms (anti-Jewish riots) which occurred throughout Germany on November 9 and 10, 1938. This was the first organized, nationwide, government-sanctioned vandalizing of property belonging to Jews by the Nazis. SA troops smashed store windows, burned synagogues, and beat up Jews in the streets, killing nearly 100 people. Thirty thousand Jewish men were arrested and imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp, near Munich. Several thousand Jewish women were arrested and sent to local jails. Kristallnacht was followed by a punitive fine to be paid by the Jewish community for the damages done to their own businesses.

Labor Camps – These were camps established to exploit the slave labor of prisoners to benefit the Third Reich. Many concentration and death camps had a system of labor camps attached. Prisoners were often worked to death in inhuman conditions. One of the most notorious labor camps was located at Auschwitz III. The labor of millions of slaves in camps brought profits to many German businesses, as well as the German military and government.

Liberation – The discovery of the camps by Allied forces who stumbled upon them while pursuing the German army. After liberation, many thousands of camp inmates perished because they were too weak to live. Others survived and began looking for family members in vain.

Liquidation – A Nazi euphemism for eliminating a ghetto and its inhabitants by conducting massive deportations to concentration and death camps, or by the mass murder of Jews on the outskirts of towns.

Mein Kampf – German for “my conquest.” The title of Adolf Hitler’s book, written in prison and published in 1925, that not only illustrated his bottomless antisemitism, but also served as a blueprint for the Holocaust. Ownership of this book was mandatory in the Third Reich, and the sale of the book made Hitler a millionaire.

Nazi – The abbreviation for Hitler’s political party, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. The Nazi Party was a right-wing, nationalistic, and antisemitic political party formed in 1919 and headed by Adolf Hitler from 1921 to 1945.

Nuremberg Laws – Racial laws put into effect by the German parliament in Nuremberg on September 15, 1935. These laws became the basis for racist anti-Jewish policies and the legal exclusion of Jews from German life. One of the first Nuremberg Laws declared that only Aryans could be citizens of Germany. Jewish families who had lived in Germany for 400 or more years suddenly became citizens with no legal rights or protection. Similar anti-Jewish laws were imposed upon every nation occupied by the German army.

Partisan – A member of a resistance group operating secretly within enemy lines. Often hiding in forests, partisan groups used “hit-and-run” guerrilla tactics against the Germans. Jewish partisans played a prominent role in parts of the Soviet Union and Poland where the geographical conditions aided such warfare. In the southern European countries of Yugoslavia and Greece, Jews joined general partisan units. In the western European countries of Belgium and France, resistance was characterized mainly by underground movements with Jews playing significant roles.

Perpetrator – One who does something that is morally wrong or criminal.

Persecution – Act of causing others to suffer because of differences in ethnic or cultural background, lifestyle, religion, or political beliefs.

Pogrom – Russian word for “devastation.” Organized violence, riots and lynchings against Jews, often initiated and supported by religious and political authorities.

Propaganda – False or partly false information used by a government or political party to sway the opinions of the population. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, a master of the manipulation of truth, used books, film, newspapers, and radio to further racial superiority and the persecution of Jews.

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