One Book, One Chicago Spring 2002
Aden – Former Middle Eastern British colony, now part of Yemen.
Aryan – In Nazi ideology, the pure, superior Germanic race.
Austerlitz – Parisian railroad station for eastbound trains. Austerlitz was the name of a Czech city.
Babylonian captivity – Babylonians destroyed the first temple in Jerusalem in 86 B.C.E. and exiled the Jews to Babylonia.
boche or bosche – WWI derogatory French slang for a German, usually a soldier.
Cabbala – Jewish mysticism, including numerology.
charnel house – A building used to house corpses and bones.
concentration camp – Camps that were primarily used for slave labor, holding camps or transit camps.
death camp – Camps dedicated to the efficient murder of Jews and other victims; e.g. Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmo, Madjanek, Sobibor, Treblinka. The term was also used for concentration camps where thousands died of starvation and disease.
Death’s head – Skull insignia for S.S. brigades working in concentration camps.
fascism – A system of government with centralized authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship and usually a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
Gestapo – German acronym for the German Secret State Police, part of the SS notorious for terrorism against enemies of the state.
ghetto – The confinement of Jews in a set-apart area of a city. The first exclusively Jewish ghetto was in Venice in 1516.
gypsy – Pejorative term for Roma or Romany, an ethnic group with roots in India that suffered large losses in the Holocaust.
Hasidism – Movement of Orthodox Judaism with strong mystical and emotional elements.
Himmler, Heinrich (1900–1945) – Head of SS and principal planner of Jews’ total extermination.
Hitler, Adolf (1889–1945) – Dictator of Germany, 1933–1945.
Horthy, Admiral Miklos (1868–1957) – Regent of Hungary, 1920–1944, who was forced by the Nazis to relinquish power to the Nylias Hungarian Fascist party after Nazi invasion.
Job – Biblical figure who has come to symbolize suffering.
Kaddish – A prayer in Aramaic praising God. The mourner’s Kaddish is said for the dead.
kapo – Camp prisoner forced to oversee other prisoners.
Lazarus – A man described in the Books of John and Luke as having been raised from the dead by Jesus.
los – German for “Go on!”
Maimonides (1135–1204) – Jewish rabbi, physician and philosopher.
Mengele, Dr. Josef (1911–1978) – Auschwitz physician notorious for so-called medical experiments performed on inmates, especially twins and dwarves.
Messiah – Greek translation of Hebrew Mashiach, the anointed one.
Musulman – German for Muslim. Camp slang for a prisoner who is too weak to walk, work or stand, and therefore marked for death. Believed to derive from prisoner’s resemblance to a Muslim in prayer.
Nyilas party – Hungarian for Arrow Cross, a fascist anti-Semitic party that assumed power in late 1944 and assisted the SS in deportations of Jews.
Passover – In Hebrew, Pesach. Greek word for the celebration of the exodus of Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.
Pentecost – In Hebrew, Shavuot, the celebration of the giving of the Torah.
phylacteries – In Hebrew, tefillin. Greek word for two black leather cubes worn during daily morning prayer that contain verses from the Torah.
Rosh Hashana – Jewish New Year.
SS – Abbreviation of Schutzstaffel (Defense Protective Units). Notorious for implementing European Jews’ extermination.
Spanish Inquisition – Brutal campaign by Roman Catholic church to punish nonbelievers including Jews and Muslims.
Synagogue – A Jewish house of worship and study.
Talmud – The most important compilation of Jewish oral tradition.
Temple – Holiest place in Judaism, located in Jerusalem. Biblically ordained sacrifices were performed here. Built and destroyed twice.
yellow star – Nazis forced Jews to wear a cloth badge with Jew written in the center of a yellow six-pointed star.
Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement. Holiest day of Jewish year when Jews fast and pray for forgiveness for their sins.
Zionism – Political movement advocating the establishment of a Jewish state.
Zohar – From the Hebrew meaning light or splendor. One of the major works of the Cabbala.