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Volume 17, No.2 / Fall 2003            
Using Testimonies for Researching and Teaching about the Holocaust, Part 2

Recent Works by Nechama Tec
When Light Pierced the Darkness
      • Review
      • Questions & Activities

In the Lion's Den
      • Review
      • Questions and Timeline

Defiance: The Bielski Partisans
      • Questions & Activities

Resilience and Courage
      • Review 
Reflections on Nechama Tec's Life and Work


Akiva:  a liberal Zionist youth organization.

Aktion:  term used by the Germans to describe a raid on a ghetto that usually resulted in mass murder and/or transfer to a concentration camp.

Altruism: term referring to a form of behavior in which an individual takes risks on behalf of others and does not receive any tangible rewards for the risktaking.

Antisemitism:  prejudice against Jews; dislike of Jews; the persecution of Jews.

Carmelites:  term referring to a monastic order for the Catholic Church.

Communism: term referring to Marxist ideology that guided the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution.     

Displaced Persons:  term used to refer to those survivors of the Holocaust who had no homes after the war and were often placed in Displaced Persons Camps.

Einsatzgruppen:  SS mobile killing units, attached to the German Army, whose purpose was to locate and murder Jews in Eastern Poland and Russia.  Over a million Jews were murdered in these actions.

Final Solution: Nazi term for the annihilation of Jews in Europe; plans for this program developed in the winter of 1941 and implementation  began with the gassing of Jews in Chelmno in December 1941.  By 1942 death centers were established in Poland for carrying out the program.

General Government: refers to the large area in central Poland that was under Nazi control.  Hans Frank, a longtime member of the Nazi Party, served as the Governor General of Poland.

Gentile:  a term used by Jews to refer to Christians; the term Righteous Gentiles is sometimes used to refer to rescuers during the Holocaust.

Gestapo: Abbreviation for Geheimnis Staats Polizei or Secret State Police.  This organization was part of the SS and was in control of dealing with all political enemies of the Nazi regime.   Its tactics often involved terror and arbitrary arrest.  In 1939, it was placed in charge of expelling Jews from all Nazi-occupied territories.

Ghetto:  term refers to the section of a city where Jews were forced to live.  The area could be cordoned off with barbed wire or a wall.  Punishments were harsh for Jews found outside the closed off area or found escaping the area designated for Jews.

Judenrat term meaning a  Jewish Council.  During the Holocaust German occupation forces established these councils in each ghetto to administer Jewish affairs in the ghetto.

Kielce:  a city in Poland.  After World War II, the local population participated in a pogrom against surviving Jews who were returning from the death camps and forests.  During the war Nechama’s family hid out with a Polish family in this city.

Lublin: a city in Poland that was founded in the fourteenth century.  Before the Nazi era there was a substantial Jewish population.  The death camp Majdanek was located at the edge of the city.  Nechama Tec was born in Lublin.

Memoir: an account of a particular period during a person’s life.

Monograph: term used to refer to an academic study of a particular topic.

Nazi-Soviet Pact: This was an agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union on August 30, 1939.  When Germany conquered Poland, the two signatories agreed to divide Poland.  Both countries also agreed to remain neutral in the event either country should be involved in a war.  The pact was broken in June 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

Otriad:  term referring to a partisan detachment.  In the Polish and Russian forests, there were Russian, Polish and Jewish otriads.

Partisans: term referring to guerrilla type fighters who resisted the German occupation forces.  Often partisan units were organized in forests and scavenged for food in surrounding towns and villages.

Passing:  term referring to Jews who pretended to be Christian during the Holocaust.  For example, Jews who had a Polish appearance in Poland could “pass” as Christians, often by taking on Polish names and learning Catholic prayers and rituals.

Rescuers:  term referring to Christians and Jews who often risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews.   Rescuer activities ranged from offering a day’s worth of food to hiding a group of Jews over several years.

Resisters:  term referring to individuals who opposed Nazi occupation of Europe.

Soviet Union: term referring to the government of the Russian Empire after the Russian Revolution of 1917. 

SS:  Abbreviation for the German word Schutzstaffel or protective squads.  These were elite units that originally were designed to protect Hitler and other members of the early National Socialist Party.  The SS grew from of body of 200 to four million by 1940.  Heinrich Himmler headed the organization, which eventually controlled all aspects of the “Final Solution”.  The Secret Police (Gestapo) came under the SS; also under the SS authority were the concentration camps, death camps and labor camps. 

Testimony: term referring to a person’s story.  For the Holocaust, both written and oral forms of testimony have been collected. 

Zionism:  term referring to the 20th century movement to found a separate state for Jews in Palestine.  The state of Israel was created in 1948.



Dimensions Online
Volume 18, No. 1, Fall 2004
Yehuda Bauer

Volume 17, No. 2, Fall 2003
Using Testimonies for Researching and Teaching about the Holocaust--Part II

Volume 17, No.1, Spring 2003
Using Testimonies for Researching and Teaching about the Holocaust-- Part I

Volume 16, No. 1, Fall 2002
Remembrance and Commemoration of Two Catastrophes: September 11th and the Holocaust

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The Hidden Child Foundation®
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