Auschwitz - Birkenau /oushvits - biakenow/ : A complex consisting of concentration, extermination, and labor camps in Upper Silesia. It was established in 1940 as a concentration camp and included a killing center in 1942. Auschwitz I: The main camp. Auschwitz II (Also known as Birkenau): The extermination center. Auschwitz III (Monowitz): The I.G. Farben labor camp, also known as Buna. In addition, there were numerous subsidiary camps.
Babi Yar /bahbi yahr/ : A ravine in Kiev, where tens of thousands of Ukrainian Jews were systematically massacred.
Belzec /belzets/ : Nazi extermination camp in eastern Poland. Erected in 1942. Approximately 550,000 Jews were murdered there in 1942 and 1943. The Nazis dismantled the camp in the fall of 1943.
Bergen-Belsen /beagen belzen/ : Nazi concentration camp in northwestern Germany. Erected in 1943. Thousands of Jews, political prisoners, and POWs were killed there. Liberated by British troops in April 1945, although many of the remaining prisoners died of typhus after liberation.
Buchenwald /bookhenvald/: Concentration camp in North Central Germany
Bund /boond/ : The Jewish Socialist Party founded in 1897. It aspired to equal rights for the Jewish population. During World War II the Bund was active in the underground resistance and some Bund members were also part of some Judenrat councils. They took part in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Chelmno /khelmno/ : Nazi extermination camp in western Poland. Established in 1941. The first of the Nazi extermination camps. Approximately 150,000 Jews were murdered there between late 1941 and 1944, although not continuously. In comparison to the other extermination camps, Chelmno was technologically primitive, employing carbon monoxide gas vans as the main method of killing. The Nazis dismantled the camp in late 1944 and early 1945.
Concentration camp (Konzentrationslager abbreviated as KZ)/kontsentrationslahga/ : Concentration camps were prisons used without regard to accepted norms of arrest and detention. They were an essential part of Nazi systematic oppression. Initially (1933-36), they were used primarily for political prisoners. Later (1936-42), concentration camps were expanded and non-political prisoners--Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and Poles--were also incarcerated. In the last period of the Nazi regime (1942-45), prisoners of concentration camps were forced to work in the armament industry, as more and more Germans were fighting in the war. Living conditions varied considerably from camp to camp and over time. The worst conditions took place from 1936-42, especially after the war broke out. Death, disease, starvation, crowded and unsanitary conditions, and torture were a daily part of concentration camps.
Dachau /dakhou/ : Nazi concentration camp in southern Germany. Erected in 1933, this was the first Nazi concentration camp. Used mainly to incarcerate German political prisoners until late 1938, whereupon large numbers of Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and other supposed enemies of the state and anti-social elements were sent as well. Nazi doctors and scientists used many prisoners at Dachau as guinea pigs for experiments. Dachau was liberated by American troops in April 1945.
Death camp: Nazi extermination centers where Jews and other victims were brought to be killed as part of Hitler's Final Solution.
Death marches: Forced marches of prisoners over long distances and under intolerable conditions was another way victims of the Third Reich were killed. The prisoners, guarded heavily, were treated brutally and many died from mistreatment or were shot. Prisoners were transferred from one ghetto or concentration camp to another ghetto or concentration camp or to a death camp.
Dehumanization: The Nazi policy of denying Jews basic civil rights such as practicing religion , education, and adequate housing.
Einsatzgruppen /ainzatsgroopen/ : Mobile units of the Security Police and SS Security Service that followed the German armies to Poland in 1939 and to the Soviet Union in June, 1941. Their charge was to kill all Jews as well as communist functionaries, the handicapped, institutionalized psychiatric patients, Gypsies, and others considered undesirable by the nazi state. They were supported by units of the uniformed German Order Police and often used auxiliaries (Ukrainian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian volunteers). The victims were executed by mass shootings and buried in unmarked mass graves; later, the bodies were dug up and burned to cover evidence of what had occurred.
Final Solution (The final solution to the Jewish question in Europe): A Nazi euphemism for the plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe.
Führer /fewra/ : Leader. Adolf Hitler's title in Nazi Germany.
Gas chambers: Large chambers in which people were executed by poison gas. These were built and used in Nazi death camps.
Genocide: The deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, cultural, or religious group.
German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)/doiche abaitapatai/ : As the precursor to the Nazi Party, Hitler joined the right-wing Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP) in 1919. The party espoused national pride, militarism, a commitment to the Volk, and a racially "pure" Germany.
Gestapo /geshtahpoh/ : Acronym for Geheime Staatspolizei /gehaime shtahtspolitsai/ , meaning Secret State Police. Prior to the outbreak of war, the Gestapo used brutal methods to investigate and suppress resistance to Nazi rule within Germany. After 1939, the Gestapo expanded its operations into Nazi-occupied Europe.
Ghettos: The Nazis revived the medieval term ghetto to describe their device of concentration and control, the compulsory "Jewish Quarter." Ghettos were usually established in the poor sections of a city, where most of the Jews from the city and surrounding areas were subsequently forced to reside. Often surrounded by barbed wire or walls, the ghettos were sealed. Established mostly in eastern Europe (e.g., Lodz, Warsaw, Vilna, Riga, or Minsk), the ghettos were characterized by overcrowding, malnutrition, and heavy labor. All were eventually dissolved, and the Jews murdered.
Holocaust: Derived from the Greek holokaustonwhich meant a sacrifice totally burned by fire. Today, the term refers to the systematic planned extermination of about six million European Jews and millions of others by the Nazis between 1933-1945.
Homophobia: Fear of homosexuals.
International Military Tribunal: The United States, Great Britain, France, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics charted this court to prosecute Nazi war criminals.
Judaism: The monotheistic religion of the Jews, based on the precepts of the Old Testament and the teachings and commentaries of the Rabbis as found chiefly in the Talmud.
Majdanek /maidahnek/ : Nazi camp and killing center opened for men and women near Lublin in eastern Poland in late 1941. At first a labor camp for Poles and a POW camp for Russians, it was classified as a concentration camp in April 1943. Like Auschwitz, it was also a major killing center. Majdonek was liberated by the Red Army in July 1944, and a memorial was opened there in November of that year.
Marranos: Jews who professed to accept Christianity in order to escape persecution during the Spanish Inquisition. Marrano comes from the Spanish word "swine."
Muselmann /moozelmahn/ : German term meaning "Muslim," widely used by concentration camp prisoners to refer to inmates who were on the verge of death from starvation, exhaustion, and despair. A person who had reached the Muselmann stage had little, if any, chance for survival and usually died within weeks. The origin of the term is unclear.
Nuremberg Trials: Trials of twenty-two major Nazi figures in Nuremberg, Germany in 1945 and 1946 before the International Military Tribunal.
Pogrom: An organized and often officially encouraged massacre of or attack on Jews. The word is derived from two Russian words that mean "thunder."
Ravensbruck /rahvenzbrook/: Concentration camp opened for women in 1939.
Resettlement: German euphemism for the deportation of prisoners to killing centers in Poland.
Revisionists: Those who deny that the Holocaust ever happened.
Shoah : The Hebrew word meaning "catastrophe," denoting the catastrophic destruction of European Jewry during World War II. The term is used in Israel, and the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) has designated an official day, called Yom ha-Shoah, as a day of commemorating the Shoah or Holocaust.
Sobibór : Extermination camp located in the Lublin district of eastern Poland. Sobibór opened in May 1942 and closed the day after a rebellion by its Jewish prisoners on October 14, 1943. At least 250,000 Jews were killed there.
Social Darwinism: A concept based on the idea of "survival of the fittest." Based on Social Darwinism, Nazis created a pseudo-scientific brand of racism which was most virulent when directed against the Jews, but others, particularly Slavs, were not exempt.
Theresienstadt /tereysienshtat/ (Terezín /terezeen/) : Nazi ghetto located in Czechoslovakia. Created in late 1941 as a "model Jewish settlement" to deceive the outside world, including International Red Cross investigators, as to the treatment of the Jews. However, conditions in Terezín were difficult, and most Jews held there were later killed in death camps. Theresienstadt is the German name for the town; Terezín is the Czech name.
Treblinka /treblinka/ : Extermination camp on the Bug River in the General Government. Opened in July 1942, it was the largest of the three Operation Reinhard killing centers. Between 700,000 and 900,000 persons were killed there. A revolt by the inmates on August 2, 1943, destroyed most of the camp, and it was closed in November 1943.
Zionism: Political and cultural movement calling for the return of the Jewish people to their Biblical home.
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Discussion Questions/Research Topics
- Describe the conditions of the concentration camps including how people were processed into the camp system. Use text from survivor memoirs.
- What widely differing reactions to freedom did liberators encounter among the survivors in the crucial days that followed liberation?
- What harsh realities and strictly limited options ultimately confronted the survivors of the Holocaust?
- From personal stories of liberators and survivors, what can be learned about the importance of (a) human action, (b) human rights, and (c) the human spirit?
- What event would have to occur in your life that would convince you to leave everything and go to a foreign country?
- Examine the records left by children who survived the Holocaust and those who did not, as well as the records of those who came into contact with these children.
- After the liberation of camps throughout Europe many displaced persons came to the United States. Research the plan of action for the immigrants taken by the U.S. government and the effects of the plan on the displaced persons.
- Many Jewish children were sent to England during World War II to be kept safe. Research the Kindertransport and use evidence to explain if the program was, in your opinion, a good solution to the problem.
- Compare and contrast a writing of Primo Levi to Elie Wiesel and examine how the two men view life and their experiences during the Holocaust.
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Reproducible Student Hand-Outs
Kristallnacht. Map plotting concentrated areas of Nazi violence against Jews during the infamous "Kristallnacht".
Ghettos in Europe. Map showing Jewish ghettos in Europe under the Nazis.
Railroads Leading to Auschwitz. Map of the rail system that brought victims to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
- Holocaust: Thematic Unit. Teacher Created Materials. 1997
- Night. Bantam
- Schaffer, Frank. Memories of the Night: A Study of the Holocaust. 1994
- The Spirit that Moves Us. The Holocaust Human Rights Center of Maine. 1997
- Walch, J. Weston. Holocaust Literature: Study Guides to 12 Stories of Courage. 1997
- Walch, J. Weston. Understanding the Holocaust. 1995
Visit the Survivor Testimony and Literature page in the Arts section for an annotated bibliography of recommended works.
The Wiesenthal Center site maintains a large bibliography of survivor literature.
- Breaking the Silence: The Generation After the Holocaust. This award-winning documentary shows survivors and their children trying to understand how the Holocaust has effected both their lives. (58 minutes), Grades 7-12, Cinema Guild, 1984
- Children of the Holocaust. Four survivors of the Holocaust, now adults, share their experiences of life in the camps, ghettoes, and Auschwitz. (51 minutes), Grades 7-12, Films for the Humanities, 1994
- Children in the Holocaust. This video provides testimony from children who survived Auschwitz and other camps, through film and still photos. (68 minutes), Grades 7-12, Phoenix
- Choosing One's Way: Resistance in Auschwitz/Bierkenau. Holocaust survivors share the everyday acts of resistance in the camps, such as sharing bread, helping the weak, and praying aloud to soothe others, as well as the blowing up of Crematorium #4. (30 minutes), Grades 7-12, Ergo Media, 1994
- Displaced Persons. At the end of World War II over 250,000 Jews were left homeless. This video documents the plight of the Jews, through archival footage and interviews, the struggle they endured as a result of the war. (48 minutes), Grades 9-12, Israel Film Services, 1981
- Elie Wiesel: Nobel Prize Series. This program highlights Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Through video, student workbook and teacher resource book, students can learn about and view Elie Wiesel's works. Background information and lesson plans are also provided. (15 minutes). Grades 7-12, IMG Educators/Nobel Foundation, 1990
- Flames in the Ashes: Holocaust Documentaries. This video provides film footage, still photographs and survivor testimony depicting the many ways the Jews resisted the Nazis before and during World War II. Note: some graphic footage. (90 minutes), Grades 7-12
- For the Living. This video, narrated by Ed Asner, chronicles the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. How it was created, designed and built, as well as the artifacts it contains is documented. (60 minutes), Grades 7-12, PBS, 1993
- Genocide: World at War Vol. 20. This video, narrated by Laurence Olivier, examines the rise of Nazism, and the rationale they gave for their goal of a "master race." Film footage and interviews are also included. (52 minutes), Grades 7-12, Thames Television
- The Holocaust: A Teenager's Experience. The journey of Holocaust survivor David Bergman is documented through narration, film footage and drawings. Warning: some graphic footage. Reproducible activities and a guide for teachers are also provided. (30 minutes), Grades 7-12, United Learning
- The Holocaust: In Memory of Millions. This video, hosted by Walter Cronkite, provides an overall history of the Holocaust, and introduces the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Using a mix of archival film footage, survivor testimonies, and a discussion with Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, this video attempts to answer the question: Why should we remember? Warning: graphic presentation of atrocities. (60 minutes), Grades 7-12, Discovery Channel, 1994
- The Holocaust: Through Our Own Eyes. This video provides firsthand accounts from Holocaust survivors, as well as liberators of the concentration camps, on the atrocities that took place. Reproducible masters, discussion questions, and activities are also provided. (35 minutes), Grades 7-12, Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, 1994
- A Journey Back: Remembrances of the Holocaust. This video documents Broadway producer Jack Garfein's return to Aushwitz, as he searches for his past as well as the truth. (60 minutes), Grades 7-12, Direct Cinema Education
- Kitty: Return to Auschwitz. This documentary chronicles Auschwitz survivor Kitty Hart, and her return to Auschwitz 34 years later. (73 minutes), Grades 7-12
- Little Polish Boy. The unforgettable picture of Tsvi Nussbaum, standing with his hands up in the Warsaw Ghetto, 1943. A poem inspired by this picture is written below it by Holocaust survivor Peter L. Fischl.
- The Long Way Home. This video narrated by Morgan Freeman documents the struggles Jews faced at the end of World War II. Through the use of photographs, archival footage, testimonies and letters, a glimpse of the war's aftermath is portrayed. (120 minutes), Grades 7-12, Moriah/Somon Wiesenthal Center
- My Brother's Keeper. This CD-ROM is actually a narrated tutorial by Holocaust survivor Israel Bernbaum. Through Bernbaum's paintings, students are given explanations to the symbolism used, quizzed on knowledge of such topics as the death camps, and the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and much, much more. Grades 6-12, Clearvue, 1997
- Return to Life: The Story of the Holocaust Survivors. Firsthand testimonies, film footage, and photographs are used in this program to educate and describe the plight of the Jews after World War II. Database links to maps, a timeline and glossary are also provided. Grades 9-12, Yad Vashem, 1997
- Reunion. This video documents the liberation of Jews from the Nazi concentration camps at the close of World War II, and the huge task of returning these millions of Displaced Persons to their homes. (21 minutes), Grades 7-12
- Survivors of the Holocaust. This documentary provides testimony of Holocaust survivors and their children, as they describe life before, during and after the war. Actual photographs and film footage shot in the concentration camps are also shown. Note: some graphic footage. (25 minutes), Grades 7-12, Anti-Defamation League
- Survivors of the Holocaust. This video created by Steven Spielberg and funded by the Shoah Visual History Foundation, has as its mission to preserve eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust through its survivors. (70 minutes), Grades 7-12, Shoah Visual History Foundation/Turner, 1995
- Teaching Holocaust Studies with the Internet: Internet Lesson Plans and Classroom Activities. Lessons using specific web sites along with reproducible worksheets are provided. Lessons on The Rise of Hitler and Nazism, Life in the Ghettos, Survivors' Stories and others are included. Grades 4-12, Classroom Connect, 1997
- A Time to Gather Stones Together. This video documents Holocaust survivors living in the US as they return to their roots in Poland and the Ukraine. Survivors are shown visiting their ancestral homes, looking up long lost relatives, and placing stones on the graves of the dead. (28 minutes), Grades 7-12, Documentaries International, 1993
- To Bear Witness. In this video, 14 nations gather together at the First International Liberators Conference along with survivors to testify about their experiences during the Holocaust. Along with archival film footage and survivor testimony, an account of what some nations did to prevent the Holocaust, as well as those who were slow to act against the Holocaust. Warning: not recommended for unprepared audiences. (41 minutes), Grades 9-12, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, 1981
- Tsvi Nussbaum: A Boy from Warsaw. This video recounts the story of Tsvi Nussbaum, the boy from the infamous photograph taken in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 (see poster below). How Tsvi came to the ghetto, his life there, and how he feels today about his experience are chronicled. (50 minutes), Grades 10-12, Ergo Media
- The Warsaw Ghetto. This video documents the Warsaw Ghetto through still and motion pictures taken by cameramen of the German army, and narrated by Warsaw Ghetto survivor Alexander Bernfes. (51 minutes), Grades 6-12, BBC
- The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Through the use of archival film footage, still photographs, and survivor testimonials of the Warsaw Ghetto, the first attempts of Jewish resistance are detailed. (23 minutes), Grades 9-12
- Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die? This video addresses the question "Could the Jews of Europe have been saved?" Using archival film footage, interviews with Holocaust survivors as well as Jewish leaders and American officials, this documentary argues that the American Jewish community failed to pressure the Roosevelt administration into acting quickly. Note: graphic film footage. (90 minutes), Grades 9-12
David Olère. Students analyze the artworks of David Olère and compare them to Holocaust photographs on the site.
Journey to America. A lesson on the book about surviving the Holocaust by Sonia Levitan.
Mapping Survivor Stories. Students trace a survivor's story using a timeline, map skills, photography, poetry, and/or prose.
Survivor Interview. Students listen to stories from survivors of the Holocaust.
Testimony: A Lesson in Creating Poetry. Students create poetry by reformatting Holocaust testimony.
The History of the Holocaust from a Personal Perspective: Lesson plans from the Ernest and Elisabeth Cassutto Memorial Page.
Surviving Hatred, a study guide for the video, Witness to the Holocaust.
The following materials from the State of Florida Resource Manual on Holocaust Education, Grades 9-12 will enrich your class's study of this topic. This manual was distributed to all Florida high schools in the spring of 1999 and should be available in your school resource center.
|Helen Beck||Unit 8||pages 93-97|
|Meeting Again||Unit 9||pages 62-64|
|Photographs||Unit 9||page 69|
|Halina Laster||Unit 9||pages 73-76|
|Dvora Wagner||Unit 9||pages 77-90|
| Victims | Perpetrators | Bystanders | Resisters | Rescuers | Liberators | Survivors | Children |
A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 1997-2013.