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Term used for the Allied Forces in the Second World War, consisting first of the United Kingdom, Poland and France, later also the USA, the Soviet Union and the free armed forces of occupied countries – Poland, France, Belgium and others. They were fighting against Germany, Italy and Japan, known as the Axis Powers.

Anne Frank

Annelies Marie Frank (1929-1945) fled with her German Jewish family to the Netherlands in 1934. In July 1942 the family went into hiding in Amsterdam, but they were tracked down by the National Socialists (Nazis) and their collaborators and arrested. Anne and her sister Margot died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, her mother Edith died in Auschwitz. Only Otto Frank, her father, survived. He published Anne’s diary, which documents her life in hiding. To learn more, visit the Anne Frank House Website.


One state forcibly incorporating the territory of another state by occupying it, often using military force.


National Socialist propaganda term for the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in March 1938 and the subsequent absorption of Austria into the Third Reich. The invading troops were greeted by cheering crowds.


Hostility to the religion of Islam, often with a perception of it as being violent and radical, and a danger to Western society. The myth of Islam as a religion of the sword was brought to Western Europe in the Middle Ages at the time of the Crusades (religious wars) and has survived. The terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001 (9/11) and other attacks have been used by anti-Islamists to portray all Muslims as radical fanatics.


General rejection of Judaism (the religion and culture of Jewish people) and those who follow it (Jews) based on religious prejudice or competing religious beliefs. Judaism is presented as a danger to modern Western society. Anti-Judaism is sometimes also called religious antisemitism.

Anti-Muslim racism

Form of cultural racism against Muslims that considers Western cultures superior to Islamic cultures and mutually exclusive. Cultural symbols like a hijab or a turban may be used to judge and discriminate against groups of people.


Discrimination against and social exclusion of Roma, which can range from prejudice and open hostility to expulsion or even widespread persecution and genocide of Roma, also known as Porajmos. Some people prefer to use this term instead of ‘antigypsyism’ to avoid continued use of the word ‘Gypsy’, which is seen as offensive.


Political or ideological opposition to the idea of Zionism – that Jews should have a state in Palestine. Anti-Zionists have challenged Israel’s right of existence as a Jewish state since it was founded. Often, anti-Zionists apply double standards by demanding behaviour from the state of Israel that they don’t expect from other countries, blurring the lines between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.


Antigypsyism describes the discrimination against Roma and Sinti or anyone perceived as being a ‘Gypsy’. The word ‘Gypsy’ is often used for Roma and Sinti and more generally for other travelling or socially excluded people, and is often considered offensive.

There are strong, persistent myths linking Roma with a ‘traveling lifestyle’. Antigypsyist discrimination takes forms such as insults, assaults, ghettoisation, and exclusion from education and jobs. People may be forced to leave a country.

Roma and Sinti were interned, sterilised and murdered during the National Socialist period (1933-45). This genocide, also known as Porajmos, was only officially recognised by Germany in 1982. Official state institutions such as the police in Germany and other countries continued to use the discriminatory definitions of Roma after the National Socialist period.

Antigypsyism has continued and even increased in many European countries since the economic crisis. Discrimination against Roma and Sinti is even part of official government policies in some countries.

Antisemitic laws in the Nazi era

Between 1933 and 1939, the National Socialist regime in Germany passed many laws that limited or abolished the civil and human rights of Jews in Germany, for example by banning Jewish teachers and Jewish children from state schools, excluding them from several professions and forcing them to take second names (Sara for women, Israel for men). Vichy France also passed anti-Jewish legislation between 1940 and 1941, barring Jews from public office and depriving them of citizenship. Jews in all the countries occupied by Nazi Germany suffered from antisemitic laws passed there.


Antisemitism is the most common term for hatred towards Jews. A homogeneous group of ‘Jews’ is constructed, and people are discriminated against on the basis of what a Jew is imagined to be.
Antisemitism is a form of discrimination that goes back many centuries, often with a religious motivation. The term itself emerged in the 19th century and was based on racist ideology that was commonly accepted then. Antisemitism was a major factor in the National Socialists’ persecution of Jews during the Holocaust.

Nowadays antisemitism is often related to the state of Israel (anti-Zionism), for example when Jews everywhere in the world are held responsible for actions by Israel or when Israel is judged by different standards than other democratic states.

Conspiracy theories accusing Jews of wanting to do harm are still widespread, particularly on social media.


Someone who does not experience sexual attraction towards any person, regardless of sex or gender.


Network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated by Nazi Germany during the Second World War in occupied Poland. Auschwitz I was built to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. From 1942 Auschwitz II-Birkenau became the largest centre for the immediate, direct extermination of Jews. People were selected upon arrival. Most were murdered directly in gas chambers, while others were used as forced labour. In the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau 1.1 million people were murdered, 90% of them for being defined as Jewish. The next largest groups of victims were non-Jewish Poles, Roma and Sinti, and Soviet prisoners of war. When Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army on 27 January 1945, only a few sick inmates were left in the camp – all the others had been sent away to other concentration camps shortly before on so-called death marches.

Axis Powers

Coalition of countries led by Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan, who fought together in the Second World War against the Allied Forces. The term was first used by Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, when speaking of a Rome-Berlin axis after a treaty of friendship was signed between Italy and Germany in 1936. The coalition formed because all three countries wanted to safeguard their expansionist politics.


Concentration camp in northern Germany originally built to hold prisoners of war. The SS took over part of the camp in 1943. For many inmates, it was a transit station before they were deported to an extermination camp. When it was freed by British soldiers in April 1945, they found around 60,000 starving inmates, of whom 14,000 died after the liberation. In total, approximately 50,000 people were killed in Bergen-Belsen, most of them Jews.


Nazi-German extermination camp set up in the village of Bełżec near Lublin in occupied Poland, where almost half a million mostly Polish Jews were murdered by the SS between March and December of 1942. The SS killed them by filling the gas chambers with exhaust fumes.


Someone who may be attracted romantically and/or sexually to both men and women.


Term used to describe people perceived to be dark-skinned compared with other populations. The definition of black can be different depending on the culture and society in which it is used. Today calling yourself black is a political statement to reclaim the identity with pride.

Black American

Term preferred by many individuals in the USA instead of African American, as it does not emphasise African roots with which some do not identify.


Considering somebody responsible for a failure or an undesirable outcome, either in speech or internally. ‘Victim blaming’ means holding the victim of some wrongdoing or crime partially or completely responsible for it. To learn more, watch this video of Brené Brown.


Repeated aggressive behaviour intended to hurt; can be verbal, emotional, physical or cyber. When carried out by a group, it is called mobbing. Bullies may target social class, race, size, strength, gender, sexual orientation, religion, appearance, behaviour, body language or ability. Bullying can result in serious, long-lasting problems.


A picture presenting a person’s features in a simplified or exaggerated way for comical effect. It can be complimentary or critical. It became a popular political art form in the 18th century, when newspapers started to print caricatures regularly.


The Catholic church is the largest branch of the Christian religion, and Roman Catholicism the biggest Catholic group. It is headed by the Pope and based in the Vatican in Rome. Its members believe in a single God and the salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Chemical weapons

Toxic chemicals used to cause widespread harm or death, includes nerve gases. They are classified as weapons of mass destruction because they are indiscriminate, affecting all who come into contact with them. First used during the First World War, they were used by both sides during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and attacks have been confirmed – and internationally condemned – in the Syrian civil war every year from 2013 to 2017. The Chemical Weapons Convention signed in 1993 outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Nevertheless, huge stockpiles continue to exist.


Term usually used to describe a place for Christian public worship, or groups of Christians with particular beliefs and forms of worship, for example the Presbyterian church, the Catholic church, the Orthodox church.


The practice of maintaining colonies – territories under the direct control of a foreign state. From the 16th century, many Western countries such as France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium had colonies in America, Africa, Asia and Australia. The exploitation of the colonised territory by force created a power relationship in which the invaders took all the fundamental decisions that affected the lives of the indigenous population. Their policies led to segregation and the economic and political oppression of the indigenous population. The European colonists felt superior and considered themselves entitled to rule.

Concentration and extermination camps

From 1933 onwards, the German National Socialists (Nazis) built many concentration camps. At first, they were mostly used to imprison their political enemies. Later, Jews, ethnic Poles, Roma and Sinti, clergy, Jehovah’s Witnesses, so-called ‘asocials’, homosexuals and other people considered enemies of Nazi Germany were detained there. Torture, executions, medical experiments, malnourishment and other physical abuse led to the death of thousands of people in the camps. The extermination camps were built by the Nazis specifically for the systematic murder of hundreds of thousands of people, predominately Jews, Roma and Sinti. Most of the mass killings were by gassing, but there were also mass shootings and many people were simply worked to death under starvation conditions. Around half of the 6 million Jews that were murdered during the Holocaust were killed in the German Nazi camps.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Its aim is to protect all children worldwide and guarantee their rights, including the right to life, the right to be protected from abuse and exploitation, and the right to express their opinion. Currently (2017), 196 countries have ratified the convention, including all members of the United Nations except the United States. To learn more, Read the convention of the Rights of the Child.


The distinctive ideas, achievements, customs and social behaviour of a particular ethnic group, nation or society at a particular time. Our view of other cultures is usually influenced by the culture familiar to us and is therefore subjective.

Death march

At the end of the Second World War, as the Allied Forces advanced, liberating German-occupied territory and capturing parts of Germany, the SS forced the inmates of concentration camps onto death marches. These were intended to remove possible witnesses and proof from the Allies, but also to hang onto as much of the slave labour force as possible. The already badly weakened inmates of the concentration camps were evacuated, locked in railway wagons or forced to walk for days or weeks – and those who could not keep up were shot by their SS guards. Thousands of people were killed (either directly or as a result of malnourishment and diseases) during those evacuations. Some death marches ended with the mass killing of all the prisoners.


Unequal treatment based on categories such as someone’s ancestry, religion, gender, sexuality or (dis)ability. Although most countries have included basic human rights in their constitution or laws, which demand equal treatment for all, discrimination still happens on personal and societal levels. It often stems from widespread and socially accepted (mostly negative) images of certain groups, or from societal norms.

Discrimination against LGBTQI+

LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people) are discriminated against when their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is rejected.

The discrimination takes many forms such as hurtful language, hate speech, social exclusion and hate crime (physical violence), but also structural discrimination by companies and state institutions. It is sometimes called homophobia, although that wrongly suggests a medical problem: a ‘phobia’ or psychological fear that can’t be controlled.

In Nazi Germany, homosexuals were persecuted and murdered, but homosexuality was considered a crime in many countries long after the Second World War and people in Europe were still being sent to prison for being homosexual in the 1960s. The World Health Organisation considered it an illness until 1992. Germany, for example, only fully decriminalised homosexuality in 1994.

Discrimination against LGBTQI+ increased rapidly in the 1990s with misconceptions about the HIV/ AIDs epidemic. Although homosexual relationships are no longer illegal in European countries, they are still not accepted by everyone. Hostility and assaults are common.

Note: The “+” after LGBTQI indicates that there are more gender identities and sexualities, such as and asexual.

Discrimination against Muslims

Muslims are discriminated against on the basis of their faith, appearance, name, place of birth and perceived identity. A homogeneous group of ‘Muslims’ is imagined to exist. There have always been flourishing Muslim communities in Europe, and discrimination against such communities has a long history. It is sometimes called Islamophobia, but that description is felt by many to be unsatisfactory because it uses the medical term ‘phobia’ – an anxiety disorder a person cannot control. Discrimination against Muslims affects not only religious Muslims but anyone whose appearance or culture might indicate Muslim heritage.

There has been an increase in discrimination against Muslims since the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001 and the recent terrorist attacks in Europe. In Europe, many right-wing groups use anti-Muslim fears to promote their political goals. Typical stereotypes include the idea that Islam is sexist, old-fashioned and violent.

Discrimination against Roma and Sinti

Social exclusion or racial discrimination against Roma or Sinti people, which may be systemic or personal.

Drancy transit camp

A camp in the city of Drancy 20km north-east of Paris, France. It was set up in 1941 as an internment camp for foreign Jews in France, but later became the main transit camp where most of the French Jews who were deported by the National Socialists and their collaborators were confined prior to their deportation.

Eastern Front

Term used in both world wars. In the First World War, it was used for the territorial line (front) along which Germany and Austria-Hungary fought against Russia. During the Second World War it stood for the front between Germany and Poland, later also for the front between the troops of the Axis Powers and the Soviet Union.


Belonging to a social group with the same or similar language, cultural heritage, history, homeland etc., often by birth. It sometimes gets mixed up with the terms nation, people or race.


Belonging to a social group with the same or similar language, cultural heritage, history, homeland etc., often by birth. It sometimes gets mixed up with the terms nation, people or race.

First World War

The war that began in Europe in July 1914 and lasted until November 1918. The two main opposing alliances were the Allies, consisting of Russia, France and the UK, and the Central Powers, formed by Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Over time, more countries joined in. More than 16 million people (including civilians) died in what was one of the largest wars in history, and the first in which chemical weapons were used widely (chemical warfare). The war ended in a victory for the Allies.

Forced labor or slave labour

All work or service carried out against a person’s will under pressure or threats. Between the two world wars, it was mainly a colonial phenomenon. During the Second World War, it was a common tool of oppression used for economic reasons by Nazi Germany and some of its allies. The National Socialists forced more than 7 million people from many occupied countries to work in Germany, many of them in agriculture or industry. Inmates of concentration camps were, for example, forced to work in the German weapons industry.


A term used to describe people attracted to people of the same sex. Since the 1990s it has also been used negatively in some countries to belittle something or somebody. For example, ‘that is so gay’. There is a strong positive association to the word gay as in Gay Prides and Gay Games.


The attitudes, feelings and behaviour that a society or culture associates with being either male or female. This constructed concept varies from society to society, and can change. When individuals or groups do not ‘fit’ into the expected gender norms, they often face discrimination or social exclusion.

Gender identity

Someone’s inner sense of being male, female, a blend of both or neither. It may not be the gender assigned at birth.


Intentional action to destroy entirely or in part an ethnic, national, racial or religious group. This can include mass killing, but can also mean the systematic destruction of social, political and cultural institutions and structures, language and religion. Examples in history are the Holocaust and the Porajmos during the Second World War and the Rwandan genocide in 1994. To learn more, visit the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) website. In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which advises the participating countries how to prevent and punish actions of genocide. To date (2017), it has been ratified by 143 countries.

Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei)

Secret state police in Nazi Germany who persecuted people considered enemies by the National Socialists. They had unlimited power and could arbitrarily arrest people or send them to concentration camps. The Gestapo was involved in the deportation of the Jewish population and other persecuted groups in many countries.


The word ghetto was first used in Venice in the 16th century for the area of the city where Jews were forced to live. During the Second World War, Nazi Germany established many segregated ghettos in cities throughout occupied Europe where Jews and sometimes Roma were forced to live. People did not receive enough food. Together with the crowded living conditions, lack of sanitation and often hard forced labour, this resulted in a high death rate. Many people were deported from the ghettos to extermination camps.


Process of concentrating groups of people in certain areas of a city by either openly forcing them to live there or denying them housing elsewhere. Those areas often have less infrastructure, lower-quality housing and are more crowded and run down.

Great Depression

Worldwide economic collapse, which took place in many countries in the 1930s. It originated in the United States, where stock markets crashed in October 1929. This caused bank failures in Europe and the bankruptcy of many businesses.


The word is mostly used by people who are not themselves ‘gypsies’ and is considered an offensive term by many. There is no such single group, and communities often labelled ‘gypsies’ tend to classify themselves differently. Many regard themselves as Roma or Sinti. The term ‘gypsy’ is sometimes used as a racial slur.

Hate crime

A usually violent crime committed because of the hatred, bias or prejudices of the perpetrator towards the actual or perceived religion, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, nationality etc. of the attacked person. May include physical violence, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or hate mail. Some countries have specific laws to deter hate crimes by increasing punishment if a crime is found to have been motivated by hostility to a particular social group.

Hate speech

Statements or images attacking, abusing or insulting a person because of their gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religion or disability etc. It can be an expression of hate by the speaker or be aimed at generating hate among listeners. Hate speech includes comments promoting or justifying discrimination. In the most extreme form, hate speech openly calls for aggression and violence towards a group of people or individuals. On the internet and in the media, the main target groups are LGBT+, Muslims and women. In many countries, hate speech can be prosecuted. To learn more, read the No Hate Survey Results by No Hate Speech Movement.


A world view in which heterosexuality is seen as the norm and which only recognises a gender system of male and female. An individual’s biological sex is considered to define gender identity, gender role and sexual orientation.


A headscarf traditionally worn by some Muslim women in the presence of adult men outside their immediate family. It covers the head and chest and is considered a symbol of modesty and privacy in Islamic tradition.


Term most commonly used for the mass murder of the European Jews by Nazi Germany and its accomplices during the Second World War. Coming from the Greek language, it means ‘a completely (holos) burnt (kaustos) sacrificial offering’. The term is offensive to many people as it could be seen to mean that the killing of Jews was a sacrifice. Often, the term Shoah is preferred. A broader definition of the Holocaust includes non-Jewish victims of the Nazi German policy of mass murder during the Second World War.


Of the same kind, or similar.


Prejudice against, and fear or hatred of LGBT+ people and homosexuality. The term is criticised as it creates a pseudo-medical impression. People who fear or hate homosexuals mostly think they have rational reasons for their feelings, often referring to religious or heteronormative concepts.


Sexual orientation characterised by romantic and/or sexual desire for members of the same sex or gender.

Human Rights

Inalienable fundamental rights belonging to all humans. Examples are the rights to life, to freedom from torture, to freedom of movement, to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to freedom of speech. In 1948, the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievements for all people and all nations. To learn more, read the Declaration.


Identity refers to individual characteristics, beliefs, expressions and qualities that make us who we are. It is an answer to the questions ‘Who am I?’, ‘Where do I belong?’, ‘What makes me similar to or different from others?’ (self-perception), and ‘How do other people see me?’.

Our identity is not ingrained in our genes, and it changes. Parts of it are shaped by our surroundings, such as our family and the culture we are a part of. Some aspects of identity are visible; some are not. We all identify with lots of different groups. No one is just a man or a woman, just a student or a teacher, just a Muslim or Christian, Jew or atheist. We share single characteristics with many people, but our package of characteristics is unique for each of us.


Man who leads prayers and worship in a mosque, teaches the Quran and offers religious guidance. In many Shia traditions, the Imam is also a recognised authority on Islamic religion and law and is considered the ultimate man of God.

Institutional racism

Racism embedded in social or political institutions, and kept active by them. It can lead to the denial of racism, racial profiling and exclusion from education, housing or employment, or discrimination in political participation like voting rights.


People who have been born with anatomical characteristics that are neither typically male nor typically female.


Prejudice, hatred or fear of Muslims and Islamic culture in general. It is often linked to the discriminatory idea that Muslims are religious fanatics and a danger for non-Muslims, and that Islam is opposed to equality, tolerance and democracy. The term is criticised as it creates a pseudo-medical impression.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

A Christian-based religious movement founded in the late 19th century in the United States. Members believe the Bible was inspired by God and is historically accurate, and they live by its word. They are known for their door-to-door preaching. They reject worldly governments and follow a doctrine of political neutrality. In Nazi Germany, Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted for refusing to do military service or give the Hitler salute. Of the 20,000 German Witnesses, 10,000 were imprisoned, and 2,000 were sent to concentration camps.


The Jewish community consists of various groups, including Orthodox Jews, Liberal or Reform Jews and non-religious Jews. Why people may think of themselves as Jewish differs from person to person. Some do not observe the rules of the Jewish faith, but do feel a connection with other Jews because of the history of their ancestors. Some may celebrate Jewish holidays. Other people do not feel a strong connection with their Jewish background. According to Jewish religious law, the children of a Jewish mother are Jewish. Jews believe that there is a single God who not only created the universe, but with whom every Jew can have an individual and personal relationship. It is possible to convert to Judaism after a period of study and immersion in Jewish life, which is overseen by a rabbi.


Origin unclear. The word may be an abbreviated form of Kameradschaftspolizei (German: comrade police force). It could also come from capo, which is Italian for ‘head’ and ‘boss’. The term was used for a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp who was assigned by the SS guards to supervise forced labour and maintain order in the camp, or carry out administrative tasks. They received better treatment in the form of more food and better clothes and were somewhat protected from the arbitrariness of the SS.


A skullcap, often made from cloth or yarn, which is usually worn in religious context by Jewish men during service or when visiting a synagogue. Orthodox Jews wear a kippah in everyday life, too. An alternative term is yarmulke.

Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass)

Trivialising term for the antisemitic pogrom in Germany on the night of 9-10 November 1938. More than 1,400 synagogues were destroyed, Jewish shops and homes were looted, and thousands of Jews were deported to concentration camps during the following days. About 90 people were murdered. In German it is mostly called Reichspogromnacht or Novemberpogrom, as the term ‘Kristallnacht’ was widely used by the Nazis in reference to the broken shop windows.

Labour camp

Camp for inmates forced to work, for example in agriculture, factories, road building and construction. Originally used to punish criminals, in the 20th century many totalitarian regimes, both communist and fascist, used labour camps to imprison opponents. The conditions varied, but often led to the death of many inmates.


Woman who feels romantically and/or sexually attracted to other women.


Collective term for different sexual orientations and gender identities. The four letters stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, the “+” after LGBT indicates that there are also other gender identities and sexualities, such as queer, inter- and asexual.


stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersexual and asexual, and the asterisk includes all people who define their own sexual identity. LGBTQIA* are discriminated against when their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is rejected. This can take many forms, from hurtful language to physical violence, but includes structural discrimination by companies and state institutions. Discrimination against LGBTQIA* is sometimes called homophobia, although that wrongly suggests a medical problem: a ‘phobia’ or psychological fear that cannot be controlled.

Macpherson Report

Report on the inquiry into the police investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, a young black man who was stabbed to death at a bus stop in London in 1993. The report concluded that the way the Metropolitan Police had dealt with the case showed that the force was institutionally racist. This caused a lot of debate and, ultimately an important shift in awareness of the need to address racism within the British police service.

Martin Luther King Jr (1929 – 1968)

Minister of a church in Montgomery, Alabama and African American civil rights activist. He opposed racial segregation in the USA and is probably most known for his ‘I have a dream’ speech in Washington during a huge march for basic civil rights.


Place of worship for Muslims. Also a centre providing information, education, social-welfare, and settlement of disputes.


Person who follows the religion of Islam. The Arabic word Muslim means ‘one who enters into God’s peace’. Muslims believe that there is one God, Allah, and that this oneness is central to their spirituality. Most Muslim communities are either Sunni or Shia, but there are also a variety of smaller religious groups like Ahmadiyya, Ibadis and Alevis. In many Muslim majority countries, the Sunnis are the largest group. Some Muslims don’t identify with a particular branch of Islam. There are many different cultural traditions among Muslims.

National Socialism

Totalitarian ideology and regime that ruled Germany between 1933 and 1945 and was radically antisemitic, racist, antidemocratic and anti-communist. The National Socialist regime was characterised by political control of every aspect of society (German: Gleichschaltung) and the persecution of anyone perceived as an enemy of the regime, especially the Jews.


Follower of National Socialism. The term indicates a member of the Nazi party, the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), but it is also often used broadly to describe anyone who took part in the persecution of Jews, Roma and Sinti and other victims of Nazi Germany.

Nazi Germany

Period between 1933 and 1945 when Germany was a fascist dictatorship under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, the NSDAP. Nazi Germany triggered the Second World War by invading Poland in 1939. Millions of people, especially Jews, were considered ‘enemies’ of the German Reich, and were persecuted and murdered.


Member of a social or political movement based on the ideas of Nazism, mainly racism, antisemitism and xenophobia. Most neo-Nazis blame their own or society’s problems on immigrants or an invented Jewish conspiracy. They often deny or trivialise the Holocaust and other genocides committed by the National Socialists and their collaborators. There have been violent neo-Nazi attacks and even murders in many countries worldwide, including nine migrants and a police woman killed by the so-called National Socialist Underground in Germany since 2000.


Concentration camp near Hamburg in northern Germany from 1938 until 1945. The SS imprisoned more than 100,000 people in Neuengamme and its sub-camps, forcing them to work in the weapons industry and brick production, and working them to death. This means that the SS did not directly kill all the prisoners, but deliberately created inhumane conditions, including lack of food, lack of medical treatment and excessively heavy labour, which killed many prisoners.


Abbreviation of ‘non-governmental organisation’ – a not-for-profit organisation funded by memberships and donations and often run by volunteers. NGOs operate independently of governments or international governmental organisations. There is a wide array of NGOs working for a diverse range of charitable, political, social or religious causes.

Non-violent civil disobedience

Influencing legislation or politics by peacefully refusing to obey certain laws or orders. Examples of non-violent protest include boycotts of companies or elections, picketing, sit-ins, occupations, work slowdowns, mass demonstrations and hunger strikes.


Standards or models regarded as typical and customary, and therefore expected by most members of society. Norms are often unwritten and will be most noticeable when somebody does not act in accordance with them – behaviour then seen as eccentric or offensive.


(Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, National Socialist German Worker’s Party): One of several extreme right-wing political parties in Germany after the First World War. Adolf Hitler became its leader in 1921. It was nationalist, anti-democratic and antisemitic. By 1932 it was the largest voting bloc in the German parliament. When Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, all other political parties were banned and the National Socialists established a dictatorship. Hitler was both party leader and head of state; and the party’s symbol, the swastika, became the national emblem. The NSDAP remained the only official German party until it was banned by the Allies after the Second World War.


In the Second World War, Germany invaded and occupied many countries, including Poland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and the USSR.

Paragraph 175

Paragraph of the German criminal code (1871 to 1994) that criminalised homosexual acts between males. The Nazis used it as a basis for persecuting homosexuals. Thousands were arrested and deported to concentration camps, where most were murdered. The code was still in use until 1994. In Germany gay men convicted under the code were pardoned and granted compensation in 2017.

People of Colour

A term for the vast array of different groups not seen as ‘white’ in mainstream society who are exposed to systemic racism in white-dominated culture. The term offers the notion of solidarity among all groups discriminated against on grounds of ‘race’, but it still implies white is the standard.


The oppression or harassment of people because of religion, sexual orientation, beliefs, or concepts of gender and race.


Originally a Russian word meaning ‘destruction’ used to describe the violent attacks on Jews in the late 19th and early 20th century in Russia, it was later used also for antisemitic mass attacks by the National Socialists and their collaborators. By now, the use of the term has widened to include attacks on European Jews in the Middle Ages and in general organised attacks or massacres of ethnic groups, such as of the Sikhs in India or the Alevis in Turkey.


Romani term for the genocide of the Roma and Sinti during the Second World War by the German National Socialists and their collaborators. The aim was to exterminate the Roma population of Europe. Their persecution was based on racism.

The exact death toll remains unclear, but it could be 500,000 people or more. West Germany only officially recognised the Porajmos in 1982. Despite this official recognition, the genocide of the Roma continues to remain largely unknown.


A preconceived opinion based on attributes such as gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin or religion. Prejudices are not based on reason or actual experience; they are mostly negative; and they are often used to justify discrimination. In contrast to stereotypes, prejudices are emotionally charged. People often have unconscious prejudices, which are therefore hard to overcome.


People who do not identify themselves with the socially constructed norms associated with their biological sex. They identify anywhere between male and female on the spectrum of gender identities.


A Jewish scholar or teacher of the Torah, or the spiritual leader of a Jewish congregation or synagogue. A rabbi may conduct prayer services, and is the person Jews consult about questions of Jewish law and other matters.


A term used in the past to divide humans into groups based on perceived biological similarities or characteristics specific to that group and different from other groups. Now a discarded historical concept, ‘race’ is no longer recognised as a biologically valid classification. We are one species, and our genetic differences do not define our character, abilities or identity. Race is, however, a concept that is central to racism.


Racism is the devaluing of people considered to be of other ‘races’. The idea that you can group people by ‘race’ has long been rejected by scientists, but racism continues to exist.
Racism is based on the belief that there are important biological differences between groups of people that make them superior or inferior. Racists judge other people by appearance – such as skin, eyes, hair, or language – and lump them together into a group.
Racism has a long history, especially in the discrimination of black people. The term itself appeared in the 19th century, with the rise of the idea that people belong biologically to certain groups (‘races’) so they must have ‘typical’ characteristics. This concept played a large role in colonialism, as it was the basis for the idea that ‘white’ people were entitled to exploit and oppress other people. Racism puts people at a disadvantage at school, at work, in everyday life. Racist attacks can range from hurtful language, to taking away possessions or the right to live somewhere, and murder.


Controlled distribution of limited resources like food, clothes or fuel. It is often used during wartime, for example by handing out ration stamps allowing citizens to buy a limited amount of the scarce goods each month.


Concentration camp for women and girls 90km north-east of Berlin. The inmates had to work in factories, including Siemens. When the Eastern Front got closer, the SS tried to kill as many of them as possible. In total, approximately 30,000 people were murdered in Ravensbrück.


A person who flees their country because of war or racial, religious or political persecution. People who have been granted refugee status are defined and protected in international law and must not be expelled or returned to situations in which they are in danger. Asylum seekers are people whose request for sanctuary has not yet been processed.

Righteous Among the Nations

Honorary award by the state of Israel for non-Jews who endangered their own life to save persecuted Jews during National Socialism without seeking reward or money. As of 1 January 2017, 26,513 people from 51 countries have been recognised as Righteous Among the Nations. To learn more, search the Righteous Database.


The term Roma is used as a collective term for all Romani people, including those who call themselves Roma, Sinti, Kale and many related groups in Europe. It should be un­derstood to cover a wide diversity of people. The term ‘Rom’ is also used to refer to a person of Roma origin. Roma share elements of cultural heritage, some but not all share a common language, and some have a common history.

What Roma call themselves varies from language to language. Although many consider the term ‘gypsy’ offensive, it is used by some Roma/gypsy organisations in some countries, as for instance in the UK. In spoken German, Sinti and Roma are used as a pair.


Also used, alongside the term Roma, as a collective term for the ethnic groups of Roma and Sinti. They began to migrate westwards from northern India in the 5th century, appearing in the Balkans by the 14th century and arriving in Germany and France in the 15th century.  The term Romani also describes the several languages spoken by the Romani people, which are sometimes similar but can have as many differences from each other as Slavic languages. Sinti people in Germany, Austria, Netherlands, France and northern Italy speak Romanes, also called Sinte Romani.

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

American civil rights activist. She was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. The Montgomery bus boycott organised by Martin Luther King Jr as a result of her arrest contributed to the abolition of laws enforcing racial segregation.

Russian Front

See Eastern Front.

Second World War

The war that started in 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The Allied Forces fought against the so-called Axis Powers. It was the second globally fought war and more than 65 million people were killed. It ended with the victory of the Allies in 1945.

Sexual orientation

Someone’s preference for sexual partners, but also – more generally – an individual’s interest in another person, be it sexual or not.


A Hebrew term for destruction or ‘the catastrophe’ – used to mean the genocide of six million Jews by German Nazis and their collaborators, motivated mostly by antisemitism. Shoah also refers to the cultural, social and intellectual destruction of Jewish people as a group in Europe. It is also called the Holocaust.


One of the Roma groups of Central Europe. The Sinti are the oldest Romani people living in Germany and Austria, and have achieved official acceptance of their definition of themselves. Traditionally itinerant, today most Sinti are settled.


Abbreviation for Schutzstaffel (protection unit), the elite military organisation of the Nazi party NSDAP, which had its own intelligence agency. It owned many companies that profited by using the forced labour of concentration camp inmates. The SS was in charge of all the concentration camps and mainly responsible for all the mass killings in the camps.


Widely held but oversimplified image of a particular group. They can be positive, negative or neutral. Stereotypes can cause people to exaggerate differences between groups, either by falsely seeing them as homogeneous or by focusing only on differences.

Also called ‘stop and frisk’ in the US, this term stands for the police’s power to stop, search and subsequently arrest a person without warrant, reason or evidence. In many cities and countries, it has been proven that the police are much more likely to stop and search black people, and it is therefore part of racial profiling.


Someone considering themselves superior to someone else means thinking they are better than or above others. The opposite term is inferior.


Jewish house of prayer, also used for Torah reading, assembly and study. It is one of the most important institutions in Judaism and influenced the common assembly in Christianity and Islam.


One of the most important books of Judaism. It consists of a collection and record of ancient rabbinic writings and discussions on Jewish Law and traditions. It expands on the Torah and is the basis for later codes of Jewish law.

Third Reich

National Socialist propaganda term for Nazi Germany.


The scroll on which the first five books of the Hebrew scripture are written. It is used during the service in a synagogue. The term Torah is also used in a wider sense for all authoritative Jewish religious teachings.


People whose gender identity is different from the one they were thought to be at birth. Some but not all decide to make the physical transition. They do not want to live in the assigned gender, and may have surgery and hormone therapy to produce the physical appearance typical of the gender with which they identify.


Negative attitudes and feelings towards transgender people. Transphobic views are often considered an aspect of homophobia.

Vichy France

Common name for the French state under Marshal Philippe Pétain after the truce with Germany in July 1940 until 1944. Its name stems from the seat of government in the city of Vichy in southern France. Vichy France collaborated to a certain extent with Nazi Germany and also passed antisemitic laws.


Term used to describe light-skinned people of mainly European ancestry. Since colonialism it has connotations of power, sophisticated culture and progress. The social construct of ‘whiteness’ plays a crucial role in many countries, being used to form national identities and often leading to discrimination of people who are not considered to be white.


Sub-camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp.


Fear or hatred of anybody and anything perceived as strange or different from oneself, for example people from other countries or cultures. It can include a fear of losing identity, suspicion of the activities of the ‘other’, aggression towards them, or even the desire to get rid of them to preserve the culture of the own group.


Belief that Jewish people should have a national homeland in Palestine. It also stands for the Jewish nationalist movement that arose in the late 19th century with the aim of creating a Jewish state in Palestine.