Important Definitions

Nazi: The common term for the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) which came to prominence in Germany under Adolf Hitler. The party was active from 1920-1945.

SS (Schutzstaffel):Translated as “Protection Squadron” was a paramilitary organization under the Nazi Party, beginning in Germany and later throughout German-occupied Europe during the Second World War. From 1929 until the regime's collapse in 1945, the SS was the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror within Germany and German-occupied Europe.

Allgemeine SS: A subdivision of the SS, responsible primarily for enforcing the racial policies of Nazi Germany.

Waffen-SS: Known as the military branch of the SS, the Waffen-SS included men from Nazi Germany along with volunteers and conscripts from occupied countries. At the Nuremberg Trials, the Waffen-SS was judged to be a criminal organization due to their involvement in numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity.

SS-Totenkopfverbände:The “Death’s Head” Unit of the SS, primarily ran the Concentration Camps and Extermination Camps across Europe. Originally created in 1933, the unit wa sindependent within the SS, with its own ranks and command structure. It ran the camps throughout Germany and later in occupied Europe. Camps in Germany included Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, and Buchenwald; camps elsewhere in Europe included Auschwitz-Birkenau in German occupied Poland and Mauthausen in Austria.

Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei): Secret State Police. The force was created by Hermann Göring in 1933 by combining the various security police agencies of Prussia into one organisation. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it passed to the administration of the SS. During the Second World War, the Gestapo played a key role in the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

SD (Sicherheitsdienst):The SD was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. Originating in 1931, the organization was the first Nazi intelligence organization to be established and was considered a partner organization to the Gestapo. After the war, the Nuremberg Trials declared the SD a criminal organization.

Einsatzgruppen: paramilitary mobile death squads of Nazi Germany that were responsible for mass killings, primarily by shooting. Almost all of the people killed by the Einsatzgruppen were civilians, beginning with the intelligentsia and swiftly progressing to Soviet political prisoners, Jews and Romani people as well as actual or alleged partisans throughout Eastern Europe.

Final Solution:  The "Final Solution to the Jewish question" was the official code name for the murder of all Jews within reach, which was not restricted to the European continent. This policy of deliberate and systematic genocide starting across German-occupied Europe was officially formulated in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference, held near Berlin.

Kindertransport: German for “children’s transport.” Immediately after Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938), the British government, with the aid of Jewish, British and Quaker relief organizations, set up the Kindertransport to evacuate children from Nazi oppression to Great Britain. Nearly 10,000 children were rescued from Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Most of these children never saw their parents again. It is believed that 20-25% eventually made their way to the United States and Canada.

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