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Holocaust Background Info. You need to know this!!!. Judaism. Synagogue (SIN-uh- gahg ) From a Greek root meaning "assembly." The most widely accepted term for a Jewish house of worship. The Jewish equivalent of a church, mosque or temple.

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holocaust background info
Holocaust Background Info

You need to know this!!!

  • Synagogue (SIN-uh-gahg)
    • From a Greek root meaning "assembly." The most widely accepted term for a Jewish house of worship. The Jewish equivalent of a church, mosque or temple.
  • Yom Kippur -- The name "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement," and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year.
  • Rabbi – A Jewish religious teacher.
  • Torah -- The so-called Old Testament is known to Jews as Written Torah or the Tanakh.
  • Talmud (TAHL-mud)
    • The most significant collection of the Jewish oral tradition interpreting the Torah.
  • Cabbala (Kabbalah) – Jewish Mystical (superstitious happenings between people and God) tradition.
  • Zohar (zoh-HAHR)
    • The primary written work in the mystical tradition of Cabbala (Kabbalah).


  • Kaddish: prayer for the dead
  • Hassidic Jews: believe in mysticism
jewish life before the holocaust
Jewish Life before the Holocaust
  • A total of roughly nine million Jews lived in the countries that would be occupied by Germany during World War II. By the end of the war, two out of every three of these Jews would be dead, and European Jewish life would be changed forever.
  • In 1933 the largest Jewish populations were concentrated in eastern Europe, including Poland, the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Romania.
  • They spoke their own language, Yiddish, which combines elements of German and Hebrew.
  • Older people often dressed traditionally, the men wearing hats or caps, and the women modestly covering their hair with wigs or kerchiefs. Younger people were more modern.
jewish life before the holocaust1
Jewish Life before the Holocaust
  • In comparison, the Jews in western Europe—Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium—made up much less of the population and tended to adopt the culture of their non-Jewish neighbors.
  • They dressed and talked like their countrymen, and traditional religious practices and Yiddish culture played a less important part in their lives.
  • They tended to have had more formal education than eastern European Jews and to live in towns or cities.
  • Jews could be found in all walks of life, as farmers, tailors, seamstresses, factory hands, accountants, doctors, teachers, and small-business owners.
  • Some families were wealthy; many more were poor. Many children ended their schooling early to work in a craft or trade; others looked forward to continuing their education at the university level.
  • Still, whatever their differences, they were the same in one respect: by the 1930s, with the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany, they all became potential victims, and their lives were forever changed.
Ruth Kohn (top row, second from left) and her classmates at a school in Prague. Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1928
Jewish vendors sell their wares at an outdoor market in front of the Stara synagogue. Krakow, Poland, 1936
moving fast
Moving Fast

After Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January 1933, he moved quickly to turn Germany into a one-party dictatorship and to organize the police power necessary to enforce Nazi policies.


A crowd cheers Adolf Hitler as his car leaves the Reich Chancellery following a meeting with President Paul von Hindenburg. Berlin, Germany, November 19, 1932

A march supporting the Nazi movement during an election campaign in 1932. Berlin, Germany, March 11, 1932
end of freedom
End of Freedom

He persuaded his Cabinet to declare a state of emergency and end individual freedoms:

  • freedom of press, speech, and assembly
  • the right to privacy (which meant that officials could read people's mail, listen in on telephone conversations, and search private homes without a warrant)
use of fear
Use of Fear

Lured by the wages, a feeling of comradeship, and the striking uniforms, tens of thousands of young jobless men put on the brown shirts and high leather boots of the Nazi Storm Troopers (SS).

Hitler also relied on terror to achieve his goals:

  • The SS policemen took to the streets to beat up and kill some opponents of the Nazi regime.
  • Mere fear of the SS pressured into silence other Germans who did not support the Nazis.

Jews work on the construction of a wall around the Warsaw ghetto area. The Germans announced the construction of a ghetto in October 1940 and closed the ghetto off from the rest of Warsaw in mid-November 1940


Footbridge over Chlodna Street, connecting two parts of the Warsaw ghetto. The street below was not part of the ghetto. Warsaw, Poland, date uncertain

life in ghettos
Life in ghettos
  • http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007708
  • Write down a few facts on your notes sheet while I read

Jews from the Lodz ghetto are loaded onto freight trains for deportation to the Chelmno extermination camp. Lodz, Poland, between 1942 and 1944


Jews assembled in the Siedlce ghetto during deportation to the Treblinka camp, forced to march toward the railway station. Siedlce, Poland, August 21-24, 1942

Jews from the Warsaw ghetto are marched through the ghetto during deportation. Warsaw, Poland, 1942-1943
  • http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007716
  • Write down a few facts on your notes sheet while I read