Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching The Children of Willesden Lane
Resources to help you teach the book in middle schools and high schools

Glossary: Social Studies


Antisemitism – Hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.


Blitzkrieg – A German word meaning “lightning war.”  It refers to the German bombing raids on London that started in September 1940 and continued through May 1941. 

The Blitz – The English abbreviation of the German word Blitzkrieg.

Bystander – A person who, when faced with a situation in which someone needs help, chooses not to get involved.


Emigrant – An individual who leaves his or her native country permanently.


French resistance – The name used for resistance movements that fought the military occupation of France by Nazi Germany, and fought the undemocratic Vichy regime that controlled most of France after September 1940.


Ghetto – The section of a city in which Jews were required to live after antisemitic laws forced them out of their homes. The term also refers to any section of a city where members of a particular minority group live because of social, legal, or economic pressure.


Herr Professor – In German, when addressing a person it is a mark of respect to add the word “Herr,” or “Mister,” before their profession. For women, the term of respect is “Frau,” meaning “Madam.”

The Holocaust – A Greek word that means “complete destruction by fire.” It refers to the mass slaughter of European civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

Hostel – A supervised institutional residence.


Immigrant – An individual who settles in a foreign country.

Inspiration – The action or power of moving the intellect or emotions.


Judaism – The Jewish religion, a monotheistic religion based on the laws and teachings of the Torah and the Talmud. Also, the Jewish way of life and observance of its morality, traditions, ceremonies, etc.


Kaddish – A prayer that is recited as part of the daily service or as a mourner’s prayer. The prayer praises God and reaffirms a belief in God.

Kind / Kinder – German words meaning "child" and "children."

Kindertransport – A German word meaning “child transport.” This was the name given to the rescue mission that began on December 1, 1938 and continued until shortly after the outbreak of World War II, during which Britain took in nearly 10,000 children from Nazi-occupied Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Free City of Danzig. Most of the children were Jewish. The children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, and farms.

Kosher – A term referring to the laws and rules that guide which foods observant Jews may eat and how those foods may be prepared and served.

Kristallnacht – A German term meaning “night of proken glass,” referring to a massive nationwide pogrom in Germany and Austria on the night of November 9, 1938. Jewish citizens were attacked and their homes and stores vandalized in a spasm of violence that portended the events of the Holocaust.


Legacy – A gift from one generation to those that follow.


Meistersingerstrasse/Mahlerstrasse – Under the Nazis, street names that referred to Jews were often changed.  So Mahlerstrasse (Mahler Street), named for the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler (1860–1911), who was Jewish, was changed to Meistersingerstrasse.  This is a reference to an opera called Die Meistersinger von Nűrnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg) by German composer Richard Wagner (1813–1883), who was a favorite of the Nazis.

Monotheism – The doctrine or belief that there is one, single, universal, and all-encompassing God.


Ordinance – An authoritative decree or direction, or a law set forth by a governmental authority.

Outcast – A person who is cast out or refused acceptance by a social group.

Outsider – A person who does not belong to a particular group.


Patriotism – The love of one’s country, often involving a willingness to sacrifice for it.

Perpetrator – Someone who commits or is responsible for a wrong against another person or persons.

Pogrom – An organized, violent attack on an ethnic, religious, or other minority group by members of the majority society. It may involve destruction of homes, businesses, and religious centers, as well as physical violence against people. The term has historically referred to attacks against Jews, but has also been applied to acts against other minority groups.


Quaker – A person belonging to the Religious Society of Friends (commonly known as Quakers or Friends), a loose-knit spiritual movement founded in England in the 17th century by people who were dissatisfied with the existing Christian churches. Quakers are opposed to war.


Race – A term commonly used to distinguish one population of humans from other populations. The most widely used human racial categories are based on visible traits (especially skin color and facial features), genes, and self-identification.

Refugee – Someone who flees his or her homeland in fear of persecution and therefore cannot safely return home.

Resilience – The ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

Resistance – Taking action to withstand or counteract force imposed by a person, group, or government. See also French resistance.


Terezin – A concentration camp in Czechoslovakia where many prisoners turned to music for inspiration and comfort. (See the Historical Sidelight in the curriculum guide, pg. 37.) Terezin was a “model” concentration camp used by the Germans for propaganda, to show how well the Jews were being treated. In fact, it was a gateway to the death camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Also known by its German name, Theresienstadt.


Upstander – An individual who acts to make a positive difference in the life of another individual or the community, often at risk to him or herself.

Universe of Obligation – A term in the Facing History and Ourselves curriculum referring to “the individuals and groups toward whom obligations are owed, to whom rules apply, and whose injuries call for amends.” It was first used by Helen Fein in the book Accounting for Genocide (1979, Free Press, p. 4).


Victim – A person who suffers directly or indirectly from the actions of individuals, groups, or nations.



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