ABC warfare
The use or threat of use of atomic, biological or chemical weapons in war.
ABDACOM
Short for American-British-Dutch-Australian Command. This was the cooperation between the armed forces of the USA, the UK, the Netherlands and Australia in the Far East at the end of 1941 to organise a united effort against the Japanese invasions. This supreme command was established on 28 December 1941 under command of the British General Archibald Wavell. Actual cooperation was never achieved because the lower commanders remained under command of their respective governments instead of under his command. After the battle against Japan was lost with the loss of Singapore, the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines, ABDACOM was dissolved on 25 February 1942.
Abschnitt
Description for a district of the Sturmabteilung (SA) or the Schutzstaffel (SS).
Abscond
Hiding from the enemy.
Abteilung
Usually part of a Regiment and consisting of several companies. The smallest unit that could operate independently and maintain itself. In theory an Abteilung comprised 500-1,000 men.
Abwehr
Term used for the German military intelligence unit during the WW1 and WW2. From 1935 onwards under command of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. The organisation often came into conflict with other secret services such as the SD and the Gestapo. During World War 2 under Canaris frequently a source for conspiracies against the Nazi regime until in 1943 a major conspiracy by a number of prominent members of the Abwehr was discovered and the Abwehr was placed under command of Himmler. After the assassination attempt on Hitler in 1944, Canaris was discharged and the Abwehr was dissolved. The conspirators and Canaris were prosecuted and in 1945 they were executed atc oncentration camp Flossenburg.
Achterhuis
The place where Anne Frank, a Jewish girl from Amsterdam and her family were in hiding during the German occupation. In July 1942 they moved to this house from an office at the Prinsengracht. Beside the Frank family the Van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer were also hiding there. On 4 August 1944 the house was raided by the Germans after betrayal. Who betrayed them remains a mystery. Of those arrested only father Frank survived.
Air Interception (AI)
General English term for radar equipment in night fighters to locate enemy aircraft.
Air to Surface Vessel (ASV)
General English term for radar equipment in aircraft to locate ships and surfaced U-boats.
Aircraft Carrier
A warship of large dimensions with the facilities for starting, landing and maintenance of aircrafts.
Aktion 1005
German secret operation to cover up the traces of mass extermination in the east. The bodies of the victims of the Einsatzgruppen and extermination camps were dug up from the mass graves and then burned. The operation was under command of SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel.
Aktion Erntefest
“Operation Harvest Festival”. Code name for the German operation in the autumn of 1943 to exterminate all remaining Jews in the district of Lublin. It was a reaction to Jewish acts of resistance in the Generalgouvernement such as the uprisings in Sobibor and Treblinka. The operation started on 3 November 1943. Within a few days approximately 42,000 Jews were murdered.
Aktion Reinhard
Code name for the secret Nazi operation to murder all Jews in the Generalgouvernement of the extermination camps Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. This operation was also known as Aktion Reinhardt or Einsatz Reinhard(t).
Allgemeine SS
“General SS”. The civilian branch of the Schutzstaffel (SS). Since 1939 the counterpart of the Allgemeine-SS was the Waffen-SS, (the military branch of the SS). The Allgemeine-SS was the backbone of the organisation and the source for recruiting the men for the Waffen-SS, the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) and the Totenkopfverbände. During the war years the Allgemeine-SS was involved in amongst others in local politics and administrative and government business.
Alpenfestung
Fortification in the Alps. The first development spotted by the Americans in 1944. The Americans feared a stronghold in the Alps as a last resort of the Nazis. The plan was covered in mystery. On the one hand the Alpenfestung might be the last SS stronghold which could lead to defeat of the Allied forces. Enormous arms depots were built and Nazi elite troops would be able to hide everywhere in the Alps and cause death and despair behind enemy lines, sometimes even in allied uniforms. This terrifying development was fed by German propaganda trying to lure the American forces towards the Alps and away from the Rhine. Although the British warned against this, the Americans decided to divide their forces and had them advance towards Berlin as well as the south. The Alpenfestung turned out, however, to be nothing but a spectre.
Alte Kämpfer
“Old fighters”. German soldiers with experience on the war front. Sometimes used within the NSDAP for those who had been fighting for the same cause before. Soldiers with battle experience were considered heroes by recruits and the home front, especially towards the end of the war.
Anarchy
The idea of a society without authority, power or violence. It is a philosophy based on the idea that an individual can in no way be subordinate to anything or anyone else. Nowadays the term anarchy is mainly used to designate chaos and disorder. However, the concept of anarchy is much more widely used.
Anne Frank
Jewish girl from German descent. In hiding in the back part of a house in Amsterdam since 1942. Betrayed and deported to Bergen-Belsen. Deceased in April 1945. Renowned for her diary.
Anschluss
The joining of Austria to Germany. The annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938. Austria became part of Greater Germany.
Antisemitism
A hostile attitude towards Jews motivated by certain prejudices. Motivation can be religious, racist or political. The racist form is applicable to the anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany.
AP mine
Anti-personnel mine. Mine specifically intended to kill or preferably wound people.
Appeasement policy
Policy in which people want to secure peace by regularly making concessions towards the other party.
Arbeitseinsatz
“Labour deployment”. Forced deployment in the German industry. Approximately 11 million European citizens were rounded up and deployed into forced labour in the Third Reich. Not to be confused with the Arbeidsdienst or labour service, an organisation for national-socialist education for Dutch youngsters.
Ardennes Offensive
Battle of the Bulge, “Von Rundstedt offensive“ or “die Wacht am Rhein“. Final large German offensive in the west from December 1944 through January 1945.
Area bombing
Aerial bombardment targeted indiscriminately at a large area. Prohibited since 1977 by the Geneva Convention. Also known as carpet bombing, obliteration bombing and moral bombing.
Armee
German unit. Mostly consisted of three to six army corps and other subordinate or independent units. An Armee was subject to a Heeresgruppe or Armeegruppe and had in theory 60,000-100,000 men.
Armee Abteilung
German unit. Usually larger than a single corps, but smaller than a complete Armee. Armee Abteilungen were sometimes formed in case of emergency, for example when the frontline was broken through. A corps would be reinforced and its headquarters became the commanding HQ in the area.
Armeegruppe
Usually consisted of two or three neighbouring Armees, sometimes German and Axis-allied Armees. One Armee HQ, usually the German, temporarily became the commanding HQ of the other Armees. An Armeegruppe would always be subject to a Heeresgruppe. Later in the war the size of an Armeegruppe or Panzergruppe varied significantly. From 1943 onwards an Armeegruppe could be the size of an Armee or just the size of a corps.
Armour Piercing (AP)
Designation for a shell type that can penetrate the armour of tanks and other armoured vehicles.
Artillery
Collective term for weaponry that fires projectiles. The modern term artillery mainly designates guns in general from which the range and calibres are outside certain boundaries. Artillery is also the name of the army unit which mainly operates such guns.
Aryan declaration
Declaration by civil servants in Germany and later also other groups in the occupied territories. You had to sign a declaration that you were not of Jewish descent.
Aryan race
Pseudo-scientific term from the 19th century, adapted by the Nazis. Supposedly the most superior human race. The Aryan race originally designated the Indo-Europeans that settled in Europe several thousands of years ago from the East. The term became a racist designation on which the Germans based their racial doctrine.
ASDIC
Short for Allied Submarine Detection Investigation Committee. British system used to detect submerged German U-boats. ASDIC emitted an electronic signal and caught the echo and transformed it into sound, the famous ”ping”. ASDIC only had a range of 1.5 nautical miles and it took an experienced operator to distinguish a submarine from a shoal of fish.
Ashcan
Code name for the American detention centre for high-ranking Nazi officers in Mondorf-les-Bains in Luxembourg.
Atlantik Wall
German defensive line stretching along the Atlantic coast, consisting of about 15,000 bunkers reinforced with many barriers, such as mine fields. The line ran all along the Atlantic coast from the north of Norway to the Franco-Spanish border. From December 1941 the line was constructed by the Todt Organisation by countless forced labourers. The objective of the defence line was to withstand any Allied invasion on the beaches.
Auschwitz-Birkenau
The largest German concentration camp, located in Poland. Liberated on 26 January 1945. An estimated 1,1 million people, mainly Jews, perished here mainly in the gas chambers.
Aussenlager
“Outside camp”. A concentration camp at a certain distance from a larger camp, the so-called Stammlager, but part of the same organisation.
Avondklok (curfew)
Curfew. An official ban to be out of the house in the evening or at night.
Axis countries
The axis Rome-Berlin. Later reinforced by Japan and several Balkan states.

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