Social Justice Stories

building compassion, tolerance, and responsible citizenship through social justice narratives


A glossary of social justice terms, specifically as they pertain to the Holocaust.

Antisemitism: Systematic prejudice against Jews

Bigotry: An irrational hatred against a group; an intolerance for beliefs other than one's own.

Bystanders: Those who complied with the laws and did nothing to stop the injustices occurring around them. Many bystanders wanted to ignore these events hoping to escape the consequences of Nazi terror.

Collaborator: An individual who supported and assisted the Nazis to impose the antisemitic principles of the Third Reich. Examples included journalists, lawyers, judges, authors, civil servants, and even everyday citizens who not only refused to come to the aid of Jews, but actively assisted the Nazis to enforce their regime.

Community: A group of people that work together, share interests, solve issues and help each other.

Discrimination: The result of individual and/or group prejudices. There are many forms of discrimination: exclusion, economic, physical exploitation, and, in the case of the European Jewry, genocide. The reasons for discrimination usually make no sense and are based on visible differences such as race, religion, or nationality

Genocide: The deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.

Hero: An individual who actively resisted the Nazi regime. Many were partisans actively fighting the Third Reich, but the term also refers to those who rescued Jews or others who were Nazi targets, either by hiding them or arranging for their transport from Nazi-occupied territory.

Holocaust: Greek for "burnt offering," and the term given to the Nazi's program to murder and annihilate the European Jewry.

Juden: The German word for Jew.

Liberation: The act of freeing countries, ghettos, and concentration camps from Nazi occupation. The Allied troops liberated the ghettos and concentration camps in 1944 and 1945.

Partisan: A member of an organized armed group who attacked and fought the Third Reich, usually within Nazi-occupied territory. These groups were considered part of the resistance movement that took place across Europe.

Prejudice: The act of pre-judging a group or individual based on very little or no knowledge; usually based on a stereotype.

Propaganda: Erroneous information and ideas deliberately propagated by a group (in this case Nazis) with the goal of promoting something or someone (the Germans) or harming another group (the Jews).

Racism: The irrational belief that race accounts for the variation in human behaviour, ability, and intelligence.

Refugee: A person who flees a country for political reasons.

Rescuer: Refers to those who risked their own lives to help save the lives of Jews and other groups, either by hiding them or arranging for their escape from Nazi-occupied territory. Rescuing was also an act of resistance.

Resistance: Refers to actions taken by groups and/or individuals who resisted the Nazi regime. There were many forms of resistance, from partisan fighting groups to the simple act of showing kindness and compassion to an individual targeted by Nazis.

Scapegoating: Blaming and holding an individual or group responsible for a multitude of problems of which, usually, no one group or organization is responsible. It is an important tool of propaganda as it provides an easy and identifiable target for frustrations and anger while legitimizing prejudice and the resulting discrimination.

Social Justice: "...the belief that schools in a democracy can and should prepare citizens to work actively and collectively on problems facing society."

Stereotype: A generalized, distorted image utilized to describe and distinguish members of a specific group of people.

Survivor: A person who survived the Holocaust.