Glossary

Glossary

Air Raid PrecautionsMeasures taken against air attack on British cities. Also the name of the government department in charge of air defence
AlliesTerm generally used to describe the USA, British Empire and their allies in WW2
ArtilleryHeavy guns
Atomic BombPowerful bomb that could destroy cities and used by the USA against Japan in 1945
AuschwitzDeath camp where many thousands of Jews, gypsies and other groups were murdered by the Nazis from 1942-45
AxisAlliance of Germany, Italy and Japan in WW2
BarbarossaCodename for the German invasion of the USSR (Russia) in 1941
Battle of BritainCampaign in 1940 to prevent German invasion of Britain that involved the RAF, Royal Navy and Army
BelsenConcentration camp in Germany that was liberated by the British in 1945
BlitzHeavy and frequent bombing raids carried out over British cities, ports and industrial areas from 1940-1941
BlitzkriegThe German for "lighting war". A swift, sudden military attack using bomber aircraft to support fast moving tanks and motor vehicles
BoycottAvoid, reject, blacklist
British Expeditionary Force (BEF)British forces which fought against the Germans in France in 1940
CamouflageCovering up weapons, buildings, troops or equipment so that they are difficult to see
CasualtiesPeople killed and/or wounded in war
CaucasusRegion in southern USSR rich in oil
CensorshipBanning or deleting any information of value to the enemy
Churchill, WinstonBritish Prime Minister in WW2 from 1940-1945
CivilianPerson not belonging to the armed forces
Cold WarA state of political tension and military rivalry between nations that stops short of full-scale war, especially that which existed between the United States and Soviet Union following WW2
CollaborateTo work with, or co-operate with, usually referring to people who co-operated with forces who had taken over their countries
ColossusBritish machine designed to break secret German codes
CommonwealthCountries that were formerly part of the British Empire (e.g. Canada, New Zealand)
CommunismPolitical system that believes in the importance of the working classes and regards individual freedom as less important than the good of society as a whole
Concentration CampCamps in Germany used by the Nazis to hold and torture their opponents, not the same as death camps. However, many died in such camps
Convoy A ship, fleet, or group of vehicles accompanied by a protecting escort
D-DayAllied invasion of German held France in June 1944
De Gaulle, CharlesLeader of the Free French forces that were based in Britain after the fall of France in 1940
Death Camp Camps for killing racial groups, especially Jews, which the Nazis considered to be inferior
DemocracySystem of government based on people voting for their leaders with a strong emphasis on the freedom of the individual
Dowding, Sir HughHead of the Royal Air Force
DunkirkSeaport in Northern France and site of the evacuation of British forces from May 29-June 4, 1940
Dysentery Serious illness usually caused by poor food or infected water supplies
EnigmaMachine used by German forces to turn their messages into code. It was supposed to be unbreakable but was cracked by British intelligence
EvacuationThe withdrawal or removal of troops or civilians
Extermination CampSee Death Camp
FascismOriginally, the term "fascism" (fascismo) was used by the political movement that ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. A system of government that opposes individual freedom and democracy, is anti-communist and favours extreme nationalism
Fifth ColumnPeople willing to cooperate with the enemy against their own country
Final SolutionNazi plan to kill the entire Jewish population in Europe dating from spring 1942, although hundreds of thousands of Jews already had been killed by death squads and in mass pogroms (see below) before this time
Focke-WulfA type of German aircraft
Free FrenchFrench forces who did not surrender to Germans in 1940 and escaped to Britain
George CrossMedal for individual acts of outstanding bravery carried out by civilians. The award was created by King George VI in 1940
GestapoGerman Secret Police
GhettoA poor section of a city that is inhabited by people mainly of the same race, religion, or social background, often because of discrimination
Goering, HermannHead of the German Air Force and high-ranking Nazi leader
Himmler, HeinrichHead of the SS and high-ranking Nazi leader
Hitler, AdolfLeader of Germany in WW2 and head of the Nazi party
HolocaustThe mass murder of around 6 million Jews and other racial groups by the Nazis in WW2
HurricaneBritish fighter plane
InfiltrateTo move into an organization, country or territory, secretly
InternmentThe practice of detaining persons considered dangerous during a war. For example, Americans of Japanese descent were held in internment camps in the USA
Iron CurtainPhrase used by Winston Churchill to describe the division of Europe after WW2 into Communist East and non Communist West
JunoCodename for one of the beaches in the D-Day landings of 1944, also known as Canadian beach as Canadian forces used it
LebensraumThis was the name given to Hitler's policy to provide extra "living space" for the German population by conquest of the lands of Eastern Europe and the USSR
Lend LeaseScheme introduced by US President Roosevelt in 1941 to give Britain military equipment in WW2 on very easy terms
LogbookA book in which details of a trip made by a ship or aircraft are recorded
LuftwaffeGerman Air Force
MaquisThe French underground movement, or Resistance that fought the Germans while they controlled France 1940-44
MemorandumAn official note or statement
Messerschmitt Type of German aircraft
MI5Military Intelligence Department 5. This is the Security Service for the UK. The Service has played a secret role over the past century in countering the activities of terrorists and spies
MI6Military Intelligence Department 6. This is the Secret Intelligence Service, and undertakes spy missions overseas
MidwayDecisive naval battle in 1942 in which the US destroyed several Japanese aircraft carriers
Ministry of InformationBritish government department that controlled information and propaganda
Montgomery, Bernard Leading British general in WW2
MoraleSpirits, mood, or confidence of a person or group
Mulberry harbourAn artificial floating harbour built to supply the D-Day landing forces in 1944
Mussolini, BenitoLeader of Italy in WW2 and head of Italian Fascist party
National GovernmentBritish government made up of politicians from Conservative, Labour and Liberal parties
Nazi partyRuling political party in Germany 1933-45, headed by Adolf Hitler. (The National Socialist German Worker's Party)
NurembergGerman city famous for Nazi rallies and chosen as site for trials of Nazi war criminals after WW2
OmahaCodename for one of the beaches in the D-Day landings of 1944
Operation DynamoCodename for the evacuation of British and French forces from Dunkirk in 1940
Operation PLUTO(Pipe-lines under the Ocean) was the plan to build undersea oil pipelines between Britain and France to keep Allied forces supplied with fuel after the D-Day landings in 1944
Operation SealionCodename for the planned invasion of Britain by German forces in 1940-41
Operation TorchCodename for the British and US advance to drive German and Italian forces out of North Africa
PanzerGerman tank
ParatroopersSpecially trained soldiers who could be dropped by parachute into enemy territory
Pearl HarborMain US naval base, attacked by Japanese forces in December 1941
PotsdamSuburb of Berlin and location for the conference between Britain, USA and USSR towards the end of WW2
PogromRiot directed against a particular group, ethnic, religious or other, usually involving the destruction of their homes, businesses or religious centres
PropagandaSpreading a particular message in order to influence public opinion
RadarElectronic system for detecting aircraft, ships, motor vehicles or weather formations
RDF Radio Directional Finder. This is a device for finding the direction to a radio source. In Britian, this term is called Radar after 1941 and stands for "Radio Detection and Ranging"
Red ArmyArmy of the Soviet Union or USSR. In 1946, the Red Army was officially renamed the Soviet Army
RefugeeA person who seeks shelter especially in another country, from war, disaster, or persecution
ResistanceTerm used to describe underground forces who fought against German occupation of their countries in WW2
Rommel, ErwinLeading German commander
Roosevelt, Franklin DelanoAmerican President for almost all of WW2 who died in April 1945
Royal Air Force (RAF)British air force
Royal Navy (RN)British navy
RussiaThe largest republic in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR or Soviet Union). The terms 'Russia' or 'Russians' were often used when strictly the term 'USSR' or 'Soviets' should have been used
SabotageA deliberate action to weaken the enemy by destroying equipment in secret raids rather than open attacks
SingaporeLarge British naval base in Malaya
SovietWorkers councils which gave their name to the USSR
Special Operations Executive (SOE)Special unit formed by the British to carry out attacks on German occupied Europe in WW2
SpitfireBritish fighter plane
SSHuge organisation within Nazi Germany which controlled many areas such as security, persecution of Jews and had its own armed forces, the Waffen-SS
Staff OfficerOfficer responsible for planning and organising campaigns
Stalin, JosephLeader of the Soviet Union (USSR) in WW2
StalingradLarge industrial city in southern USSR and a key battleground with Germany in 1942-43
SwordCodename for one of the beaches in the D-Day landings of 1944
TorpedoMissile fired by submarines and ships designed to sink other surface vessels or submarines
TreblinkaNazi death camp in Poland
TribunalType of court in which a group of people are appointed to give judgement on official decisions
Truman, HarryAmerican Vice President for most of WW2 who took over as President after Roosevelt's death in April 1945
U-BoatEnglish word used for a German submarine or 'U-Boot'
United NationsOrganisation formed in 1945 to replace the League of Nations
United States Army Air Force (USAAF)American Air Force. Its main role was to bomb German and Japanese cities in WW2
UtahCodename for one of the beaches in the D-Day landings of 1944
VE-DayDay marking Victory in Europe and the surrender of Germany on May 8th 1945
Vichy FranceVichy France, or the Vichy regime, was the government of France from July 1940 to August 1944 led by Marshal P�tain after the fall of France in WW2
VJ-DayVictory in Japan day which marked the surrender of Japan in August 15th 1945 following the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic bombs
V-weapons (V1 and V2)German rocket propelled weapons which were launched against Allied targets in 1944 and 1945
WarsawCapital of Poland
YaltaCity in the USSR where Britain, the USA and USSR held a conference in February 1945
Zhukov GeorgyOutstanding general who led the Red Army on the Eastern Front
Zyklon BCyanide-based gas used in the death camps