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Edexcel GCSE History Weimar and Nazi Germany 1918–39 Glossary

The key vocabulary you need to learn for your Edexcel GCSE Weimar and Nazi Germany History paper. Find all the terms and definitions you need to understand, from ‘abdication’ to ‘Young Plan’.

A – B (Abdication to boycott)
Abdication is when a king or queen gives up the throne of a country.

The term antisemitic describes anything or anyone that is hostile to, or prejudiced against, Jewish people as an ethnic, religious, or racial group.

An armistice is an agreement, or truce, to stop fighting for a certain period of time.

The term Aryan was falsely used by the Nazis to describe a so-called ‘master race’ of people of German or Northern European origin; the Nazis promoted the racist and false idea that this group were superior to other ethnic groups, including Jews, Slavs, Black people, and the Roma.

An autobahn is a motorway linking cities.

The term avant-garde refers to new and experimental ideas and methods in art, music, or literature.

Bauhaus was a school of design, originating in Weimar Germany in 1919, that focused on modern and practical designs.

To boycott is to refuse to buy or use something, or to refuse to take part in activities, usually in protest or punishment.

C (Censorship to conscription)

Censorship happens when a government or other controlling body limits people’s access to information, ideas, or books to prevent knowledge being gained or to prevent the freedom of thought and speech.

A coalition is a government in which two or more political parties work together to rule a country.

compulsory military service
Compulsory military service, or conscription, occurs when a government forces all able men of a certain age (and in some countries, all able women of a certain age) to serve in the military for a period of time, often two years.

concentration camp
A concentration camp is a prison camp in which large numbers of people are held under harsh conditions and without the freedoms or facilities of the rest of society. Prisoners might be forced to carry out hard labour or might be executed, often in groups.

A concordat is an agreement between the Pope and a government or monarch regarding the regulation of religious matters. In 1933, the Nazis and the Catholic Church made an agreement, called the Concordat, promising that they would not interfere with each other.

Confessing Church
The Confessing Church was a German Protestant group led by Pastor Martin Niemöller that wanted nothing to do with the Nazis or the Reich Church (who were also known as German Christians).

Conscription is a policy of compulsory military service in which the government requires all able adult men (or able women) of a certain age to serve in the armed forces for a period of time, normally for at least two years.

D – E (Dawes Plan to eugenics)
Dawes Plan
The Dawes Plan was an agreement made in 1924 that sought to resolve the issues of Germany’s unpaid First World War reparations. This agreement among European nations was arranged by the USA, which loaned money to Germany to help it rebuild.

A decree is an official order that has the force of law.

Degenerate describes something that has lost physical, mental, or moral qualities considered normal. Hitler called forms of modern art he disliked degenerate.

The term democratic describes a form of government in which the people choose leaders by voting.

A dictator is a ruler who has total control over how a country is run.

A dictatorship is a one-party state, governed by a dictator with total control over how the country is run.

Eugenics is the unscientific and racist belief that the mental and physical characteristics of the human race can be improved by choosing who may become parents.

F – K (Freikorps to Kellogg-Briand Pact)
Freikorps was a right-wing German group organised like a military force that was active in the early years of the Weimar Republic.

Führer means ‘leader’ or ‘guide’ in German and was the political title adopted by Adolf Hitler.

A gauleiter was a Nazi in control of a regional branch of the Nazi Party. Gauleiters were appointed and directly overseen by Hitler and were responsible for recruiting more Nazis.

German Workers’ Party
The German Workers’ Party (DAP) was set up in early 1919 and became the National Socialist German’s Worker Party (or Nazi Party) in 1920.

The Gestapo was Nazi Germany’s secret police force. In 1933, the Gestapo was created by Herman Goering as part of the SS, which was controlled by Heinrich Himmler.

Great Depression
The Great Depression was a worldwide economic crisis that began in 1929 and lasted throughout the 1930s. During this period of high unemployment, many businesses and industries failed.

The Holocaust is the name given to the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Second World War. Many people who were not Jewish were also killed during the Holocaust, including political prisoners and Roma people.

Hyperinflation is a sudden, dramatic rise in prices.

Indoctrinated is another word for ‘brainwashed’, which happens when someone has been taught to accept a belief without exception or question.

Kellogg-Briand Pact
The Kellogg-Briand Pact was a peace deal signed in August 1928 by 62 countries, including Germany, that agreed not to use war to settle international disputes.

L – P (League of Nations to putsch)
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an international peace-keeping body established after the First World War.

Locarno Pact
The Locarno Pact was a peace agreement signed in December 1925 by Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, and Germany.

A manifesto is a written statement of the beliefs, ideas, and promises of a political party.

mass rally
Mass rallies are public meetings of large groups of people, united for a common cause or occasion.

A mutiny is a rebellion by soldiers or sailors who refuse to obey orders and try to take control away from the person who commands them.

A nationalist is a person with strong beliefs about their nation who wants political independence for their nation.

oath of allegiance
The oath of allegiance was a promise, undertaken by members of the German Army, to be loyal and obedient to Adolf Hitler personally.

A pacifist is a person who believes war and violence are always wrong.

A pogrom is an organised and violent attack of a particular ethnic group, such as Jewish people in Nazi Germany.

police state
A police state is a country controlled by a political police force; the government has strict control over people’s lives, especially by means of a secret police force, such as the Gestapo.

The term propaganda refers to the spreading of ideas, messages, and information to influence people’s thinking and actions, often through the use of media such as posters, film, radio, and newspapers; propaganda is generally misleading or untruthful in its approach.

proportional representation
Proportional representation is a political system in which the number of politicians in government for a particular party is in proportion to the number of votes they have won.

Similar in meaning to ‘mutiny’, a putsch is a sudden attempt to seize power or take control by force.

R – Y (rearmament to Young Plan)
Rearmament is the building up of new stocks of weapons or the replacement of old weapons with new ones.

Reich Church
The Reich Church was a German Protestant group, largely under Nazi control; the group was also known as the German Christians.

The Reichstag was the main, elected German Parliament.

The Rentenmark was a new German currency, introduced in 1924.

Reparations were payments promised by Germany to some of the winning nations of the First World War for damage done by the fighting.

SA (Sturmabteilung)
Also known as Stormtroopers, the SA was Hitler’s brown-shirted private army that was used to beat up opponents and guard Nazi meetings.

Scapegoats are people, or groups, falsely blamed for the negative effects of other’s actions.

To be self-sufficient, a country has a ‘closed economy’, which meant the Nazis tried to stop trading with other countries and tried to rely entirely on their own resources instead.

Spartacists were members of the Spartacus League, which was a group of German communists who wanted a revolution in Germany similar to the one in Russia in 1917.

SS (Schutzstaffel)
Originally Hitler’s elite personal bodyguard, the SS became one of the main instruments of terror in Nazi Germany. Led by Heinrich Himmler, SS responsibilities gradually expanded to include the suppression of Hitler’s political opponents and the persecution of Jewish people.

A person who has been sterilised has been deprived of the ability to have children, typically by medical procedure.

The swastika is the crooked-cross symbol adopted by the Nazi Party as its emblem.

Weimar Constitution
The Weimar Constitution was the set of rules and laws that controlled how the Weimar Republic was governed.

Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic was the name given to Germany’s democratic system between 1919 and 1933; the Weimar Republic was sometimes called Weimar Germany.

Young Plan
The Young Plan was an agreement made in 1929 between Germany and the countries it owed money to for reparations after the First World War. The plan reduced the amount owed and extended the payment period.