Surviving Hitler: Introduction–Chapter 7

This nonfiction narrative tells the story Jack Mandelbaum, who was imprisoned in Nazi-led concentration camps during World War II.

Here are links to our lists for the book: Introduction–Chapter 7, Chapter 8–The Human Cost of WWII
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. emaciated
    very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
    Photos showing emaciated survivors and the grotesque bodies of the dead suggested such horror that I wanted to stay as far away from the subject as I could.
  2. ensnare
    take or catch as if in a trap
    Then all of them were ensnared in Hitler’s frenzied mania to destroy the Jewish race and other “enemies” of the Nazi state.
  3. verbatim
    using exactly the same words
    While he has a remarkable memory, he of course could not remember verbatim conversations that took place over sixty years ago.
  4. inhumane
    reflecting a lack of pity or compassion
    In spite of how hard it may be for us to hear the survivors’ stories, it is even harder for them to tell us. It forces them to relive the nightmare of their brutal and inhumane experiences.
  5. eradicate
    destroy completely, as if down to the roots
    If we will open ourselves to their stories, with the Holocaust survivors as our guides, we can learn to recognize and work to eradicate the roots of racism, discrimination, oppression, and tyranny.
  6. excursion
    a journey taken for pleasure
    In the port city of Danzig, now Gdansk, just a few miles from Gdynia, Jack often saw excursion boats ferrying passengers on leisurely outings along the city’s canals.
  7. studious
    characterized by diligent learning and fondness for reading
    Their sister, Jadzia (Ya-jah), was serious and studious.
  8. paternal
    belonging to or inherited from one's father
    Jack did not know his paternal grandfather, who lived in a small town in another part of Poland, but a few relatives lived close by and would gather along with friends at the Mandelbaums’ for special occasions.
  9. eavesdrop
    listen without the speaker's knowledge
    When the Mandelbaums entertained, Jack often eavesdropped.
  10. agitated
    troubled emotionally and usually deeply
    One Jewish friend of his father’s, Mr. Poncz, a rotund man who was normally cheerful and full of jokes, always got agitated when talking politics.
  11. persecute
    cause to suffer
    I remember my father replying that while Hitler persecuted other groups, including Communists, Gypsies, and anyone who politically opposed him, he, like many Germans and other Europeans, hated the Jews.
  12. scapegoat
    someone who is punished for the errors of others
    Hitler made the Jews the scapegoat for Germany’s loss of World War I and for its economic problems.
  13. foreboding
    a feeling of evil to come
    “Papa had a strong foreboding about the war,” Jack said.
  14. campaign
    related operations aimed at achieving a particular goal
    When rumors began spreading that the Germans were about to start a bombing campaign against Poland, Jack’s father feared Gdynia would be a target.
  15. occupation
    the period of time during which a place is controlled
    They had thought that if they cooperated, the Nazis would not hurt anyone during the occupation, the war would soon be over, and life would be as it was before.
  16. wary
    marked by keen caution and watchful prudence
    Instead, everyone had to be wary of the soldiers occupying their town.
  17. humiliate
    cause to feel shame
    Forcing Jews to perform menial tasks, such as scrubbing sidewalks, was one way the Nazis humiliated them in public.
  18. assume
    take to be the case or to be true
    Grandfather and his Jewish friends had assumed that if the Nazis made any move against them, their non-Jewish neighbors would defend them.
  19. shun
    avoid and stay away from deliberately
    “Instead, almost all of them shunned us and wanted nothing to do with us,” Jack said.
  20. distraught
    deeply agitated especially from emotion
    Distraught, Mama decided in December that they should go stay with her older brother in a nearby village.
  21. yearn
    have a desire for something or someone who is not present
    With her husband and daughter gone, she yearned for the comfort of her own family.
  22. robust
    sturdy and strong in form, constitution, or construction
    He had been a large, robust man with a big handlebar mustache. We could tell he had been starved and tortured.
  23. edict
    a formal or authoritative proclamation
    Each week in the town square, the Nazis posted a new edict against Polish Jews, each more extreme than the last.
  24. hoard
    save up as for future use
    His mother hoarded the little he earned, and after several months, she was able to rent a room for the three of them.
  25. cistern
    an artificial reservoir for storing liquids
    It was always hard labor—digging cisterns, building roads, hauling bricks, crushing rocks.
  26. charismatic
    possessing an extraordinary ability to attract
    Hitler was a charismatic leader who often enthralled audiences at huge rallies.
  27. populace
    people in general considered as a whole
    When the Nazis rounded up the Jews from ghettos for deportation to the camps and gas chambers, they usually did so without warning, terrorizing the populace into cooperating.
  28. menacing
    threatening evil or danger
    The soldiers pointed their guns menacingly, daring anyone else to try to escape.
  29. frantic
    excessively agitated; distraught with violent emotion
    The air was filled with the din of wailing babies and frantic adults, cut by the angry shouts of soldiers.
  30. bedraggled
    limp, untidy, and soiled
    In the shadows, Jack saw bedraggled men in blue-and-gray-striped uniforms, hurrying from one building to the next.
  31. putrid
    in an advanced state of decomposition and having a foul odor
    Then the smell struck him—something putrid, something so rotten that you would not even throw it into the pigpens back in his uncle’s village.
  32. deference
    a courteous expression of esteem or regard
    The kapos walked along, striking out savagely. Jack could see that you treated them with the same deference you gave the guards.
  33. reek
    smell badly and offensively
    It reeked of rotten turnips, and he could see flecks of dirt in it. At home, he would have thrown it away. But not here.
  34. incinerate
    become reduced to ashes
    As they stood in line at the latrine, Aaron pointed to a tall smokestack on the other side of the camp and told Jack it was the crematorium, where corpses were incinerated, leaving only ashes.
  35. scant
    less than the correct or legal or full amount
    Between the long march in the impossible shoes and the scant and awful breakfast, how could they now work all day?
  36. brutish
    resembling a beast; showing lack of human sensibility
    Somehow, Hitler and the Nazi SS who ran the concentration camps had convinced the German guards that Jewish prisoners were subhumans and that all prisoners, Jewish or not, deserved this brutish treatment.
  37. sadistic
    deriving pleasure from inflicting pain on another
    Some kapos were insane, some were sadistic, and some were not so bad.
  38. denote
    make known; make an announcement
    Each non-Jewish prisoner had a colored triangle by his number to denote his “crime.”
  39. raspy
    unpleasantly harsh or grating in sound
    Moshe had sad eyes and a raspy voice. He had been transported to his first camp in a boxcar in which many people had died of suffocation.
  40. inoculation
    taking a vaccine as a precaution against a disease
    It took Jack a long time to feel he was over the illness. Other prisoners said he was lucky and would never get it again—that a mild case was like an inoculation.
Created on October 2, 2015 (updated May 3, 2022)

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