Surviving Hitler: Chapter 8–The Human Cost of WWII

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
40 words 696 learners

Learn words with Flashcards and other activities

Full list of words from this list:

  1. captivity
    the state of being imprisoned
    By watching the seasons, he knew he had been in captivity almost a year.
  2. ironic
    displaying incongruity between what is expected and what is
    Some of the concentration camps, including Gross-Rosen, had the ironic words “Work Makes One Free” above their entrances.
  3. infraction
    a violation of a law or rule
    The worst part of the day was roll call. Not only did it mean standing at attention for hours on end, but it was also when prisoners were punished for some slight infraction, or simply terrorized at random.
  4. retribution
    the act of taking revenge
    What also kept many from trying to escape was knowing that even if they succeeded, many fellow prisoners would be killed in retribution.
  5. delirious
    experiencing hallucinations
    Jack fell asleep and slept for a long time, then awoke, delirious.
  6. stupor
    marginal consciousness
    Jack drifted in and out of a stupor, first awake, then asleep.
  7. spasmodic
    affected by involuntary jerky muscular contractions
    As Jack watched, he realized that within minutes of receiving a shot, the man would jerk spasmodically—and then die.
  8. deliberation
    a rate demonstrating an absence of haste or hurry
    With great deliberation, he put his feet on the floor and stood up.
  9. coveted
    greatly desired
    That day and for several thereafter, the kapo got Jack assigned to a coveted indoor job in the camp machine shop so he would not have to march outside or do heavy labor.
  10. atrocity
    an act of shocking cruelty
    He wondered how God could allow these atrocities to happen.
  11. covert
    secret or hidden
    Using his eyes and covertly pointing with his fingers, he let Jack know he would distract the guard while Jack grabbed something and slipped it into the bucket, where it would be hidden by the scrub rag in the murky water.
  12. retrieve
    go for and bring back
    That night before lights-out, they sneaked back and retrieved the butter and jam.
  13. rampant
    having a lush and unchecked growth
    Rumors were rampant in the camps that American troops were gaining ground in Europe.
  14. anticipation
    expecting with confidence of fulfillment
    “When I am a free man,” he would say, his eyes twinkling with anticipation, “I will have a big round of the best bread and I will cut it up piece by piece and eat it just as slow or fast as I want.”
  15. succulent
    tasty and full of juice
    This is followed by succulent roast duck, all you can eat.
  16. reverie
    absentminded dreaming while awake
    When his reveries ended, he was still in a filthy, threadbare, lice-infested uniform in a miserable camp crowded with starving and dying prisoners.
  17. dejected
    affected or marked by low spirits
    The few civilians they saw in the distance seemed dejected and hungry and paid no attention to the prisoners.
  18. ebb
    fall away or decline
    Jack could feel his strength ebbing away.
  19. scavenge
    feed on carrion or refuse
    Whenever we could, we scavenged in the fields, looking for a beet or potato—anything edible.
  20. toll
    value measured by what must be done to obtain something
    Although roll call was held each morning, the daily death toll from typhus and starvation was quickly reducing the prisoner population.
  21. perilous
    fraught with danger
    Limping and still stiff, and as perilously thin as Jack, Moniek quickly related how he had spent all this time lying in a far-off barracks, recovering from his injuries.
  22. savor
    taste appreciatively
    They built a fire in the stove and made tea and feasted on vegetables, fried potatoes, and canned meats, eating so much, they feared they would get sick. To top it off, they found some brightly wrapped candies in a closet and savored the delicate sweet taste.
  23. objective
    the goal intended to be attained
    “Moniek and I had two main objectives,” said Jack. “To regain our health—which meant we had to go where there was food—and to find our families.”
  24. ravage
    cause extensive destruction or ruin utterly
    As they talked to people, they began to understand the hardships suffered by so many during the almost six years that the war had ravaged Europe.
  25. harrowing
    causing extreme distress
    Former prisoners told of being on harrowing death marches where almost everyone died along the way from exhaustion and exposure, and stragglers were shot.
  26. halting
    proceeding in a fragmentary, hesitant, or ineffective way
    The story came out haltingly, the townspeople shamed by what had happened.
  27. ravine
    a deep narrow steep-sided valley
    About two thousand elderly Jews, including Grandfather and his wife, had been marched to a ravine outside town and shot.
  28. allot
    give out
    “But the one allotted bullet per person was not always enough to kill instantly,” Jack said. “I was told the earth over the grave moved for two days.”
  29. accomplice
    a person who joins with another in carrying out some plan
    Hitler and his millions of willing accomplices had succeeded in destroying a family once vibrant, prosperous, and loving.
  30. thriving
    very lively and profitable
    Ten years after arriving in America, Jack took out a loan, bought the company he was working for, and turned it into a thriving import company.
  31. deprivation
    act of withholding food or money or rights
    Most survivors suffer physical problems associated with long periods of deprivation.
  32. syndrome
    a pattern of symptoms indicative of some disease
    “Almost all of us suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome,” Jack said.
  33. tolerance
    willingness to respect the beliefs or practices of others
    I have tried to live with tolerance and forgiveness as the themes of my life.
  34. intern
    deprive of freedom
    The camps established to intern prisoners were usually built with the cheapest materials possible.
  35. elite
    a group or class of persons enjoying superior status
    The elite SS troops of Hitler’s army ran the concentration camps as a profitable business.
  36. notorious
    known widely and usually unfavorably
    Some of the more notorious killing camps were Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Chelmno, Majdanek, and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
  37. counterpart
    a person or thing having the same function as another
    They were supervised by female guards and kapos, who could be every bit as brutal as their male counterparts.
  38. liability
    something that holds you back
    The Nazis viewed children as a liability and showed them no mercy.
  39. succumb
    be fatally overwhelmed
    Because conditions in the camps were so bad, most children eventually succumbed to starvation or disease.
  40. trauma
    an emotional wound or shock having long-lasting effects
    Regardless of the circumstances, most of these children suffered long-term effects of stress, loss, fear, and trauma.
Created on October 2, 2015 (updated May 3, 2022)

Sign up now (it’s free!)

Whether you’re a teacher or a learner, can put you or your class on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.