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Glossary:
"W"


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Wadi
Arabic: Dry riverbed that is filled with water for a short time during the rainy season in the winter.
Waffen-SS
Militarized units of the SS.
Wagner-Rogers Legislation
Legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress in 1939 by Rep. Robert Wagner to admit a total of 20,000 Jewish children over a two-year period above the refugee quota applicable at the time.
Wallenberg, Raoul
(1912- c. 1945) Swedish diplomat who, in 1944, went to Hungary on a mission to save as many Jews as possible by handing out Swedish papers, passports and visas. He is credited with saving the lives of at least 30,000 people. After the liberation of Budapest, he was mysteriously taken into custody by the Russians and his fate remains unknown.
Wannsee Conference
Meeting held at a villa in Wannsee, Germany, on January 20, 1942, to coordinate the implementation of the “Final Solution.” Chaired by Reinhard Heydrich and attended by Adolf Eichmann and many other civilian and military leaders, the meeting established the administrative apparatus for accomplishing Hitler's dream of a Europe free of Jews.
Waqf
(Arabic) 1. a Muslim Charitable pious foundation. 2. State lands and other property passed to the Muslim community for public welfare.
War of Independence
War of 1947-49 when the Jews of Israel fought off invading Arab armies and established an independent state.
War Refugee Board
A U.S. government agency for rescue of and aid to WW II victims, established on Jan. 22, 1944, by President Franklin Roosevelt after receiving a report by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, providing details about the “Final Solution.” The Board, which was headed by Morgenthau, was to take whatever steps were necessary to rescue the civilian victims of the Holocaust.
Warsaw
City in central Poland, capital of Poland since 1596, with a Jewish population of 375,000 in 1939, representing 29 percent of the total city population. All Jewish institutions were destroyed by the Nazis and Allied bombing. Site of the infamous Warsaw Ghetto.
Warsaw Ghetto
Established in November 1940, the ghetto, surrounded by a wall, confined nearly 500,000 Jews. Almost 45,000 Jews died there in 1941 alone, due to overcrowding, forced labor, lack of sanitation, starvation, and disease. From April 19 to May 16, 1943, a revolt took place in the ghetto when the Germans, commanded by General Jürgen Stroop, attempted to raze the ghetto and deport the remaining inhabitants to Treblinka . The uprising, led by Mordecai Anielewicz, was the first instance in occupied Europe of an uprising by an urban population. (See Anielewicz, Mordecai).
Washington Declaration
Document signed July 25, 1994, by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Jordanian King Hussein, and U.S. President Bill Clinton on the occasion of the first public meeting between Israeli and Jordanian leaders. Paving the way to the formal peace treaty between the two countries signed on October 26, 1994, the document formally ended the 46-year-old state of war between Israel and Jordan and emphasized that both countries would negotiate “vigorously” to reach an agreement on a full peace treaty. The document also outlined economic and other forms of cooperation between the two countries.
Wehrmacht
German armed forces.
Weimar Republic
Germany's political structure following World War I. The Constitution called for an elected President, a Chancellor (Prime Minister) appointed by the President, a Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the Chancellor, and an elected house of representatives, i.e. Parliament, called the Reichstag. The governing powers rested with the Chancellor through the ministry, with the President retaining veto powers and performing ceremonial duties. The Reichstag provided more of an advisory role than an actual legislative one.
Weiss, Martin
(1903-?) SS-Hauptscharfuhrer assigned to the Vilna ghetto, the so-called "Boss of Ponary." For a time he was the SS liaison in charge of a Lithuanian executioner unit. This unit, consisting of 45 to 150 volunteers, was responsible for killing at least 48,000 Jews at Ponary.
West Bank
Territory west of the Jordan River that Israel captured from Jordan in its defensive 1967 war. Often referred to by its Biblical name, Judea and Samaria, this land is home to a Palestinian population of over one million, as well as about 140,000 Jewish residents. Under the terms of the Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles, Palestinian autonomy has been extended from the Gaza Strip and Jericho to other areas of the West Bank.
Western Wall/Kotel
The only remaining structure from the second temple left standing after the Roman destruction. Since the Jews are considered to be in a state of “ritual impurity” until certain special sacrifices can be brought (notably the ashes of the red heifer), some authorities hold religious Jews are forbidden to set foot on the actual site of the temple and this is the closest they can come to praying at the temple site. Others hold, however, that Jews may ascend the Temple Mount compound and are only forbidden to enter certain areas inside it.
White Paper 1939
A British government statement of Palestine policy, which restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine and prohibited the purchase of land by Jews there.
Wiesel, Elie
(1928- ) Survivor, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, sent to Auschwitz liberated from Buchenwald. Starting with his first novel “Night,” his writings have inspired the world to understand the plight of the victims of the Holocaust.
Wiesenthal, Simon
(1908-2005) Famed Holocaust survivor who has dedicated his life since the war to gathering evidence for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.
Wirtschafts-und Verwaltungshauptamt
The Economic and Administrative Office of the SS. Created in 1942 it controlled the vast economic interests of the SS. These were tied up with concentration camp and extermination programs through the administration of slave labor and the saleable outputs from the Jewish ghettoes and concentration and extermination camps.  The SS official in charge was Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl.
Wizo
Women's International Zionist Organization founded in 1920, involved in rescuing Jewish children and young people and giving them care and education in Eretz Israel.
Wolf's Lair
In the winter of 1940-41 Hitler established his new headquarters near Rastenburg. During the following years, the compound included extensive bunker systems and was well hidden from possible aerial attack. It was at the Wolf's Lair that Stauffenberg planted a bomb, in the hopes of staging a coup.
Woodhead Commission
In 1938, a commission led by Sir John Woodhead was appointed to explore the partition recommendation of the Peel Commission. The commission proposed a reduction of the Jewish share of Palestinian territory to about 400 square miles around Tel Aviv — the only area where the Jews constituted a majority. The Woodhead plan was rejected by the Zionists as inadequate; it also was rejected by the Arabs, who opposed granting sovereignty to Jews over any part of Palestine.
World Jewish Congress
A voluntary association of representative Jewish bodies, communities and organizations throughout the world, established in 1936.
World Zionist Organization
The official organization of the Zionist movement, the WZO was founded by Theodore Herzl and its first Congress was in August 1897 in Basel, Switzerland. It conducted the political, economic, and settlement activities that lead to the establishment of the state of Israel.
Written Law
The Torah and the principles and laws embodied in it.
Wye River Memorandum
Agreement signed on October 23, 1998 for the implementation of Oslo II agreement and to resume final status talks. The memorandum included giving the PA control over 13% of the West Bank, changing the PLO Charter, opening of the Gaza airport, reduction of the number of Palestinian Police and the release of Palestinian prisoners. The full extent of agreements were not carried out.

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