I have listened to 100+ hours of testimonies by Holocaust survivors. Those who were in concentration, labor, or death camps invariably described the brutal roll calls known in German as Appels.

However, a handful of survivors used a two-word phrase that sounded to me like "'sale Appel," which makes no sense. The witnesses did not define the phrase, and the interviewers did not ask for clarification.

What is the phrase in question?

  • 3
    It would probably be useful if you provided the context, i.e. at minimum the whole sentence.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 21:46
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    Agreeing with @Semaphore. It might be Yiddish. 2 or three sentences with it in context (or better yet, a link to the audio if its available online) would be hugely helpful.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 21:56
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    The phrase might be "Saal Appell" (Saal is a huge room, Appell means plea and roll call). I'm just guessing on your phonetic transcription and trying to find a German word matching that - context or even better audio would confirm this.
    – user45891
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 22:43
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    Are the testimonies German? Before reading your question I translated it as those roll call. This sale would be a south west German dialect. selli in Alemannic German, jene in German, those in English. I looked for some Yiddish dictionary to find a similar entry, but was not successful until now.
    – knut
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 22:51
  • @knut - Yiddish is High (aka Southern) German itself, so the two are related.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 1:54

1 Answer 1


It seems like the term is Zählappell “roll call”, from the verb zählen 'to count'. It may not be necessary to look for the pronunciation in a dialect or Yiddish, if this was the official term used in the camp. The following excerpt from the Dachau camp regulations (Strafordnung) suggests it was:

§3 Mit fünf Tagen strengem Arrest und mehrwöchentlicher Strafarbeit wird bestraft:

  1. Wer einem Zählappell oder einem Appell zur Arbeitseinteilung ohne Grund oder Genehmigung seines Stationsführers fernbleibt.

Rough translation: Punishment with five days arrest and multi-week punitive labor for: 1. those who miss a roll call or work muster without reason or permission from the station leader.

Source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/KZ-Lagerordnung

  • I've been looking for this word! I have been transcribing a living testimony video of my grandmother who was in Birkenau as a teenager, and she uses this word a few times. I've not found another reference, but this definitely fits. Thanks Commented Dec 30, 2021 at 21:53

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