» Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest

Engaging and mentoring students in studying the Holocaust and in grappling with its meaning and lessons for today is a vital part of the mission of the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education.

In partnership with The 1939 Society, one of the largest and most active Holocaust survivor organizations in the United States, and with the support of the Samueli Foundation, Dana and Yossie Hollander and others, the Rodgers Center annually sponsors an art and writing contest for middle and high school students. 

Focusing on themes central both to the Holocaust and to ethical decision making in our world today, the contest gives students from public, private and parochial schools the opportunity to share their creative  works in response to survivors’ oral testimonies.

Representatives and educators from each school attend the awards ceremony where they meet Holocaust survivors.

+ - Top Entries (2015-2016 Contest)

First Place Middle School

ART| "The Unknowing Goodbye" by Sophia Scarsi
POETRY| "Your Story" by Grace Aitken
PROSE| "Ordinary People" by Daanesh Jamal

First Place High School

ART| "The Will to Live" by Hailey Shi
FILM| "Memory" by Kenzington Martin
POETRY| "Brother" by Gemma Davies
PROSE| "Separation" by Eunice Lee

+ - 18th Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest

I Have a Story to Tell

"I have decided to devote my life to the telling of the story." - Elie Wiesel

Your school is invited to participate in the 18th Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest. Participating schools may submit a total of three entries (art, film, prose or poetry) from three individual students in the following categories: art, film, prose, and/or poetry.

Students will be eligible to win a first prize award of $500 in each category. Educators and schools will also be eligible to win the first prize of $250 each. First place student winners in the United States, their parents/guardians, and teachers will be invited to participate in an expense-paid study trip June 25-29, 2017, to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and other sites in Washington, D.C. Funding permitting, this invitation will also be extended to first place students living outside of the United States.

Students awarded the second prize in each category will receive $300 and their sponsoring educator and school will receive $150 each.

+ - Prompt

Select and view one full-length survivor or rescuer testimony from any of the following:

  • The 1939 Society website at the1939society.org
  • Chapman University’s Holocaust Art and Writing Contest website featuring video testimonies from the collection of the USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education at chapman.edu/contest-testimonies
  • USC Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/uscshoahfoundation (“Full-Length Testimonies” playlists only)

As you listen to the testimony, choose a specific story that conveys something important to you about the Holocaust, something you wanted to share with others as soon as you heard it.

Through your creativity in art, prose, poetry or film, tell this story in a way that demonstrates why it is important to you and why this is a story that should be remembered and shared.

+ - Inspiration

Hiding in a secret annex, Anne Frank often felt isolated even though she was with her parents, sister, and several other people. She missed going to school and being with her friends. She felt there was no one with whom she could confide her innermost thoughts. Anne decided to think of her diary as a friend. She even gave her diary a name, “Kitty,” and she began her entries as if they were letters, “Dear Kitty.” In August 1944, the secret annex was discovered. The Frank family was arrested and sent to the Westerbork transit camp before being deported to Auschwitz. Miep Gies, one of the brave people who had helped the Frank family, hid Anne’s diary in her desk. Miep hoped that Anne would one day return and be reunited with her friend “Kitty.” But Anne died in Bergen Belsen in March 1945 shortly before the camp was liberated.

After the war, Miep gave “Kitty” to Otto Frank, Anne’s father, the only member of the family to survive. Otto knew how much Anne wanted to be a writer so he decided to publish her diary, her stories of her life in hiding and her dreams for the future. This year, 2017, marks the 70th anniversary of the diary’s publication.

During the Holocaust, few of those targeted for persecution had a chance to write their stories. Instead, people tried their best to hold their stories in their memory in the hope they could one day share them. Many years later, they did just that in oral testimonies. Some survivors felt a special responsibility to tell the stories of their family members and friends who had not survived. Other survivors wanted to tell the stories of the courageous men and women who had defied the Nazis to become rescuers. One of those survivors was Leopold Page who struggled for years to find someone to tell the story of his rescuer, Oskar Schindler.

Through his film Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg would eventually make Schindler’s story known around the world. Whether written or oral, each story has its own unique power and message. Each story offers a unique perspective on the events of the Holocaust.

+ - Art Criteria

  • Entries must be submitted with a cover sheet (printable or fillable form). Please do not staple, tape or otherwise attach the cover sheet to the artwork.

  • Entries must reflect genuine engagement with the survivor’s  or rescuer's testimony in its historical context and constitute a thoughtful and creative response.

  • Entries must be based on a survivor’s or rescuer’s testimony available from one of the following sources:

  • Entries must be submitted with the artist’s statement that includes:May be only two-dimensional image on medium no thicker than ¾” and submission must not exceed 12” x 18.”

    • Title of the work
    • Name of survivor to whose testimony this work is a response
    • Statement of how the work addresses the prompt
    • Statement must not include student or school name and must not exceed 100 words.
    • Acknowledgement of sources – to protect copyright holders, proper citation of all sources is required. Permission for sources that are not public domain must be obtained in writing from copyright holder and submitted with entry.
  • Artwork must not be matted or framed.

  • Fixative spray must be applied to charcoal, pencil, pastel, and chalk art.

  • May include photography, computer-generated images, or may be in charcoal, pencil, pastel, chalk, watercolors, acrylics, or oils. Please note that all images, whether computer, artist, or photo-generated are considered property of the original artist.

  • Renderings of another’s work will be disqualified.

  • Entries that do not follow the criteria will be disqualified.

+ - Film Criteria

  • Entries must be submitted with a cover sheet (printable or fillable form).

  • Entries must reflect genuine engagement with the survivor’s  or rescuer's testimony in its historical context and constitute a thoughtful and creative response.

  • Entries must be based on a survivor’s or rescuer’s testimony available from one of the following sources:

  • Entries must be submitted with the filmmaker’s statement including:Content viewing time may be no longer than three (3) minutes.

      • Title of the work
      • Name of survivor to whose testimony this work is a response
      • Statement of how the work addresses the prompt
      • Statement must not include student or school name and must not exceed 100 words.
      • Acknowledgement of sources – to protect copyright holders, proper citation of all sources is required. Permission for sources that are not public domain must be obtained in writing from copyright holder and submitted with entry.
  • Final file size must not exceed 600 MB.

  • Submit film without credits for blind judging. A completed film with credits should be prepared in the event the film is selected for screening.

  • Final films may be submitted using WeTransfer.com, a free file transfer website.

  • To ensure compatibility with MAC and PC, please use either QuickTime or MPEG format.

  • Entries that do not follow the criteria will be disqualified.

 We are grateful to the Orange County Klezmers for making available to registered participants musical selections from their album Echoes of Vilna. To preview or to request tracks for use in a film entry, please email Jessica MyLymuk, cioffi@chapman.edu.

 Students wishing to use music, photos, video, or other artwork in their films should be aware that these may be protected by U.S. copyright law and therefore require permission from the artists to use them.  Purchasing or downloading materials from a website is generally intended for personal and home use only and does not grant the purchaser the right to reproduce, perform, or display copyrighted works publicly.  For any copyrighted works appearing in the film, permission must be obtained from the copyright holders and submitted with the entry.

          

+ - Poetry Criteria

  • Entries must be submitted with a cover sheet (printable or fillable form). Please do not staple, tape or otherwise attach the cover sheet to the entry.

  • Entries must reflect genuine engagement with the survivor’s  or rescuer's testimony in its historical context and constitute a thoughtful and creative response.

  • Entries must be based on a survivor’s or rescuer’s testimony available from one of the following sources:Entries that do not follow the criteria will be disqualified.

  • Entries must be titled.

  • Entries must be word-processed.

  • Entries must not include graphics, drawings or other images. It must be clear that the entry is a poem and not an artwork.

  • Entries must not include reference to student or school name.

  • Students should include the name of the survivor or rescuer about whom the entry is written.

  • Entries may not exceed one page: Times New Roman 12, 1” margins, single spaced

  • Entries that do not follow the criteria will be disqualified.

+ - Prose Criteria

  • Entries must be submitted with a cover sheet (printable or fillable form). Please do not staple, tape or otherwise attach the cover sheet to the entry.

  • Entries must reflect genuine engagement with the survivor’s  or rescuer's testimony in its historical context and constitute a thoughtful and creative response.

  • Entries must be based on a survivor’s or rescuer’s testimony available from one of the following sources:Entries that do not follow the criteria will be disqualified.

  • Entries must be titled.

  • Entries must be word-processed.

  • Entries must not include reference to student or school name.

  • Students should include the name of the survivor or rescuer about whom the entry is written.

  • Entries may not exceed one page: Times New Roman 12, 1” margins, single spaced

  • Entries that do not follow the criteria will be disqualified.

Cover Sheet

Printable cover sheet (Word)

Fillable cover sheet (Word)

Form cover sheet (PDF)

Reminder: Each entry must have a cover sheet

Important Dates

Entry Postmark Date:
February 3, 2017

Digital Submission due date:
February 6, 2017

Awards Ceremony
March 10, 2017

Music for Films!

We are grateful to the Orange County Klezmers for making available at no cost to registered participants musical selections from their album Echoes of Vilna. These tracks may only be used for projects created for the Holocaust Art and Writing Contest. 

Request link to preview or download songs.

Resource Guide

Download the 2016-2017 resource guide for access to judging rubrics, common core connections and frequently asked questions about the contest.

Survivor and Rescuer Testmionies

Testimonies eligible for the contest:

The 1939 Society website at the1939society.org

Chapman University’s Holocaust Art and Writing Contest website featuring video testimonies from the collection of the USC Shoah Foundation at www.chapman.edu/contest-testimonies

USC Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/uscshoahfoundation (“Full-Length Testimonies” playlists)

Highlights from 2016

2016 Study Trip to Los Angeles