• Holocaust survivors writing inscription on title page of The Holocaust Chronicle
  • Holocaust survivor looks at artwork student created based on her video testimony
    Eva Brettler with student artist Taylor Ota
  • Natan and Fela Gipsman pose with middle school filmmaker Kimberley Sanchez
    Natan and Fela Gipsman with student filmmaker Kimberely Sanchez
  • Engelina Billauer signs Nicholas Franklyn's book
    Engelina Billauer with student filmmaker Nicholas Franklyn
Holocaust Art and Writing Contest

» Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest


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+ - Top-Placing Entries (2018-2019)

Top-Placing Entries in Middle School Division

FIRST PLACE

SECOND PLACE

ART
The Shoes That Held Her Captive
by Cate McMackin

ART
Tears of the Star
by Irene Lee

FILM
Regardless of Our Differences
by Carly Nguyen

FILM
Imagine
by Kaneiya Desai

POETRY
If/When
by Sophia Harvey

POETRY
From the Ashes
by Joana Thomas

PROSE
My Purpose
by Grace Min

PROSE
The Smallest Actions
by Nicholas Vo


Top-Placing Entries in High School Division

FIRST PLACE

SECOND PLACE

ART
The Creation of Connection
by Amanda Harris

ART
Washed Away 
by Kyla Korkowski

FILM
Defiance
by Chase Martin

FILM
Just a 13 Year Old Boy
by Jonathan Rosario

POETRY
My Enemy, My Friend
by Abigail Stephens

POETRY
The Voice
by Ethan Shill

PROSE
Timekeeper
by Madeline Gillette
PROSE
A Reason for Survival
by Stephanie Markowitz

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+ - 21st Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest

Memory Matters: Whose Story Will You Tell?

Memory Matters posterParticipating schools may submit a total of three entries from three individual students in the following categories: art, film, poetry, and/or prose.

Students will be eligible to win a first prize award of $400 in each category. Educators and schools will also be eligible to win a first prize of $200 each. First-place student winners in the United States, their parent/guardian, and teacher will be invited to participate in an expense-paid study trip June 21–25, 2020, to visit the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, the Museum of Tolerance, the Japanese American National Museum, and other sites in Los Angeles, well as to meet with members of The 1939 Society, a community of Holocaust survivors, descendants, and friends. Funding permitting, this invitation will also be extended to first-place students living outside of the United States. In addition, first-place student entries will be posted on Chapman University’s contest website.

Students awarded second prize in each category will receive $200 and their sponsoring educator and school will receive $100 each. Second-place student entries will also be posted on Chapman University’s contest website.

+ - 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 survivor's or rescuer's testimony, and as you reflect on the stories the person shares, think about and write down a specific word, phrase, or sentence that resonates with you as crucial to that individual's memory of the Holocaust. 

As a person now entrusted with this individual's memory, through your creativity in art, poetry, prose, or film, explore the meaning and significance of this word, phrase, or sentence in the survivor's or rescuer's story and in your understanding of the Holocaust 

**Lists of testimonies that are one to two hours in length are listed on the last page of the Educator's Guide.

+ - Inspiration

Sometimes, when we are reading a book or listening to someone speak, a word, phrase, or sentence grabs our attention almost as if we had never read or heard it before. Perhaps we sense there is special emotion or meaning connected to it or it offers us a new insight, one we had not considered previously. It makes us stop and think.

Throughout the Holocaust years, those targeted by the Nazis and their collaborators worried that no one would survive to speak of what they had experienced. They promised each other that if they lived, they would tell the story, no matter how difficult it would be and no matter how much others refused to listen. They would never allow the dead to be forgotten or the evil that had happened to be denied or trivialized.

When survivors and rescuers recounted their memories, they struggled with the inadequacy of ordinary words to convey their experiences. How could words that are part of our daily vocabulary—bread, shower, train—bridge the distance between their experiences and ours? Would we make the effort to learn what those words meant to them and how they could help us connect to their stories? Would we come to understand enough that we could carry their memories forward? Would we care enough to even try?

Today some of the survivors’ worst fears seem to be coming true. People know less and less about what occurred in the Holocaust and sometimes are not even interested. Meanwhile, antisemitism and bigotry are on the rise. Even the swastika, the symbol of hatred that brought about so much death and suffering, is sometimes treated as a joke.

Many survivors and rescuers kept their promise to remember and to share their stories with the world through oral and written testimony. By listening and actively engaging with their memories, we cannot change the past—but as their messengers, we can shape the future. We can prove that their memories matter to us today. 

+ - Art Criteria

  • Entries must be submitted with a cover sheet (download the form here).

    • 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: 

    • Title of the work
    • Name of survivor or rescuer 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.
    • Acknowledgment 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.
  • May be only two-dimensional image on medium no thicker than ¾” and submission must not exceed 12” x 18.”

  • 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 (download the form here).

  • 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 or rescuer 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.
      • Acknowledgment 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 - NEW CRITERIA THIS YEAR

  • Entries must be submitted with a cover sheet (download the form here). 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 be no more than 30 lines.

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

+ - Prose Criteria - NEW CRITERIA THIS YEAR

  • Entries must be submitted with a cover sheet (download the form here). 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 be no more than 500 words.

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

Cover Sheet

Download the cover sheet

Reminder: 
Each entry must have a cover sheet

Important Dates

Entry Postmark Date:
February 3, 2020

Digital Submission due date:
February 5, 2020

Awards Ceremony
March 13, 2020

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

Educator's Guide

NOW AVAILABLE!

Download the 2019-20 Educator's Guide with judging rubrics, common core connections and frequently asked questions about the contest.