Yom HaShoah Creative Arts Contest Theme and Prompts

The Holocaust Center sponsors an annual art and writing contest that encourages students to explore issues that arise through the study and remembrance of the Holocaust. Each year a different theme is selected to provide focus and direction for student entries. This year’s theme is entitled Freedom Summers – 1944 and 1964

On 6 June 1944, known as D-Day, the Allied military forces at war against Germany opened a new front in the fight to liberate Europe. The importance of this effort was captured in the words of General Eisenhower to the troops that morning.

The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

D-Day was neither the beginning nor the end of the fight against Nazi Germany. It opened a new phase of the war, however, which brought many new soldiers into the fight and it represented a major turning point in the struggle. The first few weeks of intense fighting began the promise of a new summer of freedom for millions of Europeans, but the war would continue beyond that short season. It would be eleven more months until victory in Europe was achieved and another three until the war was finally won.

In the summer of 1964, thousands of civil rights activists came together in the American South to launch another struggle for freedom. This one aimed to achieve equal rights for African-Americans, who had been denied justice due to racial discrimination and segregation. “Freedom Summer” in Mississippi and other southern states was neither the beginning nor the end of the Civil Rights Movement. It opened a new phase in the effort, however, which brought in many new people and it represented a major turning point in the struggle. The thirteen months following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were a period of intense activity and violence, but they culminated with a major victory in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Think carefully about the two struggles for freedom that are described above and respond to the following prompt:

Writing Prompt:

How was the fight for freedom against Nazi Germany similar, and how was it different, from the Civil Rights struggle in America just a few years later?

This prompt asks you to compare and contrast two different events from the history of the 20th Century. There are several ways to do this. One way might be to view events through the main goals of the participants. You could write about what they hoped to accomplish. On the other hand, you might choose to focus on the daily experiences of those engaged in the struggle. As you write, make sure to include the perspective of those who were fighting for their own liberation as well.

Written entries may be in the form of an essay, a short story, fictional diary accounts, or poetry. Digital media entries are welcome as well.

Art Prompt:

Create a work of art that honors the spirit of those who fought for freedom in World War II and during the Civil Rights struggle in America. Include at least one visual element that shows how these two struggles were similar and one that shows how they were different.

Please note: Out of respect for the dignity of Holocaust victims, we ask student artists not to create works that graphically depict Nazi brutality

All entries must have a Cover Sheet

Please carefully read the Contest rules before you begin.


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