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 Children in the Time of the Holocaust.

A popular American song, Greatest Love of All, contains the lyrics, “I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.” Most people probably agree with this idea. That may be why most societies put so much thought and effort into caring for children and providing them with an education that will prepare them for life. It must also be true, then, that we can learn much about peoples hopes and dreams for the future by looking at how they treat their own children as well as the children of others in the present.

The Holocaust Center’s theme for the 2016 Yom HaShoah Creative Arts Contest, Children in the Time of the Holocaust, asks students to consider children’s lives during the time of the Holocaust and what they can teach us about the world in which they lived. A student who wishes to enter the contest may choose to write an essay, a short story, or a poem. Students may also create digital media projects or works of art. Writing, digital media, and art prompts have been included below, but each is broad enough to give students a wide variety of choices in deciding how to address the theme.
Please note: The use of the term “children” in the Yom HaShoah Creative Arts Contest refers to all young people who are not yet adults. This includes teenagers as well as younger children.

Writing and Digital Media Prompts: (Suggested resources for research will follow after the prompts.)

Consider the following quote: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” ~ Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner

Choose one of the following questions:

  • How did Nazi Germany treat its own children and the children of others during the time of the Holocaust? Focus on what you learned about the Nazis’ attitudes, beliefs, and goals. Support your statements with examples from the experiences of children who lived under Nazi rule. For this question, make sure to include both the children of Nazi Germany and those of others under Nazi rule.
  • How did Jewish parents and community leaders try to protect and provide for children during the time of the Holocaust? Focus on what you learned about the attitudes and beliefs of parents and community leaders through their efforts, whether they were successful or not. Support your statements with specific examples. You may choose to focus on one place during the Holocaust for your research or you may survey multiple locations.
  • What did nations and groups outside of Nazi Germany do to try to help children in need during the time of the Holocaust? Focus both on suggestions that were made to provide help and on actual policies that were put into action. Include ideas that came from private individuals and groups as well as from government leaders. Make sure to also describe obstacles that made helping harder.
  • What did individual children write about their own experiences and their hopes for the future during the time of the Holocaust? Focus on the children’s’ own attitudes and beliefs about themselves and their potential futures. Support your statements with examples taken from their own words. For this question, you may choose to focus on one child or you may compare the writings of several children. You may use diaries that were written at the time, memoirs from child survivors that were written later, or a combination of both.

Write an essay, short story, or poem to express the main ideas that you learned from studying one of the questions above. You may also create a digital media presentation to respond to one of the questions above. Please check the rules section for a list of digital presentation software programs you may use.

Students may choose one of the following types of essay:

  • Argumentative – Use this style if you want to state your opinions about what you learned and intend to make a claim that you will back up with evidence to persuade the reader of your essay to agree with your conclusions.
  • Informational/Explanatory – Use this style if you want to examine the ideas that you learned about and intend to convey information about them to the reader of your essay.
  • Narrative – Use this style if you want to write directly about the experiences of a person or people you learned about in your research. A biographical description of a person’s life would fit in this category.

You may also write a short story in which you create a character (historical fiction) whose ideas and experiences you intend to describe. You may create a diary, letters, an imagined autobiography, or any other type of literature that conveys ideas and experiences that are in keeping with the types of children’s experiences that actually happened in the years of the Holocaust.

You may also choose to write a poem that expresses your ideas and feelings about what you have learned.

Art Prompt:

Carefully read the following quotes about children that were written or spoken at the time of the Holocaust. Each quote expresses a different idea about children and what their education and experiences mean for the future.
“Children are not the people of tomorrow, but are people of today. They have a right to be taken seriously, and to be treated with tenderness and respect. They should be allowed to grow into whoever they were meant to be – the unknown person inside each of them is our hope for the future.”
~Janusz Korczak, Author, Pediatrician, Head of the Jewish Orphan’s Home in the Warsaw Ghetto

“Parents can only give good advice or put them [children] on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
~ Anne Frank, Teen diary writer during the Holocaust

“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the Future!”
~ Adolf Hitler, Leader of Nazi Germany, 1933-1945

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”
~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, 1933-1945

Choose one of the following options:

  • Pick one of the quotes above and create a poster, photograph, or sculpture to illustrate the main idea of the speaker.
  • Combine your responses to all of the quotes above and create a poster, photograph, or sculpture that illustrates the importance and value of children’s lives during the time of the Holocaust and for the future.

Please note that this prompt is not asking you to show children being harmed. Make sure that your art is respectful to the memory of the children who lived at this time.

All entries must have a Cover Sheet

Please carefully read the Contest rules before you begin.


The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida · 851 N Maitland Ave · Maitland, FL 32751 · Phone: 407-628-0555 ·