“During the Holocaust, rescuers […] were distinguished not just by their character, but by their vision of a different kind of society and their commitment to that vision.”
Victoria Barnett, Author
Bystanders: Conscience and Complicity During the Holocaust
When we study the Holocaust, we greatly admire rescuers for their courage and compassion. They displayed great bravery when they risked their safety and their lives to save others. Their moral values led them to stand up to protect the human rights and dignity of the persecuted. They found within themselves the courage to care.
This years’ contest focuses on the role played by the community in helping or hindering the work of rescue.
During the Holocaust, most rescuers had to act in secret. Their ability to help was limited by the extent to which they could keep their activities hidden from neighbors and acquaintances who might betray them. In such circumstances, it is amazing that they were able to save even a few of the Nazis’ victims. These rescuers did what they could, but they dreamed of a way that they could achieve much more success. They knew that if the people around them shared their values that they could work together to save thousands more. In a few places during the Holocaust, this is what actually happened. In places like Le Chambon, a city in France, a network of rescuers worked together to shelter and save approximately 3500 Jews. In Denmark, almost the entire Jewish population was rescued by the dedicated efforts of the non-Jewish citizens.
One of the most moving examples came from Albania, where even Jews fleeing from other German-occupied countries found refuge. Albania was the only German occupied country in Europe that had a higher Jewish population at the end of World War II than it did at the beginning.
The most important question we should ask is how these communities of rescue came into existence. How did humane values of caring and respect shape these places, while most others were ruled by apathy and fear? Study the stories of groups that engaged in Holocaust rescue, and then respond to one of the prompts below.
1. Expository: Tell the story of a group (ranging anywhere in size from two people to an entire nation) that engaged in rescue during the Holocaust. Emphasize how this caring group came together in the first place and what we can learn from its example today.
2. Persuasive: From the perspective of a Holocaust rescuer, write to persuade others to join you in your efforts. An example of this type could be a short story involving a fictional rescuer created by the student writer to respond to the prompt. In this case, the characters and the story would be historical fiction, but the purpose of the entry would be to explore the real issues that faced rescuers during the Holocaust.
3. Persuasive: From your own perspective, write to convince others to join you in working to defend those who are persecuted today. Use what you have learned from studying the Holocaust to make your case.
Create a work of art on the theme of rescue during the Holocaust.
Please note: Out of respect for the dignity of Holocaust victims, we ask student artists not to create works that graphically depict Nazi brutality.
The deadline for entries is March 13, 2013
All entries must have a Cover Sheet
June 17 to June 21
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May 27, 2013
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The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida · 851 N Maitland Ave · Maitland, FL 32751 · Phone: 407-628-0555 · firstname.lastname@example.org