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, Kristallnacht’s Warning: The High Cost of Indifference
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
~ Elie Wiesel
“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.”
~ Helen Keller
“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
“I’m sure, in this particular situation, that some of the people standing there disapproved of what the Nazis did, but their disapproval was only silence – and silence is what did the harm.”
~ Kurt Messerschmidt
Elie Wiesel, Albert Einstein, and Kurt Messerschmidt survived the Holocaust. Helen Keller was safe in America during the Holocaust, but suffered the burning of her books at the hands of the Nazis. Each thought deeply about why the Holocaust happened and each arrived at similar conclusions. It was the corrosive power of indifference. As the quotations above indicate, indifference has the power to dissolve the bonds that bind people together in human society. It opens the door to all of the crimes that come to mind when we think of the Holocaust. After all, most Germans were not members of the Nazi Party. Surely, at least some of these millions of people realized that the persecution of Jews and other victims was morally wrong. Why didn’t more people resist the crimes of the Nazis while it was still possible to do so? Where does such indifference come from? Does it come from poor upbringing and a lack of humane values? Is it the product of fear? Is it as simple as the absence of empathy? In any case, we need to find out the answer to these questions so that we don’t let indifference do the same damage in our times as it did during the Holocaust.
1. Expository: Choose one of the quotations above and write about how it helps to explain why the Holocaust happened. Use specific examples from the Holocaust to support your answer.
2. Persuasive: Write as if you were a German who witnessed the violence of Kristallnacht in your own community. Write about how you would try to persuade your friends to join with you in resisting the Nazis or helping to rescue Jews.
A written entry may be in the form of an essay, a short story, a fictional diary, or a poem. Digital media entries are welcome as well.
Consider how decisions may be made in an instant, but formed by attitudes long held. Create a work of art that:
1. Shows how prior indifference leads to the moment in which rejection occurs or needed help is not given, or
2. Shows how caring actions can overcome the effects of indifference.
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
DEADLINE IS FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 2014 AT 4 PM
September 25 to September 26
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