Chapman University’s annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest – an event to engage middle and high school students with the stories of survivors and rescuers who experienced the Holocaust at first hand—will hold its awards ceremony on Chapman’s campus on March 9. Now in its 19th year, a record-breaking 255 middle and high schools from 31 states and 8 countries outside the United States registered to participate in this year’s contest focusing on the theme Messenger of Memory. Chapman University is unique in presenting a Holocaust Art and Writing Contest that has grown to reach middle and high schools both nationally and internationally.

To participate in the contest, students listen to oral testimonies from Holocaust survivors and rescuers, and create entries in prose, poetry, art, and film.  Rather than simply repeating the testimony, students are challenged to truly engage with the individual’s story and to find the aspect that speaks to them and that they want to share with others as “messengers of memory.”

The awards ceremony honoring students, teachers and the Holocaust survivors and rescuers with whom the students have engaged will be held in Chapman’s Memorial Hall on Friday, March 9, 2018, at 11 a.m. with an expected 1,000 students, parents and teachers, and 25 to 30 Holocaust survivors from Orange and Los Angeles counties in attendance—a dramatic decrease from the nearly 100 survivors who were at Chapman’s first contest awards ceremony. The notable highlight of the event for the students who participate each year is visiting with the survivors at the reception following the ceremony.

“Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, author, teacher, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, believed that memories of the Holocaust can become messages―when that happens, the past becomes present to us and brings us into the world of the survivors and rescuers,” said Marilyn Harran, Ph.D., director of Chapman University’s Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education, which presents the contest.  “Professor Wiesel affirmed that ’when you listen to a witness, you become a witness.’ Through the contest, students make a truly personal connection—history is no longer distant facts and dates but stories that are personal and real.”

Schools in Canada, Israel, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland and South Africa registered for this year’s contest.  Entries were judged by a “blind” panel of judges including Holocaust survivors, local businesspeople, professionals, organization leaders, and Chapman faculty and students.

“Since we began this contest many years ago, it has grown enormously in scope – except in one area:  the number of Holocaust survivors in attendance decreases each year, making the passing on of stories and memories ever more vital,” added Harran.

This year’s guest speaker will be Eva Brettler, a child Holocaust survivor from Hungary. Eva survived the horrific conditions of the Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps because of courageous and compassionate women, fellow prisoners, who looked after her after her mother died.  They refused to allow the lonely little girl to succumb to despair, illness, or starvation.

Students, teachers, and Holocaust witnesses will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face at a reception following the ceremony. To see last year’s contest in a 3-minute video, visit:

Chapman University’s 19th Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest is sponsored by: The 1939 Society, the Samueli Foundation, and Yossie and Dana Hollander with support from the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education, and in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League; the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Orange; Chapman University’s Donna Ford Attallah College of Educational Studies and Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Echoes and Reflections;  Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, Inc., and the Orange County Department of Education.

For more information, visit:

NOTE TO EDITORS:  This event is NOT open to the public, as the auditorium will be filled by participants and invited guests.  Media are welcome to attend and cover. Many of the contest participants and award winners can be interviewed after the ceremony, and the reception offers wonderful visuals of students meeting the Holocaust survivors.

About Chapman University

As an academically distinguished center of learning, Chapman University attracts extraordinary students and faculty from around the globe. Its ten schools and colleges foster a vibrant intellectual community, and provide extensive opportunities for students to learn, grow and discover alongside remarkable faculty. The University is home to some 8,000 students pursuing bachelor, master and doctoral degrees, and is alma mater to more than 40,000 alumni found throughout the United States and the world. Now celebrating its 156th year, Chapman is known for its distinguishing strengths in leadership and civic engagement, in the arts and entertainment disciplines, and in specialized sectors of technology and science. The University is comprised of its main campus in Orange, California, and the Rinker Health Science campus for graduate health science programs in Irvine, California. Visit us at

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