Schoolchildren learn to stand up to hatred at Dora Love Prize

  • Date

    Fri 27 Sep 19

Pupils from Harris Academy Ockenden

More schoolchildren than ever before have learned the importance of standing up to hatred and discrimination at the Dora Love Prize induction day yesterday.

250 children from 23 schools in Essex, Suffolk, and for the first time, Kent, took part in the event hosted by the Department of History.

The Dora Love Prize, which honours Holocaust survivor and educator Dora Love, educates secondary schoolchildren about the links between the Holocaust with intolerance, discrimination and outright hatred of those regarded as ‘different’ in the world today.

The children, from Years 7 to 10, took part in a series of workshops where they learned about how ordinary Germans viewed the deportation of their Jewish neighbours, how Holocaust survivors started new lives after the War, the lesser-known Nazi genocide of Roma and Siinti people, the importance of oral history and personal testimonies and how refugees and asylum seekers integrate into UK communities today. They also took part in creative workshops exploring themes of solidarity, unity, peace and activism.

Holocaust survivor Frank Bright closed the event with a discussion about his personal experiences and why the Holocaust should not be viewed as an isolated event consigned to history.

Mr Bright, who lost his family and many of his friends in the Holocaust, said: “Seeing these children reminds me forcefully of the past. They are alive, they expect to live life to the full, and to achieve their ambitions through hard work. They remind me of my classmates, who had equal ambitions but who, instead of being able to achieve them, were murdered in the most cruel and barbaric way in their early youth.

“My friends and I were denied our youth - the most useful and influential years of one’s life were just wasted with nothing but sorrow and misery.”

See all the photos on Flickr

Professor Rainer Schulze, from the Department of History, who established the Dora Love Prize in 2012 and continues to coordinate it, said: “Dora Love regularly visited schools, talking with schoolchildren and emphasising what hatred, intolerance and, perhaps worst of all, indifference, can lead to: so many looked away and did nothing when their neighbours were bullied, assaulted, and ultimately driven into ghettos and camps. And so many did not stand together with them, even though they were in a position to do so.

“With the Dora Love Prize, we continue her work, encouraging schoolchildren to speak up against hatred wherever it occurs, to never forget the ultimate consequences of seemingly small acts of discrimination and – most importantly – develop a sense of personal responsibility.

“The best way to honour the victims of the Holocaust is to acknowledge and speak up against the rise of race hate today, and not to stand by when acts of hatred, discrimination, and persecution occur. If the Holocaust tells us anything loud and clear, it tells us that if the human rights of one group are violated, no group can feel safe.”

Sally Samson, a teacher from Northgate High School in Ipswich, which has supported the Dora Love Prize for several years, said: “Being involved in the Dora Love Prize is such a valuable and important experience for our children. It enriches their lives in terms of their understanding of the Holocaust and issues around prejudice and discrimination, which remain prevalent in our world today. For our pupils it’s a profound experience.”

Rebecca Cuming from St Helena School in Colchester, which took part for the first time yesterday, said: “It’s really important for the children to appreciate the legacy of the Holocaust and it is also valuable for building their confidence. It’s something we really wanted to be a part of.”

After being inspired at the event today, the schoolchildren will develop their response to this year’s theme, Stand Together - For Whom Will You be a Witness?, and present their project in January 2020 during the University’s Holocaust Memorial Week when the Dora Love Prize will be awarded.

The Prize is awarded to the pupil or pupils whose creative response best expresses what Dora Love believed.