Holocaust-informed school citizenship prize returns

  • Date

    Thu 12 Jan 23

Dora Love

Over 200 school students from Essex, Suffolk and Kent have taken part in the launch of the 2023 Dora Love Prize.

Students from secondary schools across the region took part in workshops exploring prejudice, discrimination, identity-based violence and persecution and also heard the poignant first-hand account of Holocaust survivor Paul Sved BEM.

It’s the first time the launch of the school citizenship initiative, which is informed by the Holocaust, has been held in person since the pandemic, and marks the return of the Prize after it celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2022.

Paul Sved BEM, who was born in Budapest in 1938 and who spent some of his early childhood living in hiding, talked about his experiences as a Jew living under Nazi rule in a Q&A session with the students.

Speaking afterwards, Paul said: “It gives me great pleasure to contribute, in some small way, to Dora Love Prize event. I now recognize what an important occasion this is in your part of the world and I have no doubt that it will be a memorable day for the many students participating.”

Speaking at the event, teacher Amy Cross, from St Helena School in Colchester, said: “It’s really important to our school that our students get this opportunity to step out of the classroom and learn about how they can be active citizens and make the world a better place. The themes discussed today and the conversations the Dora Love Prize inspires in our school are incredibly important if we want to equip our young people with the confidence to stand up to intolerance, discrimination and hatred.”

A student from Debenham High School added: “It’s been really interesting learning all about the Holocaust and listening to people who were alive when it happened. It’s hard to imagine what it was like for everyone affected and we have to make sure it never happens again.”

The Dora Love Prize, named after Holocaust survivor and educator Dora Love asks students to develop projects connecting what they learn about the Holocaust to the world around them.

It takes a broad, inclusive approach, incorporating the stories and experiences of all groups persecuted by the Nazis, and all groups that suffer discrimination, marginalisation or persecution today because of their identity.

The theme of this year’s Prize, Ordinary People – What can Ordinary People such as Ourselves Do Against Prejudice, Discrimination and Genocide?, is based on the theme for the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s activities, which focuses on the stories of ordinary people as perpetrators, bystanders, rescuers, witnesses and victims of genocide.

Students at the 2023 launch took part in workshops led by a range of educators including writer and archivist Rachel Howse Binnington, who helped bring ‘rescued’ archival resources such as photos to life; Tyler Hatwell, founder of Traveller Pride, who talked about discrimination experienced by Travellers; Darren Carr of Ignition Arts who used drama to help students explore the fine line between ordinary and extraordinary; and illustrator and textile artist Jacqueline Davies who, with the students, created a textile panel reflecting the constraints of life in a concentration camp.

Founder of the Prize Professor Rainer Schulze said: “It's wonderful to see that enthusiasm for this Prize is still growing. Today's induction day was amazing: all workshop leaders commented on the enthusiasm and the active participation of the students and following Paul Sved's presentation the students asked many insightful questions. Dora Love would no doubt have been proud.

“The Dora Love Prize is more important than ever now - at a time when we see a frightening increase of identity-based hate crime here in Britain, affecting a wide range of groups. We hope that with the Dora Love Prize more and more students will develop a sense of civil courage and moral responsibility as well as a willingness and ability to stand up when democratic and human values and norms are violated, knowing from the history of the Holocaust where these kinds of violations can ultimately lead to.”

Using what they have learnt, the schools will create projects that will be judged at a Prize-giving event in July where the judging panel will include Janet Love, daughter of Dora Love and human rights activist.