Un Holocaust Remembrance Day & Paul Seideman Award 2019 Competition

By Holocaust Centre | Posted: Tuesday April 2, 2019

On Sunday 27th January staff and board members of the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand attended United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day in three different locations: Makara Cemetery and Parliament in Wellington, AUT Marae in Auckland and the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch.At the Parliamentary Reception in Wellington our two Paul Seideman Award winners received their certificates and cheques, before reading their essays to an audience of distinguished guests from diplomatic corps, parliament, city council and Wellington Jewish community, including the new Human Rights Commissioner for NZ Paul Hunt. For details about how your students can enter the 2019 Paul Seideman Award competition please see the Holocaust Centre Website here

The winner of the 2018 Junior Award was Georgia Wong, Year 10 student at St Columba College in Dunedin. Georgia had “never properly studied the Holocaust before” but when her History teacher Mrs Riepl told her about the Paul Seideman Award she decided to enter the competition. “The theme of standing by during injustice reminded me of two situations that are very real today: why Russians support Putin, and people who stand up to terrorist groups, in particular Malala Yousafzai. I concluded that the reasons some people are bystanders, not upstanders are fear, ignorance, use of propaganda and manipulation and the socioeconomic situation they are in. I argued that those who stand up to injustice are able to see humanity in the rest of the world.” Georgia says she was surprised to win the Junior Award because “there are plenty of other wonderful writers my age across the country.” She read her essay at Parliament with supreme confidence, commenting that “it was an honour to be a part of the celebrations both at the Makara Cemetery and at Parliament” and to meet Paul Seideman, other Holocaust survivors and many distinguished guests at both events.

The winner of the 2018 Senior Award was Mark Seddon, Year 13 student at Westlake Boys High School in Auckland. Mark says that writing the essay “proved more challenging” than he first anticipated because of the chosen topic, ‘Why do we stand up to injustice?’. Mark comments that he was “confronted with the greater complexities found within humanity” when he began exploring this topic and its relevance to the Holocaust and today’s society. At Parliament Mark ended his engaging and confidently delivered speech on a powerful note: “I choose justice!” and he comments that “through my personal experiences, my appreciation for the importance of standing up has grown substantially”. Mark was “elated” to win the Paul Seideman Award, calling it a “momentous” achievement which enabled him to be “given a platform to voice my opinion on such an important, thought-provoking topic.” Privileged to attend the Memorial Day in Wellington, Mark urges students to submit essays for the 2019 Award. “I would strongly recommend this to any and all High School students, as the lessons from the Holocaust are not strictly historical. We have much to learn … about humanity and ourselves, and I believe that it is important for everyone to be confronted with these lessons, to make better individuals and to make a better society.”

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