Menu Close

Waldman International Arts and Writing Competition

Virtual Gallery of 2020-2021 competition winners

Google Drive folder of winning pieces

A retrospective interview with Hal and Diane Waldman

Last year’s prompt (deadline passed)

2020 – 2021 Waldman International Arts and Writing Competition

This year’s theme is The Holocaust, Hope and the Human Spirit, 1939-1950

Details about Additional Essay

Additional Essay Prompt

During the current COVID19 Pandemic, there have been many changes and events that have influenced our society, our communities, and ourselves as individuals. As students, you have experienced many changes to your daily life, and have witnessed historic events of political, economic, scientific, and social importance. This unprecedented time has unveiled increasing levels of scapegoating of minority groups and bigotry worldwide. Scapegoating is when a person or group is made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place (  Bigotry is the stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own ( Regarding this increase:

Reflect on your own experiences of the past several months: What changes do you see in your life, your community, and our society as a whole? What reactions or responses have you seen, or would have liked to have seen? What is your source for hope, what makes you resilient, and what makes a community resilient?

Essays should follow these guidelines:

  • 12 point font, 1 inch margins
  • Maximum two pages, single or double spaced
  • DO NOT WRITE YOUR NAME ON or IN YOUR ESSAY, as this will compromise scoring by judges (we have your information in your application; your name could be grounds for disqualification).
  • PLEASE include a proper email address, home address, and contact information, as well as the name of your school and teacher (if applicable)

Details about Arts and Writing Competition

Theme Details

Entries must engage with the history of the Holocaust in ways that address the following:

“[Albert] Camus said, ‘Where there is no hope, one must invent hope.’ It is only pessimistic if you stop with the first half of the sentence and just say, There is no hope. Like Camus, even when it seems hopeless, I invent reasons to hope,” – Elie Wiesel

The Holocaust was a time of mass atrocity and despair; yet, those troubling times also revealed the struggles and triumphs of hope and resilience. Victims and survivors recall memories of harrowing distress and, simultaneously, memories of hope they clung to in order to overcome the darkness. Some remember the decency shown by neighbors, the fortitude of family members and friends, and even the constancy of the natural world as reasons for hope. This year’s theme requires students to use primary sources, true stories and testimonies of the Holocaust, that reflect on how and what Holocaust victims and survivors drew strength from in order to go on living, both during the war and after. We ask students to examine how these individuals/groups showed Resilience, not only in the way they suffered, but in the way they lived – in the choices they made during and/or after the war that helped them gain the strength to keep living and rebuilding their lives. Resilience is defined as: “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress,” (American Psychological Association).


All entries must be based on a primary source:

Primary sources of information are those that provide first-hand accounts of the events, practices, or conditions you are researching. In general, these are documents that were created by the witnesses or first recorders of these events at about the time they occurred, and include diaries, letters, reports, photographs, creative works, […and some first-hand reporting in newspaper articles]. Primary sources also include first-hand accounts that were documented later, such as autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories.” (

Entries may utilize a secondary source(s) ONLY in support of exploring/understanding their primary source:

“In contrast, a secondary source of information is one that was created later by someone who did not experience first-hand or participate in the events or conditions you’re researching. […] Secondary sources are generally scholarly books and articles. Also included would be reference sources like encyclopedias [which would include a fact-checked article out of Wikipedia, for Waldman purposes].” (

According to these definitions, students may utilize oral testimonies and oral histories, as well as journal and diary entries, memoir, autobiography, interviews and other audio/visual recordings. Students may wish to refer to primary sources provided by or about survivors, partisans, liberators, resistance workers, those in hiding, and refugees. Participants may choose to reflect in their art form how these histories and experiences influence, or connect to, personal and collective events of today. We encourage students to consider ordinary people who were placed in extraordinary situations, rather than only relying on iconic figures of the Holocaust. 



Middle School: 6th – 8th grades

High School: 9th – 12th grades

  1. Creative Writing
  2. Poetry:
  3. Any style (rhymed, unrhymed, etc.)
  4. Not to exceed 40 lines
  5. Flash Fiction:
  6. Journal entry or short story format
  7. Not to exceed 600 words

VISUAL ARTS: 2D Artworks

  1. Mixed Media
  2. Two-dimensional art media including, but not limited to: drawing, painting, mosaic, comic book/graphic novella. Assemblage is acceptable. Collage will not be accepted.
  3. Entries cannot be made or edited with Photoshop or other digital manipulation software
  4. Photography
  5. Entries cannot be made or edited with Photoshop or other digital manipulation software

*Use of historical photographs, without proper citation of the photograph source, will result in automatic disqualification.

*Each Visual Arts submission MUST be accompanied by a one-paragraph “Artist Statement.”

VISUAL ARTS: 3D Artworks

  1. Scale sculpture
  2. May be three-dimensional or bas relief
  3. May be figural or abstract

iii. Materials may include, but are not limited to: wood, stone, metal, string, fired clay, fabric, plastic, resin, plaster, and fiberglass

  1. Mixed Media
  2. Three-dimensional art media including, but not limited to: drawing, painting, mosaic, comic book/graphic novella. Assemblage is acceptable. Collage will not be accepted.
  3. Entries cannot be made or edited with Photoshop or other digital manipulation software

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Short Film Submission Category has been suspended.

  • An entry form MUST accompany each entry/submission. Applicants must submit a separate application for each piece.
  • ALL Writing and Visual Arts entry must include an Artist Statement.
  • Entries must represent independent and original work of the writer/artist.
  • All Entries must be based on at least one primary source, and must include a Works Cited/Bibliography page with legitimate source(s):

o Wikipedia is NOT a primary source. It is a secondary source and may not be accurate. Any entry with only Wikipedia listed on the Works Cited/Bibliography page will be automatically disqualified.

o All Works Cited/Bibliography entries will be checked by Holocaust Center staff and judges prior to judging. Any entry found using an illegitimate source or copying directly from a source (plagiarism) will be disqualified.

  • Entries cannot be made with Photoshop or other digital manipulation software – Mixed media assemblages must be created by hand.
  • No group projects accepted (only one writer/artist per entry).
  • Projects that are not historically accurate, research based, or original will be disqualified.
  • All parts of the entry must be typed and submitted through the application form. Submitting Entries 1. Written Entries –Upload entries in .doc or .pdf form to the application form 2.

Visual Arts –

  • US entrants: Photos of original artwork and artist statement must be uploaded to the application form. Arrangements must also be made to deliver original artwork to the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh.
  • All Visual Arts Submissions must include 4 photographs, which may include a panoramic view of sculpture/mixed media. They also must include a 15 second video viewing the piece from all angles.
  • Israeli entrants: Photos of original artwork and artist statement must be uploaded to the application form.

Entry Deadline for All Entries – Jan 7, 2021 at 4 pm

No Entries will be accepted past this date/time.


Judging takes place virtually from January 11 – 22, 2021 (US and Israel). Winners will be notified in early February, 2021

  • All works submitted as part of the Waldman International Arts and Writing Competition become property of the Holocaust Center upon submission. First, Second, and Third Place Visual Arts Winners must work with Holocaust Center staff to schedule and coordinate the delivery of their artwork to the Holocaust Center within the first week of February. Social Distancing Precautions will be adhered to. Students who do not deliver their artwork will not receive their scholarship.
  • If a student places in two or more categories, the judges reserve the right to deny a placement to allow other students a placement.
  • There is no guarantee of a winner in any category.
  • Awards may be given to the first, second, and third place levels in all categories.
  • Scholarship prize awards to Waldman International Arts and Writing Competition winners are to be used specifically to further formal Holocaust and Arts Education in an organized class.
  • There will be an Awards Event for all winners, including first and second place Israeli winners. The date and time of the 2021 Waldman Awards Ceremony will be determined at a later date, due to COVID19. In the event that it is not safe to have an in-person ceremony, we may have a virtual gathering. Please visit to stay informed. All winners will be notified of details in advance.
Suggested Resources

As students work on their entries, the following resources may be helpful:

Online Resources

Yad Vashem Digital Archives:

USHMM Resources (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum):

Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York:

The Ghetto Fighter’s House Museum:

Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation:

Kindertransport – The National Archives:

USC Shoah Foundation Online Testimonies:

Yale Fortunoff Video Archive of Holocaust Testimonies:

Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive (University of Michigan):

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research:

(Please consult your local library/school for free access):

Local Resources

Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh – Important Pages

Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center:

Soldiers and Sailors:

Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh:

ACLA (Allegheny County Library Association):

University of Pittsburgh Library and Archives:

Carnegie Mellon University Library and Archives:

Duquesne University Library and Archives:

Connellsville Canteen Museum:

Other Suggestions:

Local libraries, museums and municipalities

Local Newspapers – See Rauh Archives and Carnegie Libraries for free access to Jewish Newspapers Project,, and others.

Local Holocaust Survivors and Survivor Support Groups

National Emergency Library (Free Access to Thousands of Books Online):


Books and Local Survivors’ Writings

Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood During the Holocaust; 384 pages; Oxford University Press (May 24, 2001); English; ISBN-10: 0195138716; ISBN-13: 978-0195138719

Memoirs by local survivors, such as (for more, please visit the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh’s Library):

A Hidden Child in Greece: Rescue in the Holocaust, by Yolanda Willis; 356 pages; AuthorHouse (May 1, 2017); English; ISBN-10: 1524601799; ISBN-13: 978-1524601799

In the Shadow of Majdanek. Hiding in Full Sight: A Holocaust Survival Story, by Irene R. Skolnick; Free Kindle Download on Amazon, File Size: 1092 KB; 213 pages; Publication Date: April 3, 2017 (Amazon Digital Services LLC); English; ASIN: B06Y1VZ18J

Link to Sam Gottesman’s Memoir online:

The poetry of local survivor, Solange Lebovitz:

Judith R. Robinson’s art and poetry:

Chutzpow! Superheroes of the Holocaust

HCPGH In Celebration of Life exhibit:

HCPGH’s Generations Speaker Series Recorded Talks:

Polish Resources

FROM THOSE YOU SAVED, documentary movie about Righteous Among the Nations:

Polin Museum—stories of rescue:

Polin Museum— filmography resources:

Ringelblum Archive:

Ringelblum Archive (Polish):

Oneg Szabat:

Centropa Archive:

Yad Vashem Digital Archives:

USHMM Resources (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum):

The Ghetto Fighter’s House Museum:

If you have any questions or concerns about your topic fitting into the purview of this year’s theme, please do not hesitate to reach out to us! For more information and questions, please contact Jackie Reese at

The Waldman International Arts and Writing Competition is made possible through the generosity of Hal and Diane Waldman, and their family. This year marks the 36th anniversary of the Waldman Competition.