The Midwest Center for Holocaust Education is pleased to announce its 20th annual White Rose Student Essay Contest, open to 8th-12th graders in eastern Kansas and western Missouri. This year’s contest commemorates the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the German concentration camps and the end of World War II. The 2014-2015 contest theme is:

Liberation 1945

As the German army retreated toward the interior of Germany in 1945, the death and forced labor camps in the East were evacuated and the prisoners sent on death marches toward the concentration camps in Germany. Conditions in these concentration camps, which were never intended to house the large numbers of prisoners flooding into them, quickly deteriorated. Though they were no longer being murdered in gas chambers, many Jewish prisoners, among them Anne Frank, were unable to survive the conditions in these camps.For many others, not even liberation prevented their eventual deaths. For those who did survive, liberation proved to be both a joyful and a sorrowful experience.

Bergen Belsen DP wedding 1946
The wedding of Alice and John Fink (center) in the Bergen-Belsen DP camp.1946, Bergen-Belsen DP Camp. Copyright: Public Domain

Using at least 3 of the documents provided below, plus a minimum of 2 outside resources (at least one of which must be a non-digital print source), prepare an essay that addresses all parts of the following topic:

  • RESEARCH:  Describe the conditions at liberation at Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, or Dachau (or at one of their sub-camps) as they existed in the spring of 1945. Then, explore the liberation and immediate post-war experience — in Europe — of one Jewish survivor from that camp. Examples may include returning to health, search for family, etc.
  • REFLECTION:  As a result of your research, what single, specific action can you take now to demonstrate what learning about the Holocaust means to you?

You must base your research on at least three of the following documents:


We ask students and educators to respect the privacy of the survivors and to refrain from conducting personal interviews.

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Please refer to EACH of these links for important details:


Each contestant is limited to one entry per year. Previous winners may enter again. Essays will be evaluated on historical accuracy, development of content and theme, original expression, grammar, and mechanics.


  • Evidence of comprehensive and accurate historical research
  • Utilization and consistent citation of at least 3 of the designated documents and 2 additional resources
  • Adherence to theme, demonstrating substantial supporting detail
  • Reflect historical research
  • Research section to be written in third person narrative
  • Reflects personal insight, interpretation, and unique writing style with minimal direct quotes
  • Synthesis of information gathered from a variety of both print and digital sources


  • Correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Completed entry form, including authentic, original signatures where indicated
  • Proper citations – all citation styles are accepted, but citations must be consistent
  • Works Cited – reflecting a variety of both print and digital sources. Whole books found online are considered digital sources.
  • Typed double-spaced on 8.5” x 11” plain white paper and size 12 font. Use only one side of the paper.
  • Maximum of 1200 words. All words in the body of the essay except internal citations are counted in the total.
  • Essays must be free of plagiarism. Those with passages copied directly from other sources, without proper citations, or containing vast amounts of quoted or minimally paraphrased material are subject to disqualification.
  • One cover sheet with the student’s name, school and teacher’s name
  • Five copies of essay, each stapled in the upper left corner. To ensure blind judging, the student’s name should NOT appear on the pages of the essay.
  • Electronic copy of essay, cover sheet, and Works Cited — submitted as ONE document — in Microsoft Word format. Students may submit on an individual disc/drive labeled with student’s name, school, and teacher’s name OR teacher may submit one disk/drive with all student submissions saved as separate documents titled by students’ names.

All entries become property of the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and will not be returned. Applicants give the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education permission to reprint entries. Decisions of the judges are final.


  • The top ten essayists in each division will be recognized at a reception in May
  • First, second and third place winners in each division will be awarded cash prizes
  • First, second and third place sponsoring teachers will be awarded vouchers for professional development or classroom resources
  • The first place school in each division will be awarded a resource collection


1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
Students $300 $200 $100
Sponsoring Teachers $150 voucher for professional development or resources $100 voucher for professional development or resources $50 voucher for professional development or resources
  • Entries are limited to 1,200 words. This includes the body of the paper only. It does not include the cover sheet, title, footnotes, or Works Cited. Papers exceeding this limit, even by one word, will be disqualified. Students should use the “Word Count” function on their computers. We will.
  • MCHE encourages teachers to utilize this writing contest as a classroom exercise. To ensure that each essay receives the full attention of our judges, however, sponsoring teachers are limited to submitting no more than 10 essays per division.
  • Each essay should reflect the student’s own work, guided and reviewed, but not edited in detail by the sponsoring teacher. Teachers should take care in attesting to compliance with contest requirements. A completed entry form with authentic, original (not photocopied) signatures must accompany each essay.
  • We strongly recommend that students link to reliable web sites through and visit MCHE’s Resource Center, which houses nearly 3,000 titles available for free loan. Hours are 8:30 until 5:00, Monday through Friday and until 7 PM on Wednesdays when school is in session.
  • Plagiarism results in disqualification.
  • Entries must be postmarked NO LATER THAN the postmark deadline, or delivered in person to the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education office by 5:00 PM that day. Essays postmarked after the deadline, those brought to MCHE after the designated time, or essays sent by fax or e-mail will not qualify for judging.
  • Up to 10 finalists in each division will be recognized at a reception in May.

The White Rose Student Essay Contest is now open to 8th-12th grade students in the eastern half of Kansas and the western half of Missouri. Please see the map and list of counties below to determine your eligibility.



Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Bourbon, Brown, Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Cowley, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Franklin, Geary, Greenwood, Harvey, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Linn, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Miami, Montgomery, Morris, Nemaha, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Pottawatomie, Republic, Riley, Saline, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Sumner, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wilson, Woodson, Wyandotte


Andrew, Atchison, Barry, Barton, Bates, Benton, Boone, Buchanan, Caldwell, Camden, Carroll, Cass, Cedar, Charlton, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Cole, Cooper, Dade, Dallas, Davies, De Kalb, Douglas, Gentry, Greene, Grundy, Harrison, Henry, Hickory, Holt, Howard, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Laclede, Lafayette, Lawrence, Linn, Livingston, McDonald, Mercer, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Newton, Nodaway, Ozark, Pettis, Platte, Polk, Ray, Saline, St. Clair, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Vernon, Webster, Worth, Wright


Members of the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education’s White Rose Chai Society (as of January 2015):

  • Herb and Bonnie Buchbinder
  • Lawrence and Donna Gould Cohen
  • Katherine DeBruce
  • Ed and Sandi Fried
  • Ron and Susie Goldsmith
  • Mike and Karen Herman
  • Bill and Regina Kort
  • Norman and Elaine Polsky Family Charitable Foundation
  • Morton and Estelle Sosland
  • David and Ellice Vittor
  • Shirley White


Additional generous support is provided by MCHE’s White Rose Society Patrons and Benefactors.

Members of the White Rose

Questions? Contact Jessica Rockhold at or 913-327-8195.

The contest is named in memory of Hans and Sophie Scholl, German university students who, along with several friends and their professor, were arrested and executed for distributing leaflets denouncing the evils of the Nazi regime. The project commemorates the heroic efforts of these brave young people, members of the White Rose, who gave their lives for the causes of understanding, tolerance, and freedom. May their memories inspire us to reflect upon our own responsibilities as citizens in a democratic nation.

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