Essay Prep & Research


Follow these links to view an animated map, and read two articles about the Holocaust:

Animated Map: Introduction to the Holocaust - United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Article: Introduction to the History of the Holocaust - USHMM
Article (PDF): Rescuers and Non-Jewish Resistance - Echoes & Reflections Study Guide


The rescuers featured below exemplify moral courage. Follow at least two of the links below to learn more about them:

The Danish People Save their Jewish Neighbors
Irena Sendler and Saving Children from the Warsaw Ghetto
The White Rose: Brave German Youth Resistance Pamphleteers
Japanese Diplomat Chiune Sugihara
Miep Gies: Hiding Anne Frank
Oskar Schindler, a flawed German Rescuer
Raoul Wallenberg: Swedish Diplomat Helped Save Hungarian Jews


Choose and research an individual or group that demonstrated moral courage in an historic or current event. We encourage you to select an example beyond the well-known rescuers cited above. There are many worthy subjects to research!

Be sure to discuss the topic with your teacher. Your topic may include individuals or groups in historical events such as:

  • Rescuers of victims of the Holocaust

  • Civil Rights movement activists

  • Literary subjects dealing with moral courage

  • A historical topic covered in your classroom

  • Genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur, Sudan, Kenya, the Congo, Zimbabwe or Chechnya

You may choose to explore an area not mentioned here - any persons or groups from history that have shown great moral courage. If you have questions, please direct them to

Now that you have watched/read the selections above, and selected the subject of your essay, complete this reflection sheet before moving on (If you are using Firefox, please download the PDF and then complete):


Using the Holocaust as the historical backdrop, this essay requires that students:

  1. Explore the chosen historical event/example, including making a connection to the Holocaust if writing about another topic.

  2. Express a deep personal connection to the person or group chosen. What about this example speaks to you? Why is this example important? Even though you may not experience life under tyranny or in a war zone - how might the lessons of your chosen example be applied in your own life, school, or family?

  3. Use multiple, reputable sources to gain a balanced and fuller understanding of the subject.

  4. Demonstrate how the chosen individual/group took a stand against social injustice and exhibited moral courage, defined here:

Moral courage is the ability to take a strong stance on a specific issue and to defend it based on one’s personal beliefs or convictions regardless of danger or threats to personal safety - physical, emotional or otherwise.


Now that you’ve begun your research, picked your topic and know what the requirements are - you can look over the winners from last year to see how they wrote their essays, and get an idea of what judges are looking for (in PDF).