The Truth about Holocaust and Stalinist Repression

Annual Student Literary Award
Ludmila Prakhina

People of the world,
Rise up for a minute
And awaken yourselves
And ask yourselves
Have I done everything I could?
For my children, grandchildren
And great grandchildren
That they never forget and
Always remember.

January 27, 2005 was marked as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day adopted by UN General Assembly. ”

To commemorate this day and honor innocent victims of the Nazi genocide and Stalinist repression during the era of Cult of Personality, the Prakhin Foundation established The Annual Literary Award “Truth about the Holocaust and Stalinist Repression” for the best literary work revealing the tragedy of that period.

The First Annual Literary Award Ceremony took place on January 27, 2008 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Living Memorial of the Holocaust in New York City. “We used to do the ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage during 10 years, but in the last three years we have held it at Bergen Community College to make it more convenient for local adults and students to attend. Center for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation and its Office of Multicultural Affairs in Bergen Community College
were among the event’s co-sponsors. To involve young people, who should learn about the history of our ancestors and give them the green light and an opportunity to make a significant contribution by carrying the legacy through future generations we established new development of the Prakhin Foundation “Yang Generation Always Remember(YGAR ) and Annual Student Literary Award in 2010.

The “Young Generation Always Remembers” mission is not only to repay a debt to the previous generations who perished and to those who survived through the horrors of those terrible years, but also, to help our youth to get to know their history and role models, because they give children of all ages a sense of the basic need of belonging, a sense of their place in the world.

The Gala-concert “New generation always remembers – Past, Present, Future” will recognizes the achievements of talented children who participate or would like to participate in charity work.

In addition, this event is an important communication platform between generations by fusing together the wisdom and memory of the older generation with the talents and energy of the young generation for a brighter future. We invite aspiring performers of all ages, students from schools, academies, or youth organizations to
participate in our Gala-concert. Since 2010 we received more than 250 submissions from middle and high school students. Teachers and students are using the curriculum resources of “Holocaust and Genocide” and “Stalin and his Repressive Regime” created by the Prakhin Foundation in conjunction with the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. We strongly believe that young generations need to be aware of THESE dark times in HUMAN history. If people forget, history tends to repeat itself.

This year we received fifty-seven submissions from several NJ schools, Weehawken HS, Bayonne HS, Englewood HS, Passaic Academies HS, Fair Lawn HS, Summit HS, and North Bergen HS. Teachers and students have studied the very serious issue of
“Truth about Holocaust and Stalinist Repressions” and produced outstanding art, prose, and poetry. We appreciate all of them who submitted their creative work and sent everyone a certificate directly to the school or presented during Award Ceremony. We are grateful to all the teachers for their educational efforts.

Examples of entries that received awards are:
 Diana Mendoza, Bayonne HS student for the art piece: Children on the fence
 Amy Arogue Irigoyen, North Bergen HS student, for the art piece Murder Factory
 Sabrina Fong, Weehawken High School for the poem The Holocaust
 Gabriel Matthew Luyun, Fair Lawn HS student for the article Stalin’s Genocide That Few Remember
 Ayla Teke, Passaic County Technical HS, for the poem Holocaust and Stalin

This year’s invited guests to our awards program were Tekla Bekesha, director of Preili (Latvia) history museum, Nora Shnepste, Latvian high school principal, Pastor Klaus Peter Rex from Germany, Sami Staigmann, survivor and educator, Bernard Storch, veteran War II, and Frank Malkin survivor.

Our Foundation and YGAR continues to reach out to young writers, artists, musicians, and students alike by involving high schools, colleges, and universities in teaching students about human values, such as compassion, awareness, and forgiveness. We continue to encourage students to submit their work reflecting the Holocaust and Stalinist Repression in efforts to preserve the memories of our ancestors and inspire awareness among our youth.

Letter from Students “Yang Generation Always Remember”
Erica Linnik, Fair Lawn HS student, YGAR development of Prakhin Literary Foundation

Dear friends,
As time progresses, the necessity of preserving the history of those before us that experienced the truth of the Holocaust and Stalinist Repression grows stronger. The number of these witnesses grows less and less as time passes, and we cannot let their
memories and wisdom perish with them. The lessons of those before our time only grows more relevant in our changing world, where the generation of our youth must understand the dangers of a fascist regime and the destructive nature of ignorance. Anti-Semitism and other discriminatory acts are still present today, and by
promoting awareness among our youth, we can work towards a peaceful future. With every passing year, the challenge of keeping alive the memory of victims from the Holocaust and Stalinist regime grows more complex, and the necessity of preserving tolerance more urgent. However, with active students around the globe, such a difficult goal can be steadily achieved.

With the gracious aid of teachers and the establishment of our organization, we all take one step towards an enlightened future by remembering and learning from our not-so-distant past. A mistake as large as the atrocities of the Nazi and Stalinist regime repeated once more in our society risks turning into a habit. Such habits must be uprooted from our world through education and by never forgetting what those before us have experienced.

Although the hardships that the victims of the Holocaust and the Stalinist Regime are nearly impossible to completely comprehend for those that did not witness them, it is the duty of the youth to preserve the memories and teachings of their ancestors. To allow the suffering and pain from the Holocaust and the Stalinist Repression to be
forgotten is dangerous, for we then run the risk of allowing such atrocities to reoccur once more.

The Annual Award Ceremony grants awards to young writers and artists that produce work under the subject of the Holocaust and Stalinist Repression. The awards granted to our young writers and artists both honor the memories of those
who have perished before us and also serve as validations of hope for a promising future.

An example of a talented recipient is Daniel Mezhiborsky, who received an award for his poem “Gone.”
My sister –
Where is my sister?


We stepped off the railcar like they said
We waited in the long line and smelled the smoke
My mom cried.
My arms ached.
And the people all were quiet.
Where is my sister?
She is here. I can see her.
I hold her hand. She is shaking.
The line is narrowing
And I see the man in the white coat.
My sister’s crying
And I stop to hold her.
“Bewegung.” Move, the guard says.
Our mother’s behind us as we step up to the man.
He points to one of the lines behind him.


Where’s my sister? I feel her hand.
We walk carefully to where the man pointed
And my sister’s shaking calmed.
But then, a shout – and another hand pulling on my sister’s arm.

I didn’t have time to scream before he had her
Before the guard took her away.
But make no mistake. It came soon after.
I screamed like I have never screamed before.
I looked to see my sister –


On her face I saw the most excruciating of expressions,
The most cursed of looks,
The most painful of cries.
In her eyes I saw fear,


I saw confusion,
I saw sorrow,
I saw pure terror.
But then the crowd closed around them
And I was left standing alone.
The world around me moved, but I stood still.


The pang of uselessness, the surge of anguish that
flooded me…
I felt my soul Crumble.
My knees weakened.
I fell.
Gone.

Daniel Mezhiborsky was an award recipient from the 13th Annual Award Ceremony. The next Annual Award Ceremony will be held on January 28, 2021 and the deadline for all submissions is on December 30, 2020.

Next year’s Award Ceremony will be held on January 28, 2021. The submission deadline for all types of works is on December 30, 2020.
Contact information: ludmilaprakhina@msn.com Phone: 201-741-0833, www.prakhina.org

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