Winners Announced: White Rose Project Writing Competition 2020

Dr Alex Lloyd, Director of the White Rose Project, reports on this year’s national competition for sixth formers in partnership with the Oxford German Network.

We had an extraordinary response to our inaugural White Rose Project Writing competition as part of the 2020 Oxford German Olympiad. There were nearly sixty entries from 45 schools across the UK. Entrants were asked to write a short essay in German in response to the question „Was können wir heute noch von der Weißen Rose lernen?“ [What can we learn from the White Rose today?]. The judges were extremely impressed with the high quality of students’ work and there were some very thoughtful, creative, and insightful contributions.

Some common themes and concerns emerged across the essays, especially climate change and the rise of the far right in Europe. Here are some of the many answers to the question ‘What can we learn from the White Rose today?’ that appeared in the students’ work:

  • the importance of following one’s conscience
  • the importance of communicating messages clearly so that people can understand them
  • young people should not be dismissed as apolitical — they have the strength to make positive change in the world
  • even individuals and small groups of ‘ordinary’ people can effect change
  • it is important to take personal responsibility for your thoughts and actions
  • you can trust your own judgement and moral compass
  • we should never stop fighting for freedom
  • you should keep up your courage, even if you seem to be the only one standing up for what is right
  • violence is never a solution
  • it’s possible to change your view on things, just as Hans and Sophie Scholl went from being in the Hitler Youth to being resisters
  • you should view the world critically and not be taken in by fake news
  • you should seek the truth yourself and not rely on others to do it for you
  • there were people in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s willing to resist Nazism
  • it is worth pursuing justice and fairness

The overall winner is Philip Mortimer whose essay impressed the judges both in terms of the linguistic accuracy and flair, and the originality and engagement shown in discussing the topic. We also awarded prizes to the following:

Runners up: Edward Maher and Pearl Young.

Highly Commended: Ben Bagley, Alexandra Hedstrom-Blake, Irmak Lal Dyonmez.

Commended: Imogen Barnes, Caitlin Bond, Shona Lally, Elenor Vockins.

All winners will receive a copy of The White Rose: Reading, Writing, Resistance (Taylor Institution Library, 2019). I am extremely grateful to my fellow judges — Jenny Lemke, Birgit Mikus, Sam Thompson, and Aoife Ní Chroidheáin — and on their behalf I would like to thank and congratulate everyone who took part.

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