Prize by the nsdoku

Since 2018 the Munich Documentation Centre awards a prize for outstanding publications, activities or projects that make a major contribution to educating the public about National Socialism, about the crimes of the Nazi regime and about the consequences and continuing impact of the Nazi era.

About the prize

The inflammatory slogans of hatred once again being spread on a large scale today by right-wing populists and right-wing extremists bear a shocking resemblance to Nazi propaganda. The extreme Right’s xenophobia, antisemitism and obliviousness to history are now penetrating mainstream society. It is the task of the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism to educate the public about the Nazi era and to make clear where the inhuman ideology of the Right has its roots.

In selecting the projects the jury looks for high-quality contributions with a broad social impact that are both in tune with the times and oriented towards the future. A jury of experts from German-speaking countries and honorary members of the City Council proposes national and international publications and projects for discussion and then recommends a candidate to receive the prize. The final decision about the selection of the winner is taken by the City Council. The prize, worth 8,000 euros, is awarded every two years.

Prizewinners to date

2022: Center for Studies of Memory Policy and Public History Mnemonics

© Center for Studies of Memory Policy and Public History Mnemonics

The prize by the nsdoku 2022 honors the remarkable commemorative work of the Ukrainian Center for Studies of Memory Policy and Public History Mnemonics in Rivne, a civil society initiative that, since 2016, has championed public education about the Holocaust in Ukraine and worked to establish a pluralistic, democratic memory culture. The Center for Studies of Memory Policy and Public History Mnemonics is a financially and politically independent NGO founded by historians Maksym Gon, Petro Dolhanov, and Nataliia Ivchyk from Rivne. The initiative works to inform and sensitize the public – from academia to society in general – on issues relating to the commemoration of violent history in the twentieth century. 

Under difficult conditions Mnemonics has played a pivotal role in educating the public about Nazi crimes in Ukraine and has held numerous events to encourage a nuanced memory culture that steers clear of political-propagandistic instrumentalization. These projects include artistic installations, school projects about the Holocaust, or the laying of Stolpersteine. The prize will lend support to an initiative whose important work is being impacted heavily by the war. The prize will be handed over to Tetiana Vodotyka and Nataliia Ivchyk on behalf of Mnemonics in November 2022.

2020: Fondation du Camp des Milles – Mémoire et Éducation

Gedenkstätte Site-Mémorial du Camp des Milles, 2012 | Foto: Christophe de Bise

The prize was awarded to the Fondation du Camp des Milles – Mémoire et Éducation for its outstanding remembrance work at the Site-Mémorial du Camp des Milles. The Camp des Milles, located near the city of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France, is a former brickworks that was used from 1939 to 1942 first as a prison camp and later as a deportation camp for the Jewish population.  An initiative fought for many years to stop the former camp being destroyed.  In 2012 it was finally declared a memorial site and developed. The Les Milles camp epitomizes the complex history of the crimes committed by the Germans in occupied France and for the collaboration and co-responsibility of the Vichy government.

It is a place where the specific history of displacement, migration, and deportation during the Nazi regime is portrayed particularly vividly. 
 
In explaining its decision to award the prize, the jury stated that the award constituted “a signal for a lively discourse about our common history and memory and an appeal for transnational collaboration between European memorial sites.”

2018: Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation

by Ari Folman and David Polonsky

Book cover Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation | © Anne Frank Fonds Basel

Anne Frank’s Diary is one of the most important documents of the Holocaust. Its adaptation as a graphic novel follows the current trend of using alternative methods to convey difficult subjects like war or persecution. Employing a visual aesthetic familiar to teenagers, it zooms in on historic events to show them with a close-up directness; at the same time, the graphic realisation produces an alienating effect, distancing the reader from history. This dialectic of immediacy and distance opens up a space in which to portray and convey emotions, fears and hopes and to show the inner world – the thoughts and experiences – of this young girl hiding from the Nazis.

Anyone who thought there was nothing new to say about Anne Frank’s diary is in for some surprises from Folman and Polonsky in whose narrative and drawings the story of the Amsterdam backyard is retold with extraordinary vitality, conveying the feeling of claustrophobia, the lack of privacy, the silent conflicts and the danger posed by news from outside that time and again brings Anne’s complex, yet monotonous everyday life into sharp focus.

The visual depiction of Anne’s inner life as she responds to her environment, sometimes with irony, sometimes with derision and increasingly with dejection, is particularly impressive. The images, most in colour, a few in sepia, bring home to readers the fears, emotions, day dreams, memories and hopes for the future of this intelligent young girl; but increasingly also her nightmarish fantasies, which grow out of the ever more detailed reports about the camps and the imminent threat of annihilation.

“Folman and Polonsky’s Diary of Anne Frank brings together central aspects of the work of the Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism at the interface between knowledge, education and art. The authors have translated the history of the Holocaust into an artistic language that enables readers to comprehend the unimaginable and the unutterable. The powerful effect of their haunting images reaches even those readers who have little knowledge of history or reading ability. To address this difficult subject requires a great deal of courage, sensitivity and skill from the artist. Folman and Polonsky have made a valuable and pioneering contribution to efforts to create a continually evolving, lively culture of remembrance”, the jury stated, explaining why it had chosen to award them the prize.

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation is available in all Munich public libraries.