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Holocaust Memorial Day photo contest provides powerful pause for thought

 Holocaust Memorial Day Trust 2022 photo competition winners winning images
'One day of remembrance' (Image credit: Julia Rapoport / Holocaust Memorial Day Trust)

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) has announced the winners of its photo competition based on the theme of 'One Day', with the aim to explore what this means and how it has been interpreted by young photographers. 

This photo competition was open to entrants aged 14-25, who were encouraged to submit images that finished the sentence "One day…"

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In its second ever photo competition, the HMDT charity praised participants for their unique interpretations of the theme, with a stellar judging panel comprised of renowned photographer Rankin, the curator of the Open Eye Gallery Mariama Attah, as well as photographer and survivor of the Rwandan genocide Mussa Uwitonze. The panel was also joined by HMDT Trustee, Tulip Siddiq MP, and HMDT CEO, Olivia Marks-Woldman OBE.

The panel was looking for creative and original images, where the photographer had clearly engaged with the One Day theme and best represented the work carried out by the HMDT. "I was blown away by the photos, all of which were powerful and poignant," shared Siddiq. "The photos gave me hope that as a society we can learn from the mistakes of the past and forge a better future."

The overall winner of the competition was 18-year-old Julia Rapoport, with her image of multiple arms reaching towards an individual holding a blue flower (above). "I wanted to create a photograph that focused on both the hope and memory of the holocaust survivors," she said. 

'One day packing a case' (Image credit: Sophie Harris-Aldred / Holocaust Memorial Day Trust)

"I chose to represent this with the use of the Forget-Me-Nots flower, symbolizing on one side the victims, and on the other the persecutors, who, by plucking the petals, illustrate their control over the prisoner’s destiny… The meaning behind the flower is ‘to never be forgotten’, the victims of the holocaust are reaching out, soiled in dirt and bruises, desperate to not be a part of the faceless millions who had died beside them". 

At only 18 years old, this is an extremely eloquent take on photographic meaning – and Rankin certainly agrees. "It’s an excellent image," he said, "conceptually brilliant, technically well executed and emotionally very touching".

The Open Eye Gallery curator, Mariama Attah, felt that, "the submissions for the HMDT One Day competition were impressive in their empathy, maturity and insight. The photographers showed a real range in their approach, practice and vision, and I think they offered unique perspectives that I was surprised and thrilled by". 

Additional winners of the HMDT competition were 16-year-old Sophie Harris-Aldred with the image 'One day packing a case' (above), a photograph portraying items such as a suitcase, teddy bear and journal book dispersed along a train track. 

'One day when things don’t run like clockwork' (Image credit: Eloise Bishop / Holocaust Memorial Day Trust)

"’Pack a suitcase’, many were told before being forced into a cattle train, no clues as to where they were going," explained Harris-Aldred. "Some weren’t told to pack, nor given the opportunity, just taken away then and there. 

"Not many, if any, knew that might be the last case they packed, placing belongings such as clothes, books, letters, shoes, jewelry, sentimental valuables and children’s toys in them. One case per person; no more. Packing a suitcase today will never cross our minds as it did the victims, for we know we can return to the stuff left behind at home, they didn’t."

Also awarded by the competition was 19-year-old Eloise Bishop, with ‘One day when things don’t run like clockwork’ (above), an image displaying a set of keys left behind at a train station. 

"On display in Auschwitz-Birkenau is a set of keys," Bishop notes. "There was one day when the person who owned these keys was forced from their home. They took their keys with them, hopeful that one day they would return. That one day would never come for most during the Holocaust. This photo of my keys, taken on the Glasgow Subway, is a reminder of how lucky the majority of us are to get to return home at the end of each day."

'One day all is left is an old photograph' (Image credit: Mira Sveshtarska / Holocaust Memorial Day Trust)

The final winner was 21-year-old Mira Svestarska, with her photograph 'One day all is left is a photograph'. Svestarska captured an image of a rustic wall, with a dual-picture frame hung up. She shares: "In a small foreign country, in a house that is falling apart under the pressure of the unforgiving time, hangs all that is left from somebody’s life – a soul captured and imprisoned in old photographs. A harsh reminder of a moment in time that no longer exists."

A huge thank you and congratulations to the wonderful youth photographers who took part in commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January 2022). The full exhibition gallery of winning and highly commended images can be viewed on the HMDT website. 

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A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.