By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Three Catholic school students earned awards in the 2021 Ida S. Kramer “Children and the Holocaust” Essay Contest.
The annual contest, sponsored by the Quad Cities Yom HaShoa Committee, offers Quad City-area students in grades 7-12 an opportunity to earn gift cards and recognition in remembrance of Kramer, who served as a voice of Holocaust education for Quad-City schools, civic groups and the community at large for over 30 years.
Mary Rolfstad, a sophomore at Assumption High School in Davenport, received second prize for her essay, “Mengele’s Twins”
Rolfstad’s essay focused on Miriam and Eva Mozes, the Romanian-Jewish children who became known as Mengele’s Twins. “Tortured by the hands of Josef Mengele, the Mozes twins quickly learned their only purpose: to be experimental guinea pigs at a Nazi death camp.” The girls’ status as twins “led them to become among 3,000 twins who were experimented on.” After two years of torture, the girls were liberated. In adulthood, the Mozes twins founded an organization called Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors (CANDLES). Eva became an author and inspirational speaker.
“Eva and Miriam’s story is especially relatable to me because I have a twin sister,” Rolfstad wrote. “In reality, under different circumstances, the Mozes’ story could have been mine. … As years continue to pass, it is important to educate myself and others on the Holocaust, so that similar atrocities never occur again.”
Rolfstad received a $200 scholarship for her runner-up essay.
Two students from Demi Franck’s eighth-grade class at St. Joseph Catholic School in DeWitt received honorable mentions. Christina Reyna’s essay focused on the theme, “A Time in History Never to Forget,” while Ryan McGarry’s focused on “Survivors: The Children of the Holocaust Story.”
A full list of winners can be found at hecqc.org.