Foundation for the History of Totalitarianism

Essay competition:
Repression in Pre-War Nazi Germany

open for entries

Repression in pre-war Nazi Germany was one of the seminal moments in 20th century history leading onto the second world war and the Holocaust.

The repression began as early as 1933, when Adolf Hitler took power. Dachau, Nazi Germany’s first concentration camp, was opened in March 1933 and initially housed political opponents of the Nazi regime.

Nazi sympathisers were imposed on civil organisations. Trade unions were dissolved and their leaders arrested. The Brown Shirts, or Sturmabteilung, patrolled the streets beating rivals. Jews were removed from their jobs in law, medicine the government and education. Jewish businesses, homes, hospitals and schools were ransacked or demolished in a pogrom in 1938 known as Kristallnacht. The Gestapo, Hitler’s secret police, spied on the population, interrogating and imprisoning political opponents. This led to terrible consequences for Germany and all Europe. It is a momentous subject.

Please note that this essay prize is different from some others. There is no question as such. Essays should include a description of the repression and the students’ own reflections and observations.

It is open to students to focus on any aspects of the repression for analysis or comment. For example, they could focus on why the Nazis enforced repression or why German society did not revolt against it. Students could reflect on why Jews were victimised or what the events tell us about how an ideology can lead to cruelty and oppression. Or students can choose some other aspect entirely.

Essays should be 1,800 to 2,000 words.

UK prize

First prize: £1,500.
Second prize: £600.
Third prize: £400.

Each prize will be divided equally between the student and the school.

Four to six entries will be highly commended and students will receive £100 each. Another five to seven entries entries will be commended and receive a certificate.

The essay prize would suit students who want to improve their personal statements in their UCAS forms. The prize is open to students who will be in year 12 or year 13 in the academic year 2023-24. They must be resident in the United Kingdom.

International prize

Students resident outside the UK are eligible for the international prize. The best essay will receive a prize of £200. Other overseas essays may be highly commended or commended according to merit.

Deadline and awards ceremony

The deadline for entries will be noon February 4th, 2024. Each candidate must only submit one entry but there is no limit to the number of entries from any school. There is no fee to enter. See more terms and conditions.

The prizes will be awarded in a ceremony at a prestigious central London location.

Click on the button below to register interest in the essay prize. This does not commit you to writing an essay but you will then receive updates and ideas.

Any queries should be emailed to

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