Around the country more than half a million middle and high school students competed in National History Day contests this past month. JMA and CPBN’s very own Claire Faulkner placed fourth in the nation for her entry, Helmuth James von Moltke: A Leader of Resistance to Hitler & the Nazi Party, competing against students in all 50 states, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and international schools around the world.
For this year’s theme, Taking a Stand in History, Claire chose her own family history to tell the story of someone taking an important stand against injustice. “When I learned that the theme was ‘Taking A Stand in History,’ I immediately thought of my distant relative, Helmuth James von Moltke. The more I researched about him, the more I was convinced that his story was perfect for the theme.”
Helmuth James von Moltke was one of the lesser known German resistance leaders of WWII and despite a long family history of military service, he used his position in the army to save thousands of lives. He started a group called Kreisau Circle to work with other resistance members to create a plan for Germany after Hitler fell from power.
“Very few people know his story, so I was really proud that I was able to share it through the History Day contests.”
“I’m proud that I was able to share the story of my relative in my own way on a national platform. I didn’t just want to inform my audiences, I also wanted to make them feel the emotion that I felt when I learned about this story,” said Claire.
She won the Senior Division World War II History Award, the Senior Division Outstanding Entry Award for Connecticut, and came fourth in the country for the Overall Senior Individual Documentary Award.
“Simply completing a National History Day Contest project is an accomplishment,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “But these students do so much more. They conduct original historical research and often uncover history that was unknown. They learn skills that will help them both in college and their careers. And above all, they develop a passion for learning.