Essay Contest

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Annual Essay Contest!

Hundreds of students from across the United States participated in the 2018 German Embassy Annual Essay Contest. The judges spent many, many hours reading essays and had a hard time narrowing down the finalists. In the end, the winner for each division was chosen, along with 10 honorable mentions. The winning essays for 2018 have been published below the topics.

Interested in entering the contest next year? Bookmark this page and check back for updates!

German Inventions

From the first bicycle to the coffee filter to the mp3: throughout history there are numerous examples of German inventions used in today’s everyday life. Many are not known to have come from Germany. Pick a German invention that you see in your daily life and tell us why it is important. Is it only useful for you or for others, too? Did you know it was German? Who invented it and why? Is that all the inventor is known for?

70th Anniversary of the Berlin Airlift

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Berlin Airlift. This unprecedented humanitarian action to supply the needs of over 2 million West Berliners through air transport is often called the first battle of the Cold War. It is also often used to underscore the long history of the German-American partnership. Why did all the countries involved in the Berlin Airlift think it was so important to keep West Berlin supplied? Does this historical event still play an important role in the transatlantic partnership? Why or why not?



Grades 3-5: Sofia Levit (parent sponsor)

Grades 6-8: Julia Kries (Teacher: Andrew Anders)

Grades 9-12: Megumi Invencion (Teacher: Stephanie Nelson)

Honorable Mention: Mariel Downs, Addison Meiying Gibbons, Benjamin Carino, Syd Nichols, Grace Olsen, Colin Spaulding, Alyssa Janoch, Etta Potthoff, Cat Corbin, Nicole Schmidt


Grades 3-5: Sofia Levit (4th Grade, Gainesville, VA)

When visiting a nail salon with my mom, I always see her dipping her hands and feet to make her skin smoother and softer in a gooey warm liquid called paraffin way. I learned that paraffin way is made from petroleum or coal and is colorless, soft, and sold at room temperature and becomes liquid when heated.

I did not know that paraffin wax was a German invention. A scientist by the name of Karl von Reichenback, who is known for many inventions in chemistry, was first to create paraffin wax in 1830. Several years later it helped candle makers to produce less expensive candles that burned more cleanly than candles made of animal fat.

In addition to candles, paraffin wax is used in many different ways today. For example, it was used to make chewing gum and you can also find paraffin wax used as a coating for cheese to protect it during aging. Paraffin wax is an ingredient in ski wax that allows skies and snowboards to glide better on snow. But my favorite example are crayons, which are made of melted paraffin wax wmixed with different color dyes, then placed in molding machines and cooled to become solid. I love to color and draw and many children like me use crayons made of paraffin way in their daily lives!

Grades 6-8: Julia Kries (7th Grade, Centreville, MD)

In June 1948, United States Army Pvt. Norbert Kries, 18 years old and from Toledo, Ohio, received his first orders to report to Berlin, Germany. Pvt. Kries, the son of a German immigrant, was assigned to the very important task of helping with unloading and distributing of supplies to the people of Berlin. It was the end of WWII and over 2 million Berliners were in desperate need of supplies such as food, medicine, coal and other basic necessities to sustain life. Pvt. Kries also had the important job of standing guard at the Brandenburg Gate that separated East and West Berlin. My name is Julia Kries and Pvt. Norbert Kries is my grandfather. This event, known as the Berlin Airlift, is very important in my family’s history. Around 40 years prior to the Berlin Airlift, my grandfather’s family emigrated from Germany to the United States so this relief effort hit close to home.

At the end of WWII, the Soviet Union blocked off all transportation to West Berlin and their goal was to make everyone leave by blocking off access to food and supplies. Berlin was separated into four quadrants, each with one being held separately by the Americans, French, British, and the Soviets. The Soviet section was called East Belrin and the American, French, and Britich section was called West Berlin. East Berlin did not want Germany to unify after WWII so they tried to get everyone to evacuate in West Berlin so they could plan a take over. This was called the Berlin Blockage, which caused the need for the Berlin Airlift. The United states Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, the French Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the South African Air Force made a total of over 200,000 flights to Berlin, trying to keep them supplied, because as long as West Berlin had resources, the citizens wouldn’t have to leave and the Soviet Union would not be able to take over.

2018 marks the 70th Anniversray of the beginning of the Berlin Airlift. The United States stood up to the Soviets in 1948 and with our European allies of France and Great Britain came to the aid of the German people of Berlin. The Berlin Airlift strengthened our relationship with other European nations at the same time the Soviets went from our ally to enemy. It showed that the United States was committed to helping other countries in their fight for democracy in 1948 and that we are still today in 2018.

The Berlin Airlift was not only an important event in world history, it was an important event in my family history. The Berlin Airlift built up our relationship with Europe, which was important for my family which is German-American. Without the help of other countries, West Berlin would be in the control of the Soviet Union. The Berlin Airlift was a monumental event in history that will always be remembered.

Grades 9-12: Megumi Invencion (11th Grade, Des Moines, WA)

On June 26, 1948, the Berlin Airlift began and lasted until May 12, 1949. The Berlin Airlift was comprised of the British, French, and Americans who made the risky decision of using planes to supply the western portion of Germany’s capital, Berlin. It tested America’s support for German democracy and improved the relationshop between Germans and Americans that was damaged from WWII. Additionally, the Berlin Airlift led to the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which continues to bring security to its member countries today.

In June, 1948, the Soviet Union blocked the roads Wester Allies had used to supply West Berlin in retaliation of the new Deutsche Mark currency and to spread Communism. With West Berlin prone to starvation, the Wester Allies needed to take action. According to, when discussing the possible Ameircan occupation withdrawl from Berlin, President Harry Truman stated “…we are going to stay – period.” Supplying West Berlin became important to the Western Allies, as “Outline of U.S. History” published by the U.S. Department of State claims that the nations feared that “…losing Berlin would preclude to losing Germany and subsequently all of Europe.” It would also suggest that their Democracies were powerless against Soviet forces when they did not want Communism to spread.

With Truman’s decision, the Wester Allies sent planes to deliver food and coal that West Berliners needed for survival. Despite the fact that America and Germany were at war only seven years earlier in WWII, their relationship mended as they came togeher to support President Truman’s orders, then known as Operation Vittles. From their efforts, roughly 277,000 flights were made. The book “The Berlin Wall” by Michael Burgan mentions that “At the peak of the airlift, the planes brought an average of almost 9,000 tons of supplies each day,” exceeding the requirement of 2,000 tons per day. Furthermore, Gail Halvorsen, commonly known as the Candy Bomber, had released airdrop packages of candy for West Berlin children. When the Soviet Union realized that blocking traffic to West Berlin had become redundant, they reopened roads and railways.

Nearing the end of the Berlin Airlift, Western Allies formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It provided a collective security, meaning that all member countries would resist of one of them was attacked. NATO continues to contribute its services today, stating on their website that their purpose is to “provide freedom and secutiry of its members through political and military means.” Because NATO persists to support its members in the modern era, the Berlin Airlift remains a significant event for the transatlantic partnership.

Overall, the Berlin Airlift is presently seen as a great humanitarian effort. It nourished West Berlin’s population of two million people and mended the relationship between the Western Allies and Germany. It also demonstrated that America was committeed to Germany’s Decmocracy and supported the creation of  NATO. These impacts make the Berlin Airlift a compelling and significant historical event.