The International Press Institute (IPI) today joined the Austrian publishing house Lammerhuber in warmly congratulating German photographer Helena Schätzle as the winner of the 2016 Alfred Fried Photography Award for peace photography.

In selecting Schätzle, the international jury described her portrait series of Holocaust survivors as having captured “late moments of solace, tenderness and intimacy in the lives of those who are haunted by a terrible past, late moments of happiness in a traumatised life after survival”.

Schätzle produced the series while spending several months in the company of Holocaust survivors and their families in Israel. Herself the granddaughter of a Wehrmacht solider, Schätzle wrote that she had been struck by the interweaving of the “emotional traces of a still very present past” with a “regained happiness in the present” in the lives of the survivors she met, a tension she sought to capture in her art.

Named for Austrian pacifist, author and 1911 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Alfred Hermann Fried, the Alfred Fried Photography Award recognises the year’s best photograph signifying the theme of peace. The award is intended to draw attention to those images in order “to remind us that peace is a top priority for felicitous coexistence”. The award comes with a €10,000 prize.

Schätzle accepted the Award during a ceremony in the Austrian Parliament on Tuesday evening that included a keynote address by Abdessatar Ben Moussa, president of the Tunisian Human Rights League and a joint recipient of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite the evening’s theme of peace, war and its abiding destructive power – particularly in Syria, where a civil war rages in its sixth year – remained never far.

On behalf of IPI, Syrian journalist and 2015 IPI World Press Freedom Hero Mazen Darwish spoke to attendees about the importance of photographic images in exposing tyranny and terror and ultimately leading to peace.

Darwish, who was imprisoned and tortured in Syria for three years before being released in August 2015 and who now lives in Germany, described his war-torn homeland as a place in which “tyranny and terrorism are working together daily for the demolition of all human values”.

In the evening’s opening address, Doris Bures, president of Austria’s National Council and the joint acting president of Austria, spoke of a growing “yearning for peace” worldwide. She described as “unendlingly painful” the global community’s failure to put an end the conflict in Syria as yet.

The Alfred Fried Award jury recognised four additional photographers for their work. These were Chris de Bode (the Netherlands), for his series depicting the ambitions of young children in underprivileged environments; Altaf Quadri (Kashmir) for his black-and-white reportrage on a school underneath a bridge in New Delhi; Boris Register (Russia) for his portrayals of everyday life in the Russian countryside; and Leyla Emektar (Turkey) for her whimsical depictions of children at peace. All four were presented with the Alfried Fried Photography Award Medal.

The Award was first established in 2013 by the Österreichische Photographische Gesellschaft and the Austrian publishing house Lammerhuber, and is given in partnership with IPI, UNESCO, the Austrian Parliament, and the Austrian Parliamentary Reporting Association.

This year, organisers received 3,721 submissions totalling 16,883 images from 127 countries.