16 November 2005

The Paper Clip Project

Last night, just by chance, I watched an excellent documentary called "Paper Clips." It is showing on HBO. I'm not sure if the actual documentary itself is good or if it is just the subject matter that is so compelling. It is about "The Paper Clip Project" that was done at Whitwell Middle School in Whitwell, TN. As part of a study on the Holocaust the eigth grade students decided to collect paper clips for each of the 6 million people murdered. They chose paper clips for their symbol because paper clips were invented by Norwegians and Norwegians wore them on their lapels as a silent protest against Nazi occupation in WWII. To date approximately 30 million paperclips have been sent to Whitwell Middle School.

From their website:
The paper clip collection has become a part of the "Children's Holocaust Memorial" created by the students, staff, and community of Whitwell Middle School. The Memorial contains 11 million paper clips housed in an authentic German transport car honoring the lives of all people murdered by the Nazis. And eleven million other paper clips are contained in a monument honoring the children of Terezin. Eighteen (for chai-Hebrew for life) butterflies (the Christain symbol of renewal) enhance the grounds around the rail car. The students, staff, and community of Whitwell Middle School have transformed the car from a death car into a symbol of renewed life honoring the lives of those murdered by the Nazis. For generations of Whitwell students, a paper clip will never again be just a paper clip. Instead, the paper clip is a reminder of the importance of perseverance, empathy, tolerance, and understanding.

In addition to collecting paper clips they also received thousand of letters and at one point several Holocaust survivors came to the town to tell their stories. The whole thing is very, very moving and I highly recommend it.

1 comment:

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