As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

CLIP ART 3: What’s the connection between the paper clip and the Holocaust?

So we know about Norwegian Johan Vaaler and how he is erroneously credited for the invention of the paper clip. Now you may wonder  why the topic has shifted to the Jews and the Holocaust ? If you do your own research, you will find that the paper clip has become a symbol of the Holocaust thanks to an after school project of some middle school children in a little town in the USA.

Paper Clips

Paper Clips is a 2004 documentary film written and produced by Joe Fab, and directed by Elliot Berlin and Joe Fab, about a Middle School class that tries to collect 6 million paper clips to represent the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis.

Paper Clips takes place in the rural, blue-collar Tennessee community of Whitwell, where a middle-school class attempts to gauge the magnitude of World War II’s Holocaust by collecting paper clips, each of which represents a human life lost in the Nazis’ slaughter of Jews.




So how did these middle school children end up with a Holocaust memorial project?

It all started …in 1998, Linda M. Hooper, principal of Whitwell Middle School in Whitwell, Tennessee, asked Assistant Principal David Smith to find a voluntary after-school project to teach the children about tolerance. David Smith and Sandra Roberts started a Holocaust education program and held the first class in the fall of 1998. Soon the students were overwhelmed with the massive scale of the Holocaust and asked Mrs. Hooper if they could collect something to represent the lives that were exterminated during the Holocaust.  Mrs. Hooper responded that they could if they could find something that related to the Holocaust or to World War II. Read more on wikipedia

project spreads beyond classroom

Millions and millions of paper clips arrive…
The kids’ Holocaust project spread far beyond the classroom
Images via the documentary’s trailer

Why did the children choose the paper clip as a symbol?

Through Internet research, the students discovered that Johan Vaaler*, a Norwegian, designed a loop of metal, and the Norwegians wore paperclips on their lapels during World War II as a silent protest against Nazi occupation. The students decided to collect 6,000,000 paper clips to represent the estimated 6,000,000 Jews killed between 1939 and 1945 under the authority of the Nazi government of Adolf Hitler.

(*As we learned from Day 1 of this Clipart Series —Norwegian Johan Vaaler is often credited with the invention of the paper clip; while he did indeed invent a paper clip, it was not the type used today.)

paper clips arrive with notes

Paper clips arrive with personal notes
Image via the documentary’s trailer

The paper clips were sent by various people by mail; the letters came from about 20 different countries. Some celebrities, like George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Steven Spielberg, Tom Bosley and Tom Hanks were among those mailing in the clips. As of the summer of 2004, the school had collected about 24 million paper clips. As of 2005, more were still coming in. Most letters contain a story or a dedication of the attached paper clips to a certain person. Some of these stories are shared in the film. Read more on wikipedia

One little thing
– the paper clip…led to a big thing – The Children’s Holocaust Memorial

The Children’s Holocaust Memorial consists of an authentic German transport car surrounded by a small garden. The memorial was uncovered on the anniversary of the Kristallnacht, November 9, 2001

A Little About the German trans519HPLEe4WLport car at the Memorial:

– it arrived in the Baltimore seaport on September 9, 2001
– built in 1917 and used for many purposes over the years
– after being bought by a German state-owned company in the late 1970’s, the car was used for intra-company transport and then abandoned.
– during World War II: the Third Reich used this car to transport prisoners to camps – 80 to 150 prisoners at a time
– the car was discovered after the war in Poland, near the town of Chelmno. It was used as a grain car after World War II. The grain holes in the floor and the ventilation hole in the roof were put in after the war.
– was part of the “German Reichsbahn” and is one of the very last remaining “cattle cars” of the Nazi era
– this car was located in a railroad museum in Robel, Germany. Peter Schroeder and Dagmar Schroeder Hildebrand (White House correspondents for German newspapers) purchased the car and donated it to Whitwell Middle School.
– this German rail car, numbered 011-993, was also used in the European film “Stalingrad” and in the U.S. film “Enemy at the Gate”.
Read more…

The following are now inside the German rail car :

-11 million paper clips (6 million for murdered Jews and 5 million for Roman Catholics, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other groups)
– Schroeders’ book “Six Million Paper Clips”

– a suitcase filled with letters of apology to Anne Frank by a class of German schoolchildren.

Surrounding the German rail car are the following:

– eighteen sculpted butterflies of twisted copper by Linda Pickett sculpted (embedded in concrete around the railcar);
inspired by the poem “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” written by a child who lived in Terezin concentration camp in 1942
–  the number 18 in Hebrew symbolizes life (in Gematria, 18 is the numerical value of the word חי, pronounced Chai, meaning life)
-a sculpture designed by an artist from Ooltewah, Tennessee stands next to the car, memorializing the 1.5 million children murdered by the Nazis, and incorporating another 11 million paper clips.

One more important PAPER CLIP that relates to the Jews:

Read the book “Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America” by Annie Jacobsen

“In the chaos following World War II, the U.S. government faced many difficult decisions, including what to do with the Third Reich’s scientific minds. These were the brains behind the Nazis’ once-indomitable war machine. So began Operation Paperclip, a decades-long, covert project to bring Hitler’s scientists and their families to the United States. 
Many of these men were accused of war crimes, and others had stood trial at Nuremberg; one was convicted of mass murder and slavery. They were also directly responsible for major advances in rocketry, medical treatments, and the U.S. space program. Was Operation Paperclip a moral outrage, or did it help America win the Cold War?” Read more on Amazon;   Watch video  of Annie talk about Operation Paperclip

More on Annie’s  Operation Paperclip book on HuffPost-The World Post ; on PBS News ;
Watch video  “Operation Paperclip:The CIA and the Nazis”


image for header So do… as the Linda M. Hooper, principal of Whitwell Middle School in Whitwell, Tennessee, initiate programs in your community to teach both children and adults about tolerance.

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This entry was posted on September 24, 2014 by in Care, Collaborate, Communicate, Connect, Teach and tagged , .
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