Six Million Paperclips
Music City Vikings President Oscar Krosnes presented a program at the MCV Feb. 17 2019 meeting on the a Holocaust memorial with ties to Norway and to Tennessee.
Oscar has been to visit the Whitwell Middle School Paperclip Holocaust Memorial in Whitwell, TN. The creation of the memorial was the culmination of a four year long class in teaching diversity and tolerance. In order to understand the concept of the number six million, the students decided to collect six million paperclips. The reason paper clips were chosen is because a Norwegian, Johan Vaaler (1866–1910), invented the paper clip. Non-Jewish Norwegian citizens wore paper clips on their lapels or as jewelry to protest the Nazis sending Norwegian Jews and Norwegian citizens to concentrations camps during WW II.
The Paper Clips film was shown, chronicling this international project from inception in 1998 to completion in 2004. The students collected 27 million paperclips and made friends all over the world.
Authors and diplomatic corespondents Peter and Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand learned about the project from 92 year Lena Lieba Gitter, an old friend who gave them a printout of the Whitwell Middle School website and encouraged them to get involved in the project. Lena had fled to the US when the Nazis had taken over Austria.
Blue Sky, a Norwegian ship from Bergen, transported the German rail car found by the Schroeders across the Atlantic to the port of Baltimore. The American railroad company CSX took the rail car to Whitwell on September 11, 2001. The nation mourned the tragic events of that day, as did the students at Whitwell. They watched the tragedy unfold on TV.
One student spoke up and said, “If I had not known why we are building a memorial, I would know it now.”
More information is available in your local library, including the book Six Million Paper Clips by the Schroeders, and the documentary film Paper Clips on DVD. The book ...I never saw another butterfly...Children’s Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp 1942-1944, edited by Hana Volavková, and the poem The Butterfly by Pavel Friedmann, inspired the butterfly art at the memorial are also interesting tie-ins to this memorial.
Oscar gave everyone paper clips to wear and had kleenex available for watching the inspirational Paper Clips film. This was the third time Oscar has shown the documentary film Paper Clips to a group. He is planning another trip to Whitwell and the Sequatchie Valley to revisit the Children’s Holocaust Memorial.