Children Can Make A Difference
As I was conducting research for my children’s book, I read about the Children's Holocaust Memorial at Whitwell Middle School. The staff there wanted to teach the children about tolerance and diversity. They chose to study the Holocaust and learned that six million Jews lost their lives during this period. An additional five million non-Jewish individuals suffered persecution and death during this time.
How is it even possible for young minds to comprehend a number as large as eleven million? The staff and students decided to collect a single item for each individual life lost. Because the number of lives lost was so enormous, they had to collect something small. They chose paper clips. The paper clip, designed by a Norwegian Jew, was worn as a symbol of resistance in Norway during the Nazi occupation.
The project received international attention. People from all over the world donated paper clips -- even two United States presidents! To store the clips, the school obtained a railway boxcar from Germany. This particular boxcar had been used to transport Jews to concentration camps during the Holocaust.
As well as the items stored in the boxcar, there is a library in the school that contains books, letters, and memorabilia donated to the school by Holocaust survivors and their families. It also contains projects made by school children from around the world. The Paper Clip Project is now twenty years old. To date, forty million paper clips have been donated.
The project is also the focus of both a book and a film. People from all over the world visit The Children's Holocaust Museum. A plaque inside the boxcar reads: As you leave this memorial, ask yourself, “What can I do to spread the message of love and tolerance these children have demonstrated with this memorial?”
I was so impressed by what the staff and children at Whitwell Middle School accomplished that I decided to include their story in the Afterword of my children’s book, The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey. More details about the project are included in the book.
More about The Paper Clip Project:
Learn more about The Whitwell Paper Clip Project here.
Read about This Special Holocause Memorial in Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children's Holocaust Memorial.