Something that started out a mere after school project to educate children on the importance of tolerance was able to grow into something quite incredible. The Children's Holocaust Memorial is housed at quite an interesting place where one may not have expected to find it. It can be found not far from Chattanooga in Whitwell Middle School, in Whitwell, Tennessee. The memorial stands in front of the school as a tribute to the many lives that were lost in the atrocities of the Holocaust. You will find multiple sculptures of butterflies and one of the rail cars that was used to transport the people who were victims of the Holocaust. Inside of the railcar, 11 million paperclips, each representing the life of an individual whom lost their life during this event, are placed. This project has touched the hearts of many and has developed into a life changing project for countless people. It has even inspired a film dedicated to telling the project’s story and the project has been implemented now in other schools as well.
During WWII, the Jewish people were forced to display a
Yellow Star of David on the clothing in order to establish their Jewish
heritage. In response to the events that the Jewish people, and others, were facing,
the Norwegians too wore an item. As a form of silent protest and a symbol of
resistance Norwegians wore a paper clip. In 1998, the idea to use paper clips
in order to represent the people witnessing the Holocaust became important once
In the small town of Whitwell, Tennessee, an afterschool
project developed into something large and inspiring. The population diversity
in Whitwell, Tennessee is very narrow and the amount of diversity within the
local middle school was even smaller. The principal of Whitwell Middle School,
Linda Hooper, proposed a project in order to encourage tolerance,
open-mindedness, and understanding of other cultures for the children. In order
to accomplish her goal, she sought the aid of the language arts teacher, Sandra
Roberts, as well as the associate principal, David Smith. Together they came up
with the idea to teach a tolerance course that entailed learning about the
events of the Holocaust. When the students had a difficulty understanding the
sheer enormity of this event they decided to try and collect a paperclip in
memory of each person who perished during the events of the Holocaust.
The children sent many letters to people asking for them to
each donate a single paper clip for their project. Correspondence was sent to
all walks of life, their family members, friends, and even celebrities. The
project began small but eventually grew into a large project in honor of the
people who had passed. The students’ original goal was to acquire 6 million in
memory of the Jews. However, as more and more paper clips arrived they then decided
to make the memory for everyone that was involved such as the Roma,
homosexuals, and etc.
The project extended over several years and in 2001 the
school dedicated the Children’s Holocaust Memorial in order to hold all of the
paper clips. The memorial is comprised of an actual rail car that was used to
transport people during the Holocaust. The paper clips are all housed inside of
it. It is also accompanied by several sculptures dedicated to the victims’
memory. Now when tours are given at the memorial the tour guide is unique.
Several of the students that attend the school are the ones who offer the tours
of the memorial and other items that the school has acquired. Since then a
documentary about the project has also been made detailing the events.