Years ago, Manhattan Lower & Middle Schools Division Head Ms. Zuckerwise heard from her sister, a fellow educator, about the story of students from Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee who started a “6 Million Paperclips” project. Back in 1998, a history class at Whitwell was studying the Holocaust, and the students wanted to collect 6 million paperclips to symbolize the 6 million Jews who were killed during World War II. Paperclips played a special role in the Holocaust, as non-Jewish Norwegians wore them on their lapel as a form of resistance and to show solidarity with Jewish Norwegians who were forced by the Nazis to wear stars on their clothing.
Ms. Zuckerwise was interested to learn more about the “6 Million Paperclips” project, so she, her parents, and two sisters traveled one school vacation to visit Whitwell. The school principal graciously met with Ms. Zuckerwise and her family to share more on how a class project turned into an ambitious worldwide sensation which eventually resulted in the creation of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial in front of the middle school. Pictured is Ms. Zuckerwise at the Children's Holocaust Memorial, where she added her own paperclip to the display.
“It was amazing how one idea and one school community engaged the world and had such a profound impact,” said Ms. Zuckerwise to the eighth-grade students at both Manhattan Middle School and Westchester Middle School, during her virtual presentation on this project. “It took more than a year to complete the collection of the first 6 million paperclips, but this project by the students in Whitwell demonstrates the importance of persistence, compassion, and tolerance.”
In addition to sharing with the eighth graders some personal photos from her visit to Whitwell, Ms. Zuckerwise also read aloud from the book Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial, which further detailed this incredible story of the students and their quest to honor those killed by the Nazis as well as Holocaust survivors.
Ms. Zuckerwise ended the webinar with the following message, “Not caring made the Holocaust possible. Be kind and caring towards everyone who crosses your path, and be inspired with the knowledge that you can make a difference.”