I was in Staples the opposite day looking at paper clips. In 1998, three middle-school teachers in Whitwell, Tenn. (pop. 1,500) came up with a project for the eighth grade class: Learn about intolerance by studying the Holocaust. The students read The Diary of Anne Frank and did web analysis, discovering that during World Warfare II, the Norwegians wore paper clips in their lapels as a silent gesture of solidarity and sympathy with Hitler’s victims.
A scholar, no one seems to recollect which one, stated it was inconceivable to imagine six million of something, let alone Jews who died within the Holocaust. That led by some means to the notion of gathering six million unique paper clips clips in a single place at one time, as a tribute to the victims. The venture began slowly, with a clip right here and a clip there, and 50,000 from one donor, and then the Washington Publish and Tom Brokaw acquired on the story and by the time Whitwell’s third group of eighth graders had been working the venture, that they had 29 million paper clips.