The Paper Clips Project in Whitwell, Tennessee Celebrates Promoting Tolerance for 20 Years
As we mourn the deaths of those in the Tree of Life Synagogue tragedy, it’s comforting to know that there are many good people in the world who stand with us. November 9 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Paper Clips Project in Whitwell, Tennessee, in which the teachers and students of this small rural community undertook to understand the magnitude of the death of the six million Jews who died in the Shoah. Our book, “Six Million Paper Clips,” which documents this project, continues to sell well throughout the world. Here are the remarks by our good friends and authors Peter Schroeder and Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand, which will be read at the 20th anniversary event.



12 October 2018

Dear friends of the “Paper Clips Project”,

Dear Guests,

Unfortunately we are not able to be with you today.

We, as early supporters of the “Paper Clips Project” and donors of the German rail car that transported prisoners to the concentration camp in Chelmno/Poland and now houses the artefacts of the “Children’s Holocaust Memorial” in Whitwell/Tennessee, are proud to see what this Memorial already has accomplished in raising awareness and fighting prejudice, intolerance and many more ills.

We still believe in “Changing the world”, and we know that that the battle cry of “Never again” and the need of striving to leave our children and future generations a better world are heard around the globe. We also know that the “Holocaust-Mahnmal der Kinder” serves this purpose well: It beckons visitors and locals alike to think and change where change is needed.

We are in contact with visitors of the Memorial who’s life’s have been changed by this experience, who have been comforted and had their hopes restored. One of the many is the Holocaust survivor who’s story we told the audience at the dedication of the memorial: How she had decided to take her own life on that very day after losing all hope that they world could change to a world without hate, prejudice, intolerance and anti-Semitism.

But hearing about your Paper Clips Project restored her hope and she decided to live on. And we reminded you, that you, with the project, saved a life. But this joyous accomplishment comes with the price of the obligation to stay true to your colours. It is also the clarion call to fight against all forms present injustices. To prevent hate, neglect, intolerance, racism and xenophobia, directed at “all, who don’t look or behave like us”.

It’s an obligation for now and the future. Especially in the world of today where some populist politicians promote values opposed to values the “Paper Clips Project” and “The Children’s Holocaust Memorial” are teaching us. We have to realize that the lesson of the Holocaust is not simply remembering the past and memorializing its victims. The mission of the fight for the living and working for “a more perfect union” as the preamble of the US Constitution orders, is not fulfilled; it’s going on in perpetuity.

We have to realize that it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to the enemies of tolerance and morality in general; all the while trying to treat others the same way we want to be treated ourselves.

We know - and we are thankful for it - that many supporters of the project are still selflessly and not looking for personal or material rewards advocate the lessons of the Holocaust for today and the future. We salute all of them.

Wishing the project to accomplish all it was and is meant to be, now more than ever,

We are,

Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand

Peter W. Schroeder

Learn more about the students' project and download a comprehensive study guide for educators.

Scene of the project's dedication twenty years ago.