Bushes ‘Touched’ by Holocaust Documentary

By Ori Nir

Published March 04, 2005, issue of March 04, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

WASHINGTON — “Paper Clips,” a new documentary film chronicling Tennessee schoolchildren’s efforts to memorialize the Holocaust, has secured a thumbs-up from two high-profile viewers: President Bush and his wife, Laura.

The film was screened at the White House on February 19, just hours before Bush left for his trip to Europe. It chronicles the story of eighth graders who set out to collect 6 million paper clips — one for each Holocaust victim.

The movie was recommended to White House staffers by the Anti-Defamation League, which plans to develop a Holocaust education curriculum linked to the film once its commercial run has ended.

“I talked to some friends, some close to the White House, close to the president, and said: ‘Why don’t you see this,’” ADL Director Abraham Foxman told the Forward. Foxman said that the White House had received similar suggestions from others.

The president and the first lady watched the film, along with several staffers.

White House spokeswoman Maria Tamburri told the Forward: “The president and the first lady enjoyed the movie” and “were touched by the story and by how the teacher and the students commemorated the lives lost in the Holocaust.”

Foxman said that the movie is particularly important because it demonstrates “how the Holocaust can be relevant today, even in middle-America.” Many people, he said, think “that 60 years later it has no relevance, it doesn’t reach people and doesn’t touch people, yet here is a community that had not one Jew and reached out to better understand history, and was so extraordinarily moved that its experience has now become a catalyst to teach others about the lessons of the Holocaust.”

The project started after eighth graders at the local middle school in Whitwell — population 1,500 — learned that during World War II, the Norwegians wore paper clips in their lapels as a silent gesture of solidarity with the Nazis’ victims. One student came up with the idea of gathering 6 million paper clips to illustrate the enormity of the loss of Jewish lives in the Holocaust.

After the national media covered the story, the students were deluged with 29 million paper clips. Their project was boosted further when two German reporters who covered the story arranged for a railcar, used to transport Jews to the concentration camps, to be shipped to Whitwell for display as a memorial.

Eleven million paper clips were put inside the railcar to commemorate the Nazis’ noncombatant victims, who included Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals.






Find us on Facebook!
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.