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The documentary was filmed on site at Whitwell, ... a World War II-era German rail car sits in front of the Whitwell Middle School housing millions of paper clips, ...


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Teaching Tolerance and Diversity

HOLOCAUST -The destruction of some 6 million Jews by the Nazis and their followers in Europe between the years 1933-1945. Other individuals and groups were persecuted and suffered grievously during this period, but only the Jews were marked for complete and utter annihilation. The term "Holocaust" - literally meaning "a completely burned sacrifice" - tends to suggest a sacrificial connotation to what occurred.

The documentary was filmed on site at Whitwell, Tennessee, an Appalachian town populated by 1,600 residents, mainly white Anglo-Saxon Protestants with four black families and one Hispanic family. No foreigners, Catholics, Jews, or Muslims live there. The book was written in 2004 by Peter and Dagmar Schroeder, both are White House correspondents for a group of German newspapers. The town was the most unlikely place for a Holocaust memorial. But today, a World War II-era German rail car sits in front of the Whitwell Middle School housing millions of paper clips, each one honoring a victim of Nazi hatred, intolerance, and murder. It memorializes not only Jews, but Gypsies, Communists, trade unionists, disabled people, and anyone referred to by the Nazi regime as inferiors and untermeschen, or those less than human. The project began with a simple question by a parent of one of the middle school students to Mrs. Hooper, the school’s principal (“What are we teaching about diversity in our schools?”), which initiated planning by the entire community to start the project and bring it forward. To understand the enormity of the Nazi extermination of 6,000,000 Jews, students began collecting paper clips, a symbol used by Norwegians during the Nazi occupation to show solidarity for their Jews. German journalists Dagman and Peter Schroeder became involved. Here, the Schroeders tell how they met with students, worked with them and ultimately found and secured the German rail car, which was used to transport Jewish victims to concentration camps. Their project inspired people around the world and confirmed that by educating and remembering the innocent victims of the Holocaust, a positive change with future generations of our world is possible.

Directions: While watching this documentary, answer the questions below and be prepared to discuss them next class.

1. Do you think that a town like Whitwell, where there is little diversity, has a greater need to study these issues than does a place where there is considerable diversity?  Explain your thinking.

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2. Why do you think the Holocaust was chosen as the focus of study for teaching students about diversity and tolerance?  Do you agree this was a good choice? Explain your reasoning.

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3. Prior to media coverage of the project, students had collected 150,000 paper clips.  After media coverage, they had approximately 24 million.  Do you believe that the project eventually would have succeeded even without media coverage?  Why or why not?

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4. What do you see as the media’s role in giving coverage and exposure to projects such as this one?  In your opinion, do the media give enough attention to this kind of story?

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5. Why do you think one of the survivors said that happiness makes him cry more than anything else?

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6. One of the students talks about passing down what she has learned through the Paper Clip Project to her children, and educating her family and friends.  What are some specific ways that she can pass on what she has learned?

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7. What are some behaviors that this student might demonstrate in the future that will show she has become committed to seeing that events like the Holocaust never happen again?

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Resources:

http://www.lets.umb.edu/documents/07paperclips.pdf Copyright © 2000-2004 - WSHERC, All Rights Reserved http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/wiesenthal_glossary.ht ml

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