What is the Paperclip Campaign?

The paperclip campaign is a grass-roots effort started by one teacher and her students in Academy School District Twenty (Colorado Springs) to honor the victims of the Holocaust and to state visibly that we each have a personal responsibility to ensure that it never happens again.

During World War II, Norwegians wore paperclips on their clothes to demonstrate their opposition to Nazism and anti-Semitism. Different sources report Norwegians wearing paperclips on collars, cuffs, and lapels. By wearing paperclips, Norwegians responded to the ban of wearing badges or broaches bearing the image or the initials of the Norwegian king, Haakon VII. Sources also mentioned paperclips linked as bracelets. To demonstrate opposition to racism, prejudice, and hate crimes, millions of people around the world wear paperclips on their clothes or link them as bracelets during the annual Days of Remembrance. Please wear a paperclip with us during this week to honor the victims of the Holocaust.

According to a source, the first mass outbreak of civil disobedience occurred in the autumn of 1940, when Oslo University students wore paperclips on their lapels to demonstrate opposition to the German occupiers and to their Norwegian collaborators. A seemingly innocuous item, the paperclip was a symbol of solidarity and unity (binding together). The wearing of paperclips, the popular H7 monogram, and similar symbols (red stockings or other red garments) were outlawed and could lead to arrest and punishment. Paperclips were originally called “binders.” An untold number of Norwegians were arrested for the simple act of wearing a paperclip.

Whitwell Middle School Classroom Wall

A Miramax/Johnson Group documentary, Paper Clips, was released in September 2004. Although the documentary portrays the efforts of a small southern school, it does include information about the “paperclip campaign.” Whitwell Middle School in Whitwell, Tennessee, started their program after participating in our program and after using our symbol and poster in their program and in the movie. We commend Whitwell Middle School for their success and for helping to reach so many people to remember Holocaust victims and to encourage everyone to treat people with respect.

Endorsed By

Academy School District Twenty

Colorado State Legislators

Dr. Lloyd S. Lewan

Greenberg Center
for Learning and Tolerance

Key participants include the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, other Holocaust museums throughout the world, The Norwegian Resistance Organization, several chapters of the Anti-Defamation League, many Holocaust survivors, many Jewish organizations, and hundreds of secondary schools and colleges.

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