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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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The paperclip of freedom

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A FRIEND turned up at a recent Stand in the Park meeting with a three-inch paperclip attached to his shirt pocket. Being the curious type and not usually missing a trick, I asked him why he was wearing it. He told me that during World War II, Norwegians who were passively resisting the German occupation took to wearing a paperclip as a token of their resistance. I had heard of the White Rose movement in Nazi Germany which produced underground pamphlets and literature at great risk to themselves (some members sacrificing their lives in the process) and which is active again today,  but the ‘paperclip’ movement was a new one to me. My friend had brought with him a supply of clips that he generously gave out to the assembled ‘standers’. In return I gave him a Stand In The Park badge that says ‘We stand for freedom’.

Norway was seen by Hitler as an important strategic country because of its coastline. He knew that to break the Allied blockade of Germany he needed a relatively safe route for transport of supplies to maintain his war effort. Norway had declared its neutrality, but this was not going to stop the Fuhrer from getting what he wanted, so in April 1940 Germany invaded and occupied the country.

It didn’t take long for the Germans to become established, and they set about trying to Nazify the country. The King and Crown Prince of Norway had decamped to England and the Crown Princess had sought sanctuary in America where she became a guest of F D Roosevelt in the White House. The Norwegian population lived under German rule. Teachers were told to join the Nazi party and teach Nazism in classrooms and the church was told to obey Hitler and the State. Anti-Jewish legislation was passed. In a population of 4million, some 400,000 German troops were operating in Norway by 1945. With such a high ratio of occupation forces, any acts of rebellion, resistance and defiance were perilous. However it kept many soldiers away from more active areas of conflict, thereby reducing the German ability to counter the Allied invasions from both East and West.

In 1940 students at Oslo University started wearing paperclips on their lapels as a visual, nonviolent symbol of unity, resistance and national pride. Other symbols relating to Norwegian nationality had been banned and these young people wanted a way of displaying their rejection of Nazi ideology.

Why did they choose the paper clip? While there is no definite answer, it is thought that the ‘binding together’ function of the clip symbolised exactly what they wanted to display: We may be under the German yoke but we are united in our condemnation of it. Also it was thought, mistakenly as it turned out, that the paperclip had been invented by a Norwegian by the name of Johan Vaaler. 

In time the Germans cottoned on to the symbolism of the clip and it became a crime to wear one, but by then the Norwegians had found more practical ways to annoy their occupiers. Teachers went on strike and although some were sent to prison camps, it didn’t deter the vast majority and eventually the Germans had to give up on force-feeding their ideology through the education system. Every bishop in Norway resigned, along with 90 per cent of the clergy, and here too the Nazis had to admit defeat with regard to their edict that the church must submit to  ‘obedience to the Leader and the State’. German was a widely spoken language pre-war but after the occupation the majority of the population refused to speak it. On public transport Germans were shunned, so it was made a crime to stand if there was a vacant seat next to a German. It must have been difficult for soldiers in a foreign country trying to find directions from a population refusing to speak their language and giving them wrong directions whenever they could.

All of us who frequent our Stand in the Park meetings are under no illusions that in 2023 we are under an occupying force that, while not stomping around in jackboots and carrying guns, are none the less attempting to stamp their unholy ‘woke’, Agenda 2030 inhuman philosophy on the world. Behind the summer sunshine and the distracting rubbish that passes for mainstream news, there is no doubt that we are in the fight of our lives if civilisation as we know it is to survive.

I’ve been wearing my paperclip whenever I’m out and about and have not yet seen any more being worn. I’ve been asked about it a couple of times and I take great pleasure in telling the Norwegian story of its origins. And how does it relate to the present day I’m asked? It doesn’t take much to get inquisitive souls nodding in agreement when they realise and acknowledge the huge transfer of wealth that has been taking place these last three years because they are suffering along with everyone else. Not to mention the fact that more people are  becoming aware that governments are not acting in our best interests. Five jabs plus boosters has opened a lot of eyes, although in some cases it is too late.

I shall continue to wear my paperclip as my new-found symbol of resistance. If it was good enough for the brave souls of occupied Norway, it is good enough for me. If by chance you happen to be in the sunny and exotic climes of Yorkshire, Wharfedale to be precise, and you see a bloke of average height, average build and still sporting most of his hair, with a paper clip fastened to his jacket, it just might be me, so please stop and say hello.

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Harry Hopkins
Harry Hopkins
Harry Hopkins is a furniture designer/maker who loves to write.

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