Did you know that the humble paperclip, an everyday object we take for granted, had great symbolic significance in World War II?
Paperclips were worn by Norwegians as a sign of resistance against Nazism and anti-Semitism, and wearing one could mean arrest – but many people wore them nevertheless.
The paperclip was invented in Norway, and that’s how it came to be a national war-time symbol.
The ability of this simple little device to bind things together was used as inspiration for the binding together of the Norwegian people.
So during the German occupation, many people wore paperclips on their cuffs and lapels, or on their hats.
According to author Henry Petroski, people wore them “to show patriotism and irritate the Germans”.
Wearing paperclips was not approved by the government, but started out as a grass roots campaign. Originally, people opposed to the Nazis had worn bright red hats and vests, but as this was so obvious, the resistance movement changed to paperclips instead.
To hear more about the history of the paperclip, here’s a short video clip from Adam Hart Davis of the History Channel: