The Children's Holocaust Memorial in Whitwell was closed due to the controversy surrounding the war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization. While in-person visits will no longer be possible, online tours of the memorial will continue.

The memorial came into existence through the project of students at a local middle school. During a lesson on the Holocaust at the Whitwell Middle School in 1998, an eighth grader asked how much six million was. The children in the class decided as a group to collect six million paper clips representing the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. 25 million paper clips were collected in total.

When the paper clips were gathered, eleven million were placed inside a railcar that had been used to transport Jews, symbolizing both the Jewish victims and the non-Jewish victims of the Nazis' extermination efforts.. The memorial was dedicated in 2001, three years after the project began.

The project and the resulting memorial were the subject of an award-winning 2004 documentary, 'Paper Clips.'

Now, a sign outside the memorial reads, "Due to the crisis unfolding in Israel and out of an abundance of caution for our students, Marion County School Board has made the decision to close the Children's Holocaust Memorial until the new year. At that time, they will re-evaluate the ongoing situation and will open when they feel our students and visitors are safe."

Marion County Schools Superintendent Mark Griffith explained that the decision to close the memorial was made because it and other Holocaust museums and memorials are vulnerable to vandalism in the current political climate.

"It is the first time that we've had to do it. It's been in conversation before," Griffith said.

"We certainly appreciate it and love it being here, but we also want to keep everyone safe," he added.

Griffith stated that when the memorial is reopened, it will have greater security than it has had for the last two decades.