Resistance against hatred is at the core of historic documentary The Teachers’ Protest. The film is getting a screening at the Exeter Phoenix accompanied by a Q&A with the director Jon Seal.
Sometimes subtitled ‘The Paper Clip Rebellion’, the film tells the story of Norwegian teachers in the Second World War and their resistance to the imposition of Nazi ideology in the classroom.
During the Nazi occupation of Norway a paperclip worn in the jacket collar was used as a symbol of protest. It was also employed as the teachers’ symbol of action.
In 1942, Norwegian teachers refused Nazi demands to register all teachers in the Nazi teachers group along with insistence that schools must create ‘good Nazis’.
Arrests and imprisonment
The upshot of the uprising is around 1100 teachers being arrested and shipped off to the harsh condition of Kirkenes.
The film is based, among other things, on drawings by Herløv Åmland, one of the teachers who was imprisoned in Kirkenes. In the prison camp, he made many drawings of daily life there.
The documentary weaves together archive footage, first-hand testimony and skilful animation.
Power of teacher’s protest
The teachers were opposed to the nazification of the Norwegian school and the teacher action forced the Quisling regime to retreat. After the captivity, the teachers returned to their schools as heroes.
It’s a story of resistance, standing up for what’s right and, ultimately, hope, which are all definitely worth reflecting on. And the film adds to the mosaic of our understanding of past events from different perspectives.
Here’s some of the blurb: ‘The Teachers’ Protest is a sad, tender and uplifting documentary exploring a completely different kind of war story – an inspiring tale of passive resistance, where the heroes fight without weapons and still win. ‘
The documentary was made by Exeter-based filmmaker Jon Seal. Jon will be at the screening to offer an insight and answer questions.
The Teachers’ Protest: How Norwegian Teachers Defeated Nazi Education is at Studio 74, Exeter Phoenix on Sunday, June 16 at 7pm.