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What Good Comes of Suffering?: Fellowship for future teachers sparks community crusade against intolerance

Naomi Warren Interview Transcript

NARRATOR: Naomi Warren’s story begins in Poland in 1920. She was born in the town of Volkovisk, the youngest of three.

NAOMI WARREN: My family was very warm. We had a wonderful home and we went to the best schools and had wonderful friends. We had a wonderful, wonderful life.

Naomi Warren

Naomi Warren, survivor of three Nazi death camps.

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NARRATOR: Growing up, anti-Semitism was rare in her world until 1935, just after Hitler began his rise to power. Things grew worse. Anti-Jewish laws forced many Jews to flee. In 1939, when Naomi was just 19, the war broke out. Poland was divided, occupied by both Germans and Russians. Jews were forced into ghettos. Many were killed. Life was difficult. Her town was nearly destroyed, but Naomi still managed to attend college and marry. In January of 1943, the remaining Jews were rounded up.

NAOMI WARREN: They took the children first, and then my sister, my mother, myself, my brother, my husband, my aunt and uncle were put in the same transport. We were taken into this railroad station, and they put us in cattle cars.

NARRATOR: It was a long journey. After three days, they arrived at Auschwitz. The sign above the camp gate read, “Work makes you free.” The Nazis began their selection. Many would never see loved ones again.

NAOMI WARREN: There was a line to the right and a line to the left, a group to the right and a group to the left, and you can see who’s going to the right and who’s going to the left, and I just hold onto my mother. My mother figured out immediately what line is better to be in, or what group, and she just pushed me. And then we got separated. And then I saw them being put on a truck. My mother, she had very big gray eyes, and that’s all I saw. Then the trucks left. They shaved our heads, they took away our clothes and they put numbers on our arms. I saw bodies—the people, they were still breathing—and I thought to myself, oh my God. I made a decision that for as long as I can walk and as long as my mind works, I am not going to be in this camp because if you don’t go out to work, you die.

NARRATOR: Naomi’s husband, her mother, aunt, uncle and sister-in-law all were killed at Auschwitz. Incredibly, Naomi was to survive two more concentration camps before finally being liberated in 1945.

NAOMI WARREN: Thinking and looking back now, I don’t know how I survived. I don’t know how I had the courage, but I survived because it was in me. As far as the camp, it was a part of my life that taught me a lot. I felt that out of every misery, out of everything that happened to me, I had to take something good out of it.

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Video of Naomi Warren courtesy Holocaust Museum Houston

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  Updated 2005 May 16
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