GREENWICH, CONN. -- A Greenwich resident shared her family's personal experience with the Holocaust during a recent presentation to middle school students at Sacred Heart in Greenwich.
Julia Gilbert told eighth-grade girls at Sacred Heart Friday about Naomi Warren, a relative who survived three different concentration camps before coming to America after World War II. Warren , who died recently, was only 22 when she came to the New York area before moving to Houston where she became a successful businesswoman and philanthropist.
Gilbert's family helped her settled in the states, and the family was inspired by Warren's story of survival. Gilbert wrote her college thesis on Warren's experience, and Gilbert's father produced a photography book filled with images from the Holocaust, titled "Fragments: Architecture from the Holocaust."
"I was about your age when I first learned about the Holocaust," Gilbert told the students during a presentation during the Jewish High Holy Days. Sacred Heart students continue their study of the Holocaust with an upcoming visit to the Holocaust Museum in New York City.
Warren lost family members while at Auschwitz but she herself was put to work for the Nazis. She was later transferred to the women’s camp, Ravensbruck, and then Bergen-Belsen where she was liberated by the British in 1945.
"She was so extraordinary in what she went through," Gilbert said. "Yet there was always joy; she was filled with joy and passed on that legacy of strength in overcoming challenges to my father and I.”
Here in the United States, she started a thriving business in Houston with her second husband (her first husband died at Auschwitz) and became a driving force for local Holocaust museums and rememberances. She was chronicled in many articles and documentaries and interviewed by researchers for Steven Spielberg’s film “Schindler’s List.”
She also founded The Warren Fellowship for Future Teachers through the Holocaust Museum Houston Visit the website for more details.
Gilbert drew parallels between Warren's experiences and that of survivor Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and author of "Night." The Sacred Heart students are now reading Wiesel's book, school officials said.
“Holocaust literature is very rich and there are so many books written by non-Jewish resistance fighters that are inspirational," Gilbert said.
Gilbert also shared some of her father's book of photographs taken at concentration camps in Germany and Austria. Many of those photos are on display at Holocaust displays throughout the county, school officials said.