Since 2016, the Auschwitz Institute’s Warren Educational Policies Program – Celebrating the Life of Holocaust Survivor Naomi Kaplan Warren (WEPP) has worked to develop knowledge, experience, and capacity to effectively integrate educational policies and programming developed for children and young people into broader governmental strategies for the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities.
On September 1, 2020, the Auschwitz Institute and the Warren family announced a new collaboration, with AIPG’s Educational Policy Program taking the name of Naomi Kaplan Warren (1920-2016) to honor her incredible life. Born in Eastern Poland in 1920, Ms. Kaplan Warren survived three concentration camps— Auschwitz-Birkenau, Ravensbrück, and Bergen-Belsen— during the Holocaust. Resettled in Houston, Texas, after retiring from a fulfilling career in 2002, Ms. Kaplan Warren dedicated her passion to sharing her story and the lessons of the Holocaust with hundreds of new teachers, transforming her story of persistence, caring, and hope into an inspiration for generations to come.
Education and Prevention
While mass atrocity prevention is a complex process, it is widely acknowledged that the most effective policies should be implemented long before violence begins, primarily by investing in structural prevention efforts. Among them, experts consider education to be among the most effective policy spheres for atrocity prevention.
In discussing targeted measures that are available to States to prevent atrocity crimes, the 2013 report by the UN Secretary General, Responsibility to Protect: State Responsibility and Prevention, argues, “[E]ducation can promote tolerance and an understanding of the value of diversity. Changing the behavior, attitudes and perceptions of young people can contribute to creating a society that is resilient to atrocity crimes.”
Taking a long-term or “upstream” prevention perspective, the Warren Educational Policies Program (WEPP) contributes to AIPG’s global mission by collaborating with a diverse range of educational stakeholders – from those at the national level to those in civil society – in order to develop projects that contribute to educating younger generations on the importance of combatting prejudice, hatred, and discrimination to prevent genocide and mass atrocities.
In El Salvador, following a two-year collaboration with the National Office of the Ombudsman (la Procuraduría para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, PDDH) and the country’s Ministry of Education (MINED), in 2018 AIPG launched a package of educational materials entitled Citizenship, Memory, and a Culture of Peace in El Salvador: A Toolkit for Teachers and Educators, which works to facilitate discussions about democratic citizenship, historical memory, and a culture of peace in schools and other educational spaces for children and adolescents in the country.
In Brazil, AIPG has been implementing its Citizenship and Democracy in School project with the aim of strengthening the capacity of teachers in the public education system to promote tolerance, constructive engagement, and democratic citizenship among Brazilian youth. Developed in partnership with the Federal Prosecutor for the Rights of the Citizen (Procuraduria Federal dos Direitos do Cidadão, MPF), and the National Secretariat for Global Protection (Secretaria Nacional de Proteção Global, MMFDH), the planning phase of the project began in 2016 with a consultation process that included the participation of nearly 100 individuals including representatives of civil society, public officials, educators, and students. By October of 2020, the program has engaged 160 teachers and more than 3,5000 students and is present in five Brazilian states.
Beginning in 2019, AIPG has worked with the Ombudsman’s Office and the Ministry of Education of Paraguay to create educational materials and strategies towards the implementation of a national law entitled “Educate to Remember.” After being approved by Parliament in 2018, the legislation makes it mandatory for all primary and secondary in the country to teach the Holocaust and other genocides as a means of preventing future atrocities.
Beyond the direct results of its work, the experience built over the course of the previous five years of programming has been fundamental to the WEPP’s development of a working methodology that is built on the premise that educational projects with a preventive aim have to be locally driven and locally developed. To this end, the WEPP invests significant efforts in establishing relationships with a variety of actors — including practitioners, policymakers, and researchers — who are working on similar educational agendas, as well as those from complementary fields, such as Human Rights and Citizenship Education, Peace Education, Holocaust Education, and Memory Education. Whether through direct cooperation, participation in multilateral networks, collaborative projects, or research initiatives, AIPG seeks to foster an active exchange of knowledge and experiences on the most effective ways in which educational programming can contribute to the achievement of specific prevention objectives and to develop durable partnerships with organizations working towards similar goals.
For more information about the work of the Educational Policies Program, please contact the Program Director, Dr. Clara Ramírez-Barat.
About Naomi Kaplan Warren
Ms. Naomi Kaplan Warren was born into a large, loving, and highly educated Jewish family in Poland on September 1, 1920. She was preparing to start university in England when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September of 1939. After weathering three difficult years of Nazi occupation, Ms. Kaplan Warren was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in January of 1942, together with her husband, Alexander Rosenbaum, and her mother, Chasia Salman Kaplan. After surviving life at two additional concentration camps, Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen, she was liberated in April of 1945.
Shortly thereafter, in 1946, Ms. Kaplan Warren traveled to Houston, Texas, with the support of her uncle, William Salman, and her sister, Elizabeth Brandon, who had relocated to the United States before the war. Three years later, she met and married Martin Warren, with whom she established a successful imports company. Following Martin’s illness and death in 1960, Ms. Kaplan Warren took over the family business while raising her three children—Helen, Geri, and Benjamin.
On her 80th birthday, Ms. Kaplan Warren’s family established the Warren Fellowship for Future Teachers at the Holocaust Museum Houston. After retiring from a fulfilling career in 2002, Ms. Kaplan Warren dedicated her passion to sharing her story and the lessons of the Holocaust with hundreds of teachers in the United States until her passing in 2016. Her heartfelt commitment to education and genocide prevention has transformed her story of persistence, caring, and hope into a source of inspiration for generations to come.