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Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, but University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Professor Gilya Schmidt does her part every day to make sure people don’t forget the horrors of the Holocaust.

A professor in the Department of Religious Studies and director of the Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Program in Judaic Studies, Schmidt has researched the world of German Jewry for the past twenty years. She teaches the undergraduate course Voices of the Holocaust each spring. It’s a study of the Holocaust and other genocides, including those that occurred in Armenia, Rwanda, Darfur and Bosnia.

The Holocaust is the focus of the class, which looks at different populations that were affected, including not only Jews, but Russian POWs, Polish intelligentsia, the physically and mentally challenged, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and gypsies.

“The motto for Holocaust remembrance is ‘never forget.’ We should always remember,” Schmidt said. “The very fact that I teach about other genocides means that the world has not learned from the past. It’s important to commemorate this terrible event and to also give the survivors a chance for their experiences to be heard so we can understand what they went through and behave in a way that can prevent genocides in the future.”

Schmidt will soon release a new book, Süssen is Now Free of Jews: World War II, the Holocaust, and Rural Judaism. The book traces the lives of two Jewish families living in a small village in southern Germany before and after the Holocaust.

C O N T A C T S :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Gilya Schmidt (865-974-2466,