Mira Kimmelman

view behind Max & Mira's house, Oak Ridge, TN

"Only by remembering the bitter lesson of Hitler's legacy can we hope it will never be repeated. Teach it, tell it, read it." Mira Ryczke Kimmelman

For the last 40 years of her life, Mira Kimmelman dedicated her considerable energy, intellect, and compassion to promoting tolerance and understanding. She felt an obligation to those who did not survive the Holocaust — and to all victims of hate and genocide — to tell her story. It was not easy, but she felt it was necessary for future generations to understand where intolerance and hate can lead, so that tragedies like the Holocaust never happen again.

She wrote two books and gave over 500 speeches about her experiences. “There is never a question I won’t answer,” she would tell her audiences. It was her fervent hope that the events of her life would not be forgotten. Mira passed away in 2019 at the age of 95.

Her incredible story is in the books, interviews, articles, speeches and photographs below. Teach it. Tell it. Read it.

Mira's Story WBIR TV Nashville

Mira WBIR TV.mp4

Two weeks before her 16th birthday, the Nazis invaded Poland, igniting World War II and forever changing Mira's life. She would spend the next five and a half years in ghettos and concentration camps, including Auschwitz, before being liberated on April 15, 1945 by British forces in Bergen Belsen. In that time, she was a victim of — and a witness to — unimaginable cruelty and suffering. Of 18 family members, only she and her father survived.

Mira's Books

"Mira Kimmelman Learning from the Holocaust Contest 2021"

Continuing her legacy of educating young people about the lessons of the Holocaust, the Tennessee Holocaust Commission has launched this contest to encourage Tennessee middle and high schoolers to submit projects and essays that reflect on what the Holocaust can teach us about confronting hate and intolerance today. Information on the contest and how to apply is here.

Mira's Canteen: Saved Photos, Map and Timeline

During the war Mira managed to hide treasured family photos from the Nazis in her canteen. This digital album includes many of those photos and tells the remarkable story about the canteen and about the lives of family and friends pictured, most of whom did not survive the war. See Mira's Canteen.

Videos of Speeches and Interviews

Presentation to Jefferson Junior High School April 1984 (50 min)

Lecture to students at the University of Tennessee April 1986 (54 min)

Oral history interview at home with Max and Mira Kimmelman October 2, 1988 (56 min)

Presentation to church congregation in Oak Ridge, Tennessee 1988 (50 min)

Presentation to Campbell County, Tennessee Yom HaShoa Commemoration April 23, 1990 (1 hr 10 min)

Presentation to Oak Ridge Chapter of Hadassah, Beth El Synagogue August 26, 1990 (38 min)

Presentation to Webb School of Knoxville, Tennessee March 6, 1992 (46 min)

Presentation to Religious Studies class at the University of Tennessee April 18, 1994 (54 min)

Oral history series for the 50 year anniversary of the liberation of Bergen Belsen, four part interview by Jinx Watson and Joan-Ellen Zucker, Oak Ridge Community Television, April 1995 (4 hrs)

Don Carson's "Viewpoint" interview with Mira Kimmelman circa 1994 (30 mins)

Interview by Ken Yager on "Roane Report" August 21, 1997 (40 mins)

Book interview with Mira Kimmelman February 1, 1998 (1 hr 15 min)

CBS WVLT TV Knoxville Channel 8 "Survivor Series" 1998 (30 min)

Lecture to teachers in Nashville, Tennessee February 2005 (1 hr)

"Mira's Story" WBIR-TV 10 Knoxville February 2, 2006 (11 min)

Presentation to Wackenhut Company April 2007 (45 min)

Presentation to Bearden High School April 17, 2009 (40 min)

Center for Oak Ridge Oral History, interviewed by Claire Robbins and Alice Feldman, Filmed by Albert Good, May 15, 2017

Print Interviews

Emory Interview, March 1, 1981

A Journey of Pain and Intolerance, Oak Ridger, May 5, 2009

Holocaust Survivor Speaks Out, Times-Tribune, June 13, 2008

Books Featuring Mira

Honors & Remembrances

Mira Kimmelman, Holocaust survivor, speaker and author, dies at 95, Knoxville News Sentinel, April 18, 2019

Holocaust survivor, beloved Oak Ridger Mira Kimmelman dies at 95, Oak Ridger, April 18, 2019

Tennessee Officials Remember Mira Kimmelman, Columbia Daily Herald, August 23, 2019

Tennessee Senate Resolution 83 to honor the memory of Mira Ryczke Kimmelman, signed May 3, 2019

Tennessee Senate Joint Resolution 734 to honor Mira Kimmelman on her life of purpose and commitment, signed April 19, 2016

Das Mädchen und sein Foto by Katja Petrowskaja, Franfurtter Allgemeine, May 1, 2019