The chair was endowed in honor of Leah and Paul Lewis by their daughter and son-in-law, Miriam Lewis Barnett and Mitchell Barnett, with the support of many family members, friends and admirers of their path-breaking work to raise awareness about the Holocaust. Over more than three decades, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis built more than 15 memorials dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust in synagogues, centers and museums throughout the United States. In recognition of their leadership, then-President Jimmy Carter appointed Paul Lewis to the United States Holocaust Memorial Commission in 1976. Leah Lewis died in 1981 and Paul Lewis in 1984. Ozsváth was appointed to the chair when it was created in May 2003 and retired in 2020. The position supports the work of a scholar who is internationally recognized in Holocaust studies and the related aspects of Jewish history, literature and culture.
In 1995, Ozsváth was a co-recipient (with UT Dallas Professor Fred Turner) of one of the most prestigious Hungarian literary awards, the Milán Füst Prize of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She has given lectures at conferences and professional associations and has published numerous books, articles and papers related to Holocaust studies. In 1990, Ozsváth received two prestigious honors, the Fulbright Award and the IREX Award. Both programs send U.S. university faculty and professionals abroad and allow visiting scholars to come to America for studies and research.
I am deeply grateful to this institution that has helped and encouraged me to explore the issues I am most interested in: the political, intellectual, and cultural circumstances and consequences of the Holocaust, the brutal murder of 6 million Jews. I deeply appreciate that it supports me in my endeavor… to translate into English some of the greatest poetic treasures of German and Hungarian literatures.
Zsuzsanna Ozsváth is founder and director of the Holocaust Studies Program. She has published a number of articles, dealing with aesthetic and ethical issues in French, German, and Hungarian literature as well as with the relationship between art and totalitarian ideology. Since the 1980s, she has undertaken several translation projects and worked on various branches of Holocaust studies.
“The Holocaust Studies Program, with its combination of scholarly research, education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and its distinguished lecture series, is one of the distinguishing hallmarks of UT Dallas. The program’s success is a result of Dr. Ozsváth’s passionate dedication and charismatic leadership,” Provost Hobson Wildenthal said when she was named to the Leah and Paul Lewis Chair of Holocaust Studies in 2003. She retired in 2020.
In the field of translation, she started out with rendering and publishing a significant number of German and Hungarian poems and short stories in journals, but the culmination of her work in this field has been three volumes of poetry, each with UT Dallas professor Frederick Turner. Ozsváth has also published books and several articles on writers and poets of the Holocaust.
In 2009, she was named to The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, a newly formed state commission by Gov. Rick Perry. The commission is intended to provide educational materials to schools and colleges and help implement course studies and awareness programs of the Holocaust and other genocides.
In 2010, Ozsváth published her chilling memoir, When the Danube Ran Red, which tells the story of her childhood in Hungary, living under the threat of the Holocaust. The book has received reviews in a variety of journals such as The Sewanee Review, The English Review and Hungarian Literature Online.
Ozsváth received her doctorate in German literature from the University of Texas at Austin.