When Memory Comes
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Saul Friedlander, the study of the Holocaust is more than an academic
exercise. It is personal history
Roberta G. Wax
is so much that is fascinating about Saul Friedlander's life, it
is hard to know where to begin or how, even, to define him. Historian.
Teacher. Author. Policy-maker. Survivor. It is the last, in fact,
that defines all the rest.
This aspect of his life is what makes his present-day work so compelling.
One of the world's leading scholars of the Holocaust, Friedlander
studies, teaches and writes about an era with which he is intimate
on more than merely academic terms. He survived the Nazi destruction
of Europe's Jews by being hidden among gentiles; his parents, though,
were lost to the fires of Auschwitz.
tells the story of his bitter passage as a child in war-torn Europe,
his emigration to Palestine, his struggle as a young fighter for
Israeli independence and his evolution into a world-class historian
in a personal memoir, When Memory Comes. But in his most recent
work, Nazi Germany and the Jews, Volume I: The Years of Persecution,
1933-1939, that has earned him the greatest recognition. The book,
which was published in 1997 and makes extensive use of newly available
documents such as local German police reports, has been praised
as the definitive history of Nazi policies prior to the Holocaust.
It was instrumental in his receiving in June one of the nation's
most diverse and prestigious creative and intellectual awards, a
MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant.
scholarship, wrote the foundation, weaves "into a coherent whole
the perspectives of the participants: ordinary Germans, party activists,
military and political figures and, most importantly, victims and
survivors. ? By enhancing our understanding of the nature and meaning
of the Holocaust, [he] demonstrates the interplay of memory and
representation in the interpretation of historic events."