When Memory Comes
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was unsettling finding that letter because this was in 1941, when
everyone knew what was going on," Friedlander says.
led Friedlander to examine the Vatican documents, which resulted
in Friedlander's 1965 book, Pius XII and the Third Reich, in which
he examined the role of the Catholic Church during this time.
asked if an event like the Holocaust could happen again, Friedlander
can always happen again, maybe in different ways." There are echoes
of the Holocaust in the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and in the atrocities
of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia before that, he says. "That is why
it is so important to study the Holocaust, so it doesn't happen
again. Human evil is something permanent. Sometimes the social frameworks
that control it are weak."
more he studies that era — the formative era of his life — the more
he is astonished by "the width and breath of how many people were
involved in the Holocaust, how widespread it was, how little was
done to stop it."
pauses to look at the purple jacaranda trees in full blossom beyond
was so ruthless and systematic," he says quietly. "There are still
questions to answer."
G. Wax is a freelance writer in Los Angeles and an instructor
at UCLA Extension.