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Fall 1999

When Memory Comes
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In his 448-page account, Friedlander describes a Germany that was, in the 1930s, "grotesque and chilling under the veneer of an even more chilling normality." "For most 'ordinary' Germans, the early years of Hitler's power were viewed as the beginning of a renaissance of prosperity," he writes. And while there was acquiescence regarding the segregation and dismissal of Jews from civil service and perhaps some glee in witnessing their degradation "outside Party ranks there was no massive agitation to expel them from Germany or to unleash violence against them."

"The chronology of persecution, segregation, emigration and expulsion, the sequence of humiliations and violence, of loss and bereavement that molded the memories of the Jews of Germany from 1933 to 1939, was not what impressed itself on the consciousness and memory of German society as a whole," he writes.

Fielding congratulatory calls from friends and colleagues after the award was announced, Friedlander, who hold's UCLA's 1939 Club Chair in Holocaust Studies, seems a bit bemused by all the tumult. "I really didn't expect this," he says, leaning back in his chair in his book-lined office on the sixth floor of Bunche Hall. "The whole process is so secretive; it really was a wonderful surprise."

Even more so, perhaps, since Friedlander plans to use the $375,000 prize over five years to help him to complete the second volume of Nazi Germany and the Jews.

The good news came at a busy time for Friedlander, who was preparing for a three-month trip to Europe. Part pleasure he and his Israeli-born wife, Hagith, would celebrate their 40th anniversary in Paris with their three children and part work as a member of the Independent Experts Commission, he would meet with a Swiss research team investigating that country's questionable role in World War II and would lead an investigation by the German publisher Bertelsmann to examine that firm's involvement with the Nazi regime the trip is emblematic of Friedlander's drive to pack as much life into every moment as possible.

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