When Memory Comes
1 | 2 |
3 | 4 |
5 | 6 |
7 | 8 |
9 | 10
a very deep question with no clear answers," he says with a sigh.
Holocaust survivors, he says, tend to deal with the past in two
ways: "Some try to block it out and never talk about it. Others,
like myself, come to struggle with it by dealing with it."
says he did not set out originally to study the Holocaust, "but
for me it was one way of coming to terms with it. It was my way
of handling it." In fact, it wasn't until he was in his 30s and
had gone back to Germany to conduct interviews and do research "that
I realized how much the past molded my vision of things." In Germany,
he writes, he was caught between feeling "pleasant familiarity"
and panic, a strong urge to pack his bags and flee.
lies behind his historical digging is "a desire to preserve and
set the record straight," he says. Like Steven Spielberg who, through
his Shoah Foundation, is recording the memories of Holocaust survivors,
Friedlander feels an urgency to gather as much information as he
can, quickly, because the survivors are rapidly aging and dying
off. "I'm 66," he notes, smiling.
there seems to be more interest today in learning about that period
than there was when he first began his research in the 1960s, Friedlander
says. "Maybe it was still too close then. Survivors themselves weren't
keen on discussing it. They wanted to rebuild their lives. And to
their children, it seemed very far away."
Friedlander did not discuss his experiences with his three children:
eldest son, Eli, a professor of philosophy at Tel Aviv University;
David, who lives in Paris, where he imports exotic papers; and daughter
Michal, a pianist who lives in New York.
were aware, but it was not a topic I liked to discuss. It would
be difficult to avoid the topic in our house, but I didn't like
to discuss my experiences with them," he says.