When Memory Comes
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is his sensitivity toward his subject combined with his clear authority
in the field — his integration of personal experiences "into subtle
historical and cultural scholarship" — that set's Friedlander's
work apart, says Steven E. Aschheim, of the Dinur Center for the
Study of Jewish History at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
people have written more suggestively, provided such rich insights
into the structure of Nazism as Friedlander," Aschheim wrote of
the Holocaust scholar in an essay published in History & Memory
(an issue dedicated to Friedlander in honor of his 65th birthday).
"Saul Friedlander constitutes a distinctive, always stylish and
sophisticated, presence, a peculiarly authoritative custodial voice."
was Friedlander's scholarship, as well as his ability to impart
his knowledge to students, that led to his appointment to the 1939
Club Chair. Friedlander came to UCLA on a one-year appointment as
a visiting professor in 1983; four years later he was offered the
had an outstanding record as an historian and had already published
several books about the Holocaust," says Samuel Goetz, a UCLA alumnus
and past president of the 1939 Club who proposed the chair — the
first of its kind in for a public university in the U.S. "He impressed
the search committee as an outstanding scholar."
research continues to excite Friedlander, who speaks five languages.
Digging through musty old records often yields startling surprises.
For example, while working on his Ph.D., he was researching relations
between Hitler and the United States when he discovered a misplaced
document from the German ambassador to the Vatican. The document
discussed how the Pope, during his 1941 visit to Berlin, wanted
to hear a Wagner opera played for him by the Berlin Orchestra.