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Fall 1999

When Memory Comes
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It 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.

"Few 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."

It 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 permanent position.

"He 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."

Historical 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.

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