Saul Friedländer (Hebrew: שאול פרידלנדר; born October
11, 1932) is an Israeli/American historian and currently a professor
emeritus of history at UCLA.
3 Honors and awards
4 Published works
5 See also
8 External links
Saul Friedländer was born in
Prague to a family of German-speaking
Jews. He grew up in France and experienced the German Occupation of
1940–1944. From 1942 until 1946, Friedländer was hidden in a
Catholic boarding school in Montlucon, near Vichy. While in hiding, he
converted to Roman Catholicism and later began preparing for the
Catholic priesthood. His parents attempted to flee to Switzerland,
were arrested instead by Vichy French gendarmes, turned over to the
Germans and were gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Not until
1946 did Friedländer learn the fate of his parents.
After 1946, Friedländer grew more consciously aware of his Jewish
identity and became a Zionist. In 1948, Friedländer emigrated to
Israel on the
Irgun ship Altalena. After finishing high school, he
served in the Israeli Army. From 1953-55, he studied political science
in Paris. Later, Friedländer served as secretary to Nachum Goldman,
then President of the
Zionist Organization and the World Jewish
Congress. In 1959, he became an assistant to Shimon Peres, then
vice-minister of defense. Late in the 1980s, Friedländer moved
politically further to the left and was active in the Peace Now
group.[dubious – discuss]
In 1963, he received his PhD from the Graduate Institute of
International Studies in Geneva, where he taught until 1988.
Friedländer taught at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at Tel
Aviv University. In 1969 he wrote a biography of Kurt Gerstein. Since
1988 he has been Professor of History at the University of California,
In 1998 Friedländer chaired the Independent
(IHC) that was tasked with investigating German media giant
Bertelsmann's activities under Hitler's Third Reich. The study,
written together with Norbert Frei, Trutz Rendtorff, Reinhard
Wittmann, was published in October 2002 in a 800-page report. It
confirmed the findings, first reported by Hersch Fischler in The
Nation, that Bertelsmann collaborated with the Nazi regime before and
during World War II. Bertelsmann subsequently expressed regret "for
its conduct under the Nazis, and for later efforts to cover it up".
Nazism as the negation of all life, and as a type of
death cult. He has argued that the
Holocaust is such a horrific event
that its horror is almost impossible to put into normal language.
Friedländer sees the anti-semitism of the
Nazi Party as unique in
history, since he maintains that Nazi anti-semitism was distinctive
for being “redemptive anti-semitism”, namely a form of
anti-semitism that could explain all in the world and offer a form of
“redemption” for the anti-semitic.
Friedländer is an Intentionalist on the origins of the Holocaust
question. However, Friedländer rejects the extreme Intentionalist
Adolf Hitler had a master plan going back to the time when
Mein Kampf for the genocide of the Jewish people.
Friedländer, through his research on the Third Reich, has reached the
conclusion that there was no intention to exterminate the Jews of
Europe before 1941. Friedländer's position might best be deemed
In the 1980s, Friedländer engaged in a spirited debate with the West
Martin Broszat over his call for the
"historicization" of Nazi Germany. In Friedländer’s view, Nazi
Germany was not and cannot be seen as a normal period of history.
Friedländer argued that there were three dilemmas, and three problems
involved in the "historicization" of the Third Reich.
The first dilemma was that of historical periodization, and how
long-term social changes could be related to an understanding of the
Nazi period. Friedländer argued that focusing on long-term social
changes such as the growth of the welfare state from the Imperial to
Weimar to the Nazi eras to the present as Broszat suggested changed
the focus on historical research from the particular of the Nazi era
to the general
Longue durée of 20th-century German history.
Friedländer felt that "relative relevance" of the growth of the
welfare state under the Third Reich, and its relationship to post-war
developments would cause historians to lose their attention to the
genocidal politics of the Nazi state. The second dilemma
Friedländer felt that by treating the Nazi period as a "normal"
period of history, and by examining the aspects of "normality" might
run the danger of causing historians to lose interest in the
"criminality" of the Nazi era. This was especially problematic for
Friedländer because he contended that aspects of "normality" and
"criminality" very much overlapped in the everyday life of Nazi
Germany. The third dilemma involved what Friedländer considered
the vague definition of "historicization" entailed, and it might allow
historians to advance apologetic arguments about National Socialism
such as those Friedländer accused
Ernst Nolte and Andreas Hillgruber
of making. However, Friedländer conceded that Broszat was not an
Nazi Germany like Nolte and Hillgruber. Friedländer
noted that though the concept of "historicization" was highly awkward,
partly because it opened the door to the type of arguments that Nolte
and Hillgruber advanced during the Historikerstreit, Broszat's motives
in calling for the "historicization" were honourable. Friedländer
used the example of a longue durée view of Italian history had
allowed historians like
Renzo De Felice
Renzo De Felice to seek to rehabilitate
Mussolini as a modernizing dictator trying to pull Italy up from
underdevelopment; and argued that a similar approach to German history
would have the same effect with Hitler. Friedländer maintained the
Nazi Germany with Fascist Italy as modernizing
dictatorships did not work because Fascist Italy did not commit
genocide, and he argued that it was genocide that made the Third Reich
unique. Friedländer felt that Broszat's longue durée view of
German history with stress on the continuities-many of them
positive-between different eras would diminish the
Holocaust down as
an object of study.
The first problem for Friedländer was that the Nazi era was too
recent and fresh in the popular memory for historians to deal with it
as a "normal" period as for example 16th century France. The
second problem was the "differential relevance" of
"historicization". Friedländer argued that the study of the Nazi
period was "global", that is it belongs to everyone, and that focusing
on everyday life was a particular interest for German historians.
Friedländer asserted that for non-Germans, the history of Nazi
ideology in practice, especially in regards to war and genocide were
vastly more important than
Alltagsgeschichte ("history of everyday
life"). The third problem for Friedländer was that the Nazi
period was so unique that it could not easily be fitted into the
long-range view of German history as advocated by Broszat.
Friedländer maintained that the essence of National Socialism was
that it "tried to determine who should and should not inhabit the
world", and the genocidal politics of the Nazi regime resisted any
attempt to integrate it as part of the "normal" development of the
modern world. The debates between Broszat and Friedländer were
conducted through a series of letters between 1987 until Broszat's
death in 1989. In 1990, the Broszat-Friedländer correspondences were
translated into English, and published in the book Reworking the Past:
Hitler, The Holocaust, and the Historians' Debate edited by Peter
Friedländer’s 1997 book,
Nazi Germany and the Jews was written as a
reply to Broszat’s work. The second volume, The Years of
Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 appeared in 2007.
Friedländer’s book is
Alltagsgeschichte (history of everyday life),
not of “Aryan” Germans nor of the Jewish community, but rather an
Alltagsgeschichte of the persecution of the Jewish community.
Honors and awards
In 1981, Friedländer was awarded the Andreas Gryphius Award for
Literature (Düsseldorf) for his memoir When Memory Comes, after its
publication in German.
In 1983, he was awarded the
Israel Prize for history.
Friedländer was awarded the
Geschwister-Scholl-Preis in 1998 for his
work, Das Dritte Reich und die Juden.
MacArthur Fellowship (1999)
In 1997, he was awarded the National Jewish Book Award (USA) for Nazi
Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution.
In 1998, he was awarded the Shazar Prize of the Israeli Historical
Association and the
Geschwister-Scholl-Preis (Munich) for Nazi Germany
and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, after its translation into
In 2000, Friedländer was elected Fellow of the American Academy of
Arts and Sciences.
In 2007, he was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
For his book The Years of Extermination:
Nazi Germany and the Jews,
1939-1945, Friedländer was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for
General Non-Fiction, as well as the 2007 Leipzig Book Fair Prize
Friedländer was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Prize for Life Work by the
Karl Renner Institut (Vienna) in 2008.
In 2009, he received the Award for Scholarly Distinction from the
In April 2012, he gave the First “Humanitas” Lecture in
Historiography, Trinity College, Oxford: “Trends in the
Historiography of the Holocaust.”
In 2014, he received the
Dan David Prize
Dan David Prize from
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University and
Dan David Foundation (Tel Aviv) and the Edgar de Picciotto
International Prize from the Graduate Institute of International and
Development Studies (Geneva) for lifetime achievement.
Pius XII and the Third Reich: A Documentation, New York : Knopf,
1966. Translated by Charles Fullman, from the original Pie XII et le
IIIe Reich, Documents, Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1964.
Prelude to downfall: Hitler and the United States 1939-1941, London,
Chatto & Windus, 1967.
Kurt Gerstein: The Ambiguity of Good, New York : Knopf, 1969.
Reflexions sur l’Avenir d’Israel, Seuil, Paris, 1969.
L'Antisémitisme nazi: histoire d'une psychose collective,
Paris : Editions du Seuil, 1974.
Arabs & Israelis: a Dialogue Moderated by Jean Lacouture, New
York : Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1975.
Some aspects of the historical significance of the Holocaust,
Jerusalem : Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University of
Jerusalem, 1977 (co-written with Mahmoud Hussein).
History and Psychoanalysis: an Inquiry Into the Possibilities and
Limits of Psychohistory, New York : Holmes & Meier, 1978.
When Memory Comes, New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979.
(Noonday Press, Reissue edition 1991, ISBN 0-374-52272-3).
Reflections of Nazism: an essay on Kitsch and death, New York :
Harper & Row, 1984.
Visions of apocalypse: end or rebirth?, New York : Holmes &
Probing the limits of representation :
Nazism and the "final
solution", Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1992.
Memory, history, and the extermination of the Jews of Europe,
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1993.
Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939, New
York : HarperCollins, 1997.
The Years of Extermination:
Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945,
Nachdenken über den Holocaust, Beck, Munich, 2007.
Holocaust beschreiben, Wallstein, Göttingen, 2007.
Franz Kafka: Poet of Shame and Guilt, Yale University Press, New
Reflexions sur le Nazisme. Entretiens avec Stéphane Bou, Seuil,
Paris, 2016. (September 2016)
Where Memory Leads. My Life, Other Press, New York, 2016. (September
Israel Prize recipients
^ Friedlaender, Saul (1979). When Memory Comes. New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux. pp. 93 and 110. ISBN 0-374-52272-3.
^ Bertelsmann im Dritten Reich: Saul Friedländer, Norbert Frei, Trutz
Rendtorff, Reinhard Wittmann. C. Bertelsmann Verlag. 7 October 2002.
p. 800. ISBN 3570007111. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
^ Carvajal, Doreen. "Commission Disputes That Bertelsmann Was Nazi
Foe". nytimes.com. New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
^ Cleaver, Hannah. "German media giant admits it backed Hitler".
telegraph.co.uk. The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
^ Landler, Mark. "Bertelsmann Offers Regret For Its Nazi-Era Conduct".
nytimes.com. New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
^ a b c d Kershaw, Ian The Nazi Dictatorship London: Edward Arnold,
2000 page 223.
^ a b c d e Kershaw, Ian The Nazi Dictatorship London: Edward Arnold,
2000 page 224.
^ a b Baldwin 1990, p. 17.
^ Baldwin 1990.
^ a b c d Kershaw, Ian The Nazi Dictatorship London: Edward Arnold,
2000 page 225.
^ a b Kershaw, Ian The Nazi Dictatorship London: Edward Arnold, 2000
^ Friedländer 2016, p. 245.
Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1983 (in Hebrew)".
UCLA astronomer Andrea Ghez named a 2008 MacArthur Fellow". UCLA.
^ RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA (2008-04-07). "Washington Post Wins 6 Pulitzer
Prizes". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-07. The prize for
nonfiction writing went to Saul Friedlander for his book, “The Years
Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945.”
Baldwin, Peter Reworking the Past: Hitler, The Holocaust, and the
Historians' Debate, Beacon Press, 1990.
Kershaw, Ian The Nazi Dictatorship London: Edward Arnold, 2000
Saul Friedländer’s Home Page at
UCLA Department of History
Review of Memory, History, and the Extermination of the Jews of Europe
On Saul Friedländer
Interview in Spiegel
"Mass Murder and German Society in the Third Reich: Interpretations
and Dilemmas", Hayes Robinson Lecture 2001
Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction
Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction (2001–2025)
Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan by
Herbert P. Bix (2001)
Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil
Rights Revolution by
Diane McWhorter (2002)
"A Problem from Hell":
America and the Age of
Genocide by Samantha
Gulag: A History by
Anne Applebaum (2004)
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden,
from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by
Steve Coll (2005)
Imperial Reckoning by
Caroline Elkins (2006)
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
The Years of Extermination:
Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 by
Saul Friedländer (2008)
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from
the Civil War to World War II by
Douglas A. Blackmon
Douglas A. Blackmon (2009)
The Dead Hand
The Dead Hand by
David E. Hoffman (2010)
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by
Stephen Greenblatt (2012)
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the
Dawn of a New
America by Gilbert King (2013)
Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by
Dan Fagin (2014)
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by
Elizabeth Kolbert (2015)
Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by
Joby Warrick (2016)
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
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