Saul Friedländer

Saul Friedländer bigraphy, stories - Israeli historian

Saul Friedländer : biography

11 October 1932 –

Saul Friedländer (Hebrew: שאול פרידלנדר) (born October 11, 1932) is an award-winning Israeli historian and currently a professor of history at UCLA.

Published works

  • Pius XII and the Third Reich: A Documentation, New York : Knopf, 1966 trans. 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.
  • L’Antisémitisme nazi: histoire d’une psychose collective, Paris : Editions du Seuil, 1971.
  • co-written with Mahmoud Hussein 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.
  • 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 & Meier, 1985.
  • 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, HarperCollins, 2007. Second Volume to the above.


Friedländer sees 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 view that Adolf Hitler had a master plan going back to the time when he wrote 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 moderate Intentionalist.

In the 1980s, Friedländer engaged in a spirited debate with the West German historian 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.Kershaw, Ian The Nazi Dictatorship London: Edward Arnold, 2000 page 223. 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 long duration 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.Kershaw, Ian The Nazi Dictatorship London: Edward Arnold, 2000 page 224. 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 apologist for 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.