Directed by Frank Diamand • Documentary • 2012 • 65 minutes
WHEN MEMORY COMES: A FILM ABOUT SAUL FRIEDLANDER is a visually arresting documentary that interweaves leading Holocaust historian Saul Friedlander's personal story of survival with an introduction to his work and thought.
Originally a political scientist, Friedlander avoided writing about the Holocaust until an exchange of letters with German historian Martin Broszat, during the 1980s. Broszat believed that victims are unable to write the history of the period in which they were victimized, because they are not objective enough. For Friedlander, subjectivity and personal interest in stories as not being a problem for historians-as long as they are clear on where they stand. 'There is a Jewish dimension to this history, and Jews can deal with it as objectively as anyone else,' he says in the film. Historians should 'accept subjectivity and even use it... very clearly and very explicitly.'
That realization would lead to his magnum opus, Nazi Germany and the Jews , and its follow-up, The Years of Extermination.
Filmmaker Frank Diamand first met Friedlander more than 20 years ago, and is himself a Holocaust survivor. WHEN MEMORY COMES puts both Diamand and Friedlander on screen, and their presence together offers a the film a greater sense of immediacy and intimacy. This documentary is an excellent introduction to Friedlander's work.
"Saul Friedlander [has] transformed our understanding of this period by weaving into a coherent whole the perspectives of ordinary Germans, party activists, military and political figures, and, most importantly, victims and survivors." —The MacArthur Foundation