OVERRIDE

When Memory Comes

Saul Friedlander; Translated by Helen R. Lane

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

This remarkable memoir, by a distinguished historian, grows out of the loose framework of a diary written in Israel during the tense last few months of 1977.  In a series of flashbacks, Saul Friedlander evokes with painful clarity and candor his extraordinary childhood and adolescence, beginning in a comfortable, middle-class, assimilated Jewish home in the Prague of the 1930's, and extending through and beyond the harrowing, and permanent, separation from his parents in Nazi-dominated France.  Though fascinating in themselves, on a deeper level the reminiscences raise questions about much more than one man's life.  In forcing himself to go back and examine his past, to seek out reasons and feelings, Friedlander is asking what it is that motivates a Zionist.  What does it mean to be a Jew in Israel now?  Where are the roots of a people with a history of rootlessness?
Pavel Friedlander, as he was then known, was seven when the family fled Czechoslovakia in 1939.  Before they were herded away to desruction, his parents were able to leave their ten-year-old boy in a Catholic seminary.  Baptized Paul-Henri, he excelled in his studies and was headed for the priesthood.  In his unsentimental, delicate, and precise narrative, we see through the boy's eyes the seminary's chilly dormitories and the hot, dusty fields of a provincial French summer.
Then comes the Liberation.  Paul-Henri rediscovers his identity and in 1948, on the brink of his high-school graduation, runs away to Marseilles to board ship for the nascent state of Israel--one of the survivors on the ill-fated Altalena.  He now takes his Hebrew name, Shaul.
Thirty years later, in bringing the disparate threads of memories together, Friedlander unflinchingly expresses the dilemmas in which any thinking person must feel himself vis-a-vis Israel and the Jews.  His doubts are unresolved and probably unresolvable.  But in an entirely fresh and poignant way Saul Friedlander has given us a better understanding of them.

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When Memory Comes
Part I1I was born in Prague at the worst possible moment, four months before Hitler came to power. My father was also born in Prague, while my mother came from the Sudetenland, from Rochlitz, a little textile town near Gablonz celebrated for its glassware. My maternal grandfather, Gustav Glaser, had set up a factory in Rochlitz that soon became unusually successful, thanks to a simple idea.He had behind him a career as a schoolteacher--a very rare attainment for a Jew from the Sudetenland--that was to lead indirectly to his making a fortune. He had witnessed the miserable lot
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Saul Friedlander; Translated by Helen R. Lane

  • Saul Friedlander returned to Europe for advanced study in political science.  He has written many articles and books, including Pius XII and the Third Reich; Prelude to Downfall: Hitler and the United States 1939-1941; and, most recently, History and Psychoanalysis.  He divides his time as a professor of history between Tel Aviv University and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.
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When Memory Comes

Saul Friedlander; Translated by Helen R. Lane

  • e-Book

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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