Remembering the victims of National Socialism with Saul Friedländer

The Bundestag remembered the victims of National Socialism with a special ceremony on Thursday, 31 January 2019. This marks the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. Following a welcome address by Bundestag President Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, internationally-renowned Israeli historian and essayist Saul Friedländer gave the commemorative speech.

Parents murdered at Auschwitz

Saul Friedländer was born in 1932 into a Jewish family in Prague. Following the German occupation of Prague in March 1939 the family emigrated to France. While Friedländer survived in hiding, his parents were arrested and subsequently murdered at Auschwitz in 1942.

After the war, Friedländer emigrated to Palestine, where he fought in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 and studied at the School of Law and Economics in Tel Aviv from 1950 until 1953, before obtaining his Diplôme de Sciences Politiques at the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris in 1955. In 1963 he received his doctorate in political science in Geneva, and went on to work at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

Winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade

As a historian, he taught as an assistant professor in Geneva from 1964-65, before becoming a lecturer and then a full professor from 1967 to 1987. In 1976 he also started teaching as a professor of modern European history at the University of Tel Aviv, before being appointed a professor of history at the University of California in Los Angeles.

In addition to these posts, there were other teaching engagements, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris among others. Friedländer’s main field of research was the history of National Socialism, focussing of the fate of European Jews. He has won numerous prizes for his writing, including the Pulitzer Prize, and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in October 2007.

Youth Encounter looks at “Hidden Children”

The Bundestag’s Youth Encounter examined the topic of “Hidden Children”. Taking part this year were 78 young people aged between 17 and 26 from ten countries, who were involved in examining the history of National Socialism or actively engaged in countering anti-Semitism and racism. In addition to 57 German citizens, there were also participants from France, Poland, Austria, Russia, Azerbaijan, Israel, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Ukraine. 

Following the Ceremony of Remembrance at the Bundestag, the young people took part in a panel discussion with Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble and Professor Saul Friedländer.