Holocaust historian: 'Complex feelings' at prize

12th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

12 October 2007, Frankfurt (dpa) - Saul Friedlaender, the Jewish historian, praised modern Germany Friday, while speaking of his "complex feelings" at receiving the German Book Trade Peace Prize for his writings about the Holocaust.

12 October 2007

Frankfurt (dpa) - Saul Friedlaender, the Jewish historian, praised modern Germany Friday, while speaking of his "complex feelings" at receiving the German Book Trade Peace Prize for his writings about the Holocaust.

The 75-year-old, French-educated, Israeli academic, who lost his parents in the Shoah (Holocaust), is being honoured Sunday for "restoring the stolen dignity of the victims of the Holocaust, a recognition of which is the basis of peace."

Friedlaender spoke in fluent German Friday of the "terrible feeling of fear" he had sometimes felt during his early stays in Germany after the Second World War.

"I had to keep going away for periods. But in time that changed," he said. Today, Germany was a country like any other. He even had a German grandchild in Berlin, since his daughter is married to a German musician.

"Today Germany is one of the great democracies of the world and a liberal nation," he said.

He said he had a "dual response" to being awarded the annual German literary prize, both happy to be honoured for his scholarship while aware that this was closely bound to the loss of his parents.

"I won't have mixed feelings, but I would say complex feelings," he said.

He said his attitude to Israel was also complex. He emigrated there in 1948.

"When I arrived in Israel at the age of 15, I was a convinced Zionist," he said. Later he had been a critic of Israel's policies. "Israel made a lot of mistakes," he said.

But he retained "a strong emotional bond to the country and its people." His two sons live there, but the historian mainly lives in the United States.

German leaders will gather Sunday at the Church of St Paul, a Frankfurt historic monument, to hear a eulogy to Friedlaender and hear the prizewinner's own address in reply.

The award is always presented on the final day of the five-day Frankfurt Book Fair.

AFP

Subject: German news

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