Saul Friedläder

When memory comes

a documentary by Frank Diamand

The film

‘When Memory comes’ is a film about the Jewish historian Saul Friedländer (1932, Prague) and his life-long quest to describe the extermination of the European Jews without losing or repressing a primary feeling of disbelief. Friedländer’s life and work is totally intertwined with the history of Europe
and European Jewry. He survived World War II in a convent school in France
while his parents tried to flee to Switzerland in vain and were deported and murdered in Auschwitz.

The film which was shot in Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Néris-les-bains, St. Gingolph at the French-Swiss border and Prague, deals with the deep and personal motives that underlie his quest, which culminated in his book Nazi-Germany and the Jews 1933-1945, in which he used a new and unique historiography giving a voice and a face to victims, bystanders and perpetrators alike. 

The film balances Friedländer’s biography, with the explanation of his methodology, the use of diaries, also those of children, the polyphony of individual historic experience to come closer to historical reality. It shows Friedländer’s preoccupation with the trivialization of the Shoah in film and literature. And it illuminates Friedländer’s concept of Hitler’s “redemptive anti-semitism”. Hitler’s ‘either, or”.  Either he would exterminate ‘the Jew’, or ‘the Jew’ would destroy aryan humanity, everything he had fought for. Friedländer convincingly argues that this was the defining concept of Nazi policy leading to the extermination of the Jews of Europe.

‘When Memory comes’ is a production of INTERAKT co-produced by DIAMAND & FRIENDS PRODUCTIONS, it was broadcast by the Jewish Broadcast Company in the spring of 2013. Director: Frank Diamand / Producer: René Mendel / Director of photography: Melle van Essen / Sound: Piotr van Dijk / Editor: Simone da Silva


Bakkerstraat 10
1017 CW Amsterdam
tel. 020 6237982

Diamands & Friends Productions
Van Diemenstraat 410
1013 CR Amsterdam


October 25th

Different Screenings


May 18 Saul Friedländer will receive the DAN DAVID AWARD, something comparable to a Nobel Prize for History, with a one million dollar cheque attached. He shares the award with the French historian Pierre Nora and the Polish social activist and theater producer Kryztof Czyzewski. In the framework of Friedländer being one of the laureates 'When memory comes' will be screened at Yad Vashem ( the ‘World center for Documentation, Research, Education and Commemoration of the Holocaust’) in Jerusalem and the University of Tel Aviv. A Hebrew version of the film is in the offing.

In the Netherlands the film was shown at several  Universities and in January 2013 it had a screening at the University of Wolverhampton where the director Frank Diamand had been invited to give the Holocaust Memorial Lecture. It was selected for the Jewish Film Festival Jerusalem 2013 had a screening February 13, 2014 in London at the Wiener Library, the world's oldest institution devoted to the study of the Holocaust, its causes and legacies.

Next summer the film will be part of a nine-day residential workshop for PhD students the Holocaust Research Centre at  the Royal Holloway, University of London will be running.