Restorative Memory in the Writings of Saul Friedländer

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This article illuminates memory from the perspective of the historical writings of Saul Friedländer. The theoretical term I coined for this phenomenon is restorative memory, which describes the functional adjustment of the frequently changing plasticity of memory which essentially inflects our attitude toward our past experiences. This is especially evident when details and events related to our past are reconstructed and adapted to the current circumstances of our personal and private lives, adapted to serve specific contemporary political, social, and educational goals. The selective reconstruction of biographic and collective events occurs through emphasis, deletion, enhancement, rejection, addition, or elimination of relevant details. The needs of the present result in the reconstruction of the past and the attribution of new meanings to events that have also been emphasized, deleted, enhanced, added, or eliminated from memory. According to Thomas Mann, the term ‘historiology’ refers to the objective study of history to obtain scientific knowledge. Restorative memory refers to the reconstruction of past events to shape the present. History is fleeting; restorative memory persists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-37
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Holocaust Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • Aharon Appelfeld
  • Holocaust
  • Israel
  • Zeev Sternhell
  • memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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