UCLA professor of history Saul Friedlander, whose parents died in the Nazi Holocaust, today won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for "The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945," the second volume of his seminal history of Jews in Hitler's Germany.
UCLA emeritus professor Daniel Walker Howe, also the Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus at Oxford University, won the Pulitzer in history for "What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848."
Both faculty members received the news with pleasure.
"I’m thrilled. It's a great honor," Friedlander said Monday. "It’s an important prize because it's an American prize that has a great meaning in this country." Howe said he was elated and grateful that the book has been appreciated. "This is the first book that I have ever written for the general, literate, curious public ... and I am very happy to have done that," Howe remarked.
Friedlander, who holds UCLA's 1939 Club Chair in Holocaust Studies, is considered one of the world's premier historians in the field and his books the definitive work on Jews during the rise and terror of the Third Reich. Last year, he received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Frankfurt Book Fair's top award.
Friedlander grew up in a French monastery in the 1940s, not knowing that his Jewish parents had perished in the Holocaust. When he was 13, a Jesuit priest told him what had happened to the Jews of Europe.
"That changed my whole life," Friedlander said in a 2001 interview. "In a way, my Jewish identity was restored."
Friedlander and Howe are the second UCLA faculty members to receive Pulitzer prizes. Prof. Jared Diamond won in 1998 for "Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies."