Holocaust survivor, scholar awarded $815,000 Balzan Prize

Sep 13, 2021, 6:18 AM | Updated: 6:37 am

MILAN (AP) — An Israeli-French-American Holocaust survivor and historian and a U.S. scientist specializing in gut bacteria were among the recipients this year’s Balzan Prizes, recognizing scholarly and scientific achievements, announced on Monday.

Saul Friedlander, who has taught at both the University of California, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv University, was awarded the prize for Holocaust and Genocide Studies for his work broadening the perspective on the history of the Holocaust.

Friedlander, 88, was born in Prague in 1932 in a non-religious Jewish family, which fled to France after the German occupation in March 1939. His parents hid him in a Catholic boarding school near Vichy, where they were later captured and sent to Auschwitz.

With his parents’ agreement, Friedlander was baptized as a Catholic and later, out of his own conviction, considered becoming a priest. After he learned in 1946 that his parents had been killed at Auschwitz, Friedlander reclaimed his Jewish identity. He later said, “for the first time, I felt Jewish.”

Friedlander received the Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction in 2008 for “The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945,” the second volume in his history of Jews in Hitler’s Germany. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1999, after the publication of the first volume covering the period from 1933-39 and has also been awarded the Dan David Prize recognizing outstanding achievement in interdisciplinary research.

Friedlander was recognized for examining the persecution of all Jews in Europe, going beyond country-focused studies that had preceded him, and for making personal documents accepted in scholarly practice.

“His authority is special in the sense that he is both a scholar and a victim of the Holocaust. He says that you can study your own experiences in a critical way,” said Marjan Schwegman, a Dutch historian who announced the prize. “The way he integrates the voices of victims, perpetrators and bystanders in this narrative has changed the way historians write about the history of the Holocaust.”

The Balzan Foundation awards two prizes in the sciences and two in the humanities each year, rotating specialties to highlight new or emerging areas of research and sustain fields that might be overlooked elsewhere. Recipients receive 750,000 Swiss francs ($815,000), half of which must be used for research, preferably by young scholars or scientists.

Jeffrey Gordon, a biologist and director of the Center for Genome Science at the Washington University in Saint Louis, was awarded for founding the field of human microbiome research and revolutionizing its role on human health and disease.

Prior to Gordon’s pioneering work in the 1990s, just 20 papers were published every decade on the microbiome, or the estimated 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of microbiota living in each adult, including on the skin, in the nose and gut, according to Jules Hoffman, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine who announced the award.

That expanded to 4,000 papers a decade after 2000 and is now up to 80,000 every 10 years. “It has become a very hot topic in science,” Hoffman said.

Gordon has expanded his research in the last decade to malnutrition, a primary reason for disease in children under 5, including the possibility of combating the deleterious impact of malnutrition through fecal microbiome transplants, Hoffman said.

Italian physicist Alessandra Buonanno and French physicist Thibault Damour were recognized for work that was instrumental in the detection of gravitational waves, which has helped to promote a type of astronomy that uses gravitational waves as “new, powerful messengers of the universe,” the Balzan prize committee said.

Buonanno, 52, is director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam, Germany, and holds a research professorship at the University of Maryland, College Park and honorary professorships at the Humboldt University in Berlin and the University of Potsdam. Damour, 70, has been a professor of theoretical physics at the Institut des Haute Etudes Scientifique in Bures-sur-Yvette France since 1989.

The Balzan Committee has not yet reached consensus on the prize for Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, but officials said they hope to do so before the prizes are presented in Rome on Nov. 18 by Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella.

Next year’s prizes will be awarded in moral philosophy, ethnomusicology, biomaterials for nanomedicine and tissue engineering and glaciation and ice-sheet dynamics.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This combination of images shows promotional art for "Riches," a series premiering Dec. 2 on Amazon...
Associated Press

New this week: ‘Riches,’ Robert Downey Sr. and BTS’ RM

Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music and video game platforms this week. MOVIES — Robert Downey Jr. affectionately pays tribute to this late father, Robert Downey Sr. in “Sr.,” an intimate documentary the younger Downey spent three years filming with his dad […]
12 hours ago
FILE - A visitor wearing a face mask walks past artwork displayed at an NFT (non-fungible token)-th...
Associated Press

Fidelity Charitable launches NFT raffle amid crypto downturn

NEW YORK (AP) — Fidelity Charitable is getting into NFTs, the digital images that are registered on the blockchain, despite a torrent of bad news from the adjacent world of cryptocurrencies. The nation’s largest grantmaker is sponsoring a raffle that ends Tuesday, where participants can claim one of the NFTs, which stands for nonfungible token, […]
12 hours ago
FILE - Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank listens during a news conference i...
Associated Press

Europe’s inflation likely hasn’t peaked, ECB’s Lagarde says

BRUSSELS (AP) — The head of the European Central Bank said Monday she does not believe inflation has peaked after reaching the highest levels on record. ECB President Christine Lagarde also told European lawmakers that the bank isn’t through raising interest rates to combat those price spikes. There is too much uncertainty to know whether […]
12 hours ago
FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. Busine...
Associated Press

Business groups urge Congress to block potential rail strike

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Business groups are increasing the pressure on lawmakers to intervene and block a railroad strike before next month’s deadline in the stalled contract talks. A coalition of more than 400 business groups sent a letter to Congressional leaders Monday urging them to step into the stalled talks because of fears about […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Mother charged with murder after daughter found dead in fire

EAST POINT, Ga. (AP) — An Atlanta-area woman has been arrested on murder charges after investigators say she killed one of her twin 4-year-old daughters and set fire to her apartment to conceal the death, burning the other twin. Nicole Jackson, 27, was arrested Friday by East Point police and remains jailed in Fulton County […]
12 hours ago
FILE - Then-Census Bureau Director nominee Robert Santos, testifies before the Senate Homeland Secu...
Associated Press

Census Bureau chief defends new privacy tool against critics

The U.S. Census Bureau’s chief is defending a new tool meant to protect the privacy of people participating in the statistical agency’s questionnaires against calls to abandon it by prominent researchers who claim it jeopardizes the usefulness of numbers that are the foundation of the nation’s data infrastructure. The tool known as differential privacy “was […]
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Holocaust survivor, scholar awarded $815,000 Balzan Prize