Blessed is the True Judge
From Lady Gilbert, London, 4 February 2015:
It is with an unbearable sadness that I am writing to you today. After 34 months of agonizingly slow but steady recovery from an hypoxia brain injury, and 30 hours of a virulent sepsis infection, the final query to Martin’s own personal history was answered last night.
The funeral will be at Eretz HaChaim Cemetery in Beit Shemesh, Israel on the 12th. The Shiva will be at our home in London from Sunday evening the 8th. Your concern and kind words, visits and friendship, prayers and love have sustained us particularly during the last nearly three years. Baruch Dayen Emet – Blessed is the True Judge.
My relationship with Sir Martin Gilbert goes back 47 years to the the day my letter, asking Randolph Churchill’s assistance with Churchill research, arrived at Randolph’s house. Martin opened it. (Decades on, he still remembered.) We met 17 years later when I invited him to speak to our Churchill Tour of England, the first of countless collaborations and shared interest in keeping Churchill’s “memory green and record accurate.” How much I learned from him is incalculable.
Obituaries are always too late, but my contribution thereto follows in Part 2. Over the past three years many wrote to him expressing their love and appreciation. Lady Gilbert was able to read each article to him, and said she could tell he understood and was moved. It is good that we were in time.
Echoes and memories
I thought, as I heard this news, of Prime Minister Harold Wilson‘s remembrance of Churchill in 1965, and will take the liberty of paraphrasing him….
Martin Gilbert, and the legend Sir Martin had become long before his death and which now lives on, are the possession not of Britain, or of Israel, but of the world; not of our time only, but of the ages. For now the noise of hooves thundering across the veldt, the clamour of the hustings in a score of contests, the shots in Sidney Street, the angry guns of Gallipoli and Flanders, Coronel and the Falkland Islands, the urgent warnings or the Nazi threat, the whine of the sirens, the dawn bombardment of the Normandy beaches, the Jews and Israel, the horror of the Holocaust, Auschwitz and the Allies, the Righteous few who saved some, the Soviet refuseniks—their stories are over, their record written. There is a stillness, and in that stillness echoes and memories.
Each one of us recalls some little incident—many of us, as in my own case, a kind action, graced with the courtesy of a past generation. They all went far beyond the normal calls of comradeship. Each of us has his own memory. For in the tumultuous diapason of tributes, all of us know the epitaph he would have chosen for himself. He was a noble historian, a kind and decent man.
For Part 2, click here.
For Sir Martin’s lectures at Hillsdale College, click here.