Sir Martin Gilbert CBE, 1936-2015 (1)

Sir Martin Gilbert CBE, 1936-2015 (1)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom Lady Gilbert, Lon­don, 4 Feb­ru­ary 2015:

It is with an unbear­able sad­ness that I am writ­ing to you today. After thir­ty-four months of ago­niz­ing­ly slow but steady recov­ery from an hypox­ia brain injury, and thir­ty 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.  I do not have the tim­ings for the funer­al yet but the ceme­tery should have it.  The Shi­va times will be through our shul web­site: 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 Mar­tin goes back forty-sev­en years to the the day my let­ter, ask­ing Ran­dolph Churchill’s assis­tance with research, arrived at Randolph’s house, and Mar­tin opened it. (Decades on, he still remem­bered.) We met sev­en­teen years lat­er when I invit­ed him to speak to our Churchill tour par­ty, one 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, so it was com­fort­ing to many who admired him that we were able to express our regard in the Churchill jour­nal Finest Hour last autumn. (My con­tri­bu­tion there­to fol­lows this post.) Lady Gilbert was able to read each arti­cle to him, and said she could tell he under­stood and was moved. Thank God we were in time.

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 sto­ry of the Jews and Israel, the hor­ror of the Holo­caust, the tales of Auschwitz and the Allies, of The Right­eous few who saved some, of 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 and going far beyond the nor­mal calls of com­rade­ship. Each of us has his own mem­o­ry, for in the tumul­tuous dia­pa­son of the world’s trib­utes, all of us here at least know the epi­taph he would have cho­sen for him­self: “He was a noble his­to­ri­an, a kind and decent man.”


Con­do­lences to Lady Gilbert will be for­ward­ed. For Part 2, click here.



2 thoughts on “Sir Martin Gilbert CBE, 1936-2015 (1)

  1. `Through your writ­ings of admi­ra­tion for Sir Mar­tin, I feel your loss as well as the loss to the world. My con­do­lences to you in the loss of an unusu­al­ly dear friend.


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