Martin Gilbert

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people with the same name see Martin Gilbert (disambiguation)
The Right Honourable
Sir Martin Gilbert
MartinGilbertBGUHonDoctor.jpg
Sir Martin Gilbert (centre) being awarded Hon. Doctor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel
Born Martin John Gilbert
25 October 1936
London
Died 3 February 2015(2015-02-03) (aged 78)
Nationality British
Education Highgate School, University of Oxford
Occupation Historian, academic
Known for Study of Holocaust and the Jewish history, Winston Churchill's biographer

Sir Martin John Gilbert, CBE, FRSL (25 October 1936 – 3 February 2015)[1] was a British historian and academic. From 1962 to 1995, he was a Fellow of Merton College, University of Oxford. He was the author of over eighty books, including works on the Holocaust and Jewish history.

Early life[edit]

Gilbert was born in London to Peter and Miriam Gilbert;[2] all four of his grandparents had been born in Tsarist Russia.[3] Nine months after the outbreak of the Second World War, he was evacuated to Canada as part of the British efforts to safeguard children. Vivid memories of the transatlantic crossing from Liverpool to Quebec sparked his curiosity about the war in later years.[1]

After the war he attended Highgate School, where he was taught history by the Balkan expert Alan Palmer, and politics by the redoubtable Fabian T N Fox,[3] and then completed two years of National Service in the Intelligence Corps before going on to study at Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating in 1960 with a first-class BA in modern history.[2] One of his tutors at Oxford was A.J.P. Taylor. After his graduation, Gilbert undertook postgraduate research at St Antony's College, Oxford.

Career[edit]

Historian and academic[edit]

After two years of postgraduate work, Gilbert was approached by Randolph Churchill to assist his work on a biography of his father, Sir Winston Churchill. That same year, 1962, Gilbert was made a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and he spent the next few years combining his own research projects in Oxford with being part of Randolph's research team in Suffolk, working on the first two volumes of the Churchill biography. When Randolph died in 1968, Gilbert was commissioned to take over the task, completing the remaining six main volumes of the biography.

Gilbert spent the next 20 years on the Churchill project, publishing a number of other books throughout the time. Each main volume of the biography is accompanied by two or three volumes of documents, and so the biography currently runs to 24 volumes (over 25,000 pages), with another 7 document volumes still planned. In the 1960s, Gilbert compiled some of the first historical atlases. Michael Foot, reviewing a volume of Gilbert's biography of Churchill in the New Statesman in 1971, praised his meticulous scholarship and wrote: "Whoever made the decision to make Martin Gilbert Churchill's biographer deserves a vote of thanks from the nation. Nothing less would suffice."

His other major works include a definitive single-volume history on the Holocaust, as well as single-volume histories of The First World War and The Second World War. He also wrote a three-volume series called A History of the Twentieth Century. Gilbert described himself as an "archival historian" who made extensive use of primary sources in his work. Interviewed by the BBC on the subject of Holocaust research, Gilbert said he believes that the "tireless gathering of facts will ultimately consign Holocaust deniers to history".[4] He wrote the foreword to Denis Avey's The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz, which he described as "a most important book" and stated that Avey's "description of Buna-Monowitz is stark, and true".[5] The accuracy of certain aspects of Avey's account have subsequently been challenged.[6][7]

In 1995, he retired as a Fellow of Merton College but was made an Honorary Fellow. In 1999 [8] he was awarded the D.Litt. degree by the University of Oxford, "for the totality of his published work", for which he had supplicated.[9] In 2000 he received the Guardian of Zion Award from the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University. From 2002, he was a Distinguished Fellow of Hillsdale College, Michigan, and between 2006 and 2007 he was a professor in the history department at the University of Western Ontario. In October 2008, he was elected to an Honorary Fellowship at Churchill College.

Public service[edit]

Gilbert was appointed in June 2009 as a member of the British government’s inquiry into the Iraq War (headed by Sir John Chilcot). His appointment to this inquiry was criticised in parliament by William Hague, Clare Short, and George Galloway on the basis of neutrality, Gilbert having written in 2004 that George W. Bush and Tony Blair may in future be esteemed to the same degree as Roosevelt and Churchill.[10][11] In an article for The Independent on Sunday published in November 2009, Oliver Miles, the former British ambassador to Libya, objected to the presence of Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman on the committee partly because of their Jewish background and Gilbert's Zionist sympathies.[12] In a later interview, Gilbert saw Miles's attack as being motivated by antisemitism.[13]

As the Iraq inquiry was to be conducted on Privy Council terms, Gilbert (who was not previously a Privy Counsellor) was appointed to the Council in order to take part in it.[14]

Praise and criticism[edit]

Many laud Gilbert's books and atlases for their meticulous scholarship and his clear and objective presentation of complex events.[15] His book on World War I is described as a majestic, single-volume work incorporating all major fronts—domestic, diplomatic, military—for "a stunning achievement of research and storytelling".[16] Catholic sources describe him as a "fair-minded, conscientious collector of facts".[17]

Gilbert's portrayal of Churchill's supportive attitudes to Jews (in his book Churchill and the Jews) has been criticised, for example by Piers Brendon.[18] Also, Tom Segev writes that, although Gilbert's book The Story of Israel is written with "encyclopedic clarity", it suffers by the absence of figures from Arab sources.[19]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 1990, Gilbert was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). In 1995, he was awarded a Knighthood "for services to British history and international relations".[20] In 2003 Gilbert was awarded the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize by the University of Tübingen.[21][page needed] The Sir Martin Gilbert Library at Highgate School, where he was a pupil, was opened on 6 May 2014 by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.[22] "I know he helped Lady Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, but he also helped me a great deal with his insights into history," said Brown. "I know he advised Harold Wilson even before them, but at every point Martin was available and he wanted to believe that the best outcomes were possible. A genuine humanitarian, someone whose writing of history taught him we could always do better in the future if we are able to learn the lessons of history."[23]

Honorary Degrees[edit]

Sir Martin Gilbert received Honorary Degrees from several Universities. These include

Country Date School Degree
 Ontario 4 June 2003 University of Western Ontario Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [24]
 Israel 2011 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Doctorate

Personal life[edit]

In 1963, he married Helen Constance Robinson, with whom he had a daughter. He had two sons with his second wife, Susan Sacher, whom he married in 1974. From 2005, he was married to the Holocaust historian Esther Gilbert, née Goldberg.[2] Gilbert described himself as a proud practising Jew and a Zionist.[25]

Death[edit]

In March 2012, while on a trip to Jerusalem, Gilbert developed a heart arrhythmia from which he never recovered.[26] He died in London aged 78.[27]

Gilbert's death was announced on 4 February 2015 by Sir John Chilcot. Giving evidence before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee about delays in the publication of the report of the Iraq inquiry, Chilcot reported that Gilbert had died the previous night following a long illness.[28][29][30]

Titles from birth to death[edit]

  • Birth–1990: Mr Martin Gilbert
  • 1990–1995: Mr Martin Gilbert CBE
  • 1995–2009: Sir Martin Gilbert CBE
  • 2009–death: The Rt Hon Sir Martin Gilbert CBE

Books[edit]

Biography of Winston Churchill[edit]

Volumes one and two were written by Churchill's son Randolph Churchill, who also edited the two companions to volume one. Gilbert's first work as official biographer was to supervise the posthumous publication of the three companions to volume two, but these were published in Randolph Churchill's name, and indeed, Randolph had already compiled most of the material in his lifetime. In 2008, Gilbert announced that the job of publishing the remaining companion volumes had been taken over by the Hillsdale Press, and the first of these appeared in 2014. The Hillsdale Press had already reprinted the complete biography in eight volumes and the sixteen published companion volumes, as a series titled "The Churchill Documents", so that the volume of 2014 became the seventeenth instalment of this series.

  • Gilbert, Martin (1971a), Winston S Churchill, Three: The Challenge of War: 1914–1916 
  • —— (1975), Winston S Churchill, Four: The Stricken World 1917–1922 
  • —— (1979a), Winston S Churchill, Five: Prophet of Truth 1922–1939 
  • —— (1983), Winston S Churchill, Six: Finest Hour 1939–1941 
  • —— (1986a), Winston S Churchill, Seven: Road to Victory 1941–1945 
  • —— (1988), Winston S Churchill, Eight: Never Despair 1945–1965 

Companion Volumes to Biography[edit]

  • Gilbert, Martin (1972a), Winston S Churchill, Three, Documents  (in two volumes)
  • —— (1977a), Winston S Churchill, Four, Documents  (in three volumes)
  • —— (1979b), Winston S Churchill, The Exchequer Years, 1922–1929, Documents 
  • —— (1981a), Winston S Churchill, The Wilderness Years, 1929–1935, Documents 
  • —— (1982a), Winston S Churchill, The Coming of War, 1936–1939, Documents 
  • —— (1993a), The Churchill War Papers, One: Winston S Churchill, 'At The Admiralty': September 1939 – May 1940 
  • —— (1995a), The Churchill War Papers, Two: Winston S Churchill, 'Never Surrender': May – December 1940 
  • —— (2000a), The Churchill War Papers, Three: Winston S Churchill, 'The Ever-Widening War': 1941 
  • —— (2014), The Churchill Documents, Seventeen: Testing Times: 1942 

Other books on Winston Churchill[edit]

  • Gilbert, Martin (1966a), Winston Churchill , a short biography for use in schools
  • —— (1967), Churchill: Great Lives Observed 
  • —— (1974a), Churchill: A Photographic Portrait 
  • —— (1979c), Churchill: An Illustrated Biography 
  • —— (1981b), Churchill's Political Philosophy 
  • —— (1981c), Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years 
  • —— (1991), Churchill, A Life 
  • —— (1994), In Search of Churchill 
  • Gilbert, Martin, ed. (1997), Winston Churchill and Emery Reves, Correspondence 1937–1964 
  • Gilbert, Martin (2003a), Churchill at War: His 'Finest Hour' in Photographs, 1940–1945 
  • —— (2004a), Continue to Pester, Nag and Bite , retitled Winston Churchill’s War Leadership
  • —— (2005), Churchill and America 
  • —— (2006a), Will of the People 
  • —— (2007), Churchill and the Jews 
  • —— (2012), Churchill: The Power of Words 

Other biographies and history books[edit]

  • Gilbert, Martin, ed. (1964), Britain and Germany Between the Wars 
  • ———; Gott, Richard (1965), The Appeasers 
  • Gilbert, Martin (1965a), The European Powers 1900–1945 
  • Gilbert, Martin, ed. (1965b), Plough My Own Furrow: The Life of Lord Allen of Hurtwood 
  • Gilbert, Martin (1965c), Recent History Atlas, 1860–1960 
  • —— (1966b), The Roots of Appeasement 
  • Gilbert, Martin, ed. (1966c), Servant of India , A Study of Imperial Rule in India from 1905–1910 as told through the correspondence and diaries of Sir James Dunlop-Smith, Private Secretary to the Viceroy of India
  • ———, ed. (1968a), Lloyd George: Great Lives Observed 
  • Gilbert, Martin (1968b), British History Atlas 
  • —— (1968c), American History Atlas 
  • —— (1969), Jewish History Atlas 
  • —— (1970), The Second World War , for use in schools
  • —— (1971b), First World War Atlas 
  • —— (1972b), Russian History Atlas 
  • —— (1973), Sir Horace Rumbold: Portrait of a Diplomat, 1869–1941 
  • —— (1974b), The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Its History in Maps 
  • —— (1976a), The Jews of Arab Lands: Their History in Maps 
  • —— (1976b), The Jews of Russia: Their History in Maps and Photographs 
  • —— (1977b), Jerusalem Illustrated History Atlas 
  • —— (1978a), Exile and Return: The Emergence of Jewish Statehood 
  • —— (1978b), The Holocaust, Maps and Photographs , for use in schools
  • —— (1979d), Final Journey: The Fate of the Jews of Nazi Europe 
  • —— (1979e), Children's Illustrated Bible Atlas 
  • —— (1981d), Auschwitz and the Allies 
  • —— (1982b), Atlas of the Holocaust 
  • —— (1984), Jews of Hope, The Plight of Soviet Jewry Today 
  • —— (1985), Jerusalem: Rebirth of a City 
  • —— (1986b), The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy 
  • —— (1986c), Shcharansky: Hero of Our Time 
  • —— (1989), The Second World War 
  • —— (1993b), Atlas of British Charities 
  • —— (1995b), The Day the War Ended: May 8, 1945 
  • —— (1996a), Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century 
  • —— (1996b), The Boys, Triumph Over Adversity 
  • —— (2002), First World War 
  • —— (1997b), A History of the Twentieth Century, One: 1900–1933 
  • —— (1997c), Holocaust Journey: Travelling in Search of the Past 
  • —— (1998), Israel: a history, Doubleday, ISBN 978-0-385-40401-3 
  • —— (1999a), A History of the Twentieth Century, Two, 1933–1951 
  • —— (1999b), A History of the Twentieth Century, Three, 1952–1999 
  • —— (2000b), Never Again: A History of the Holocaust 
  • —— (2001a), From The Ends of the Earth: The Jews in the Twentieth Century 
  • —— (2001b), History of the Twentieth Century , condensed version of his three volume history
  • —— (2002a), Letters to Auntie Fori: The 5,000-Year History of the Jewish People and their Faith 
  • —— (2002b), The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust 
  • —— (2003b), Geistliche als Retter – auch eine Lehre aus dem Holocaust [The Christian Clergy as Rescuers: A Holocaust Imperative] (in German), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ISBN 978-3-16-148229-8 
  • —— (2004b), D-Day 
  • —— (2006b), Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction 
  • —— (2006c), The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War 
  • —— (2008), The Story of Israel 
  • —— (2009), Atlas of the Second World War 
  • —— (2010), In Ishmael's House: A History of the Jews in Muslim Lands, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-16715-3 

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gilbert, Martin, Author's message 
  2. ^ a b c "The Papers of Sir Martin Gilbert", Janus, UK: CAM 
  3. ^ a b "Sir Martin Gilbert, historian – obituary", Daily Telegraph, 4 February 2015
  4. ^ Berg, Raffi (14 April 2005). "The fight against Holocaust denial". News (BBC). Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  5. ^ The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz
  6. ^ Walters, Guy (8 April 2011). "Did this British PoW really smuggle himself into Auschwitz to expose the Holocaust... or is his account pure fantasy and an insult to millions who died there?". Daily Mail (London). 
  7. ^ "Witness to Auschwitz". Radio Times. Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  8. ^ http://www.merton.ox.ac.uk/news/sir-martin-gilbert-1936-2015
  9. ^ "Leave to supplicate for D.Litt.". Oxford University Gazette. 24 September 1998. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Parliamentary Debates" (PDF). c 808. Hansard. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2009. 
  11. ^ Martin Gilbert "Statesmen for these times", The Observer, 26 December 2004, originally published by BNewsweek
  12. ^ "The key question – is Blair a war criminal?". The Independent on Sunday (London). 2009-11-22. Retrieved 2010-01-12. 
  13. ^ Cesarani, David (2010-01-29). "Britain's affair with antisemitism". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  14. ^ "Official Report (Commons) 6ser vol 494 col 24". 15 June 2009.  "Privy Council Members". Privy Council Office. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 
  15. ^ Book Reviews: Oxford Mail, Library Journal, Middle East Review, Booklist Chicago, British Book News, Society of University Cartographers Bulletin, The Diplomatist, Jewish Chronicle, Scunthrope Evening Telegraph, Glasgow Jewish Echo, Geographical Magazine, Martin Gilbert 
  16. ^ "Descriptions", Library thing 
  17. ^ "A Rare Kind of Historian", Catholic exchange, 2008-02-01 
  18. ^ "Churchill & the Jews, by Martin Gilbert", The Independent (review) (London), archived from the original on Jan 3, 2011 
  19. ^ "Sir Martin's coffee-table book", Ha’aretz (IL), Aug 7, 2008 
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 54066. pp. 1–2. 16 June 1995. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
  21. ^ Gilbert 2003b.
  22. ^ "New Highgate School Library". Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  23. ^ "Opening of Sir Martin Gilbert Library". Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  24. ^ http://uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/senate/honorary/honorary_degrees_by_year.pdf
  25. ^ Brown, David (22 January 2010). "Chilcot inquiry member Sir Martin Gilbert praises Gordon Brown". The Times (London). Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  26. ^ "Sir Martin Gilbert obituary Eminent historian who wrote the definitive biography of Winston Churchill". The Guardian. 3 February 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  27. ^ "Martin Gilbert, preeminent Churchill biographer and Holocaust historian, dies". The Washington Post. 4 February 2015. 
  28. ^ "Iraq Inquiry: Chilcot rejects calls for report timetable". BBC News. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  29. ^ "Iraq Inquiry panel member Sir Martin Gilbert dies aged 78". ITV News. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  30. ^ Doherty, Rosa (4 February 2015). "Historian Sir Martin Gilbert dies at 78". The Jewish Chronicle (London). Retrieved 4 February 2015. 

External links[edit]