Sir Martin Gilbert CBE 1936-2015
I was very saddened to hear of the death of Sir Martin Gilbert, the eminent Holocaust historian on 3 January 2015. Aged 78, he had suffered a stroke in 2012. He was a charming man who was very helpful and supportive to me. I met him at a Reception at Buckingham Palace in 2002 and summoned up the courage to introduce myself. I was researching Holocaust rescuers at the time and he had recently published his book The Righteous. He said I should contact him if I needed any help and when I asked him for his card he just said ‘Merton College, Oxford – that will find me’ with his cherubic smile.
When after ten years work my book, The Other Schindlers, was to be published he very kindly agreed to write the Foreword. I am sure his name on the cover accounted for the success of the book. The biographer of Churchill (in eight volumes), he wrote more than eighty books. The former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, described him as the ‘voice of Jewish memory in our time’. For such an eminent historian, he carried his erudition with great charm and kindness. I was fortunate to know him.
I was invited to speak to the new Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre at Highgate Synagogue on 22 January 2018. Unfortunately it snowed that afternoon and the audience was below their normal 60. However I had the pleasure of meeting Lady Esther Gilbert, Sir Martin’s widow and we had a photo taken.
After the event a member of the audience wrote to me saying ‘You are a wonderfully engaging speaker. I enjoyed the other night very much.’ A very gratifying comment.