All posts by Martin Gilbert

MG Blog Dec

2019, A century of anniversaries

Photo: The Berlin Wall comes down, 1989 670 words / 3 minute read 1909: Official figures released in St Petersburg in 1909 revealed that 782 political offenders had been executed in the previous year, an increase of more than a hundred from the year before that. The number in exile

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Heroic Holocaust secret

Photo: The Boys in Prague before their journey to the UK Filmmaker Herb Krosney on The Boys. Letter to the Editor, Jerusalem Post,10 November 2019 “Regarding ‘World War II pilot’s heroic Holocaust secret revealed’ (November 6) about the flight to England of 732 Holocaust orphans, your readers might be interested in

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Hatreds: Innate or Acquired?

Photo:“The shooter’s rampage” 555 words/2 ½ minute read Stephan Balliet has proven what most Jews already know: Anti-Semitism is not about Jews. Rather, it is about those who are filled with hate. And basically that means hate for anyone – Jews are just the “miner’s canaries”: when Jews are targetted,

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Political Leadership by Sir Martin Gilbert

Photo: Martin, speaking at Hillsdale College 2950 words/15 minute read It is an honour to be asked to speak today, at the first Yossi Harel annual lecture. I thank Sir Ronald Cohen for inviting me to reflect on political leadership from an historical perspective. I have been fortunate to have had

Photo: A child from Ruthenian ghetto of Berehovo in Hungarian-occupied Czechoslovakia, being held in a birch grove with other deportees before being killed in a gas chamber in Birkenau; photo taken in early June or July 1944 by SS Sergeant Ernst Hoffman; in collection of Beate Klarsfeld Foundation.

Bombing Auschwitz, to be or Not to be?

Photo: A child from Ruthenian ghetto of Berehovo in Hungarian-occupied Czechoslovakia, being held in a birch grove with other deportees before being killed in a gas chamber in Birkenau; photo taken in early June or July 1944 by SS Sergeant Ernst Hoffman; in collection of Beate Klarsfeld Foundation. 775 words/4 minute

Crematorium IV at Birkenau, shortly before it was ready to be put into operation in the spring of 1943. Photo from Auschwitz and the Allies

The fire at Crematorium IV

Photo: Crematorium IV at Birkenau, shortly before it was ready to be put into operation in the spring of 1943. Photo from Auschwitz and the Allies 700 words/3 minute read At Birkenau the Jews of the Sonderkommando were preparing to revolt. It was an enterprise of supreme hazard, and of supreme

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Mapmaker, Mapmaker Make me a Map

475 words/2 ½ minute read Martin’s interest in maps began in his early years. He told me that he had wanted to study geography but his teachers had told him that wasn’t a “real” study so he went on to do history. But his love of geography continued throughout his

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The Second World War – the Backstory

Photo: Polish prisoners-of-war, captured by the Germans in September 1939. 1530 words/8 minute read The Second World War, the first phase of which broke out on 1 September 1939 when Germany attacked Poland, had its origins twenty-one years earlier, when the First World War – then known as the Great War

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Randolph Churchill on the Churchill Biography

Photo: Randolph Churchill addressing the dinner 1500 words/8 minute read Editor’s Note: On June 14, Hillsdale College, the publishers of the official multi-volume Churchill biography, announced, at a gala dinner in London, the completion of the final document volumes, bringing the biography to 8 volumes of Churchill’s life, and 23

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In praise of barbed wire

600 word/3 minute read A century ago from the time I grew up there, those living in the American West experienced years of animosity that often descended into bloodshed. Having taken the land from the native Indian population, Eastern settlers experienced a new freedom: that of the wide open range.

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Travels with Martin, 1

Cracow, February 2010 1.30 minute read/295 words Martin’s talk at the Jagiellonian went well; it can be a surprise for an audience to learn a new aspect of their history. In thanking Martin, his host remarked also how refreshing it was that Martin, unlike many of their non-Polish lecturers, knew

Warsaw Uprising partial map

Churchill & Poland

Churchill & Poland  speech excerpt                                                                             3 minute read /646 words             When, in

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Travels with Martin, 2

Photo: Vera Brittain Étaples, France, November 2005 1.30 minute read/ 326 words Along with reading wall plaques and war memorials, Martin also believed in visiting war cemeteries in whatever region or country he found himself. One of the more powerful and overwhelming is that of the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery

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Sir Martin & The Iraq Inquiry

This July marks ten years since then Prime Minister Gordon Brown set up the Iraq Inquiry, headed by Sir John Chilcot and included Sir Lawrence Freedman, Sir Roderic Lyne, Baroness Prashar, and Sir Martin. The commission, “appointed to consider the UK’s policy on Iraq from 2001 to 2009”, was given

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A “horrible episode” Oran, 3 July 1940

Photo: Roosevelt and Churchill, August 1941 As part of the Franco-German Armistice, France had agreed to transfer its warships to German control. Part of that fleet was at Oran, in French North Africa. When Lothian asked Roosevelt if he would support Britain’s “forcible seizure” of the ships, Roosevelt replied, “certainly.”

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D-Day

Photo: Sir Martin on the beach at Normandy, describing the invasion, May 2003. Photo © Bernie Pucker, with thanks to Liz Burgess. The Allied landing in 1944 might have ended in disaster. Winston Churchill thought he would be woken up to be told of massive casualties. General Eisenhower prepared a

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Tragedy of the Slapton Sands rehearsal for D-Day landings

Photo: Sir Martin, describing the preparations for the Normandy Landings, May 2003. Photo © Bernie Pucker, with thanks to Liz Burgess. Patrick Kidd, in The Times on April 29, writes of the tragedy of the Slapton Sands rehearsal for the D-Day landings: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/slapton-sands-rehearsal-that-was-deadlier-than-d-day-flzh7g66x Sir Martin, in D-Day, gives the background to