All posts by Martin Gilbert

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“To perish, but with honour”

Photo: Jewish partisans from Vilna return to the city from the Rudnicka forest immediately after liberation, 14 July 1944, while fighting is still going on just outside the city. From left to right (standing): Elchanon Magid, Jacob Prener, Bluma Markowicz (she was killed in a bombardment a few days after

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The Sir Martin Gilbert History Prize

325 words / 1 ½ minute read A pilot project involving more than 15 schools in the UK has presented pupils an opportunity to compete for the first Sir Martin Gilbert History Prize based on Winston Churchill’s life and times. Allen Packwood, the Director of the Churchill Archives Centre in

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Jewels in Martin’s Archive

Photo: A page of Martin’s manuscript of The Holocaust “To perish, but with honour” in draft 580 words / 3 minute read In those ancient pre-computer days, Martin wrote his books with “pen and ink”. He used legal pads, turned lengthwise so he could write across the page, ignoring what

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Belarus: the Back Story

Photo: 25 August 2020, peaceful Belorussian protest of August 9 election results 985 words/5 minute read 1991: At the time of the collapse of the Tsarist empire at the end of the First World War there had been a brief but unsuccessful attempt by White Russia (Byelorussia) to assert its independence.

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Strangers in a strange land

Photo: “Moses Showing the Tables of the Law to the People”, oil painting by Rembrandt, 1659 840 words/4 minute read God bless America, land that I love, Stand beside her, and guide her, Through the night with a light from above. Irving Berlin This month, Jews around the world are

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Why Maps? Why this Atlas?

Photo: Trenches memorialised on the battlefield at Beaumont-Hamel where the Royal Newfoundland Regiment fought; the only regiment in the First World War to be given the designation Royal, in recognition of its wartime contribution. From a 2008 talk Martin gave on his Atlases 590 words / 3 minute read In

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The “Roots” Trips

Photo: Sir Harry Solomon and Sir Martin This piece, presented by Martin’s dear friend Sir Harry Solomon, is taken from a talk he delivered at the Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre on 26 June 2020. Sir Harry is a founder of the Centre and Chair of the Trustees. 2500 words/13

Hiroshima

“The momentous day” 6 August 1945

Photo: Hiroshima; the scene near the centre of the atomic explosion of 6 August 1945 700 words/3 ½ minute read  6 August 1945: The scale and nature of the destruction of human life at Hiroshima was eventually to alter the whole nature of how mankind looked at wars, power, diplomacy

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Memorials and Narratives from Esther Gilbert

Photo:  Two stamps on a postcard Martin sent from Ukraine.  Martin wrote:  “Hope you like my juxtaposition of Stefan Bandera – whose men killed tens of thousands of Jews in this region (Volhynia) – and dear old Shalom Aleichem.”  Bandera is now viewed as a Ukrainian national hero; Shalom Aleichem, also

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Sir Martin’s Letters to Auntie Fori

OpenDor Media is producing a series of films being released on their YouTube channel, Unpacked, based on Sir Martin’s book Letters to Auntie Fori. The series will cover Jewish history in a similar way to how he presented it in his book. The launch was on June 29 and new

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Smashing Statues – the Biblical Precedent

Photo: A Soviet-era statue of Lenin in the tiny hamlet of Zaverichchya, Rivne Oblast, Ukraine, with Ukrainian post-independence commentary, August 2011. Letters to Auntie Fori, an excerpt 625 words/3 minute read Dearest Auntie Fori, According to the Biblical chronology, Abram, the son of Terah (later known as Abraham), was born

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The law of Stanislaus

Photo: Fanya Heller with Esther, 9 October 2005, New York 680 words/ 3 ½ minute read There’s a description in a Holocaust memoir that illustrates the chaos that can develop when it is encouraged and sanctioned. Fanya Gottesfeld Heller writes in Love in a Time of Sorrow that as an

Lodz Ghetto workers

What can we learn from History?

Photo: Jewish youngsters in the Lodz ghetto producing leather goods in one of the German-run factories. This colour photograph was taken by a German official in the ghetto. From Martin’s book Never Again  1115 words/6 minute read Back in 2019 BC (Before Covid-19), I used to wonder whether Holocaust education had

Mala Tribich Zigi Shipper Chaim Olmer (1)

Triumph Over Adversity

Photo: Mala Tribuch, Zigi Shipper, Chaim Olmer, child survivors who came to Britain, photo by Garry Crystal Editor’s Note: This mid-May was to have seen a reunion of The Boys and their families in Windermere, in the English Lake District. They were to return, as a group, to the place

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Honouring the past in an uncertain present

Photo: Lucy Olphert’s photo of a bagpiper on Mount Maunganui beach at sunrise, 25 April 2020, Anzac Day, New Zealand. 515 words/2 minute read  New Zealand and Portugal came onto the UK and world news as nurses from countries were singled out in particular for having nursed Prime Minister Boris

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Liberation

Photo: A Soviet soldier raises the Hammer and Sickle on the roof of the Reichstag, Berlin, 30 April 1945 500 words/2 ½ minute read Editor’s Note: April was meant to be a time to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of German concentration camps by British and United States