All posts by Martin Gilbert

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

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Taking Gilbert Out of Context

Photo: Memorial to the Jews of Dzialoszyce murdered “by the German Genociders” Michael Brown, writing a piece in WND entitled “Why Russian Jews Dreaded Easter Weekend” has several inaccuracies that call out for clarification. His premise is that Jews in Russia were subjected to anti-Jewish violence that had been instigated

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Jewels from the Archive by Esther Gilbert

Photo: Martin with Elizabeth Nel, 2006, in London The Elizabeth Nel Correspondence The latest edition of Finest Hour, “The Journal of Winston Churchill and his Times” (Number 183) contains an article by Cita Stelzer entitled “Working with Winston: The Unsung Women Behind Britain’s Greatest Statesman”. Cita Stelzer writes about Churchill’s

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Israel’s Declaration of Independence

Photo: David Ben-Gurion declaring Israeli independence, with a photo of Theodor Herzl above him. Israel’s Declaration of Independence read out by David Ben  Gurion, Tel Aviv, 14 May 1948 The Jewish people came into being in Eretz Israel [the Land of Israel]. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was

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The Archive From Esther Gilbert

Photo: Some of the hundreds of box files of Sir Martin’s archive In March, Hillsdale College in Michigan announced they had acquired Sir Martin’s library and archive. As the above excerpt shows, Martin spoke with anyone who had known Churchill, worked with him, worked for him, even those who worked

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Judy’s Laundry Basket

Photo: Venetia Stanley, 1887-1948 1971, Martin, just back in Oxford from a visit to Gallipoli to research Churchill’s time there for Volume III of the biography, writes: Shortly after my return to Britain, with the image of the Dardanelles still vivid in my mind I received a visitor. She was