“The life of Sir Martin Gilbert and his books on the Holocaust”

Photo:  Sir Martin reading to his students in front of the ruins of Crematorium III in Birkenau, June 1996 (from Holocaust Journey)

350 words /  1 ½ minute read

The above titled article was published in The Jerusalem Post on February 12.  Unsurprisingly it piqued my interest.  The author Eli Kavon writes about his travels through Germany and Austria nearly forty years ago and then how reading Martin’s book Holocaust Journey brought his memories close.  In 1997 Martin had taken his Holocaust MA students to the places they had studied, reading first-person eyewitness accounts at each stop.  Sir Martin’s diary of this trip became Holocaust Journey.  Eli Kavon mentions several of Martin’s books, and how they each affected him.

I was very moved by what Eli Kavon had written so I decided to get in touch with him and thank him.  Within an hour of sending off my email, he responded, and wrote how Martin had “impacted” his life “in a significant way”.  He then mentioned the first book of Martin’s he read was Final Journey (which was in fact the first history of the Holocaust Martin wrote, published in 1979, even before, Martin had told me, what had happened to the Jews was called “the Holocaust”.)  Eli Kavon writes:  “His ability in that work to humanize the genocide of millions through the investigation of the stories of a few remains, in my mind, one of his great achievements in his incredible career.”

The “stories of the few” that Martin told are also about the liberators, among them Sergeant Paul Kavon of the 97th Infantry Division of the US Army.  Paul Kavon had written to his parents about the day the Germans surrendered, while he was still dealing with resistance in Czechoslovakia.  In Martin’s book The Day the War Ended, he quotes from Paul Kavon’s 8 May 1945 postcard home, “Folks, I have seen enough proof of the atrocities the Nazis committed all through the countries they overran.  You can readily believe all the stories now slowly drifting back to the States.  We saw many Russians with either their right or left arm cut off, something they told us the Krauts had done as punishment.”

Like his father, Eli Kavon has continued to write and record.

Read Eli Kavon’s article HERE 

Read more: The Holocaust Collection  

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