Sir Martin & The Holocaust

Having first been in Poland in 1959 as a university student on an exchange programme, where he first visited Treblinka, Sir Martin returned in August 1980, spending twelve days touring by car, visiting sites with local eye witnesses, seeing his friends from his former visit and speaking with historians in Warsaw.

Sir Martin in Poland on expedition for 'Auschwitz and The Allies'
Sir Martin in Poland on expedition for Auschwitz and The Allie


As a result of these researches, Sir Martin wrote 11 books on the Holocaust, published between 1979 and 2003.


Inspiration for Sir Martin’s work on The Holocaust

In the summer of 1959, while still at Oxford as an undergraduate, I went to Poland, which was then behind the Iron Curtain. This Polish visit – the first of many – had two major repercussions on my future research and writing: First: I travelled to Poland with another undergraduate, Richard Gott, who became my first pupil after I graduated. He and I were to co-author my first book (“our” book), The Appeasers, about British policy before the Second World War.” 

The second repercussion of my 1959 Polish visit was a growing interest in the Holocaust. This led to eleven books in all, researched and written over the next forty-three years. The Holocaust, KristallnachtAuschwitz and the Allies, Surviving the HolocaustAtlas of the Holocaust Final Journey, The BoysThe RighteousNever AgainThe Holocaust Journey and The Holocaust Maps and Photographs. 

I made four further visits to Poland in 1968, 1980 ,1981,1997 and 2010. 

Sir Martin reading to his group of students at the railway line at Birkenau, just in front of the entrance gate and ruins of Crematorium III, June 1996
Sir Martin reading to his group of students at the railway line at Birkenau, just in front of the entrance gate and ruins of Crematorium III, June 1996

The second book had its origins in the request by twelve MA students at University College, London, whom I was teaching for the year, and who asked me to take them to the places that I had been teaching about.

I was flattered to be asked, planned the journey, bought the train tickets, booked the hotels, and kept a diary of the journey.

The diary was published as Holocaust Journey: Travelling in Search of the Past. We visited Berlin, Warsaw, Prague and Auschwitz.

Special thanks are due to a number of survivors who guided me in my researches, spoke to me about their own experiences, or gave me contemporary documents. I was particularly helped by Rabbi Hugo Gryn. For more than a decade, he has encouraged me to seek out, and to set down, the facts of what is, inevitably, a painful story.

Sir Martin’s Travel Diary to Poland

Read about Sir Martin’s adventures in his personal Travel Diary Poland 1980 researching the Holocaust. 

Sir Martin & Film

Auschwitz Secrets Of The Dead, The Story Of Escapee Rudolf Vrba

A clip from the film The Rescuers, of Sir Martin at Wannsee, courtesy of Michael King:

Sir Martin’s Holocaust Blogs

The “test” – risking one’s life to save another

A dupe not a villain. The evidence shows Kasztner was fooled by the Nazis into betraying Hungary’s Jews

The Boys – a new edition. Coming August 4th


This month, in celebrating the young survivors who came to Britain after the Holocaust, the focus is on The Boys, and the ’45 Aid Society they founded

The Also-Rans – Auschwitz and the Allies

The Holocaust – the Human Tragedy

The Also-Rans – Auschwitz and the Allies

The fire at Crematorium IV

Moshe Yakov Helfgott: Sir Ben Helfgott’s Father Remembered

Surviving the Holocaust, The Kovno Ghetto Diary By Avraham Tory

“Cheated of their prize” Rescue of the Jews of Denmark

“From Warsaw to Treblinka”

Triumph Over Adversity

“We have attacked adversity” Ben Helfgott reflects on the Holocaust

The Righteous, The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust and video interview with Sir Martin

Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler’s “Escape from Auschwitz, April 1944”

Filming at the Wannsee Villa From Esther Gilbert

Read Esther Gilbert’s blog on Sir Martin for The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust


IWM tribute to “The Boys”

“The Boys” celebrate 70 years of Freedom

Kristallnacht Book Launch at The German Embassy

“Kristallnacht taught several lessons”

Wallenberg and Vrba-Wetzler Report

Bombing Auschwitz: Fact & Myth

 Sir Martin’s Holocaust Book Talks

See More: | Kristallnacht | Auschwitz And The Allies | Atlas of The Holocaust | The Righteous | Never Again | Holocaust Journey |

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