British historian Sir Martin Gilbert passed away yesterday after a lengthy illness. He was 78.
Gilbert is best known for being the official biogrpaher of Sir Winston Churchill. Shortly after Churchill’s death in 1965, Gilbert was approached by the former Prime Minister’s son Randolph Churchill to assist him on writing his father’s biography. He would become Churchill’s official biographer following Randolph Churchill’s death in 1968. Gilbert would go on to write 30 books about Churchill and wrote 80 books in all.
In addition to Churchill, Gilbert also wrote extensively about WWI, WWII, The Holocaust, Jewish history and also published historical atlases. Gilbert would be appointed by then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 to the Chilcot Inquiry which looked into Britain’s role in the War in Iraq.
To give you a taste of Gilbert’s writing, here is an essay he wrote about The Final Solution from The Oxford Companion to World War II. It begins:
Final Solution(Endlösung) was the term used for the murder of six million Jews during the Second World War. These Jews were citizens of every pre-war state in Europe. Their Jewishness had been defined by the German Nuremberg Laws of 1935 as any person with one Jewish grandparent. Many were Jews only by the Nazi definition; in their own eyes they were Germans, Frenchmen, Belgians, Dutchmen, and so on. A number had been practising Christians for several generations.
You can read the rest of the essay here.