Former PM’s tribute to wisdom of Sir Martin
GORDON BROWN has called the late historian Sir Martin Gilbert “an unforgettable friend” whose wisdom aided the former prime minister “again and again.”
At a memorial this week, Mr Brown revealed that Sir Martin, who died earlier this year, aged 78, was to be made a peer until his decline in health in 2012 thwarted the plan .
MrBrowntoldthe600guestsatWestern Marble Arch Synagogue that the historian was planning to write about Labour’s last spell in Downing Street.
“Martin had agreed to make his next book a chronicle of our period in government,” he said, adding: “and what he would’ve made of us all, I guess we’ll never know.”
He also revealed that Sir Martin, who was Sir Winston Churchill’s official biographer and wrote definitive works on the Holocaust and Israel, had helped Mr Brown prepare the first speech given by a British Prime Minister to the Knesset — and then had inadvertently further helped diplomatic ties.
“When the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and I e x c h a n g e d presents, it’s a reflection of Martin’s pre-eminence and our shared admiration of him that, without either of us knowing it, I had chosen to give Olmert a copy of Martin’s The Righteous, and Olmert had chosen to give me a copy of Martin’s The Story of Israel.”
Mr Brown concluded his speech by payingheartfelttributetoamanwho,he said “sailed the river of life brilliantly.”
Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks described Sir Martin “as such a very special person. We loved him, we admired him — we miss him.”
He recalled that, before the exhibition on the Holocaust opened at the Imperial War Museum in 2000, survivors were invited for a private view.
“I dreaded that moment,” he confessed. “But I needn’t have worried. They were exuberant. It was as if they were at a wedding. They proceeded to talk through my speech, through Martin’s speech. It was just like being in shul.” Hesaiditwasatthatmomentthat he realised how Sir Martin, “in telling the story of the Holocaust and many other stories, lifted the burden from so many broken hearts. He was the person who gave voice to the voiceless.” In a short speech, Lady Gilbert described her late husband as “a man of passion and compassion, who influenced the world as much as he wrote its history.”
Sir Martin Gilbert