For­mer PM’s trib­ute to wis­dom of Sir Martin

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY JOSH JACKMAN

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.”

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Sir Martin Gil­bert

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