March 7, 2016

Finest Hour 171, Winter 2016

Page 05

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I 222 A Dervish Scout Finest HourFinest Hour 170

Sir Martin Gilbert Remembered

LONDON—Thank you so much for the story about Martin’s memorial service in the December issue of the Chartwell Bulletin. I finally had the chance to sit down and read the latest Finest Hour as well and realized how Martin’s “fingerprints” were all over it. He may be gone but is certainly “not forgotten,” and that is in great part due to The Churchill Centre.
—Lady (Esther) Gilbert


NEW YORK CITY—Regarding your piece on Churchill in the diary of Anne Frank: there was another young Jewish person exposed to WSC in that difficult period— yours truly.

During the war I had the assignment of translating a French newspaper into Yiddish for my grandfather. The name Winston Churchill—then making some of his most famous speeches—came up in the paper, and my grandfather, speaking in awe, said that this was a great man. At that young age, I had little understanding of who Churchill was and what made him great. Still, my grandfather’s remark and the name “Churchill” must have made an indelible impression on me.

A quarter of a century later, as a young assistant professor, I looked for a topic for a book that would fulfill the academic requirement to “publish or perish.” I seemed to hear my grandfather’s voice pronouncing again reverently the name of Churchill. The intervening years vanished, years during which, in order to make a new life in America, I had put out of mind those terrible early years of war. Thoughts long suppressed now came to the surface. If Churchill was a professional writer and I was a student of writing, could I not put my skills at his service? Did I not owe him a tribute? After all, I survived partly because there was one leader at that critical juncture who would not yield. By interpreting Churchill’s writings, I would be helping to carry out the mandate written on a stone in the pavement of Westminster Abbey: “Remember Winston Churchill.” And so out of that incident and its recollection came no less than four books on the writings of Churchill. Chance at work!

2024 International Churchill Conference

Join us for the 41st International Churchill Conference. London | October 2024

Fortune not only spared me poor Anne Frank’s fate but also implanted that minor detail in my memory and then revived it.
—Manfred Weidhorn

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