Timothy Garton Ash

Last updated

Timothy Garton Ash
2019-05-30 Timothy Garton Ash-6011.jpg
Timothy Garton Ash, Charlemagne Prize 2019
Born (1955-07-12) 12 July 1955 (age 65)
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Oxford

Timothy Garton Ash CMG FRSA (born 12 July 1955) is a British historian, author and commentator. He is Professor of European Studies at Oxford University. Much of his work has been concerned with the late modern and contemporary history of Central and Eastern Europe.


He has written about the former Communist regimes of that region, their experience with the secret police, the Revolutions of 1989 and the transformation of the former Eastern Bloc states into member states of the European Union. He has examined the role of Europe and the challenge of combining freedom and diversity, especially in relation to free speech.


Garton Ash was born to John Garton Ash (1919–2014) and Lorna Judith Freke. His father was educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and was involved in finance, as well as being a Royal Artillery officer in the British Army during the Second World War. [1] Garton Ash was educated at St Edmund's School, Hindhead, Surrey, [2] before going on to Sherborne School, a well-known public school in Dorset in South West England, followed by Exeter College, Oxford where he studied Modern History.

For post-graduate study, he went to St Antony's College, Oxford, and then, in the still divided Berlin, the Free University in West Berlin and the Humboldt University in East Berlin. During his studies in East Berlin, he was under surveillance from the Stasi, which served as the basis for his 1997 book The File. [3] Garton Ash cut a suspect figure to the Stasi, who regarded him as a "bourgeois-liberal" and potential British spy. [4] Although he denies being or having been a British intelligence operative, Garton Ash described himself as a "soldier behind enemy lines" and described the German Democratic Republic as a "very nasty regime indeed." [4]

Pavel Zacek, Timothy Garton Ash and Kristian Gerner (Tallinn, 2012) Pavel Zacek, Timothy Garton Ash ja Kristian Gerner.jpg
Pavel Žáček, Timothy Garton Ash and Kristian Gerner (Tallinn, 2012)

Life and career

In the 1980s, Garton Ash was Foreign Editor of The Spectator and a columnist for The Independent . He became a Fellow at St Antony's College in 1989, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution [5] in 2000, and Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford [6] in 2004. He has written a weekly column in The Guardian since 2004 and is a long-time contributor to the New York Review of Books . [7] His column is also translated in the Turkish daily Radikal [8] and in the Spanish daily El País , as well as other papers.

In 2005, Garton Ash was listed in Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people. [9] There it is mentioned that "Shelves are where most works of history spend their lives. But the kind of history Garton Ash writes is more likely to lie on the desks of the world's decision makers."


Garton Ash describes himself as a liberal internationalist. [10] He is a supporter of what he calls the free world and liberal democracy, represented in his view by the European Union, the United States as a super-power, and Angela Merkel's leadership of Germany. Garton Ash opposed Scottish independence and argued for Britishness, writing in The Guardian : "being British has changed into something worth preserving, especially in a world of migration where peoples are going to become ever more mixed up together. As men and women from different parts of the former British empire have come to live here in ever larger numbers, the post-imperial identity has become, ironically but not accidentally, the most liberal, civic, inclusive one." [11]

Garton Ash first came to prominence during the Cold War as a supporter of free speech and human rights within countries which were part of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, paying particular attention to Poland and Germany. In more recent times he has represented a British liberal pro-EU viewpoint, nervous at the rise of Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and Brexit. He is strongly opposed to conservative and populist leaders of EU nations such as Viktor Orbán of Hungary, arguing that Merkel should "freeze him out", evoking "appeasement." [12] Garton Ash was particularly upset about Orbán's move against George Soros' Central European University. [12] Anti-Soviet themes and Poland remain topics of interest for Garton Ash; once a promoter of the anti-Eastern Bloc movement in Poland, he notes with regret the move away from liberalism and globalism towards populism and authoritarianism under socially conservative political and religious leaders such as Jarosław Kaczyński, in a similar manner to his criticisms of Hungary's Orbán. [13]

Personal life

Garton Ash and his Polish-born wife Danuta live primarily in Oxford, England, and also near Stanford University in California as part of his work with the Hoover Institution. [14] They have two sons, Tom Ash, a web-developer based in Canada, and Alec Ash, a writer living in China. [14] His older brother Christopher is a Church of England clergyman.[ citation needed ]


Awards and honours

See also


  1. "John Garton Ash - obituary". The Telegraph. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  2. "St. Ed's - OSE". saintedmunds.co.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  3. Ash, Timothy (31 May 2007). "The Stasi on Our Minds". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  4. 1 2 Glover, Michael (2 September 1998). "Memoirs of an inadvertent spy". The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  5. "Fellows: Timothy Garton Ash". Hoover Institution. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  6. "Governing Body Fellows: Professor Timothy Garton Ash". St. Anthony's College. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  7. "Timothy Garton Ash". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  8. "timothy garton ash son dakika gelişmeleri ve haberleri Radikal'de!". Radikal (in Turkish). Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  9. Ferguson, Niall (18 April 2005). "Timothy Garton Ash". TIME.com. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  10. Garton Ash, Timothy (13 October 2016). "Liberal internationalists have to own up: we left too many people behind". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  11. Garton Ash, Timothy (3 May 2007). "Independence for Scotland would not be good for England". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  12. 1 2 Garton Ash, Timothy (12 April 2017). "We know the price of appeasement. That's why we must stand up to Viktor Orbán". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  13. Garton Ash, Timothy (7 January 2016). "The pillars of Poland's democracy are being destroyed". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  14. 1 2 "Biography". timothygartonash.com. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  15. "Premio di Giornalismo". premionapoli.it.
  16. "Timothy Garton Ash :: Biography". timothygartonash.com.
  17. "Eredoctoraten voor Maria Nowak, Timothy Garton Ash en Claudio Magris". Dagkrant Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (in Dutch). 22 December 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  18. europeonline-magazine.eu, europe online publishing house gmbh -. "Historian Garton Ash receives Germany's Charlemagne Prize 2017 | EUROPE ONLINE". en.europeonline-magazine.eu. Retrieved 22 January 2017.

Related Research Articles

Solidarity (Polish trade union) 20th-century Polish trade union federation

Solidarity is a trade union founded in August–September 1980 at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland. Subsequently, it was the first independent union in a Warsaw Pact country to be recognised by the state. The union's membership peaked at 10 million in September 1981, representing one-third of the country's working-age population. Solidarity's leader, Lech Wałęsa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and the union is widely recognised as having played a central role in the end of communist rule in Poland.

Angela Merkel Chancellor of Germany

Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German politician who has been Chancellor of Germany since 2005. She served as the Leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 2000 to 2018. Merkel has been widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union, the most powerful woman in the world, and by some commentators as the "leader of the free world".

Anne Applebaum American journalist and historian

Anne Elizabeth Applebaum is an American journalist and historian. She has written extensively about Marxism–Leninism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe.

Donald Tusk Polish politician, former President of the European Council, and former Prime Minister of Poland

Donald Franciszek Tusk is a Polish politician, who was the President of the European Council from 2014 to 2019. He served as the Prime Minister of Poland from 2007 to 2014 and was a co-founder and chairman of the Civic Platform political party. On 20 November 2019, Tusk was elected as the president of the European People's Party (EPP), Europe's largest transnational political party.

Civic Forum Czech political movement established during the Velvet Revolution in 1989

The Civic Forum was a political movement in the Czech part of Czechoslovakia, established during the Velvet Revolution in 1989. The corresponding movement in Slovakia was called Public Against Violence.

Viktor Orbán Hungarian politician, chairman of Fidesz; Prime Minister of Hungary (2010-present)

Viktor Mihály Orbán is a Hungarian politician who has been Prime Minister of Hungary since 2010; he was also Prime Minister from 1998 to 2002. He has also been President of Fidesz, a national conservative political party, since 1993, with a brief break between 2000 and 2003.

Jonathan Steele is a British journalist and the author of several books on international affairs.

TVN24 Polish 24-hour news channel

{{Infobox television channel | name = TVN 24 | logofile = Tvn24 Logo.svg | logosize = 140px | launch = 9 August 2001 (SD)
30 November 2012 (HD) | closed date = | picture format = 576i (16:9 [[Standard-definition[1080i]] | network = TVN | owner = TVN Group | slogan = Cała prawda, całą dobę.
| country = Poland | sister names = TVN24 BIS
TVN Meteo | broadcast area = Nationwide International | headquarters = | former names = | share = 4.44% | share as of = 2019 | share source = Nielsen | replaced names = | web = www.tvn24.pl | terr serv 1 = | terr chan 1 = | sat serv 1 = Cyfrowy Polsat | sat chan 1 = Channel 61
Channel 510 | sat serv 2 = nc+ | sat chan 2 = Channel 6 | sat serv 3 = Orange TV | sat chan 3 = Channel 9
Channel 43 | sat serv 7 = Dish Network | sat chan 7 = Channel 118 | cable serv 1 = UPC Poland | cable chan 1 = Channel 333 | cable serv 2 = Vectra | cable chan 2 = Channel 801
Channel 807 | cable serv 3 = Toya | cable chan 3 = Channel 601 | cable serv 4 = Multimedia Polska | cable chan 4 = Channel 31 | cable serv 5 = Aster | cable chan 5 = Channel 37 | cable serv 6 = Inea | cable chan 6 = Channel 39 | cable serv 7 = Optimum | cable chan 7 = Channel 138 | cable serv 8 = Unitymedia | cable chan 8 = Channel 644 | online serv 1 = Official website | online chan 1 = Watch & listen live }}

Ramin Jahanbegloo is an Iranian philosopher and academic based in Canada.

Timothy D. Snyder American author and historian

Timothy David Snyder is an American author and historian specializing in the history of Central and Eastern Europe, and the Holocaust. He is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University and a Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.

Liberal internationalism is a foreign policy doctrine that argues that liberal states should intervene in other sovereign states in order to pursue liberal objectives. Such intervention can include both military invasion and humanitarian aid. This view is contrasted to isolationist, realist, or non-interventionist foreign policy doctrines; these critics characterize it as liberal interventionism.

Civil resistance is political action that relies on the use of nonviolent resistance by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and coercion: it can involve systematic attempts to undermine the adversary's sources of power, both domestic and international. Forms of action have included demonstrations, vigils and petitions; strikes, go-slows, boycotts and emigration movements; and sit-ins, occupations, and the creation of parallel institutions of government. Civil resistance movements' motivations for avoiding violence are generally related to context, including a society's values and its experience of war and violence, rather than to any absolute ethical principle. Cases of civil resistance can be found throughout history and in many modern struggles, against both tyrannical rulers and democratically elected governments. The phenomenon of civil resistance is often associated with the advancement of democracy.

The Stasi Records Agency (Stasi-Unterlagen-Behörde) is the organisation that administers the archives of Ministry of State Security (Stasi) of the former German Democratic Republic. It is a government agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. It was established when the Stasi Records Act came into force on 29 December 1991. It is formally called the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic ; in German it is commonly known by the abbreviation BStU.

Dominique Moïsi French political scientist

Dominique Moïsi is a French political scientist and writer.

Harry Peter Smollett, OBE (1912–1980), born Hans Peter Smolka and sometimes continuing to use that name as a nom de plume even after he changed it by deed poll, was a journalist for the Daily Express and later a Central Europe correspondent for The Times. During the Second World War, Smollett became head of the Russian section at Britain's Ministry of Information and was responsible for organising pro-Soviet propaganda. He was later identified as a Soviet agent.

Ian Angus is a British librarian and a scholar on George Orwell.

Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Political group in the European Parliament

Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy was a Eurosceptic and populist political group in the European Parliament. The EFDD group was a continuation for the Eighth European Parliament of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group that existed during the Seventh European Parliament, with significant changes to group membership.

Foreign policy of the Angela Merkel government Foreign policy of Germanys Angela Merkel government

The foreign policy of the Angela Merkel government has been the foreign policy of Germany since Merkel took office as Chancellor of Germany in November 2005. During Merkel's chancellorship, Merkel has personally been highly active in the field of the foreign policy. She named Frank-Walter Steinmeier to serve as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2009; the office was subsequently held by Guido Westerwelle from 2009 to 2013, and again by Steinmeier from 2013. He was succeeded by Sigmar Gabriel in 2017, who was himself succeeded by Heiko Maas in 2018.

The Prague European Summit is a platform for a regular high-level strategic debate on the future of the European Union and other European issues. It is the only platform of this kind focused on the European Union in Central and Eastern Europe. It offers space for an informal dialogue among political representatives, high-ranking state officials, representatives of interest groups, businessmen, academicians and journalists.

Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union Suspension procedure

Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union is a procedure in the treaties of the European Union (EU) to suspend certain rights from a member state. While rights can be suspended, there is no mechanism to expel a member.