Maurice Gordon was eleven years old when forced into one of the many Polish ghettos. He escaped with his family and hid in the forests with help from Poland’s underground resistance movement. They were still in hiding when the Soviet army liberated Poland in 1945. Remarkably, the entire family survived — Maurice calls this “a work of God” along with a little luck. He came to the United States after the war and worked in the mobile home industry. He has three children and two grandchildren.
Before World War II, the largest single population of Jews resided in Poland. During the war years 2.9 million Jews died in camps or ghettos – 88% of all Polish Jews. Most families had been there for centuries, driven out of western European nations or Russia during the Middle Ages. It is believed that they numbered three million in the 1930s. Today there are virtually none. Most were rounded up and sent to camps when Germany occupied Poland in late 1939, and systematic extermination began early in 1941. Three million Polish Catholics also died in the Holocaust.
The Polish Underground, also known as the ‘Home Army,’ operated throughout the war under the direction of the exiled government in London. The espionage network was highly efficient and supplied much valuable information to the Allies. The underground movement was also joined by some Jewish refugees and supplied weapons for the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.