Samuel “Mietek” Gruber has passed away at the age of 93. He was born in Podhajce, Poland in 1913. He was in the Polish army in September,1939 when the Nazis invaded. He was wounded and taken prisoner. Soon after he, along with 2000 other Jewish Polish POW’s were sent to Lublin, Poland to build the infamous death camp Majdanek.

Samuel Gruber escaped from the work camp along with 22 other POW’s in October, 1942, before Majdanek was completed. The other 2000 were executed in Majdanek in 1943. With the help of some Christian Poles the small group made it into the Parczew forest. After about one year and many losses of his friends to the raiding Nazis, Samuel met Frank Blaichman and with the secret password “AMCHU” –your people, they joined forces.

Eventually his group met up with Yachiel (Chiel) Greenspan’s partisans and with the help of more Christian Poles (and in spite of other groups that were anti-Semitic) were able to fight against the Nazi machine. They blew up bridges, rail lines and disrupted supply lines to the Eastern front. The escape from Sobibor occured near their position and some of the escapees joined Samuel’s group.

Samuel was wounded twice more during his time in the forest but recovered with the help of a farmer named Drop. Of the original 22 POW’s that escaped from Lublin only 3 saw the end of the war. Samuel wrote the book “I Chose Life” describing his war years.

After the war ended Samuel married Judith Jeleniewicz in Lublin. She survived by living as a Christian with a family named Golebiowski in Lublin. Judith and Samuel immigrated to the US in 1949. He was a supporter of the IDF and of Israel. He attended the 1981 Gathering in Israel with his son Jack. At the Kibbutz Lochamei HaGhetaot, Antek Zuckerman requested a meeting with “Mietek” Gruber. It was a historic meeting of two Jewish legends. Antek passed away the next day.

Samuel Gruber leaves his wife Judith, 2 sons Jack and Mark, 3 Grandchildren and 4 Great-granchildren.