Gidon, (formerly Peter Wolfgang Löw) was born in Carlsbad, Czechoslovakia in 1935. In 1938, Hitler took over the Sudetenland as part of UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement plan, as he tried to avoid war. In 1941, Gidon and his mother and father were taken to the Theresienstadt (or Terezin) concentration camp, which was located about 50 kilometers north of Prague.
Gidon was in the concentration camp from the ages of six to ten (1941 to 1945). His mother survived but his father was sent to Auschwitz, where he died in a death march as the camp was evacuated before the coming Allies. When Gidon was liberated, he was among the 92 surviving children of an approximated 15,000 children who were in or transported through Terezin. During his time in the camp, Gidon was severely malnourished and witnessed public executions, beatings and torture. He saw his father only twice, being marched by, six abreast, one of the slaves used by the Nazis to mine mica. Gidon's grandparents were transported to Terezin and then variously, to Auschwitz and the Warsaw Ghetto, where they perished.
Gidon survived and wound up in Toronto, Canada, where he became very involved with the Zionist youth organization HaShomer HaTzair and in 1959, Gidon came to Israel to fulfill his dream. A living part of Israeli history, Gidon served in the IDF, guarding Mt. Scopus in 1962 and fighting in a combat unit in the Six Day War as well as the War of Attrition.
From his first marriage, Gidon has a daughter, Maya, and a son Yanai. From his second marriage, to Susan Kashman Lev, the love of his life, he had four children, Hadasa, Shaya, Elisha and Asher. Susan Lev passed away in 2012, much to Gidon's sorrow, and that of his family. She is buried at Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek, among the trees. Susan was a gifted writer and poet and a number of her poems appear in Gidon's book.
Left: Gidon aged approximately 12 months, Carlsbad, Czechoslovakia, 1936.
Right: Gidon aged approximately 3 years, Carlsbad, 1938.
From left to right:
Rosa Samish, Gidon's great-grandmother was put on a transport from Prague to Terezin, where she spent two months. Rosa later perished in a gas chamber at Treblinka.
Fritz Samish, Rosa's son, and Gidon's maternal grandfather was a bank manager and had served in the Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War. He has transported to the Warsaw Ghetto just weeks ahead
of the Nazi "Grosse Aktion" in which 25,000 Jews were gassed to death.
Doris Löw, Gidon's mother, pregnant with Gidon in this photo, survived four years in Terezin as a slave laborer. She survived the camp and later moved to Canada. She passed away in 2003/
Ernst Löw Gidon's father, was a slave laborer in Terezin for four years before he was put on a transport to Auschwitz where, weak with typhus, he lived long enough to be put on a transport to Buchenwald. He is recorded as having arrived dead.
Copy of Gidon's (Peter W. Löw) paperwork and Jewish Star. He was number 885.
Susan Kashman Lev 1943-2012
The pendant Gidon's father gave his mother when they parted. It is the emblem of Terezin.