Maurice Pertschuk had not yet reached the age of 20 when he volunteered with the British military after the outbreak of war. He was from a family of Russian Jews who had lived in France for a long time. Because he spoke French without an accent, the secret service assigned him to a new task force called the Special Operations Executive (SOE).
Starting in 1942, Pertschuk worked on setting up an underground resistance network in Toulouse in Southern France. That meant organizing leaflet campaigns, acts of sabotage and arms deliveries from England. He was arrested in April 1943 and sent to Buchenwald in January 1944. He managed to keep his true identity a secret, passing as a British student in the camp. Shortly before the liberation, however, the German authorities succeeded in exposing him as an agent.
On 29 March 1945, the SS murdered the 23-year-old Maurice Pertschuk in the Buchenwald crematorium. The poems he had written in the camp were published the following year.
Reference: Maurice Pertschuk, Leaves of Buchenwald, 2nd ed., Paris 2003.