Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama TecThe prevailing image of European Jews during the Holocaust years is one of helpless victims under a death sentence, unable to fight consignment to the ghettos, to the camps, and to the gas chambers. In fact, many Jews struggled alone or with others against the terrors of the Third Reich, risking their lives against overwhelming odds for the slimmest chance of survival, or a mere glimpse of freedom. In Defiance, Nechama Tec offers a riveting history of one such group, a forest community in western Belorussia that would number more than 1,200 Jews by 1944--the largest armed rescue operation of Jews by Jews in World War II.
Describing the entire partisan movement in the region, Tec shows that while most forest fighters in Belorussia were rifle-carrying young men, the members of this extraordinary community included both men and women, some with weapons but mostly unarmed, ranging from infants to the elderly. She reconstructs for the first time the amazing details of how these partisans and their families--hungry, exposed to the harsh winter weather, always on the lookout for German patrols--managed not only to survive, but to offer protection to all Jewish fugitives who could find their way to them. Driven by courage born out of despair, they dug wells, set up workshops to repair guns, made clothes, and resoled shoes, supplied services to other guerilla units, and even established a makeshift hospital and school in the forest. Arguing that this success would have been unthinkable without the vision of one man, Tec offers penetrating insight into the groups commander, Tuvia Bielski, and his journey from his life as the son of the only Jewish peasant family in an isolated rural village to his emergence as a leader possessing the charisma and courage to command under all but impossible circumstances.
Tec brings to light the untold story of Bielskis struggle as a partisan who lost his parents, wife, and two brothers to the Nazis, yet never wavered in his conviction that it was more important to save one Jew than to kill twenty Germans. She shows how, under Bielskis guidance, the partisans smuggled Jews out of heavily guarded ghettos, scouted the roads for fugitives, and led retaliatory raids against Belorussian peasants who collaborated with the Nazis against their former Jewish neighbors. Refusing to turn away the weak or the old for the sake of the survival of the larger group, Bielski would warn new arrivals to the forest, Life is difficult, we are in danger all the time, but if we perish, if we die, we die like human beings.
A scholar, a writer, and herself a Holocaust survivor, author Nechama Techas devoted the last two decades to studying the fate of European Jewry, recording rare but vital examples of human compassion, resistance, altruism and heroism in the face of overwhelming horror and despair. Drawing on wide-ranging research and never before published interviews with surviving partisans--including Tuvia Bielski himself two weeks before his death in 1987--she reconstructs here the poignant and unforgettable story of those who chose to fight.
A Society in the Forest, Banding Together to Escape Persecution
Sign in. Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters, and endeavor to build a village, in order to protect themselves and about one thousand Jewish non-combatants. On the run and hiding in the deep forests of the then German-occupied Poland and Belorussia World War II , the four Bielski brothers find the impossible task of foraging for food and weapons for their survival. They live, not only with the fear of discovery, contending with neighboring Soviet partisans and knowing whom to trust but also take the responsibility of looking after a large mass of fleeing Polish Jews from the German war machine. Women, men, children, the elderly and the young alike are all hiding in makeshift homes in the dark, cold and unforgiving forests in the darkest times of German-occupied Eastern Europe. In , in Belorussia, the Jewish Bielski brothers succeed in escaping from the massacre of the German in their village where their parents were killed. They hide in the woods and sooner other runaway Jews join them.
Production began in early September After a limited release , e. The film is based on actual events, beginning in August Nazi Einsatzgruppen task forces are sweeping through Eastern Europe , systematically killing Jews. Their parents are dead, killed by local police under orders from the occupying Germans. The brothers flee to the Naliboki Forest , vowing to avenge the deaths of their parents.
It is late in , and the newcomers, like the other people in this makeshift settlement, are Jews from surrounding towns and villages who have fled the savagery of the German Army and its local collaborators. Tuvia addresses these terrified survivors in a calm, authoritative voice, assuring them that here, under his protection, they will be free and safe. Tuvia and Zus — along with two other brothers, Asael Jamie Bell and Aron George MacKay , who is still a child — meet up in the forest after their parents have been murdered by local authorities working in league with the German invaders.
just me and you and you and me
A film starring Daniel Craig about a Jewish underground resistance movement that took on the Nazis has prompted a storm of protest in Poland. Defiance, directed by Edward Zwick, which recently opened in Poland under the title Opor resistance , has been booed at cinemas across the country and banned from others because of a local perception that it is a rewriting of history and anti-Polish. - The "Bielski Partisans" represented the war's largest and most successful group of Jewish resisters, although when filmmakers arrived on the actual locations to film the story, they found no local memory of their activities, and, for many reasons, hardly any Jews.