Defiance has ratings and reviews. Richard said: ‘Defiance’ just made it to the NY Times paperback best seller list even tho it came out more th. Group portrait of members of the Kalinin Jewish partisan unit (Bielski group) on guard the Bielski partisan group was one of the most significant Jewish resistance efforts against Nazi Germany during World . Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. JPEF’s Defiance Multimedia Curriculum, developed in cooperation with the film Teaching with the Film ‘Defiance’ lesson Tuvia Bielski / Bielski Partisans study.
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All other sites close at So few of us are left, we need to save lives. It is more important to save Jews than to kill Germans. The first question that comes to mind when discussing the subject defiqnce Jewish solidarity during the Holocaust is: Surrounded by humiliation, exploitation, hardships, loss and death, how was it possible for people to stay human and show solidarity for other human beings?
The Holocaust challenged established social norms, values and relationships.
In a reality in which each individual Jew was subject to persecution and murder, how were people able to reach out to others instead of caring only for their own survival? There are many examples of Jews who risked their lives to save other Jews — either spontaneously by following their instincts as events occurred or by a thought process often involving planning and ideological values.
The story brings to light the significance of human solidarity that was still possible even in the face of the surrounding atrocities. It had been the home of the Bielski family for three generations. They were the only Jewish family in a village that was populated by six families. They farmed the land and owned a mill. Their parents, David and Beila, had twelve children — ten sons and two daughters.
Bielski Brothers’ Biography | Facing History and Ourselves
Tuvia, the second-oldest child, was born in In June, German troops invaded the Soviet Union. However, unlike other partisan groups, fighting the enemy was not their highest goal.
Their primary objective was to rescue Jews and to offer them shelter and protection in the forest. The brothers did not only admit those who were able to fight, but every Jewish woman or man, no matter whether the person was young or old, healthy or sick, a fighter or a noncombatant.
We must do something for our people. We cannot sit in the bushes and wait until the wolf comes for us. We must send people to the ghettos to save Jews. This was not an easy task. Many ghetto inmates were bbielski interested in leaving the ghetto.
Unlike the Bielski brothers who were familiar with the forest given that they had lived in it all their lives, most city or town people had no idea how to live in the woods. They wondered how one could live in the forest among trees, swamps, wild biflski and mosquitoes. Some feared spending bielzki harsh winters in the bieleki others did not want to leave their families behind.
Some were defiaance of taking such a risk; others believed they would survive if they continued working for the Germans. They also felt that no further massacres would occur since the remaining population consisted of skilled workers.
Furthermore, each person escaping the ghetto endangered the lives of the remaining population. Some people feared the revenge of the Germans even more than they feared the hunger and the cold of the forests. They also did not believe that fighting the Germans would change the course of history — What could a few partisans do against an army that conquered all of Europe? Moreover, Tuvia had been in the Polish army, and had military training, whereas most people from the towns did not know how to use a rifle.
Thus it was not an easy decision to go to the forest, fight Germans, Polish and Belarusian peasants and partisans, and look for food. They feared that the whole population would be executed if a single Jew was missing as the Germans often collectively punished not only those they caught trying to escape, but also others living in the ghetto. Despite these fears and threats, escapes were attempted frequently. Many came to the conclusion that they would be padtisans anyway and preferred to die on their own terms.
In the forest people were at least free and had an opportunity to resist, whereas in the German-controlled areas they were unable to do so. The brothers had received weapons from a Russian partisan unit and were therefore able to protect themselves and the unarmed. Zorach Arluk who became a partisan in a Russian partisan group insists:. All of us left the ghetto in the hope of staying alive.
We hoped just for a chance. And if not to survive, at least one wanted to die differently from the way most Jews were dying. Deflance to be shot in a mass grave and not to go to a concentration camp. I think that these motivations were similar for all who ran away from the ghetto.
They did not leave to fight, they left to live. The ones that had decided to escape had to slip through fences, holes and tunnels and walk through the countryside to the forest camp. Some people found their own way into the forest.
Because of the constant movement of the Bielski group especially during fhe first year, special scouts were sent out to look for people. But for many escapees, the house of gentile peasants served as a way station. There they were given food and a place to rest before members of the Bielski group would come to lead them to the base. The group was dependent on their gentile neighbors without whom they would not have been able to survive.
Pqrtisans helped the Jewish group regarding food, information, passing on messages to people in hiding or in the ghettos and hiding escapees. Among the gentile neighbors were Konstantin Kozlovskiy, and his sons Gennadiy and Vladimir, who saved many Jewish lives.
They received the title of Righteous Among the Nations. In the forest the new members had to learn to adapt to their partisana surrounding in nature, which was important for their survival.
It was difficult to get accustomed to it, because it was completely different from a protected home and wonderful parents.
For others, reaching the Bielski group symbolized freedom. Charles Bedzow remembers when he first saw Tuvia Bielski after escaping the Lida ghetto:.
We have come here, every one of us, to stay alive. The most pressing challenge for the fugitives was procuring enough food for the whole community. It became a fulltime occupation. Young armed men were organized into small squads and put in charge of biellski food from peasants.
The dilemma was to find out which peasant was trustworthy and would be able and willing to provide them with food. The Belarusian farmers were struggling to supply the Germans, and the Soviet partisans also confiscated food for themselves.
We had to live and we had to deprive the peasants of their meager belongings. These natives were punished by the Germans and by us… At least if they defaince all pro-German it would have been easier. This usually was not the case. Often we took by force from poor peasants who were not even pro-Nazi. Other peasants refused to hand over their food to Jews, and sometimes informed the German authorities of Jewish partisans in the forests.
Protecting the camp from intruders, defending themselves against Germans and the local police was equally important. For this purpose camp members were set up as guards. All adults were required to do guard duty, except for the sick, the handicapped and the elderly. Other small squads were sent out on dangerous missions to rescue Jews from the ghettos.
Bielski Brothers’ Biography
In order to protect the camp and rescue Jews the members of the Bielski group needed to acquire weapons. Other partisan groups or friendly peasants provided them with arms; many were also obtained through attacks against German outposts and troops. One solution was the construction of insulated structures.
Members of the Bielski camp cut down trees and dug holes. The surface of the roof was packed with dirt, branches, and vegetation to camouflage the structure from intruders. In the dugout there were lines of wooden bunks, usually covered with straw. At the beginning of the group consisted of about three hundred people and additional dugouts were constructed.
Close to each one of them was a campfire to warm the people and cook food. Besides these challenges, the group also had to fight for their position in the forest among the non-Jewish partisans. Many Russian partisan groups were formed in the area as a result of the fast-retreating Red Army and the fast and unexpected attack of the Germans and their quick advance in Some of these Soviet partisans were suspicious of the Bielski partisans because they were a purely Jewish group with many noncombatants.
Even though the cooperation was not bielsji easy, the Bielski brothers worked together with Russian partisans against the Germans. They combined forces with the partisan unit of Viktor Panchenkov, a soldier who had partisxns in the Red army and whose unit was overrun when the Nazis invaded in June The Bielski group became an official participant in the Soviet paetisans effort.
Several attempts by Soviet commanders to absorb Bielski fighters into their units were resisted, and the Jewish partisan group kept its integrity and remained under Tuvia Bielski’s command. This allowed the group to continue in their primary mission to protect Jewish lives. As more Jews joined the group the Bielski brothers had to deal with internal problems and decisions. The challenge was how to deal with opposition paetisans internal struggle within the group and to keep a group structure.
The group consisted of a diverse variety of people with different social backgrounds, religious and political beliefs. Some people complained about the way the group was governed, and opposed the leadership of the Bielski brothers, others complained about the way the food was distributed among the members. Even though the group differed from the average partisan group, the brothers maintained a strict military-style. This structure of total control of the Bielski brothers kept the group united and gave its members a better chance of survival.
But it also elevated the importance of those involved in food and sabotage missions. These armed men had privileges such as better food and accommodation. Another dilemma was the question of how many more people would be allowed to join the group.
How many more people should be taken in who were unable to work or fight?