The Bielski Brothers

The Bielski Brothers

The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Saved 1200 Jews, and Built A Village in the Forest

Book - 2003
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It is one of the most remarkable dramas of World War II -- untold until now.

In 1941, three young men -- brothers, sons of a miller -- witnessed their parents and two other siblings being led away to their eventual murders. It was a grim scene that would, of course, be repeated endlessly throughout the war. What makes this particular story of interest is how the survivors responded. Instead of running or capitulating or giving in to despair, these brothers -- Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski -- did something else entirely. They fought back, waging a guerrilla war of wits and cunning against both the Nazis and the pro-Nazi sympathizers. Along the way they saved well over a thousand Jewish lives.

Using their intimate knowledge of the dense forests surrounding the Belorussian towns of Novogrudek and Lida, the Bielskis evaded the Nazis and established a hidden base camp, then set about convincing other Jews to join their ranks. When the Nazis began systematically eliminating the local Jewish populations -- more than ten thousand were killed in the first year of the Nazi occupation alone -- the Bielskis intensified their efforts, often sending fighting men into the ghettos to escort Jews to safety. As more and more Jews arrived each day, a robust community began to emerge, a "Jerusalem in the woods." They slept in camouflaged dugouts built into the ground. Lovers met, were married, and conceived children. The community boasted a synagogue, a bathhouse, a theater, and cobblers so skilled that Russian officers would wait in line to have their boots reshod.

But as its notoriety grew, so too did the Nazi efforts to capture the rugged brothers; and on several occasions they came so near to succeeding that the Bielskis had to abandon the camp and lead their massive entourage to newer, safer locations. And while some argued in favor of a smaller, more mobile unit, focused strictly on waging battle against the Germans, Tuvia Bielski was firm in his commitment to all Jews. "I'd rather save one old Jewish woman," he said, "than kill ten Nazis."

In July 1944, after two and a half years in the woods, the Bielskis learned that the Germans, overrun by the Red Army, were retreating back toward Berlin. More than one thousand Bielski Jews emerged -- alive -- on that final, triumphant exit from the woods.

The Bielski Brothers is a dramatic and heartfelt retelling of a story of the truest heroism, a historic testament to courage in the face of unspeakable adversity.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, c2003
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780066210742
Branch Call Number: 940.53183209478 Duf
Characteristics: xiii, 302 p. : ill., map


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IndyPL_RyanD May 02, 2019

Stories of people who survive extraordinary circumstances usually make for good reading material. Author and journalist Peter Duffy does not disappoint in his account of how Jewish brothers Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski hid in the forests surrounding the towns of Novogrudek and Lida, Belarus to survive and resist the Nazi military and police forces occupying the area and exterminating Jewish people during World War II. The story of how the brothers also helped shelter hundreds of other Jewish escapees from the nearby ghettos and concentration camps is very interesting. Duffy’s background information on the Bielski family before the breakout of war is also another interesting aspect of the book because it helps demonstrate the personality traits the brothers contained that would eventually help them in resisting the Nazis.

Jun 03, 2013

If you like reading real accounts from survivors, this is a book for you. The details were very good, gruesome at times but it was during the Holocaust so...overall though it was informative and I liked to hear of the good stories that arose from the Holocaust. Not many people think of Jews finding love during this tumultuous time, but it did happen and that gives everyone hope.

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