The True Story Of Three Men Who Defied The Nazis, Built A Village In The Forest, And Saved 1,200 Jews
In 1941, three brothers witnessed their parents and two other siblingsbeing led away to their eventual murders. It was a grim scene that would,of course, be repeated endlessly throughout the war. Instead of running orgiving in to despair, these brothers — Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski — foughtback, waging a guerrilla war of wits against the Nazis.
By using their intimate knowledge of the dense forests surrounding theBelarusan towns of Novogrudek and Lida, the Bielskis evaded the Nazis andestablished a hidden base camp, then set about convincing other Jews to jointheir ranks. As more and more Jews arrived each day, a robust communitybegan to emerge, a “Jerusalem in the woods.”
After two and a half years in the woods, in July 1944, the Bielskis learnedthat the Germans, overrun by the Red Army, were retreating back towardBerlin. More than one thousand Bielski Jews emerged — alive — on that final,triumphant exit from the woods.
This moving account reports how the Jews at the camp evaded both nearby traitors and Nazis, who at one point came after them with a 900-man commando unit.
The Bielskis, whose parents died in the Holocaust, were forgotten. Asael died in combat, but the other two made it to Brooklyn. Tuvia died in 1987 and Zus in 1995. Their little brother, Aron, once a 12-year-old scout in the forest, now lives in Florida. BOTTOM LINE: As amazing as Schindler’s List.People magazine, starred review
Fast-paced and deeply moving … inspiring in its representation of the heroism of ordinary people. Washington Post
But the result was that more than a thousand Jews emerged from the Belorussian forest after the Nazi defeat, an incredible victory amid an immeasurable tragedy. Like Oskar Schindler, the Bielskis will be recognized far too late for their valor, but this book should ensure they’ll never be forgotten.Dallas Morning News
Zus in particular shot first and asked questions after, and even Tuvia killed a fellow Jew in anger at the end. But that end in particular is especially moving. The villagers watch the long line of 1,000 Jews leaving the forest, and ask in disbelief, ‘Are you ghosts?’ And after the end there was a sad lack of recognition for the brothers, two of whom ended their lives as poor immigrants in America. But Zus, at least, didn’t change. At 82, in an interview for the Washington Holocaust Museum, he was asked what he remembered about the Nazis. ‘I remember they were bastards, ‘ he said.Carole Angier, The Spectator (UK)
Although Duffy conveys the thrill and travail of their extraordinary act of defiance, he is not loath to discuss the moral compromises and peccadilloes, even acts of moral outrage, the Bielskis occasionally committed. He gives us the full chiaroscuro effect, painting both the hues of light and shadow that constitute a picture of heroism in extremis.Michael Skakun, The Jewish Press