Jewish Partisans of Belarus during WWII

History of Bielski Brigade

Bielski brothers saved more than 1,200 of their fellow Jews from perishing in the Holocaust - as many as Oscar Schindler, - the largest rescue of Jews by Jews in all of World War II

In December 1941 a mass execution of Jews in Baranovichy region of Belarus (Brest Voblasc') was performed by Nazis. 4 members of Bielski Jewish family were executed: mother, father and two sons. Four other sons - Arczyk, Azael, Tuvia and Zus - have fled to forest with another 13 companions. This was the beginning of Bielski Brigade. 

Tuvia wrote to Navahrudak ghetto (Hrodna Voblasc') and encouraged them to join Bielskis. At first only eight people responded. But later Bielski Brigade grew over 1,000 people living in Belarusian woods and fighting Nazis. No Jew was turned away, no matter how old or sick. Bielskis insisted that resistance and rescue must go hand-in-hand.

A documentary celebrating the legacy of The Bielski Brothers remiered in the U.S. on The History Channel on Sunday, November 12 at 4PM EST. Here's what Mr. Dean Ward - an author of the Documentary - writes about Bielski Brothers:

"Living in the Soviet Republic of Byelorussia during World War II, Tuvia, Asael and Zus Bielski saved more than 1,200 of their fellow Jews from perishing in the Holocaust -- as many as Oscar Schindler, yet their story has largely gone untold. Referred to as "The Forest Jews," the Bielski Partisans built an elaborate village in the woods, from which they rescued Jews and mounted guerilla attacks against the Nazis. While they actively stockpiled weapons and supplies to kill and sabotage their enemies, the Bielski's top priority was the preservation of their people. Tuvia often declared that he would "rather save one old Jewish woman than kill 10 Nazis." Their forest haven -- which, among themselves, they called "Jerusalem In The Woods" -- included a gun workshop, a bakery, a synagogue, a communal bath and even a theater company. By the time the Germans were defeated in the summer of 1944, the Bielskis had managed to save more than 1,200 men, women and children "the largest rescue of Jews by Jews in all of World War II". "The Bielski Brothers: Jerusalem In The Woods" features an interview with the last surviving Bielski brother... Aron Bielski was twelve years old when he entered the forest with his older siblings. The documentary also contains interviews with decendents of Tuvia, Zus and Asael Bielski and more than a dozen Bielski Brigade survivors from the United States, Israel and Great Britain. "The Bielski Brothers: Jerusalem In The Woods" proudly pays tribute to three of the greatest unsung heroes of the Holocaust."

References used in this site:

Books on Bielski brothers and WWII Jewish history of Belarus:


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