The Bielski Brothers
The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Saved 1,200 Jews, and Built a Village in the Forest
by Peter Duffy
In 1941 after witnessing the execution of their parents and two siblings, Tuvia, Asael, and Zus Bielski fled into the forest and sent out the word that any Jews who made it to the woods would find a safe haven there. Over time, they gathered more than 1200 Jews, who lived hidden in the Belo-Russian forest. For two and a half years, at the height of World War II, the Bielski Jews courageously fought against the Nazis and built a thriving community that included a temple, a bathhouse, and a theater. The historical role of the Bielski brothers in saving Jewish lives from the Holocaust is at least equal to that of Oskar Schindler, but their story has never been told -- until now.
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1. Members of the Bielski community had to do things they would have considered morally reprehensible outside of the forest -- lying, stealing, and even killing. Do you feel their choices were justifiable under the circumstances?
2. What activities did members of the group develop to create a sense of community and maintain their religious and cultural traditions?
3. Do you believe that the cultural and religious activities that the Jews implemented into their daily lives helped them make it through the war?
4. One amazing fact about the story is that, although many gentile neighbors knew about the Jews hidden in the forest, their experience was never revealed. Why did the townspeople help keep the Bielski's secret?
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"Captivating...a welcome story of bold, determined, and successful resistance....[An] unjustly neglected story."
San Francisco Chronicle
"This remarkable story would make a terrific movie
. A story about heroes, and Duffy does a masterful job."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A fascinating story!"
"As amazing as Schindlers List."
"The Bielski Brothers reads like an action novel....Fast-paced and deeply moving...inspiring in its representation of the heroism of ordinary people."
"Fast-paced and deeply moving...inspiring in its representation of the heroism of ordinary people."
"An exciting, well-paced story about honor, courage and duty. An inspiration."
Howard Blum, author of ;The Brigade
"Powerful! The strength of the human spirt shines on in [this] beautifully written book."
Paula Zahn, CNN Live from the Headlines
"An engrossing, inspiring narrative ... of an incredible victory amid an immeasurable tragedy."
Dallas Morning News
"A haunting book...with the grip of good fiction and the punch of hard truth."
"[A] dramatic and heartfelt story of unbelievable courage in the face of unspeakable adversity."
"Uplifting....A powerful recounting of a little-known story."
"A wildly daring, untold tale of resistance .... inspiring and harrowing."