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Defiance
Cover of Defiance
Defiance
The Bielski Partisans
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The prevailing image of European Jews during the Holocaust is one of helpless victims. But in fact, many Jews struggled against the terrors of the Third Reich. This is the riveting history of one such group, a forest community numbering more than 1,200 Jews, that carried out the largest armed rescue operation of Jews by Jews in World War II. Nechama Tec reconstructs the amazing details of how these men and women of all ages—hungry, largely unarmed, and exposed to harsh winter weather—managed not only to survive but to take on the duel role of fighters and rescuers. Under the guidance of their charismatic leader, Tuvia Bielski, they smuggled Jews out of heavily guarded ghettos, led retaliatory raids against Nazi collaborators, and offered protection to all Jewish fugitives who could find their way to them.

The prevailing image of European Jews during the Holocaust is one of helpless victims. But in fact, many Jews struggled against the terrors of the Third Reich. This is the riveting history of one such group, a forest community numbering more than 1,200 Jews, that carried out the largest armed rescue operation of Jews by Jews in World War II. Nechama Tec reconstructs the amazing details of how these men and women of all ages—hungry, largely unarmed, and exposed to harsh winter weather—managed not only to survive but to take on the duel role of fighters and rescuers. Under the guidance of their charismatic leader, Tuvia Bielski, they smuggled Jews out of heavily guarded ghettos, led retaliatory raids against Nazi collaborators, and offered protection to all Jewish fugitives who could find their way to them.

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About the Author-
  • Nechama Tec is professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, Stamford. She is the author of six books, including In the Lion's Den: The Life of Oswald Rufeisen, the winner of the 1990 Christopher Award; When Light Pierced the Darkness; and Dry Tears, a memoir of her experiences during the years of the Nazi occupation of Poland.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 2, 1993
    Tec ( When Light Pierced the Darkness ) relates the suspenseful and inspiring story of Jewish partisans who fought the Germans from their base in the Nalibocka Forest in Belorussia. Their leader, Tuvia Bielski, was an uneducated man who--though he had lost his parents, brothers and wife to the Germans--put efforts to preserve the lives of Jews above revenge. The partisans worked to rescue Jews in hiding and to smuggle Jews out of nearby ghettos, but also to punish Jewish collaborators. By the end of the war, Bielski had gathered more than 1200 Jews of all ages into the forest. That they suffered a loss of ``only'' 5% is remarkable, given that their refuge was virtually surrounded by Germans. Bielski died in 1987 and was buried in Jerusalem in a ceremony reserved for Israel's national heroes. Photos.

  • AudioFile Magazine Stefan Rudnicki proves himself equal to the challenge of narrating Nechama Tec's aptly titled account of Jewish defiance during the Nazi occupation of Poland and Belarus. Rudnicki's clear presentation helps the listener navigate the densely packed historical material. One of his greatest strengths is his ease with the language of the story's setting. His pronunciation of names and his use of the slightest of accents when rendering the passages of dialogue are completely authentic and comfortable. The material itself is riveting as the author tells the little-known story of three brave peasant brothers who refused to bow to the demands of the Nazis. Instead, they started a movement to rescue fellow Jews from the ghettos and death squads, and establish a flourishing society in the forests of eastern Poland. M.O.B. (c) AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
  • Los Angeles Times “[O]ne of the most elevating and inspiring stories in the chronicle of death and despair that is the Holocaust....an accomplished and startling work of Holocaust documentation."
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