Jewish Partisan Group Honors Bielski … – | The Jewish Week

Posted By on August 13, 2015

Sixteen surviving members of the Bielski Brigade, Jewish partisans who saved thousands from the Nazis and their collaborators in Belarus during the Holocaust, were honored in Manhattan Monday night by the Jewish Partisans Educational Foundation.

The group included Aron Bielski, now known as Aron Bell, the youngest of four brothers and last survivor of the family that took up arms during a bloody three-year uprising and inspired several books and a 2008 action film, "Defiance."

"It was hell on Earth," Aron Bell told The Jewish Week. "They were killing Jews left and right. To be a Jew was like being the worst criminal in the world. We had to survive."

The 16 former Bielski partisans, of 50 known to still be alive, were each presented with a medallion created for the event that bears the words "We Are Here," from a song they sang during the war, also bearing the inscrition "Honored Commander Tuvia Bielski."

Tuvia was the eldest of the brothers. He died in 1987 in New York and was largely unrecognized for his heroism during his life. He was portrayed in the Edward Zwick-directed film by actor Daniel Craig.

In addition to Aron, the other partisan brothers were Asael and Alexander, although the family had 12 siblings at the start of the war. Although the Bielskis were able to save an estimated 1,200 Jews, they were unable to save their parents and many of their siblings, who were killed in a massacre near Novogrudok, Poland. Some left Europe before the war.

"They were martyred, and inspired by future generations to resist oppression," said Alan Bell, Aron's son, who visited the site of the mass grave to say kaddish for his relatves.

Aron Bell took to the podium but defered to his son to speak for him. "He graciously accepts these accolades as the last surviving member of he Bielsksi family," Alan Bell said.

In his keynote address, Alan Dershowitz, the noted author and Harvard law professor, said the Bielskis' courage should inspire young Jews today to stand up and defend Israel and denounce anti-Semitsm.

"Courage is not something you are necessarily born with," said Dershowitz (See above vdeo). "You can learn many things from the incredible bravery of the Bielski brothers and all the people who risked their lives in the woods to save the lives of others."

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Jewish Partisan Group Honors Bielski ... - | The Jewish Week

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