This is an awe-inspiring story of unbelievable courage. I would have sworn it was fiction had I not known it was a true story; that these three brothers managed to save over 1000 people in the forests of Belarus is simply amazing.
The author does an excellent job of portraying the Bielski brothers not as one dimensional "larger than life" figures, but as human beings with faults and failings. Still, it is a great tragedy that the brothers were never recognised as the accomplished heros they were; one of them died in the Red Army shortly after the camp was disbanded, and the other two died anonymous immigrants in the United States.
Even people who haven't the slightest interest in the Holocaust or in WW2 will be inspired by the amazing story in this book.
An incredible story of courage and commitment to others. A book everyone should read at some point in their lives as it shows hope and decency can overcome the most monstrous barbarism. Only downside for me was the writing style. There is no flow to it, just stop, start which makes it a bit frustrating to read. The author is never able to portray the depth you feel when watching the film which is a bit disappointing.
Thw book arrived in time, beautifully packed in cardboard and lovely shiny cover. The book itself is a wonderful read, illustrating some peoples' determination in the face of extreme horrors. It is all the adjectives one can imagine without sounding too gushing. Not enough is written about the patriots, both Jewish and nationalists, who fought the nazis. How they were successful and the lengths of ingenuity man is capable of providing during times of adversity. Read it and enjoy it. CCR
When the Germans finally retreated from Belarus in the summer of 1944, almost twelve hundred Jewish survivors of the Holocaust shocked the world by materializing from the forest where they had lived in hiding during the German occupation. Tuvia, Asael, and Zus Bielski, three brothers, had managed to establish a well-organized community in the forest which lasted for almost three years, protecting hundreds of Jewish citizens while wreaking havoc on their German occupiers. Author Peter Duffy places this extraordinary story of survival in context by describing the Bielskis’ lives and achievements, quoting from Tuvia Bielski’s previously unknown journal, and revealing the sociopolitical history, including the anti-Semitism, of Belarus, a region south of Lithuania. In establishing their forest community, open to all Jews, the Bielskis had to fight "wars" on four fronts: the immediate threat from the Germans and the local police; the danger from local peasants and collaborators; the suspicions of Soviet partisans who questioned whether the Bielskis were sufficiently dedicated to their cause; and most of all, internal dissension. This was no "utopian community of enlightened democratic and egalitarian governance," and many readers may cringe at the extremes to which the leadership occasionally resorted in order to eliminate dissension. At its height, the forest village consisted of long, camouflaged dugouts for sleeping, a large kitchen, mill, bakery, bathhouse, tannery, school, jail, theater, and two medical facilities. Tailors, seamstresses, shoemakers, watchmakers, carpenters, mechanics, and experts in demolition provided the 1200-member community with necessary skills, and about sixty cows and thirty horses provided food and transportation. Many of the men served as part of the armed contingent which secured food and engaged in sabotage and the murder of Germans officials. By concentrating on one family and its life during the war, Duffy creates a powerful documentary about Jewish life. Breaking the narrative into six-month installments, he details the progress of the war throughout the region, relentlessly revealing cold statistics--the thousands of people killed in a single ghetto in a single day. As the numbers mount, the reader’s horror at the immense scale of the genocide grows, the victims’ utter helplessness becomes obvious, and the reader’s amazement at the Bielskis’ achievement increases. None of the Bielski brothers ever received public recognition for these heroic efforts, and Duffy’s attempts to rectify this historical omission by telling their story will resonate with readers. Mary Whipple
With WWII and Nazis, Germans and others advancing through Poland and Belorussia the local Jewish populations suffered persecution and executions on a massive scale. During the roundup of Jewish people some escaped into local forests to survive. This book tells the story of a community established by the brothers of the Bielski family; how they built camps, moved from place to place, set up workshops, organised employment, provided a haven for many, defended themselves and survived with about 1,200 people in number by the end of the fighting. The book is a well written history for people of many ages to read with details on the Bielskis and what was going on generally within the area. Further notes at the back may be of interest for those who want to read more about the subject.
NOTE: This book by Peter Duffy is exactly the same as his other book "Brothers In Arms" with a different publisher. Don't buy them both unless you want more than one copy of the same book.
I bought the book after watching the Film "Defiance" on the telly,the author Peter Duffy captures the events much better than the film could,once you start reading it is hard to put the book down,the three brothers were real life heroes.A brilliant book well recommended.
The Bielski brothers kept anti-semitism from locals and from the German oppressors at bay by reacting fiercely and effectively at each transgression. They were not guided by hatred, but by vengeance. Not much of what happened in the woods of Belorussia was or could be recorded at the time. This book is a composition of what survivors who had been witnesses of this cruel period in history or who had been in the woods with the Bielski brothers could tell the author. The Bielski Brothers once and for all put an end to the myth that European Jewry went as lambs to their slaughter.