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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 11Focusing on Aspects and Experiences of Religion$
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Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774051

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774051.001.0001

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Nechama Tec Defiance: The Bielski Partisans

Nechama Tec Defiance: The Bielski Partisans

(New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); pp. xiii + 276

Nechama Tec Defiance: The Bielski Partisans
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 11

Franklin Littell

Liverpool University Press

This chapter assesses Nechama Tec's book, Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, which introduces a new aspect to the history of the Holocaust period. The book details how several hundred men, women, and children in western Belorussia during the Second World War maintained a surviving and fighting community. These Jewish partisans were blessed with a gifted leader, Tuvia Bielski. Bielski emerged out of the chaos of war conditions and the assault on the Jewish people, an assault not only by the Germans but by some sectors of the peoples subject to their military occupation. Around him he gathered a triad of loyal and gifted aides: his brothers Asael and Zus, and his chief of staff Lazar Malbin. Their relationship with Russian partisan groups ranged from precarious to friendly, depending on the measure of overt antisemitism on the part of the other partisans. The Bielski group pursued a policy of harsh retribution towards villagers who collaborated with the Germans and helped to recapture Jews. The non-Jewish villagers came to respect the courage and efficiency of the Jewish partisans and there were fewer denunciations and safer roads as a result.

Keywords:   Nechama Tec, Holocaust, Belorussia, Second World War, Jewish partisans, Tuvia Bielski, Jewish people, Russian partisan groups, antisemitism

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