Partisans of Bielski

The Bielski partisans were a clan formed by Jewish families who organized and escaped the Holocaust in Poland through the forests and marshes of Belarus , led by Tuvia Bielski and his brothers, Aaron, Alexander “Zus” and Assael during World War II World . Some of Bieslki’s partisans occasionally joined Soviet partisans and carried out acts of sabotage on railway lines and ambushes of small German detachments. This event is one of the most notable events of Jewish partisans during what has been called the Holocaust during World War II.


Main article: Tuvia Bielski
Jewish resistance in Belarus.

The Bielski family was the only Jewish family of the thirteen who inhabited the village of Stankiewicz near Novogródek in Belarus at the beginning of the Invasion of Poland by the Germans in 1939. Tuvia’s parents and two of their sisters were arrested in 1941 and driven To the ghetto of Nowogrodek , being exterminated there by the Einsatzgruppen and the Feldgendarmerie SS of Himmler in 1942. 1 Tuvia and his brothers managed to escape with difficulty from the District of Lida to go to shelter in the impenetrable forests of the western Belarus and from there realized Actions to rescue Jews escaping Nazi massacres. At first they only tried to save themselves and some relatives and hid in Zabielovo, in the forests of Perelaz . There was formed the first partisan unit with 30 members acquiring arms to people without scruples.

It should be noted that anti-Semitism in Belarus was quite strong and that this trend affected even the Soviet partisans themselves.

The clan chose Tuvia as their leader because of their leadership skills and their military past, as well as knowing the region to spare and this helped to elude the groups of SS soldiers who were tracking the region. 1

The Germans came to offer 100,000 marks of reward for the capture of Tuvia Bielski. 2

Seeing the inexorable fate of the Jewish ethnic groups in the Lida region, Tuvia convinced the Judenrat and organized the flight of Jews from the ghettos of the cities of Nowogrodek, Minsk , Iwie, Mir, Baranowicze and other towns to join To your group. By the end of 1942 there were about 300 members organized as a nomadic clan, hidden in the Belarusian forests of Zabielovo. Part of the reconnaissance partisans in command of “Zus” occasionally joined the Soviet partisans, who taught them to fight and to perform acts of sabotage.

Partisans oppressed non-Jewish peasants in the region, forcing them to provide them with food, at the risk of being betrayed to the Germans. Also they executed those farmers who committed informer with the Germans. 3

The arms were supplied by the Russian partisans or were the result of the ambushes of detachments and liaison officers of the German army. An epidemic of typhus was unleashed in the middle of the clan and drugs had to be taken to Belarusian posts to treat the sick. In the winter of 1943, they were attacked by a German battalion supported by Stukas and 10 Jewish fighters were killed before the group could escape to Minsk .

By the end of 1943, the clan had increased to about 700 members, and because they feared that the peasants who provided them with food would finally report them to the German patrols that swarmed in the region, it was decided to move deep into the forests of Naliboki, which was surrounded by swamps on the eastern bank of the Niemen River . The transfer acquired the visions of a small exodus , where the internal problems were not absent. Finally they went deep into the forest and camped.

The community was called the “little Jerusalem” and acquired the character of permanent due to the little possibility of being found. A school, a mill, a tailor shop, a prison and created synagogue . The Naliboki forest was within the regional jurisdiction of the Soviet partisans commanded by General Vasili Chernyshev, sent from Moscow, and thanks to an established alliance between Bielski and Chernyshev arms were supplied in exchange for them to provide services and a partisan unit Of sabotage.

In principle Tuvia had rejected the idea, since it left without protection to the community. However, Bielski’s partisans soon harassed local German-related police, ambushed the remnants of the retreating Central Army from Russia, derailed trains, flew bridges and witnesses said they executed 129 Nazi collaborators in The forests of Naliboki. 2

The 22 of June of 1944 , the Bielski group had grown to 1,213 individuals, of whom about 850 were elderly, women and children. The partisans of Bielski had suffered about 50 casualties in their group of combat of 150 warriors in the forest.


Assael was recruited for the Red Army and died in the Battle of Königsberg ( Kaliningrad ) in 1945. Tuvia, Zus and Aaron fled to Palestine eluding Soviet control. Both Tuvia and Zus fought in the Israeli army and then emigrated to the United States, where they established themselves as quiet immigrants. Aaron Bielski still survives.

The Jews of Bielski were dispersed and assimilated to the new post-war geopolitical situation, and today thousands of their descendants live in Poland as well as scattered throughout the world.

Seventh Art

The epic deed of the Bielski brothers was brought to the big screen in 2008 by director Edward Zwick in the film Resistance .

Daniel Craig plays Tuvia Bielski and Zus is played by Liev Schreiber .


  1. ↑ Jump to:a b Biography of T. Bielski
  2. ↑ Jump to:a b The village of Bielski
  3. Back to top↑ The Bielski Story