DEFIANCE by Nechama Tec

DEFIANCE

The Bielski Partisans

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Powerful account by Holocaust survivor Tec (Sociology/Univ. of Connecticut; In the Lion's Den, 1989, etc.) of the operations of a Jewish partisan group in WW II Belorussia. Seeking to counteract the widespread conception of European Jews as victims who went meekly to their deaths, Tec researched the extraordinary story of the three Bielski brothers and their partisan group, using interviews with group survivors in Israel, the US, and elsewhere. Led by the oldest brother, Tuvia, the partisan group had grown to more than 1,200 Jews by the time Russian forces liberated them in 1944. The Bielski brothers, Tec explains, determined early on to save not only themselves and their families but every Jew who would join them. Resisting efforts to limit their group only to fighters, Tuvia accepted any Jew until more than 70% of the group was comprised of women, children, and middle-aged and elderly men. A charismatic leader of limited education but great intelligence and diplomatic ability, Tuvia maintained good relations with a variety of other partisan groups, some initially hostile. Putting his emphasis on saving lives rather than on killing Germans, he nonetheless acted ruthlessly against those collaborating with the Nazis, and in so doing saved many Jewish lives. At the end of the war, with Stalin's control of Belorussia becoming more oppressive, Tuvia and his brothers escaped to Romania, traveling on to Palestine and then the US--although Tuvia never again gained the recognition or prominence that his leadership qualities might have justified. A remarkable story of a great leader, as well as of a neglected aspect of WW II. (Eleven halftones, two line drawings-- not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-19-507595-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1993




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