Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009

Defiance: The True Story

By David Luhrssen
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Released late last year, Defiance was the fictionalized movie version of the Bielskis, three Jewish brothers who organized resistance against the Nazis after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. The History Channel documentary “The Bielski Brothers: Jerusalem in the Woods” tells the true story. It’s out now on DVD.

Remarkably the gap between fact and fiction is narrow, a matter of small details rather than larger truths. Tuvia, Asael and Zus Bielski were tough guys before the Nazis came and in the face of death, they chose to fight for life. Before long they gathered hundreds of other Jews in a forest community with its own synagogue, theater company, bathhouse and bakery.

According to witnesses, the Bielskis were more concerned with saving Jews than killing Germans. “Jerusalem in the Woods” is a remarkable story of determination and resilience against an enemy many considered unbeatable.

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