The Republic of the Bielski
On the borderland of the second
People's Republic, at the heart of the Nalibocka forest,
between the Niemen and Berezyna rivers, partisan-Jews
created the headquarters that was virtually a small
town - with craftsman shops, a hospital and a synagogue.
Over 1200 of them survived the war.
From the fall of 1941 until the beginning of 1942 this
was the family camp of the Bielski family: Asaela (born
in 1908), Zusa (born in 1912) and Tewje (born in 1906).
The Bielski family of farmers and millers came from
a village between Nowogrodek and Lida. The head of the
organization became Tewje, who was a non-commissioned
officer of the Polish army and had the necessary charisma.
He also had a vision, which he considered his life mission:
to save the Jews. At that time this was a controversial
vision, since many people in his surroundings thought
that the foremost duty was to attack the Germans. Yet
he wanted to save the Jews. He send his emissaries to
nearby ghettos and convinced Jews to escape and join
his unit. His "family" group, initially of
a few dozen, created a larger unit which in the last
phase of its operations had 1,200 members.
In the Nalibocki forest operated also other partisan
units made up of Russians, Belorussians, Poles and Jews.
The history of the relations of the Bielski family with
Polish partisans is not well known. In the region of
Nalibocki forest operated the unit of the Home Army
under the command of lieutenant Milaszewski. Tewje Bielski
and Milaszewski frequently met, played chess and were
quite good friends.
During the fall of 1943 the headquarters of Soviet partisans
in the Nalibocki forest decided to wipe out the unit
of the Home Army. Hence all subordinate units were supposed
to participate in that operation. The post-war testimonies
of Jewish partisans show that Bielski was ordered to
assign 50 armed partisans. The investigation regarding
the crime in Naliboki - committed by Soviet partisans
in 1943 - is currently conducted by the Institute of
National Remembrance in Lodz. Yet in a press release
we read: "the Polish investigative authorities
have not confirmed the participation of Jews in the
The Bielski brothers - apart from Asael, who died in
the ranks of the Red Army at Koenigsberg - survived
the war and emigrated to Palestine. In 1948 Tewje participated
in the defensive war. During the fifties the Bielski
families emigrated to the USA. Tewje died in 1987, while
Zus in 1995.
Republika braci Bielskich (The Republic of the Bielski
Polityka, 26 lipca 2003, p. 66-68.