Aron Bielski

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Aharon Bielski
Born 1927 (age 87–88)
Other names Aaron Bielski
Aharon Bielski
Aron Bell
Spouse(s) Henryka
Relatives Tuvia Bielski, brother
Asael Bielski, brother
Alexander Zeisal Bielski, brother

Aron Bielski (born in July 21, 1927),[1] later changed to Aron Bell, He is a Polish-American Jew and former member of the Bielski partisans group, the largest armed rescuers of Jews by Jews during World War II. He was also known as Arczyk Bielski. The youngest of the four Bielski brothers, he is the only one still living (Asael died in 1945, Tuvia in 1987, and Alexander ("Zus") in 1995).[citation needed]

Life with Bielski partisans[edit]

The Bielski family were farmers in Stankiewicze near Navahrudak in present day Belarus, an area that at the beginning of the Second World War belonged to the Second Polish Republic. In September 1939 was seized by the Soviet Union, which was then allied with Nazi Germany. After German Operation Barbarossa, Aron's brothers created a notable resistance organization, the Bielski partisans group. Aron became a member of that group.

Nechama Tec, who wrote a book about them, had the following to say about Aron: "Occasionally in the forest he acted as a guide. Those I spoke to agree that his participation and impact on the life of the Bielski otriad [a partisan detachment] was minimal, almost nonexistent."[2] While Nechama was not able to interview Aron, he was interviewed by Peter Duffy in Duffy's book.[3] That author, in the second authoritative book about the Bielski partisans, mentions Aron about 30 times and lists him as one of the important sources for the book. Duffy also interviewed Bell for the article "Heroes Among Us" (2000) published in The New York Times.[4]

Later life[edit]

After the war, Bielski returned to communist-dominated Poland but soon afterward immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine. In 1954, he settled in the United States of America, where he joined his surviving brothers and their families.[5] He drove and then owned two trucks in New York City.[citation needed] Aron is the only member of the Bielski family to have changed his family name.

In 2007, Bielski and his wife Henryka were arrested for kidnapping their 93-year-old neighbour in Palm Beach, Florida, Holocaust survivor Janina Zaniewska, dumping her in a nursing home in Poland, and stealing her life savings of $300,000.[6] In February 2008, they reached a plea deal whereby they agreed to pay $260,000 back to Zaniewska, who was able to return to Florida.[7]

Legacy[edit]

George MacKay portrayed Aron in the film Defiance (2008), which has been criticised in Poland due to its omission of the alleged involvement of the Bielski group in a massacre of Polish civilians conducted by Soviet-aligned partisans in Naliboki.[8][9] The Bielski partisan group was the subject of an official inquiry by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance's Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation after witnesses testified that Bielski partisans were among the perpetrators of the Naliboki massacre; however, the investigation found no conclusive evidence linking the Bielski group to the crime.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Court record from arrest; search mypalmbeachclerk.com
  2. ^ Nechama Tec, Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, Oxford University Press US, 2008, ISBN 0-19-537685-4, Google Print, p.304
  3. ^ Peter Duffy, The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews, HarperCollins, 2004, ISBN 0-06-093553-7, Google Print, p.286
  4. ^ duffy bielski&st=cse link "Heroes Among Us". The New York Times. May 28, 2000. 
  5. ^ "Bielski, Tuvia" (PDF). yadvashem.org. 
  6. ^ "Partisan hero accused of kidnapping 'scam'". The Guardian. 
  7. ^ "Couple accepts plea deal to repay $260,000". Sun Sentinel. 
  8. ^ "Bohater w cieniu zbrodni". Rzeczpospolita. 
  9. ^ "Bielski w puszczy niedomówień". Rzeczpospolita. 
  10. ^ "Instytut Pamięci Narodowej". ipn.gov.pl. 

External links[edit]