|Born||1927 (age 87–88)|
|Other names||Aaron Bielski
|Relatives||Tuvia Bielski, brother
Asael Bielski, brother
Alexander Zeisal Bielski, brother
Aron Bielski, later changed to Aron Bell, was born in 1927. 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.
Life with Bielski partisans
The Bielski family were farmers in Stankiewicze near Navahrudak, an area that at the beginning of the Second World War belonged to the Second Polish Republic but in September 1939 was seized by the Soviet Union. Now Belarus.(see: Polish September Campaign and Soviet invasion of Poland (1939)), 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." While Nechama was not able to interview Aron, he was interviewed by Peter Duffy in Duffy's book. 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.
After the war, Bielski returned to communist-dominated Poland but soon afterward emigrated 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. He drove and then owned two trucks in New York City. 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. 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.
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. 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.
- Bell's age is given as 70 in a New York Times article from 2000 and the Holocaust Museum uses 1927
- Nechama Tec, Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, Oxford University Press US, 2008, ISBN 0-19-537685-4, Google Print, p.304
- 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
- duffy bielski&st=cse link "Heroes Among Us". The New York Times. May 28, 2000.
- "Bielski, Tuvia". yadvashem.org.
- "Partisan hero accused of kidnapping 'scam'". The Guardian.
- "Couple accepts plea deal to repay $260,000". Sun Sentinel.
- Gary Stern, For Pound Ridge man, the new movie "Defiance" is the story of his family, The Journal News, January 21, 2009
- Kamil Tchorek (2008-12-31). "Country split over whether Daniel Craig is film hero or villain". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
- (Polish) Piotr Głuchowski, Marcin Kowalski, Wymazany Aron Bell (Aron Bell Erased), Gazeta Wyborcza, 008-06-16