Alexander Zeisal Bielski

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Alexander Zeisal Bielski
Alexander Zeisal Bielski.jpg
Bielski circa 1945-1948
Born (1912-10-19)19 October 1912
Stankiewicze, near Navahrudak, Russian Empire
Died 18 August 1995(1995-08-18) (aged 82)
Brooklyn, United States
Cause of death Heart attack
Other names Zus Bielski
Known for Bielski partisans
Spouse(s) Cyrl Borowski[1] (first wife)
Sonia
Children David
Jay
Zvi (b. 1951)
Parent(s) David and Beila Bielski
Relatives Tuvia Bielski (brother)
Asael Bielski (brother)
Aron Bielski (brother)

Alexander Zeisal "Zus" Bielski (19 October 1912 – 18 August 1995) was a leader of the Bielski partisans who rescued approximately 1,200 Jews from Nazi execution in Belarus during World War II.

Biography[edit]

Alexander "Zus" Bielski was born in 1912. He grew up in the only Polish Jewish family in Stankiewicze. The small village in Eastern Poland (now Western Belarus) is located between towns of Lida and Navahrudak, both of which housed Jewish ghettoes during World War II. He was the son of David and Beila Bielski, who had twelve children: ten boys and two girls.

World War II[edit]

When Operation Barbarossa broke out, Tuvia, Zus, and Asael were called up by their army units to fight against the Nazi German occupiers. Owing to so much chaos the units disbanded. They fled to Stankiewicze,[2] where their parents lived. In July 1941, a German army unit arrived in Stankiewicze, and Jewish residents were moved to the Nowogródek ghetto. Zus, along with his brothers Tuvia, Asael, and Aron, managed to flee to the nearby forest after their parents and other family members were killed in the ghetto in August 1941.

Other refugees joined them and eventually formed a large partisan group. They hid in the forests of Belarus throughout World War II, led by the Bielskis. Zus, along with his brothers Tuvia, Aron, and Asael, managed to save 1,236 Jews. Zus left the partisans for the Red Army for a few months. Today, the descendants of those who were saved number over 10,000. Zus' first wife, Cyrl Borowski,[1] and infant daughter were murdered by the Nazis. One of the refugees Zus rescued was 18-year-old Sonia Boldo, whom he would later marry.[3]

Later life[edit]

After the war, Zus initially moved to Israel, but he left for New York City in 1956. There, he built his wealth by owning a large fleet of taxi cabs and a trucking company with his brother Tuvia.

He died of cardiac arrest in Brooklyn at age 82.[3] He was survived by his wife Sonia, sons (David, Jay, and Zvi), and six grandchildren. Jay served in the IDF as a volunteer during the 1973 war, and Zvi served in the Israeli paratroopers during the Lebanon incursion. Matthew and Elan, Jay's sons, served in a Special Forces unit within the elite Israeli paratroopers.[3][4]

Legacy[edit]

Liev Schreiber portrayed Zus Bielski in the film Defiance (2008).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tec, Nechama (2009). Defiance; the Bielski Partisan. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 15. 
  2. ^ Tec, Nechama (1993). Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. Oxford University Press US. pp. 25–26. ISBN 0195093909. 
  3. ^ a b c "Alexander Z. Bielski, 83, a Guerrilla Fighter Who Harried Nazis and Saved Jews, Is Dead". The New York Times. August 23, 1995. Retrieved 2009-04-01. Alexander Zeisal Bielski, a leader of the famous Bielski Brigade that harried German occupation forces and rescued hundreds of Jews from Nazi execution in Byelorussia during World War II, died on Friday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 82. His family said he died of cardiac arrest. 
  4. ^ Children of the Otriad (c) 2008 Paramount Pictures Corporation, included in the special features on the 2008 DVD Defiance