A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

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ThomasG
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A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by ThomasG » 11 Aug 2008 00:50

A Hollywood superproduction about a WWII-era Polish-Jewish partisan unit is about to hit movie theatres across the world. The National Remembrance Institute has found out that the unit, led by brothers Bielski, was also responsible for murders of Poles

Dressed in a worn leather jacket, Daniel Craig (of James Bond fame) leads women, children and suitcase-lugging old men through the forest. 'We'll try to rebuild here the life you've been deprived of', he tells the terrified fugitives. 'You'll become fighters', adds his brother.

This is one of the opening scenes of the $50 million movie Resistance, to open in theatres in the US and Europe this year. Craig plays a Polish Jewish partisan, Tuvia Bielski.

Bielski, an authentic figure, together with his brothers created in the heart of the Naliboki Forest (today's Belarus) a secret Jerusalem: a camp where some 1,200 people, chiefly Jews, but also Poles, lived through the war.

In Resistance, the Bielski brothers fight the German military. In reality, the unit didn't fight such battles. The Germans, who set a reward of 100,000 marks for Tuvia's head, chased the partisans vehemently and they simply kept fleeing. To survive and feed Jerusalem, they had to requisition food from the local farmers. The latter responded with attacks on the partisans - and vice-versa. According to an IPN investigation that is nearing completion, the Bielski partisans were involved in the massacre of 128 civilians by a Soviet partisan unit in the village of Naliboki in May 1943.

'Some of the houses were set on fire, and the partisans took virtually everything: clothes, shoes, food, horses and cattle', said Anna Gałkiewicz, prosecutor at the Łódź IPN. 'A church was burned down. A total of 128 people were killed, chiefly men, but there were also three women, teenage boys and a ten-year-old kid among the victims'.

Polish amateur historians publishing in the nationalist press have no doubts: the Bielski brothers were 'Jewish-communist bandits'. News about a movie glorifying them have caused an uproar in the Nowy Dziennik daily and on nationalist websites.

A typical report: 'Here is a movie that will cause a scandal greater than the Kielce pogrom, the Jedwabne massacre, and Polish concentration camps taken together and multiplied by one hundred. We must protest wherever we can, sue the producer. A TV series should at least be made as a response - let the public TV do it together with the IPN!'.

Professional historians, even those at the IPN, are more cautious. Piotr Gontarczyk spoke so of the robberies by the Bielski unit: 'Imagine: you escape from a transport or a ghetto, find yourself in a completely strange environment, often don't know the language. You're an outlaw, a runaway. Count in wartime demoralisation. The most important thing for you is to survive. This is the only thing that matters'.

Marian Turski, historian and journalist: 'Bielski was a mixture of Kmicic, Hubal and "Ogień"'.

Amid the controversy, an important detail got lost: the movie tells about three brothers Bielski, and in reality there were four. We searched for the 'erased' Aron (Aharon) and found him in Florida where, in house arrest, he is expecting trial for fraud on a Polish woman, facing a sentence of up to ninety years.
http://wyborcza.pl/1,86871,5316759,A_Ho ... rers_.html

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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by David Thompson » 11 Aug 2008 05:05

Back in May, I deleted a thread on this subject for the same reason I'm skeptical about this thread. The article is unsourced, written by a person whose historical expertise has yet to be established, and it's libelous. We don't permit second-hand unsourced opinions about historical events for the same reasons we don't permit posters to post unsourced opinions or threads -- they don't further the purposes of the forum, which is to provide sourced, verifiable information about historical events. Furthermore, it's about a Hollywood film, which usually have little or nothing to do with historical fact. If someone has some factual backup for the fellow's opinion, please post it. If there's no verifiable backup, there's a padlock in this thread's future.

As I wrote when I closed out the earlier thread:
kindzjal -- (1) You wrote:
Tis might be a little bit off topic, but it is very interesting to know :

Legendary Holocaust hero accused of swindling 93-year-old neighbor in Florida; he denies it . . . .
It's definitely off-topic. Let's stick to the subject of 20th century war crimes here:
D. Topicality

The fifth rule of the forum is: "Keep the message on topic." There are two aspects to this rule. The first involves topics which may be discussed in this section of the forum. The second involves staying on topic when posting to a thread.

Permissible subjects for this section of the forum are the holocaust and twentieth century war crimes. If a thread isn't discussing something related to those subjects, it's off-topic.

Although there are occasionally exceptions, the forum management tries to keep a thread on a single topic. This makes it easier for readers to follow, and for researchers to subsequently locate, the discussions. If a poster would like to see further discussion of off-topic matters, please raise the subject in a pre-existing thread on that topic or, if there are no pre-existing threads, on a separate thread.

Non-complying posts are subject to deletion after warning.
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http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=53962

(2) You also wrote:
B. Shimansky, a soviet partisan from the Stalin Brigade did mention the Bielskis in his memories : " About the Bielskis there is nothing good to say, because they didn't anything good. The reason of that was their leader Tuvia Bielski, who was helping only the people who had gold or dollars, the poor people without any goods of worth or weapons he just threw out of the camp".

There are also the very interesting memories of Josef Marhwinsky, the right hand (for some time) of Tuvia Bielski. In his memories You will find the same things as mentioned by B. Shimansky and a lot more stuff about "Tsar" (this is the name which the poor Jews gave him, because of his "harem" and all the things he belonged, while others were starving of hunger in his camp) Tuvia Bielski ...
These aren't war crimes either.

(3) Patzinak wrote:
[…] Here are some German and English sources […]
If there's a mention of the Bielskis there, I don't see it, so please be so kind and point it out to me.
You replied:
I think that You are clever enough too find it out
AHF is run for the benefit of our readers, not the posters. Our readers come here for sourced information on historical subjects, not to play peek-a-boo. I read through the English-language source to which you provided a link ( http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jso ... dniki.html ), and not only didn't it mention the Bielski brothers, it didn't mention Naliboki either.

For the convenience of our readers in cases like this, we have a rule:
Rural customs of discourse, such as feigned ignorance, pettifogging, or "stonewalling" denials of facts well-known to most informed persons, are strongly disfavored here. The object of the research sections of the forum is to exchange information, not to engage in dim wrangling as a form of diversion. Our readers are intelligent people, who have already taken the time to inform themselves on the topic under discussion and don't have a lot of time to waste playing games.
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http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=53962

If you're asked a question, please respond to it directly, and don't waste our time. That way, we'll all be happy.

(4) You also wrote:
I post this here because, the things that the Bielskis did in the Novogrodek area are some real 20th century warcrimes and I don't like if somebody is making "heroes out of war criminals" and this movie does !
If you've got some proof that they're war criminals, step right up and present it. If you don't, step right down, and I'll put this topic into the "Moderators Only - Deleted Threads" section of the forum. So far, you've provided nothing other than a grab-bag of off-topic and/or defamatory opinions, punctuated with exclamation points. That's not good enough to keep this thread alive.

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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by Penn44 » 11 Aug 2008 06:22

How certain societies or ethnic groups have chosen to represent the Holocaust over the last several decades is an important historical topic (cultural, sociological one as well), and one which occupies an almost subfield within Holocaust studies. As a group, the Jewish-American public is desperate for stories of Jewish "resistance" during the Holocaust, but unfortunately, true stories of effective Jewish "resistance" are relatively few (although debated, I contend that survival in-of-itself is not a form of resistance). Most Jews went to their slaughter without putting up much resistance. Therefore, what Jewish resistance stories that do exist take on great importance for some. How the facts of this particular story may have been altered to fit the emotional need of some for stories of Jewish resistance is a worthy topic of discussion. Unfortunately, however, this topic is also fertile ground for the mischief of deniers/revisionists, etc. So, whatever you think is best for the forum, David, I will support. I just regret that the forum lacks the sophistication and restraint to discuss important and interesting issues like this film poses. This forum is perhaps only suited for the posting the photos of Nazi wives and girlfriends and commenting on their looks.

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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by ThomasG » 11 Aug 2008 06:24

David Thompson wrote:Back in May, I deleted a thread on this subject for the same reason I'm skeptical about this thread. The article is unsourced, written by a person whose historical expertise has yet to be established, and it's libelous.
Gazeta Wyborcza is Poland's second-largest daily newspaper and a good, respectable source. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has also published an article on the same subject. I think this should be discussed because there is currently major public controversy about the Jewish partisans.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1009912.html

Aron Bielski is indeed accused of stealing $250,000 from an elderly neighbor so the article is not libelous.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/926541.html

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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by Penn44 » 11 Aug 2008 07:32

ThomasG wrote:I think this should be discussed because there is currently major public controversy about the Jewish partisans.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1009912.html
What exactly is the "major public controversy" about the Jewish partisans? What makes it a major public controversy?
ThomasG wrote:Aron Bielski is indeed accused of stealing $250,000 from an elderly neighbor so the article is not libelous.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/926541.html
How does it relate to his WWII activities? If not, then it is extraneous information.

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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by wisbechlad » 11 Aug 2008 10:33

Meh, Schlinder operated in the black market, was a spiv, cheated on his wife and dealt with the Nazis. That is what makes Schlinder's Ark such a great book - do you sometimes have to do evil, and deal with the devil, to do good?

In "The Drowned and the Saved" Primo Levi discusses his view that frankly, anyone decent faced with the horror of the concentration camps died fast, and that it was probably the rational thing to do when faced with the irrationality of the holocaust. The survivors he discusses are deeply flawed, and sometimes outright insane. He himself survived by a fluke.

I can well believe that the Jewish partisans did some pretty nasty things to survive, as did other Polish partisans. Or anyone Polish trying to survive 1939-1945. What % of the population died? 22% or so?

And I would be suspicious of "amateur polish historians" and "nationalist websites" talking of "jewish-communist bandits"

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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by Hauptmann Kloss » 11 Aug 2008 14:30

David Thompson wrote:Back in May, I deleted a thread on this subject for the same reason I'm skeptical about this thread. The article is unsourced, written by a person whose historical expertise has yet to be established, and it's libelous. We don't permit second-hand unsourced opinions about historical events for the same reasons we don't permit posters to post unsourced opinions or threads -- they don't further the purposes of the forum, which is to provide sourced, verifiable information about historical events. Furthermore, it's about a Hollywood film, which usually have little or nothing to do with historical fact. If someone has some factual backup for the fellow's opinion, please post it. If there's no verifiable backup, there's a padlock in this thread's future.

As I wrote when I closed out the earlier thread:
kindzjal -- (1) You wrote:
Tis might be a little bit off topic, but it is very interesting to know :

Legendary Holocaust hero accused of swindling 93-year-old neighbor in Florida; he denies it . . . .
It's definitely off-topic. Let's stick to the subject of 20th century war crimes here:

......
I see your points, but there is a simple solution. If you feel this thread just do not belong here in "20th century war crimes", just bump it upstairs into "Resistance" and we can talk w/o emotional load this particular forum imposes.
What else, for popular newspaper article is sourced most excellently, with opinions and names of people like Dr Piotr Gontarczyk author and historian from right to Dr Marian Turski (Moshe Turbowicz) Buchenwald survivor, journalist and historian on Jewish side . Those people cary weight in Poland on face value.
When Dr Turski says : "mixture of Kmicic, Hubal and "Ogien" one gotta be able to comprehend it, quite difficult for foreigner, "instant coffee" for a schooled Pole :)
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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by David Thompson » 11 Aug 2008 15:46

Hauptmann Kloss -- I agree. This thread is more about the nature of resistance movements in WWII Poland than it is about war crimes or the holocaust, so I'll move it.

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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by Hauptmann Kloss » 11 Aug 2008 17:05

Penn44 wrote:
ThomasG wrote:I think this should be discussed because there is currently major public controversy about the Jewish partisans.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1009912.html
What exactly is the "major public controversy" about the Jewish partisans? What makes it a major public controversy?
ThomasG wrote:Aron Bielski is indeed accused of stealing $250,000 from an elderly neighbor so the article is not libelous.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/926541.html
How does it relate to his WWII activities? If not, then it is extraneous information.

Penn44

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???? You gotta be able to discuss mater in good will Penn44. Article discribes controversy quite good, in English too :) . I can make translation to American for you if you wish... imagine European movie, half fictional, gloryfing "Black September" actions in Munich. Enough controversy for you? :)

Young Bielski problems with law show character and most definitely are relevant. Just we have to wait till conviction, because now he is presumed innocent.
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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by David Thompson » 11 Aug 2008 22:58

A collection of personal exchanges between Hauptmann Kloss and Penn44, which added nothing of either fact or importance to the thread, was deleted by the moderator -- DT.

Gentlemen -- We strongly discourage personal remarks about other posters here. Please avoid them.

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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by Homer martin » 16 Jan 2009 11:21

Tuvia's unit was not in the Nalikboki woods in March or May of 1943. It numbered around 700 counting men, women and children when it did move into the Nalikboki woods in the summer of 1943, of which 50 left Tuvia's band to join a fighting band while the unit was on the way to the Nilikboki woods.


The attack on Naliboki May 8/9th 1943 in which at one time was said that over 500 were killed, that number was later lowered to 300 and in the past 5-7 years has now come to a count of 120 - 128.

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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by kindzjal » 25 Jan 2009 16:57


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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by Ogorek » 16 Feb 2009 20:40

From POLONIA TODAY
http://www.poloniatoday.com/defiance0209.htm

MISSING FROM THE FILM DEFIANCE: BIELSKI BROTHERS AND THE POLES

a review by Charles Chotkowski

The World War II events shown in the motion picture "Defiance" took place on territory that was part of Poland at the time. Consequently, Charles Chotkowski, Director of Research for the Holocaust Documentation Committee of the Polish American Congress, reviewed the film and calls attention to other aspects of those events vital to the context.

The Jewish partisans depicted in the new film Defiance became part of Holocaust history by welcoming fugitive Jews into their hideouts in the forests of what is now western Belarus, preserving some 1,200 lives from Nazi genocide. Director Edward Zwick has brought to the screen their true story, based on the book "Defiance: The Bielski Partisans" by Nechama Tec (Oxford University Press, 1993).

These partisans were organized and led by three Jewish brothers from the former Polish province of Nowogrodek: Tuvia, Zus and Asael Bielski. Tuvia, who had served in the Polish army, became the commander. He insisted that his partisans, although formed to fight the German occupation, would also take under their protection women, children, and the elderly who escaped from the Nowogrodek and Lida ghettos.

The film shows how the Bielski brothers met the challenges of escaping from the Nazis, arming partisan combatants, saving non-combatant refugees, providing food and shelter, and establishing discipline, all while moving from forest to forest to evade the pursuing Germans. Their affiliation with the Soviet partisans provided limited protection.

The cast, which includes Daniel Craig as Tuvia, Liev Schreiber as Zus, and Jamie Bell as Asael, ably gives straightforward performances that present the Bielski story largely as told by Tec. While liberties have been taken with some incidents and the chronology, the overall effect is faithful to the book. If there are no great cinematographic achievements, there is no Hollywood glamorizing either.

After 129 minutes running time, the film ends about halfway through the Bielski partisans’ story, after they have found a secure forest hideout in the depths of the Puszcza Nalibocka [Primeval Forest Nalibocka]. Although all the action takes place on prewar Polish territory partly inhabited by Poles, where the Polish partisan Home Army [Armia Krajowa] also operated, no Polish partisan or any other Polish character appears in the film.

This omission is consistent with the chronology. Interactions with the Poles came later in the Bielski partisans' existence, after the film ends.

Thus "Defiance" does not address controversial aspects of the Bielski’s relations with the Poles that recently have drawn some attention, particularly in Jewish publications and in Poland.

One contentious issue involves an ongoing Polish government investigation into an attack by Soviet partisans on the Polish town of Naliboki, near the Puszcza Nalibocka, in which the Bielski partisans, who were under overall Soviet command, are alleged to have participated.

For protection against banditry, Naliboki had a small self defense force commanded by Eugeniusz Klimowicz, a member of the Home Army. Soviet partisans in the Puszcza Nalibocka demanded that this force leave the town and join them in the forest.

Klimowicz refused, but the two sides reached an agreement that each would respect the other’s area of control. On the morning of May 8, 1943, the Soviets broke the agreement by attacking Naliboki, killing some 128 residents including women and children, and burning down the church, school, court house and post office.

There were some Jews among the Soviet attackers, but they are unlikely to have been from the Bielski group. Most likely they were partisans led by Simcha Zorin from Minsk, or a group led by Israel Kesler, who was himself from Naliboki and recruited other Jews from there.

When the Polish investigation into Naliboki and the accusations against the Bielskis were reported in this country, some admirers of the Bielskis blamed "anti-Semitic tendencies" and "the distortion of history," and questioned the moral right of Poles to judge Jewish partisans. But allegations against Jewish partisans are as legitimate a subject of inquiry as those against Poles or Soviets.

Up to mid-1943 relations between Polish partisans and the Bielskis and other Jewish partisans were generally good. Tuvia was friendly with the commander of the nearby Kosciuszko detachment of the Home Army, Lieut. Kacper Milaszewski. He and Milaszewski used to visit each other’s camps to play chess. When the Germans mounted an anti-partisan action, Operation Hermann, Milaszewski’s men fought a delaying action that enabled the Bielski group to escape.

Later in 1943 relations began to deteriorate, for which the Poles are blamed in the memoirs of Jewish partisans. In fact, the blame rests with Soviet policy, which called for the suppression of Polish partisans and Polish village self-defense in this disputed area of eastern Poland which the Soviets had annexed in 1939 and intended to keep after the war.

On June 22, 1943 Pantelemon Ponomarenko, chief of staff of the Soviet partisans, issued a directive that "In those regions that are under the influence of our partisan units and party centers do not allow activities of Polish groups formed by the reactionary nationalist circles. The leaders are to be eliminated in a manner that is not noticeable. The units are to be disbanded ... or, if it is possible ... attach them to large [Soviet] units, after which you are to carry out quietly an appropriate cleansing of hostile elements."

"Reactionary nationalist circles" was Soviet speak for the Polish government-in-exile in London and its Home Army. On December 1, 1943, this policy was applied to the Stolpce Group of the AK under Maj. Waclaw Pelka, which included the Kosciuszko detachment of Lieut. Milaszewski. The top officers were invited to a meeting with Soviet officers. When they arrived, the Poles were arrested, while the Soviets attacked the Polish bases.

The Bielski partisans contributed fifty men to this operation to capture and disarm the Polish partisans, their erstwhile allies. Ten Poles were killed resisting capture. Of the Polish officers, five were executed and five, including Pelka and Milaszewski, were flown to Moscow (Milaszewski survived the war). The remaining captured Polish partisans were inducted into the Soviet partisans, but more than thirty were executed when they attempted to leave.

Jewish partisans needed Soviet support, and obedience to anti-Polish orders was part of the price of Jewish survival. One might accept that Jews from the Bielski and Zorin groups had no other choice than to participate in operations against the Poles. What is unacceptable are their partisan memoirs subsequently published that denigrate Polish partisans as reactionary fascists and Nazi collaborators.

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Re: A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?

Post by red devil » 26 Mar 2009 02:31

Ah Movies, don't you just love their sense of hisorical fact? NOT!!

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