In 1941, three brothers witnessed their parents and two other
siblings being led away to their eventual murders. It was a grim
scene that would, of course, be repeated endlessly throughout the
war. Instead of running or giving in to despair, these brothers --
Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski -- fought back, waging a guerrilla
war of wits against the Nazis.
By using their intimate knowledge of the dense forests
surrounding the Belarusan towns of Novogrudek and Lida, the
Bielskis evaded the Nazis and established a hidden base camp, then
set about convincing other Jews to join their ranks. As more and
more Jews arrived each day, a robust community began to emerge, a
"Jerusalem in the woods."
After two and a half years in the woods, in July 1944, the
Bielskis learned that the Germans, overrun by the Red Army, were
retreating back toward Berlin. More than one thousand Bielski Jews
emerged -- alive -- on that final, triumphant exit from the
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