We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Via Bruce Kesler, from a reader(with his permission), on our post on the film Defiance. He needs to see the film:
I read with great interest your review of the film, “Defiance,” which I have not seen yet. I am writing a book on my family's town, Dolhinov, and have been conducting both archival research and interviews, About 450 Jews in the town—the only ones left of 5000 residents and refuges--survived fighting or living with various partisan units, primarily with the one next door to the Bielski's, the 'People Avengers" commanded by Ivan Timchuk whose chief aide was Avraham Freedman of Dolhinov. These stories are just starting to be told, partially because of the availability of new documents and studies from the post-Soviet countries.
In a unique event, about 300, including a number of my relatives, were evacuated by the Red Army on a 500-mile march through German lines, organized by Timchuk. This is an area of swamps and thick forests, perfect for partisan warfare.
A key factor was whether units had Jews as members. The Bielskis were almost unique in being commanders since in most cases, the leaders were chosen by the Soviet command from experienced veterans told to stay behind German lines in 1941.
Another feature of this area was that it experienced 18 months of Soviet occupation followed by 3 years (though Jews only lived through the first ten months in their homes or at all) of German occupation. Those who couldn't get out at the war’s end spent the next 12 years trying to get out of the USSR to come to Israel.
Thank you for reminding the readers of the valiant and largely successful defense by Finland in the Winter War against the Soviet Union. It was heralded at the time and -- at least to those familiar with WWII -- well known.
The resistance by individual or groups of Jews -- the relatively few who survived -- is far less known, they didn't have a country's resources, and some is only now coming to light as sources open from behind the former Iron Curtain countries.
Adam Gopnik wrote an engaging and thoughtful too-short review of Defiance's premiere, in which he describes the descendants of the Bielski's entering the theatre: broad-shouldered and brawny sons and grandsons (The New Yorker).
The movie is complex and thoughtful: it shows the difficulties of maintaining one's humanity when faced with killing or being killed; it tells how one brother is killed without ever knowing his newborn son; it diminishes the romantic qualities of heroism, ironically, amplifying the Bielski's acts. That the Bielskis saved many of hte Jewish intellectuals who once considered them uncouth, makes the story richer.
An undertheme is Daniel Craig agreeing to play one of the brothers. A somewhat cartoonish James Bond (but an excellent one) now plays a deeply human and incidental hero.
This movie should be shown to many more, especially in the Moslem sector: how to be deeply human without being murderous. The aftermath is not told: that the Bielskis escaped to the US (of course, a land of great freedom and opportunity) and built fine families.
I was reading the comments when I remembered reading "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry. The setting is Denmark where people set up an escape route to Sweden for Jews. It is based on history but written as a fictional account. It would be a wonderful book for young people. Two little girls start the story - a Dane and a Jew. Very poignant but beautiful story.