Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Give Rise to the Heroism of Those Who Showed Bravery During the Holocaust

April 17, 2012 1:16 pm 4 comments

Actor Daniel Craig in the film "Defiance", the Hollywood adaptation of the Bielski brothers story. Photo: http://shutupandwatchthemovie.wordpress.com.

Starting at 8 pm ET on Wednesday evening until sundown on Thursday, Jews around the world will commemorate Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, in memory of the six million European Jews murdered by Hitler’s Nazis and their supporters.

Throughout Israel, people will stop what they’re doing and stand in silent devotion as a siren blares for two minutes on Thursday morning.

Special ceremonies will be held throughout the country including the main commemoration at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, highlighted by the reading of the names of the Holocaust victims. All places of entertainment will be closed, with television and radio featuring programming appropriate for the somberness of the day.

Being the son of Polish survivors on my father’s side (at the age of 36 I probably fit into a group consisting of some of youngest first generation post-Holocaust survivors today), who succeeded in fleeing the “shtetel” just days before the Nazis liquidated the Jews from my family’s town, I understand the significance of the day – especially since the rest of my extended family, nearly 100 souls, were tortured and murdered by Ukrainian Policemen who gladly sided with the Nazis in carrying out Hitler’s war on the Jews.

In 1992, I traveled back to the area with my family and stood over what was clearly a mass grave, where most likely the bodies of my great uncles, aunts, and cousins were dumped after their brutal slaying. Today, not a trace of Jewish life remains in that area except for the newly constructed “matzevot” or memorials to the Jews murdered there.

While this horror story is similar to an innumerable amount of other Holocaust episodes which are no doubt tragic and should be re-told on Yom Hashoah (and throughout the year) in order to never forget, there is an aspect to the day which I feel sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.

The official name of the day is “Yom Hashoah Ve-Hagevurah”— the “Day of Holocaust remembrance and Heroism.” It’s the heroism aspect that I feel that needs more attention.

Yes, the date for Yom Hashoah was chosen by the Israeli Knesset to coincide with the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan), but I fear that the narratives of the Jewish and non-Jewish warriors and heroes, who against all odds to put up a fight against the Nazi war machine, remains year after year a secondary and diluted subject.

The ghetto uprisings, fighting in the forests, or missions of exceptional courage such as those undertaken by people like Hannah Senesh, all deserve and need to be discussed more on Yom Hashoah, to draw attention to these acts of defiance.

The reason that bravery and heroism should become part of the centrality of this day is so that when Jews say “never again” in regard to another Holocaust, those words do not become an oft repeated and meaningless cliché.

With Iran on the fast track towards launching its nuclear capabilities, and other Arab terror groups just as eager to see a world without Israel, only that brave Jewish soldier, led by an equally brave Jewish leadership will ensure that we will truly never again witness the loss of Jewish life on such a grand scale.

It is our job as human beings and as Jews do use all the resources given to us by G-d to guarantee the future of our people.

The first step in this process is visualization, using the mind’s eye not only to focus on the Jew in the Holocaust as a victim but as a Jewish warrior. What better day to spend time contemplating this image than on “Yom Hashoah Ve-Hagevurah.”

The Algemeiner newspaper delivers breaking news and insightful commentary from Israel, the Middle East and Jewish communities around the world | Host to an international Jewish interest blogger community covering Zionism, Israeli politics, Middle East security, terrorism, Jewish tradition, Jewish art, Jewish culture, Jewish music, Jewish activism, Jewish family and spirituality, interviews, profiles, features, video and much more. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

4 Comments

  • Ralph Levitt

    There are so many examples and so many stories of the
    Jews who resisted during WW II. But the following is
    interesting.
    Monastir/Bitola in Macedonia.
    The fighters included——
    Bene Russo who became a General in the Yugoslav Army.
    Berto Russo who became a Colonel.
    The Sadakarios brothers.
    Jamilla Kolonomos attained the rank of brigade commissar
    and was a spokesperson for the Yugoslav resistance
    after the war.
    Estrella Ovadija who died fighting at age 22—named a hero of the Yugoslav liberation movement.
    Of those who did not resist over 99% died.
    Of those who joined the resistance the figure drops to 75% but that includes urban areas where the death rate had
    to be much higher. For those who went to the mountains
    the survival rate was better.
    Milovan Djilas, in his account Wartime, tells the story of the Albaharis from Belgrade. He was known before the war as the “button king.” He manufactured buttons. They
    were older people but they went to the mountains, joined
    the resistance and survived the war. Djilas said the partisan movement discussed creating separate Jewish units but rejected the idea.
    This went on all across Europe.

  • Ralph Levitt

    Excellent.
    We won——as many as 2 million Jews fought—-in the US, British, Australian, Canadian, South African and other armies. A large contingent in the Red Army. Tens of thousands of fighters in the ghettos, forests and mountains of Europe.
    We won and less than 5 years later won another historic
    fight in the Holy Land.

  • The Untold Bielski Story- The Real Thing.
    Growing up they had to defend themselves and their business from the locals. They were always a family team, and also had many non-Jewish friends. They developed a reputation before the War for many kilometers that “you shouldn’t mess with the Bielskis because you are sure to lose,” a quote by Aron Bell Bielski. They were never petty criminals as referred to in the movie, although the police knew of them and their penchant for provoked violence. As the environment grew more hostile against Jews and the Bielskis in particular, the ante was raised and so was their response to it, ruthlessness and compassion. The ‘Defiance’ movie did not show enemies’ heads being axed (see The History Channel 11/06, Jerusalem in the Woods). The Bielski Enemas in which enemies’ behinds were cleansed for their sins by grenades as each watched his fellow get blown up knowing that he will be next (The Bielski Partisans a documentary by Kumar 1996). Many unmentionable acts were done without remorse by Zus and others. In context, envision what would you do if they killed your mother and father, your brothers, your wife and daughter? Between me and you if the Bielskis’ ‘Defiance’ movie has any positive influence on Israeli gov’t, a more assertive and permanent solution would already be in place both politically and militarily. ‘Defiance’ was not intended to directly comment on Israeli policies, it was intended to show that all Jews are capable and obligated to live and be defiant to anyone who threatens our existence, anytime. So? The question is this; does the Defiance movie say anything to Israel, USA, Iran and the various players? I’m Zus’s son, a Bielski, so I think diplomacy better work for those players.

    Two of Zus’s sons served in the IDF, as did two of his grandchildren.

  • The Bielski story was alluded to by our great prophet Moses when he called the Red Sea Crossing a Sea of Reeds. From inspiration HaShem revealed to me the passages from the Tanakh where this story was hidden for hundreds of years. Jeremiah the prophet also noted the second exodus in chapter 23. Tuvia Bielski like Moses lead the Children of Israel across a real Yam Suph-Sea of Reeds! It’s worth looking at the depth of this story that I have written about in part on my website and in an up coming book.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Some punk rockers integrate their Jewish identity into their music through food, the author of a new book on the topic told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. Michael Croland, author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, described the way different musicians express this connection. “One band is known for throwing gefilte fish in the mosh pit, and people at its concert slide around on it while dancing,” he recounted. “Another used to drink Manischewitz [sweet kosher] wine out of a shofar [the ram […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    The manager of Scotland’s Celtic soccer club lauded Israel, after his team won a match against the Jewish state’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night. Brendan Rodgers said at a post-match press conference: On behalf of the players, the people of Celtic and Scotland, Israel’s been fantastic for us. We came out here on Sunday, [and from] the hotel, the staff, we’ve been very, very warmly received. The atmosphere at the game was amazing and, obviously, one team has to lose, but you have a wonderful team here, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →