Aron Bielski was 11 years old when he watched his parents rounded up by Nazis and hauled away in a truck, transported to be murdered with 4,000 others in a mass grave. Soon after, he began his life in the forest. Knowing the woods even better than his brothers, Tuvia, Zus, and Asael — made famous by the 2008 biographical film Defiance — Aron acted as a scout and guide for a partisan group that worked to undermine German army aggressions in the area while growing a the woodland village of refugees.
When the German army retreated, 1,230 survivors, many of whom otherwise would have perished under the German occupation, emerged from the "Jerusalem in the woods." What started as a desperate fight for survival became an extraordinary mission to save Jews from extermination in what would become the largest armed rescue of Jews by Jews during World War II.
Aron Bielski will tell his story at the Ohio County Library Thursday, April 27, 2017. The program, presented in partnership with Classrooms Without Borders is free and open to the public. A signed copy of Aron's book (co-authored by his friend, Stuart Schulman) “Caught Between Hitler and Stalin,” will be available to purchase following the program for a tax-deductible donation to the Bielski Foundation. Program starts 7 pm in the Library Auditorium.
In 1945 Aron and his brothers Tuvia and Zus emigrated to British Palestine where they fought in Israel’s War of Independence. The brothers later moved to the United States, where they lived near each other in Brooklyn. Aron operated a taxi business in New York City. He and his wife, Henryka, retired to Palm Beach, Florida in 1998.