Defiance - the movie

The true story behind Defiance

Jewish resistance under Nazi rule includes various forms of resistance led against German occupation regimes in Europe by Jews during World War II. The term is generally connected with the Holocaust and includes a multitude of different social responses by those oppressed, as well as both passive and armed resistance led by Jews themselves.

During World War II, around 20,000 to 30,000 Jewish men and women fought against the Germans in military style units. They set up secret encampments in the forests and mountains and hid under straw in barns offered by friendly farmers. They searched for food to eat and clothes and fuel to keep them warm in the harsh Polish and Russian winters or the cold and wet climates to the west. Despite these hardships, they found out how to hit back at their would-be murderers, interrupting food passages, sabotaging power plants and factories, and exploding enemy trains.

Jewish partisans

These brave men and women were partisans, Jewish partisans. Most were ordinary citizens. Many were young, and many had left their houses behind. Being young freed them from the responsibilities that dogged those with small children or elderly parents in the besieged ghettoes. Their struggle to survive against an enemy whose ambition was to wipe them from the face of the earth is a little-known part of Holocaust history.

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Defiance - the movie

Defiance is a 2008 World War II era film which was produced, written and directed by Edward Zwick. It is set during the occupation of Belarus by the Nazis. The film charts the journey of the Bielski partisans, a band led by Polish Jewish brothers who rescued and recruited Jews in Belarus in the Second World War. The film stars James Bond actor Daniel Craig as Tuvia Bielski, joined by Liev Schreiber as his brother Zus Bielski, Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Filth)as Asael Bielski, and George MacKay as Aron Bielski. The film was adapted from Nechama Tec's book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans (1993).

Response

Defiance gained mixed reviews from movie critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 57% based upon a sample of 132, with a middling score of 5.8/10. At Metacritic, which attributes a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has gained an average score of 58 based on 34 reviews.

The Times and The Guardian claimed Poles fear "Hollywood has airbrushed out some unpleasant episodes from the story", for example the Bielski partisans' alleged affiliation with those Soviet partisans directed by the NKVD, who took part in atrocities against Poles in eastern Poland, such as the region where Bielski's unit operated. Gazeta Wyborcza reported six months before the release of the film that "News about a movie glorifying [the Bielskis] have caused an uproar among Polish historians", who called the Bielskis "Jewish-communist bandits".


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