Were Jewish Partisans Depicted in New Hollywood Movie Murderers or Heroes?

" ... Nechama Tec, who wrote the historical account of the Bielski partisans on which the film is based, [said] that allegations connecting the partisans to the massacre were 'total lies.' ... "

By Marissa Brostoff

The Forward, 8/10/2008

A new movie about a band of Jewish partisans who fought the Nazis during the Holocaust has led some in Poland to suggest that the group may also have been murderers.

In anticipation of the December release of Defiance starring Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, a Polish newspaper ran an article headlined, "A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?"

The article in Gazeta Wyborcza contrasts the film's portrayal of Tuvia Bielski as a Moses figure leading frightened women and children through the forest, with a recently released report from a Polish government investigative body. The government report suggests that Bielski and his followers may have participated in a massacre of civilians in the eastern Polish town of Naliboki.

The tarnishing of the Bielski partisans has infuriated a number of people close to the memory of the group. Some of those people have also been involved with the production of the movie, directed by Ed Zwick (Legends of the Fall, The Last Samurai). Nechama Tec, who wrote the historical account of the Bielski partisans on which the film is based, told the Forward that allegations connecting the partisans to the massacre were "total lies."

Those allegations "underline the anti-Semitic tendencies of the writers and the distortion of history," Tec said.

The controversy comes on the heels of a Lithuanian government investigation into allegations that Jewish partisans committed war crimes during World War II. That investigation has been met with dismay on the part of Jewish communal leaders inside and outside Lithuania, who note that only three Lithuanians have ever been prosecuted for wartime crimes against Jews. ...

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