Saturday, 10 January 2009

Defiance: it's powerful...

This is a still from the new film Defiance recently out and starring Daniel Craig as a Jewish partisan leader in Nazi-occupied Belarus.

The Bielski family were farmers in Nowogrodek, Belarus. After Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Nowogrodek became a Jewish ghetto, as the Nazis took over.

The three Bielski brothers, Tuvia, Alexander Zisel "Zus", and Asael, managed to flee to the nearby forest after their parents and other family members were killed in the ghetto in December 1941. Together with 13 neighbours from the ghetto, they formed the nucleus of a an independent fighting force.

The group's commander was the older brother, Tuvia Bielski (1906–1987), a Polish Army veteran. He recruited over a thousand to join the group in the Naliboki Forest.

They lived in underground dugouts but built a kitchen, a mill, a bakery, a bathhouse, a medical clinic for sick and wounded and a quarantine hut for those who suffered from infectious diseases such as typhus. Herds of cows supplied milk. They ran small factories and even made weapons. The camp's many children went to dugout school. The camp even had its own jail and a court of law.

Religion even flourished in the camp and many of the group were Hasids or fully Orthodox Jews. These authentic Jews believe the Old Testament fully. They are identifiable today by their dress - ringlets, beards, long coats, shawls, broad-brimmed hats and so on.

Today many of them are even anti-Zionist because they believe that there can be no State of Israel until the Moshiach (the Messiah) comes.

Catholics believe the same, the only difference being that we believe the Moshiach ("the anointed") has already come and His name is Y'shua (Jesus or Joshua) meaning "Saviour" and the current "Kingdom of Israel" is the Church. Catholics are the spiritual Jews.

Jews call this "replacement theology" and disparage it but that is only to be expected and - from their point of view - quite right and proper. If they did not think so then they would cease being Jews and become Catholics. So we ought not be unduly offended by the disparagement.

The past record of the Holy See should be our guide. The popes of the past - even at periods of persecution of Jews - have always taken the Jews under their special protection. No historian dare gainsay this truth because he or she will never find any evidence to the contrary, however much they may find evidence against bad Christian kings. The Jews was never expelled from the City of Rome - ever.

No-one - Catholic or non-Catholic - can have anything but the greatest anger and indignation at the disgraceful attempt to destroy defenceless men, women and children as this film again reminds happened even in once-civilised Europe. The twin evils of Nazism and Stalinism combined to make of the 20th century the bloodiest, dirtiest and most destructive of centruies in the history of mankind. How could man behave so unless he were first possessed of a legion of devils? What an appalling legacy it has left us!

The activities of the Bielski partisans were aimed at the Nazis and collaborators in the area. They also undertook sabotage. The Nazis sent out whole formations to track them down but they fled safely to a more remote part of the forest, still offering protection to the non-combatants among their band.

The real Bielski partisans

Several attempts by Soviet partisan commanders to absorb Bielski fighters into their units were resisted, so that the Jewish partisan group retained its integrity and remained under Tuvia Bielski's command. This allowed him to continue to protect Jewish lives whilst fighting.

In the summer of 1944, when the Soviet counter-offensive began in Belarus and the Germans withdrew, the Bielski partisans, numbering 1,230 men, women and children, emerged from the forest and marched into Nowogrodek.

Asael Bielski served in the Soviet Red Army but was killed at Königsberg in 1945.

Tuvia Bielski returned to Poland, then emigrated to Palestine in 1945 but he and his brother eventually settled in the United States.

Some of the acts of vengeance they undertook, and shown in the film are plainly immoral but they come to regret them and the effect of the whole is one of the triumph of courage and dignity over evil.

It is a powerful story - as is the film - of defiance, courage, horrifying, bloody murders and eventual escape from a most hellish episode in human history.



Anonymous said...

Of course I sympathize with the Jews over the World War II situation, but I just want to say a few things regarding Judaism's relationship with Christianity and the Popes...

First of all, I think Pius V and Clement VIII among others expelled a number of Jews--and to some extent, put restrictions on the reading of the Talmud(because of its offensive material regarding Christ and Mary... possibly more).

Papal policy toward Jews not always appeared to be lenient; but at the same time, such policies were not always unjustified. Judaism was not indifferent to the Church and Christianity. In fact, it was the first hostility against it and I believe that hostility is perpetrated to this day, though not is all circles. I do acknowledge that the Popes were the greatest Catholic protectors of Jews. I emphasize Catholic because they never compromised the faith when it came to goodwill toward Jews. As of recently however, Popes have been abusing their position by artificially extending the scope of infallibility with ecumenism and to a certain extent, religious indifference.

I myself find the Jewish religion repugnant because of its rejection of the triune Godhead. A monotheism with the concept of a unitary deity always breeds odiousness. The fruits of Islam are an especially blunt example of this effect. Unitarianism and dualism, or what I see as the mixture of the two--the idea that God can equally be depicted as feminine as well as masculine--were also frequent outgrowths of medieval Jewish concepts which no doubt contributed to some of the heresies throughout the history of Christendom and much of the errors of Modernity as well.

Tribunus said...

Yes, true, but I think it is also important to distinguish between different interpretations of Judaism. Like Christianity, Judaism has many differing sects, some more extreme than others.

The Talmud undoubtedly has some very offensive things to say about Christ and Christianity - amounting pretty much to religious vilification which is now illegal in some Western states. But no-one prosecutes for this.

On the other hand, a good Jewish lawyer in Canada rececently exposed the mischief of the Canadian human rights courts by publishing the exact same letter about sodomy that a Christian Evangelical pastor published.

The Christian pastor was dragged before the human rights court and severely punished. He is forbidden to criticise sodomitical practices both publicly and even privately!

In complete contradistinction, the Jewish lawyer was told that he was entitled to his free speech rights!

So the Jewish lawyer had fully proved his point that the Canadian human rights courts are themselves abusing human rights.

A human rights system that abuses human rights!! How dumb is that??

Let's therefore make common cause with good Jews - and good Muslims, too - where we can.


Anonymous said...

Well, in as much as the three have a common interest at any given time... I myself think the state is the biggest threat anyway.

However, I don't believe in ecumenism in any of its forms. It subordinates the Catholic church to its dissenters and enemies. There will be no understanding with Muslims and Jews no matter what you do as far as ecumenism. Only charity works. Catholicism is the universal faith, its not a mere sect.

Have you been watching the news lately? Benedict XVI has just rehabilitated Lefebvre and his appointees in order to bring the SSPX back into the fold. As a result of this, he is under fire by Jews because they don't like one of them. The reason they don't like him has nothing to do with the excommunication! The Jews--for the most part--don't like the Church! They periodically try to muscle the Vatican around as if Catholicism is just another pathetic religious sect that should be subordinate to secular interests.

Tribunus said...

Well, it depends what you mean by ecumenism. If you mean watering down the Faith that is, of course, unacceptable.

But if you mean active co-operation, where possible, against the evils of the day, it is not only not wrong but a positive duty.

That does not subordinate the Church to its enemies or dissenters, at all.

It is political co-operation for the common good. It is not primarily an exercise in consensus on issues of faith or doctrine, nor even conversion. It is simply joint political action for the common good.

That IS a form of charity.

Pope Benedict is not under fire from ALL Jews, just some of the more radical ones.

I am delighted at the lifting of the excommunications but I think Williamson is a loose cannon and makes very foolish and unhelpful remarks.

Anonymous said...

I had said that if the three have common interests in a given time, then co-operation is ok. Not ecumenism however, unless it is on her terms! Ecumenism in all other forms has been corroding the Church for the past 50 years. The Church never shrunk from being charitable to ANYONE, no matter who they were... even Muslims and especially Jews.
But the Church also never shrank from fighting its enemies until 50 years ago. In the days when the church was not afraid of fighting Muslims and heretics, its adherents were more militant in their faith and therefore more charitable than they are today. The church is here to reprove and reproach as well as to keep her loving arms open... these are all charitable things.

Tribunus said...

I think most people would not define ecumenism quite as narrowly as you do.

To me co-operation IS ecumenism.

Multi-faith chit-chat may be a part of it but it is low priority. And I agree with you that charity consists in defending the Faith and reproving, as much as co-operating and approving.

Ttony said...

Any chance of your thoughts on "Josephism" in Austria?