Zman Magazine interviewed Aron Bielski, the last-surviving member of the famed Jewish partisan brothers who fought the Nazis and saved more Jews than Oskar Schindler. The following is an excerpt from this month’s cover story.
…It was evidently far from easy for Aron to open up and share his wartime experiences with us. It was as if he was reliving the horrific suffering of those terrible times all over again. His face told the story of the turmoil he went through as he described what the Nazis did to him, his family, and the Jewish nation.
But when Aron began speaking about his father, the words caught in his throat. He literally choked on the tears and could not bring the words out of his mouth.
It is not difficult to imagine what it meant for a young boy, not yet bar mitzvah, to witness his father being tormented for weeks on end. His tender heart could barely survive the pain, a pain that no child in the world should have to bear.
Aron Bielski was forced to watch as a Belarus policeman, a man who had known the family for many years, grabbed his elderly father, who was walking with the aid of a cane, and slammed him into a wall. The police officer delivered blow after barbarous blow to the elderly R’ Dovid, beating him with the butt of his rifle and breaking several of his bones as his son Aron watched in terror. His father curled up in agony, tried desperately not to scream from pain in a pathetic attempt to spare his already traumatized son.
As Aron recalled this scene, he was visibly shaken. He had to excuse himself and step outside. It was a while before he was able to collect himself and resume our interview. He apologized and confessed, “Until recently I didn’t even have the relief of tears. I wanted to cry but I just couldn’t. My brothers and I lived in New York and we got together frequently, but we rarely discussed the war. We never spoke about those times; it was simply too painful.”