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Aron Bell (Bielski)


Aron Bielski was born in 1927 on a farm in Stankiewicze, Poland, a rural area outside of Novogrudok. He was the youngest of ten brothers and two sisters. When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, three of his brothers Tuvia, Asael and Zus, all of whom were more than 15 years older than Aron, lived with their own families away from the Bielski farm. But Aron remained at home on the farm, helping his parents with chores.  

In July 1941, the German army arrived in Stankiewicze and imprisoned the town’s Jews in the Novogrudok ghetto. The older Bielski Brothers refused to go into the ghetto and fled to the nearby forest, but Aron, and his  parents Belia and David, remained at the farm. Two of Aron’s other brothers, Abraham and Yankel, were not lucky enough to make  it into the freedom of the woods and were murdered in their village.  Aron’s parents, David and Bella were murdered in a mass killing there in December 1941. A monument has been erected at the site of the mass murder. 

Together the brothers formed a partisan group, composed entirely of Jews, under the leadership of the eldest, Tuvia. The Bielski Brigade saw its primary mission as saving the lives of their fellow Jews. They encouraged and helped Jews in nearby ghettos escape, and welcomed them into the unit. Aron played a tremendous role in bringing Jews from the ghetto to the Bielski’s forest encampment. His youth and agility allowed him to travel and sneak into the ghetto undetected, and his welcoming personality gave would be escapees encouragement. In his diary Tuvia Bielski wrote, “It is Aron who brings life into the community. He finds other survivors and introduces them to our district.”

With Aron’s help, the Bielski Brigade grew to more than 1,200 Jews by the end of the war. Today their descendants number more than 30,000.

After the war, Aron immigrated to Palestine, and served in the army during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. In 1954, he moved to the United States where his brothers and the rest of his family resided. He and his first wife Judith, had 3 children and 12 grandchildren. Today Aron lives in Palm Beach Florida with his wife Henryka, and he speaks to groups, educators and students regularly about his family’s story of Holocaust resistance and survival.

Aron tells his Jewish partisans story in his autobiography, Forest Scout; Reminiscences.

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