Top Jewish partisan, war hero, dies at 83

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Bielski was born in the tiny village of Stankiewicze, near Novogrudok. The area was assigned to Poland in 1921, reannexed by the Soviet Union in 1939 and invaded by the Germans in 1941, The New York Times reported.

When the Nazis took over the village, Bielski and his brothers Eshahol and Aaron reportedly hid in the surrounding woods, founding the brigade upon hearing of relatives killed by the Germans.

During the war, the Bielskis, now joined by another brother, Tuvia, and 300 fighters, fought the Nazis, stealing German weapons, ambushing German patrols, derailing troop trains and blowing up bridges and electric stations.

Alexander Bielski met Sonia Boldo, who would become his wife, while carrying out resistance activity.

Unlike other resistance groups, the Bielski Brigade rescued women and children, hiding them in villages and assuring their safety by telling villagers that if even one Jew was given up to the Germans, the entire village would be burned, The New York Times said.

Some 10,000 people reportedly are alive today who would have died or never been born if it were not for the brigade.

In 1956, Bielski moved from Israel to New York, where he operated a taxi fleet and trucking company.