Defiance (A MUST See) (afew spoilers included******)
What an absolutely amazing Film! I loved every second of it, and there is so much I have to say about it. The plot of the film charts two Jewish Brothers, and what they do in the forrest after 1941 when the Germans begin to round up the rural Jews of the eastern bloc.
I think the best way to talk about this is to show the difference between the two Brothers as they face certain circumstances. Also we should analyse the ethical principles raised by each circumstance.
Our tale begins when the two Brothers are reunited at their home after the Germans have moved through their village, plundering, kidnapping, and killing their parents. The Brothers leave their family farm and dissapear into the Forrest. This is where they encounter their first Problem
You Are Not Alone
Imagine the scene. You have just lost your families, and your livelyhoods, you are a refugee and someone is out to get you. So you hide in the woods. Then you discover that you are not the only survivor, infact, there are many survivors, and that is the problem. You are strong, they are weak, women, children, injured. If you are Tuvia, you recognise that you have a responsibility to help these other people. You recognise that they are Jewish too and deserve to live free just as you do. Out of your compassion you feel unable to leave them, and yet you are faced with a quandary. The larger the group, the more difficult it is to hide, the more noise it creates and the slower it moves. These are not good things to be lacking if you are being hunted by Germans. There is another problem. What do you do with these people? there is no shelter, and no food, and getting food is risky. The Tuvian response would appear to be, worry about the food situation later, for now, gather up the people and promise them protection.
Zus, the other Brother has different ideas. He recongises that this is a battle in which mistakes cost lives. He recognises also that this German threat is not going away, and perhaps it would be beneficial to not only maintain defences, but also to attack.
The Brothers aggree to create a gathering, but have very different ideas of what the community is going to be. For Tuvia it is about Freedom through hiding, and safety through moving. For Zus it is about Freedom through defence, and safety by attack. Essentially, a Militia.
Compassion for your brethren which is the situation above is something that we should consider because automatically in a wartime situation you think of the cameraderie in the armed forces. But this is not a group of soldiers who have chosen to fight a war. It is a group of civilians who are being exterminated, forced together. What should their priorities be? To fight, is that a show of defiance...or is merely living a show of defiance. The latter does not need anything more then defensive force in worst case scenarios. The Jewish would ethnically learn to the former. GOD is their strength and they have always been hard up. But GOD uses armies to kill Jews as often as he uses Jews to defeat armies. These Jews do not think of GOD, it doesnt come into their questioning, and thus...what they are to do is a difficult decision to be objective about.
Just Following Orders
One thing the brothers agree on, as stated clearly in their Scriptures. Vengance, in a like for like manner. Whilst Zus leads his little crusade around local German haunts burning and vandalizing, Tuvia positively executes the man incharge of the killing of his rural area.
The problem is, that the guy responsible is not German, but a local police man. One assumes that the Germans were everywhere and did it all themselves during the war, but this is not True. The Germans put substantial pressures on the local existing law enforcement services to comply with a Nazi style judiciary. This put the local police in a difficult situation.
Hand over the Jews and risk a Jewish retaliation, disobey the Germans and get smushed by your new superiors. Where is that line? Where is someone, as a middle man, responsible for what he does if he has no choice, or rather, the choice involves his life being at stake? How much to blame is that local policeman who was just doing his job? did he deserve to be executed? The Christian Answer is very simple, and unfortunate for the Middleman, and probably the target aswell. You refuse to do what is morally wrong, and face the consequences in the hope the target survives, even though you know that after you are gone, your superiors will simply track the target themselves. This is how the resistance and sympathizers came about. Those who walked a fine line of trying to save themselves, whilst doing as little to appease the superiors, and as much as possible to save the target.
Mercy Breeds Traitors
There was a need for supplies. The Brothers did not aggree on how to go about this. Tuvia was of the mind that the Jews had to be perceived as being Human rather then animals, that way they would earn themselves resistance. This meant that forcebly taking provisions from the local farms had to be done with the owners in mind. Only take what was in the farmers ability to give. Take too much and you'll end the farmer in trouble with the Germans, take too little and you starve.
Zus belived that the means justified the ends. In order to survive the band would have to steal and rob. They would also have to come into no contact with the Farmers, or else it would be a need to kill the farmer, lest he give away their place in the forrest.
Tuvia was incharge and so he won this ideological battle, and as predicted by Zus he was betrayed by a farmer, and the first settlement had to be abandoned when it was attacked by the local police, led by the farmer under the banner of the Germanic Forces.
Making a Difference
What use is surviving if it doesnt change the threat? Zus left the camp in the capable hands of Tuvia when news reached the camp that the Germans were planning of liquidizing a local Ghetto of Jews in a nearby town. Tuvia couldnt let this happen and planned on putting his energy into saving those in the town. Ever tried hiding or feeding a town?? For Zus it was the last straw. Collecting people was adding to the trouble and saving them from what? in his mind it was simply extending their hell and suffering...perhaps they would be better left and dying in the camp swiftly, then starving and freezing in the forrest. Zus left to join a Red Malitia sponcered by Russia.
Commanding the Army
Then winter came. Thousands of mouths to feed, and no resources. To make matters worse Tuvia was struck down with disease. Whilst he recovered the Communistic order of the Camp began to split. The Community was begining to be too large to be governed under a far left principle. A social elite appeared. These were the men who had trained to fight in the case of defence and also to hunt the forrest for extra food. Their Elite nature came when they decided that an equal amount of food at the table was not good enough for their risky job. As the providers they felt more should go to them, naturally, excess began to take effect. A table full of luxury for the strong men...and a portion of bread for the women and children. When Tuvia failed to keep tabs on this situation, there was talk by the leaders of those incharge of hunting, that perhaps the commander was weak, perhaps he needed help, perhaps he should be releaved of duty, perhaps they should run things.
The only way to re-assert authority was for Tuvia to execute the leaders incharge for insubordination and on the grounds of an attempted coup. From that moment on Tuvia shifted from the left, towards the right. Suddenly it dawned on him that one could not keep such a position, if one expected everything to be nice and all people to live in harmoney. Harmony doesnt just happen, at some level it must be enforced
At the same time Zus suddenly swung to the left. The Red Army was pulling out of the forrest on hearing of a German offensive against the Jews. Zus felt like he was Brothers both to the Russians, but also to the Jews, and was distressed when he realized that the Reds planned on leaving the Jews to be massicred by the Germans in order to preserve themselves.
The Myth of Redemptive Violence
The Jews were warned of the German Offensive when the caught a German patrol officer alive. The man was left in the village and the senior officers turned their backs and just watched. The Victims suddenly morphed into the Bullies. You see it in Modern Day Palestine. The Jews Round up the Arabs like they were oncer Rounded up, they push them into Ghettos like the Germans did to them... The camp descended on the German Officer and beat him to death.
For a Jew, this is perfectly acceptable. For a Christian it is not. Christians have Christs promise of Judgement that stops the need for them to carry out immediate retribution. Two Wrongs do not make a right.
The Act Of Faith
The Brothers are reunited and work together when the German Offensive takes off, and the planes begin to bomb the second settlement. The Jews are forced out of the forrest and into the swamp, behind them are Germans, and when they exit the Swamp...infront of them are Germans, with tanks.
They have no option but to stand and fight. Tuvia has finally faced his Brothers mentality. He must now fight, there can be no running and hiding. But the Germans are overwhelmed when Zus apears with a unit of the Red Army. Zus to has faced his brothers mentality, and he showed compassion in returning to support his true Brothers, against his earlier mindset of looking out for self, he finally risks his life for others.
The Jews return to build a third settlement in the Forrest. By the time the war is over, both Brothers are still alive, and the Group numbers MORE then Twelve Hundred Civilians
That is a True Story