Traveling from Berlin to Warsaw and beyond, passing acre after acre of Birch tree forests, my imagination morphed forests into havens for hiding partisans. These
visual images leapt from the page (Alan Furst) and the screen (Defiance) through my eyes to outside my train window.
Eastern European forests offered a safe haven for Jews, Russians, Gypsies, political dissidents and others both fleeing and fighting the Nazi’s. These forest bound partisan resistance fighters conducted guerilla warfare, sabotage, and, military intelligence. Imagining the forest as homey and hospitable in the middle of winter is a stretch, yet forests concealed family camps living in dugouts complete with craftsmen and schools.
The most famous, the Bielski brothers camp in Belorussia numbered about 1,200 in 1944 and is the basis for the movie Defiance.
Of course it’s more complicated. Jews sometimes joined larger (more powerful?) Russian partisan groups who were often anti-Semitic.
Russians air-dropped supplies to sympathetic partisans at the end of WWII. Russian partisans turned Anti-Soviet and resisted Soviet control from 1944 – 1953.
Faye Schulman, photographer and partisan chronicled her life in the woods in ‘Pictures of Resistance’. The link: http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/37486/rare-photos-show-hidden-life-of-partisans-who-fought-nazis/
Theo, my Berlin Free Walking Tour guide (http://www.brewersberlintours.com) explained
In 2012, danger lurks outside ALL windows.
Carbon dioxide levels have declared war with our climate – and therefore us. (Or is it the other way around?) It’s a matter of time before we must all seek oxygen rich hiding places. A matter of time before we all become partisans. As modern-day partisans, it behooves us to know the number of trees on the planet, and how many we need to be safe.
29.6% of Earth is tree covered. Once, it was almost 100%. Between 1990 – 2000, 2% of trees were lost. http://www.ecology.com/2011/09/14/earth-glance/
Mr. Smarty Pants: 96 trees/person to offset our carbon balance http://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=1634
Each acre of forest provides enough oxygen for 18 people. As you can imagine, it’s difficult to count the number of trees or even acres of tress on the planet.
But I’m sure you also know people far outnumber trees on the planet. We can still breathe a sigh of relief, confident we will be suitably oxygenated. But can we hide from the facts?
Environmentalists may seem to be crying ‘wolf’ about global warming. But most European Jews didn’t believe the warnings about the Nazi’s either.
How much longer will forests provide safety? A haven to hide? Without trees, where will our species go for safety?
Resources. Wars and genocides begin over a scarcity of resources. (Blood) diamonds, oil, and land have been washed with green(backs) and red.
Wants feed needs feed power and lead to starvation. Trees are harvested, burned to make way for more lucrative ventures like grazing land. Land that will lead to starvation. Of oxygen. Because what resources REALLY are needed for life? Water. Oxygen.
Without trees where will we hide? Where will we go to be safe?
Is the human race out to destroy itself? (BBC quote from Auschwitz 2009)story.
Organizations providing safety through tree planting: