Defiance is a movie based on a true story of two brothers who led a group of Jews attempting to stay alive while evading the Nazis. Tuvia and Zus Bielski’s village was massacred by Nazis soldiers leaving everyone for dead. However, Tuvia and Zus escaped the massacre. The brothers were young, strong, and very skilled in survival techniques. The brothers soon found other Jews who had escape from other villages. Most other Jews were not as apt at survival skills, or as strong as these two brothers. The other Jews seeking refuge were drawn to these two brothers for protection. Therefore, these brothers set up a self-sustaining village in the wilderness.
Both brothers were leaders in their own right. They each had their own way of leading and motivating people. Tuvia was considered more a man of principle; whereas, Zus was considered a man of action.
The brothers face many ethical decisions while leading more than 1,200 Jews (Zwick & Brugge, 2009). Right from the start a decision had to be made as to whether to only help themselves or help other Jews in need. Zus didn’t think they should take care of the others, but Tuvia insisted that they did. Many in the group who needed need help were women, the elderly, and children.
Zus was convinced that a larger group would mean they had less of a chance for survival. Tuvia convinced Zus that the right thing to do was to help everybody. He stressed that they could sleep a short distance away from the group and that way, if the group was discovered, they would have an alarm.
Zus struggled with the overwhelming thought of wanting to kill as many Germans as possible to avenge his family. Tuvia also wanted revenge, but believed that keeping everybody safe was more important. Zus believed that by killing the Nazis, they would save more Jews. Tuvia also struggled with an overwhelming desire for revenge against those who had killed his parents as well as the desire to help everybody survive. Therefore, when the opportunity presented itself, Tuvia killed those responsible for the murder his parents.
Later in the movie, Tuvia allowed a German to be beat to death by the rest of the community, who were acting out of revenge for the loss of their loved ones. The brothers soon found themselves in a fight over differing opinions. Zus, a man of action, took an authoritative approach in leading. However, Zus could not get past his need for revenge. He wanted to find the enemy and kill him. When present with the opportunity, he joined forces with the Russians to kill Germans (Zwick & Brugge, 2009).
Both brothers were influential leaders. Tuvia used more of a paternalistic and participative style of leadership. He did this by helping everybody in need and providing them with shelter and protection of his community. When faced with challenges, Tuvia encouraged the community to come with ideas of how best to solve the problem. There came a time when some of the group thought he was weak and started challenging his decisions. Surprisingly, he shot a member of the community who was challenging him. This was done in an effort to keep order in the community.
Of the two brothers, Zus was the muscle and Tuvia was the brains. Zus displayed bravery whenever faced with dangerous situations. This bravery provided a sense of security to the community.
Tuvia used several different styles of leadership. He would assess the situation and vary his leadership approach based on what was called for. Some of the styles he used were participative, servant, and authoritative leadership (Zwick & Brugge, 2009).
In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the basic need is safety so that is what Tuvia concentrated on first. (Pinder, 1998; Zwick & Brugge, 2009). Tuvia organized raiding party to secure water and food. He also allowed for the social need to be met by allowing for forest wives and husbands (Zwick & Brugge, 2009).
Pinder, C. C. (1998). Human Nature: Needs and Values as Motives at Work. In Work Motivation in Organizational Behavior (pp. 63-86). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.
Zwick, E. (Director), & Zwick, E., & Brugge, P. J. (Producers). (2009). Defiance [Motion picture]. USA: Paramount Vantage.