Return to Novogrudok Home Page
Return to Novogrudok Stories Menu
Novogrudok Stories
Irving Resnik

Irving Resnik

Novogrudok, Resnik

Stephenville - The Oscar-nominated film "Defiance" has a Stephenville

Irving Resnik, former Stephenville resident and businessman, who grew
a chain of 15 Irving stores across Newfoundland, fought beside the
Bielski brothers back in Belarus - the same brothers of which the film
is centred.

A drama/war film, "Defiance" is based on three Jewish brothers who
escape from Nazi-occupied Poland into the Belarussian forest, where
they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavour to build a village
in order to protect themselves and others in danger.

Irving's son Gary Resnik said his father's family of a very young
sister, two brothers and both his parents were killed by the Nazis
when they invaded the home area of Novogrudek, Belarus.

He said this wasn't something his dad talked about much, however, some
members of his family and some employees would hear tidbits of it.

Facts in a museum in Belarus states the Bielski base - that Resnik
became a resident of - had developed into a little town deep in the
dense Naliboki forest with a bakery, a salami-maker, shoe workshops,
tailoring and engineering workshops and a tannery.
Partisans from across the region came there to repair their guns,
shoes and uniforms, and exchange flour for bread and cows for salami.

In the forest the Jewish partisans had another enemy - the White Poles.

Their slogan was "Poland without Jews and Communists," and they killed
many Jews who managed to escape from the ghettos.

The Bielski group reportedly took an active part in fighting the enemy
and, in committing various acts of sabotage, which included blowing up
bridges and cutting down telegraph posts.

During a period of six months in 1944, the Bielski fighters stopped
the German trains for 51 hours, which proved to be a great

Connecting to Newfoundland

Leo and Molly Kaplow, owners of Model Shoe Store in Stephenville,
brought Irving and Ruth Resnik to Stephenville from a refugee camp for
displaced persons in Belarus after the end of Second World War.

Ruth Resnik, who was originally a Kaplow, was the niece of the
Kaplows, but she had another uncle, Ernie Kaplow, who had a store in
Corner Brook.

After settling in Stephenville, Irving Resnik wasn't long before he
opened his business called Irving Store, carrying a line of men and
women's clothing, and later developed into his chain of Irving Stores
across the province.

Gary said his kids and grandchildren would not be alive today if not
for the Bielski bothers featured in "Defiance."

He said a highlight for his father was when Tuvia Bielski came to
Stephenville, and attended his brother Allie's bar mitzvah.

"That was one of the greatest pleasures my father had; that they had
lived to celebrate that day," he said.

In the movie, Daniel Craig plays Tuvia Bielski, Liev Schreiber
portrays Zus Bielski, Jamie Bell plays of Asael Bielski and George
MacKay plays Aron Bielski.

Gary Resnik said there were likely a lot of people in Stephenville who
knew his father that might be interested in seeing this film, despite
when his father was alive he never liked to talk much about that part
of his life.

Gary, Allie and their sister Elaine Pecker all grew up and went to
school in Stephenville, while their younger brother Brahm grew up in

Brahm is a newscaster for an NBC Channel in Phoenix, Ariz., while Gary
is in New York City where he works as a professional clown. Elaine
lives in Montreal and Allie resides in Connecticut.

Irving Resnik died April 13, 2000. He was buried in Montreal.