BESA: Muslims Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust
Boston, MA 02108
Albania, a European country with a Muslim majority, succeeded where other European nations failed in dealing with Nazi Germany. Almost all Jews living within Albanian borders during the German occupation – those of Albanian origin and refugees alike – were saved.
In a five-year project, Colorado-based photographer Norman Gershman set out to collect the names of righteous, non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust. He discovered that some of the names were of Albanian Muslims. He then began a quest to meet and photograph the Albanian rescuers or their descendents. During his interviews, when he asked why they had rescued Jews, the resounding response was "Besa," the code of honor deeply rooted in Albanian culture and incorporated in the faith of Albanian Muslims.
Alongside an exibit of Gershman's photographs, Johanna Neumann from the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. will speak about her family's experience. Her family was rescued and sheltered in Nazi occupied Albania. She has spoken throughout the U.S. and in Europe about her extraordinary experience. It has been documented that Albania was the only European country to boast a larger number of Jewish people after the war ended than before. It is truly a little known, yet highly inspiring, piece of history that is worthy of much greater recognition.