The 24 January 2010 was inaugurated at 11.00, the exhibition of the American photographer in the environments of the Jewish Museum of Bologna Norman H. Gershman , "Besa a code of honor. The Muslim Albanians who saved the Jews from the Holocaust ".
The exhibition contains a series of black and white photographs, with portraits of descendants of Albanian 63, who helped Jews during the Second World War, and who are recognized by Yad Vashem as the Righteous among the Nations .
Good participation of Albanian and Italian citizenship present at the inauguration, of art and photography lovers and of many curious interested in the subject.
The exhibition, retracing Jewish history at the turn of the Second World War with a special look at the role played by Muslim Albanians, through its precious images represents the opportunity to show the public of lovers of the art of photography and the theme historical exploration of a world full of contrasts and originality.
In fact the images have a sort of Albanian originality; the hands on the chest above the heart is a typically Albanian gesture and gives to understand the significant sign of Besa .
We observe a strong link between the image and the narrative text of each of the stories as in the case of the families of Hasan Kalaja, Hysen Marika, Lilo Xhimitiku and Taqi Simsia, Ali and Ragip Kraja, Mimi Dema etc.
The photographic shots penetrate into people highlighting their spirit through visual contact and searching for the human soul through the plastic landscape of bodily expressiveness, returned by black and white. The testimonies multiply through the indexical gesture or through the exposition of relevant traces of that past.
Each image has its own personal spirit and its own human history which through the choice of those two individual colors highlights the resolution of the historical contradiction that has characterized the Jewish and Islamic worlds.
Gershman's art is his ability to bring the subject very close to the public, offering him an exciting journey into the memory of the past. The President of the Jewish Museum of Bologna - Emilio Campos, the President of the Jewish Community of Bologna - Guido Ottolenghi, the Deputy Minister of Culture of the Republic of Albania - Suzana Turku and the Ambassador of the Republic of Albania in Italy - Llesh Kola.
Claudio Merighi - Vice Mayor of the Municipality of Bologna, Beatrice Draghetti - President of the Province of Bologna, Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli - Vice President of the Emilia Romagna Region, Paolo Zanca - Vice President of the Legislative Assembly of the Emilia Romagna Region, Renzo Gattegna - President of the Communities Italian Jews, Abd Al Adhim Yusuf Pisano - Responsible Co.
Is. Emilia Romagna, Michele Sarfatti - Director of the "Contemporary Jewish Documentation Center" Foundation in Milan.
We publish in part the intervention of the Ambassador of Albania
In his speech, Ambassador Kola, after thanking the organizers of the activity and the Jewish community in Italy for their support, underlined the importance of promoting Albanian national values as an index of a noble mission, a factor of peace and friendship between nations.
Continuing in his speech, he underlined the historical role of Albania that since the days of Scanderbeg has always brought its distinctive and deep-rooted human values to the West. “Ours is an ancient and indigenous nation with proven, known and valued qualities. We have never been invaders, we have always been invaded by others. We have always offered friendship and tolerance instead of discrimination; we worked for cooperation and chose relationships without prejudice.
We are a country where exemplary three religions live together in harmony and in age-old tolerance. It is a reality and a model from which other nations can take an example, near or far.
Albania is home to internationally known symbols, such as our national hero, Scanderbeg, known five centuries ago as a defender of Western civilization, and in our times the great missionary of charity, Mother Teresa. "The ambassador realizing that the internal guiding principle of the Albanian tradition of hospitality is addressed to others regardless of their religious and ethnic beliefs, he said: "During the Second World War Albania and the Albanians welcomed and saved all the Jews, as in a few countries in the world and in their most difficult historical phase. We welcomed them not as foreigners, but as friends, because here we only have the concept of the "guest".
We received them and gave them lodging in our homes, together with our families, because for the Albanians the house is first of all of god, then of friends and family. Every Albanian door is always open for friends and anyone who knocks receives a welcome. We have defended the Jews as a people and also before the institutions. [...]
Most of them were registered with fake documents appearing of Albanian origin. The Albanian authorities refused to hand over the Jewish lists to the Nazis. Anti-Semitic laws have not been passed in Albania, concentration camps have not been built. All the Albanians, those in Albania, those in Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece have maintained this benevolent attitude, because wherever we are, we are Albanians; all united: Albanian Muslims, Orthodox, Catholics because for the Albanians their religion is Albanian. "In conclusion, the ambassador made an appeal for a reflection:" We do not want and do not ask for medals and merits, because the we have done for the Jews, and other peoples.
Being in Italy, we can remember how many Italian soldiers, after the fascist capitulation, remained in Albania and as an Italian historian wrote, they were helped precisely by those populations they had occupied. They lived and fought along with the Albanians against the Nazis, also forming a battalion symbolically called "Antonio Gramsci", in honor of an Italian of Arbëresh origin.
What is needed and what is giving us this event today is the historical recognition and recognition of an act of hospitality and courage of the Albanian people.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that with the attitude shown towards the Jews, the Albanians showed the humanitarian force and what it can do when it reaches its maximum expression.
Rich in humanitarian sense, it is not by chance that our Earth has generated and raised the model and the world symbol of humanity, Mother Teresa. Therefore, with the modesty of the representative of a small friendly country and an Albanian of the soil of Mother Teresa, I invite you all to promote humanitarianism, values and friendship, because only thanks to them, as we Albanians love to say, there are no strongholds that cannot be conquered. "
The photo exhibition will remain open to the public until 28 January 2010, from Sunday to Thursday from 10.00 to 18.00, Friday from 10.00 to 16.00 while Saturday and during Jewish holidays will be closed.
We inform our readers that the event service will be available online in the coming days.