An Albanian Muslim citizen will be honored for protecting and saving the Jews during the Holocaust at a specially dedicated event in Poland next November 14.
The 93enne Xhemal Veseli is among the few Muslim rescuers alive today and will travel to Poland together with former Albanian foreign minister Edmond Panariti. The two will participate in the November 14 in Warsaw at the event entitled "An evening for the righteous", an evening for the just.
"In the incredibly fragmented and aggressive world we live in today, religion unfortunately often divides us. However, testimonies such as that of Xhemal unite us as Jews and Muslims. " - says the event organizer, Jonny Daniels.
In addition to Xhemal, other Jewish rescuers from Poland and Belarus will participate in the event, as well as officials from the United States, Denmark and Israel. Xhemal Veseli and his late brother Hamid saved two Jewish families from occupation in Albania in the 1943.
Xhemal, then 17enne, walked with members of Jewish families for 36 hours to his family home in Kruja, according to the memorial and museum of the Holocaust 'Yad Vashem' in Israel. The same museum recognized the two brothers as "Righteous Among The Nations" in the 2004.
"Four times we Albanians have opened our doors. First to the Greeks during the famine of the First World War, to the Italian soldiers blocked in our country after their surrender to the Allies, then to the Jews during the German occupation and finally to the Albanian refugees from Kosovo fleeing from the Serbs. Only the Jews showed their gratitude. ”- the two brothers told in the 2004.
Jews in Albania during the Holocaust
When the Second World War began, the Jewish community in Albania had about 200 members. The Albanian institutions refused in every way to deliver the names of the Jews present in the territory, when this request was made by the German occupiers.
Not only that, but in spite of the racial laws imposed, many Albanian citizens offered false identities to the Jews to be Albanian. Most were hidden in homes and private homes, mostly disguised as Albanian peasants.
The Albanians who lived in Kosovo and Macedonia helped bring Jews from the areas where they resided in Albania, which became for them one of the safest places in Europe. It is estimated that at the end of the World War there were around 2.000 Jews in the country, although exact figures were never found. Albania thus became the only country in Europe where no Jew was killed for the racial laws. On the contrary, their number had increased tenfold, due to the massacre that had taken place in the rest of the continent.