Albania's only Jewish history museum reopened on Sunday 29 September in Berat, thanks to a businessman who saved him from the risk of closure.
The small Solomon Museum, which tells the story of how the Albanians protected hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust, was the passionate project of a local professor, Simon Vrusho.
Vrusho opened the museum in the 2018 and financed it with his pension and small donations left in a box near the entrance.
When the 75enne died in February of this year, the future of the museum entered into limbo.
After reading a report by the AFP (Agence France-Presse) on his uncertain fate (video / news in Italian), the Franco-Albanian businessman Gazmend Toska decided to finance the museum and move it to a larger building in the city, where dozens of people gathered on Sunday for its opening. And at the reopening ceremony there were the same Toska but also Christina Vasak, Ambassador of France in Albania.
Vrusho, himself an Orthodox Christian, spent years collecting documents, photos and memories that testified to a Jewish community that first arrived in Berat in the 16th century from Spain.
At the center of the exhibition are stories of Albanian Muslims and Christians who have hidden Jews in their homes during the Holocaust, a chapter in history that has only recently become widely known.
Thanks to the silent acts of courage of these people, Albania was the only territory occupied by the Nazis whose Jewish population increased during the Second World War, from several hundred before the conflict to over 2.000 later.
History is a growing source of pride in Albania, where the government organizes annual events on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day and has an exhibition dedicated to the National Museum of Tirana.
But the Vrusho museum was the only autonomous center, in all of south-eastern Europe, dedicated to Jewish extermination.
This museum is "A tree of memory watered by the love of all those who have contributed to its survival"said the widow of Vrusho, Angjelina, 65 years, who will be the Director of the museum.
At the ceremony, historian Yzedim Hima stated that this small museum has a special message to convey: "Not the atrocities of a war, but the love of people for others".