Israeli and European historians gathered in Albania this Tuesday to learn more about how the land of the eagles saved its small Jewish population during the Holocaust.
"The heroic salvation of the Jews in Albania is quite exceptional", said Mordechai Arbell of the World Jewish Congress, adding that "The Jews were saved in Albania for almost 2000 years. The special harmony between religious communities in this country must be an example for the world ”.
According to official data, Jews residing in Albania or coming from other Balkan countries hidden by Albanian families during World War II were about 1200.
The conference organizers stated that the aim of the event was to gather information on how Albania became a paradise for persecuted Jews, a historical fact that received little international attention because Albania remained isolated for decades under the communist regime.
Albanian Jews were the only Jewish community in Europe whose numbers grew even under German occupation, said Dan Michman, professor of Modern Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
Instead, after the collapse of communism, most of the approximately 300 Jews who lived in Albania emigrated to the United States and Israel.
The two-day conference was opened by the Albanian Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, who during his speech did not spare criticism of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Ahmadinejad's comments defending the Holocaust must be denounced".
"It is an appeal against xenophobia and intolerance," concluded Berisha.
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