The Albanian Contribution to Saving the Jews

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In her speech commemorating the holocaust, the Chairperson of the Albanian Parliament, Josefina Topalli spoke about the benevolent hospitality and generosity of the Albanians, as the two most prominent moral values, of our nation, which helped to save the Jews from the fatal persecution of the Nazis during the II World War.

Rescue in Albania“Albania was the one occupied country that evaded the Nazi persecution of Jews and had the unique survival rate of 100%. It was the only occupied country to have a larger Jewish population after the Second World War than before.” writes Harvey Sarner in his book “Rescue in Albania”.

More exerts from the same book:

“Throughout their long history Albanians have desired and promoted peace and cooperation among all peoples. They have welcomed foreign visitors to their shores in a spirit of friendship. And, when Jewish refugees found their way to Albania, often fleeing for their lives, the Albanian people gave them shelter and protection.”

“Under fascist rule in Albania, as in other occupied countries during World War II, the Nazi authorities maintained strict surveillance over the Jewish population, registering both natives and new arrivals, and then herding them into camps. In Albania, Jews were removed from Durres and Vlora, because these towns were strategic transportation links, and while the Nazis tried to deport all Jews not of Albanian citizenship, the Albanian people helped them escape concentration camps by taking them into their homes, giving them food and shelter, and hiding them.”

“At first, individual Albanians saved Jews on their own initiative. Later, when it became more dangerous, the task was organized by National Liberation Councils in the towns and villages. There were cases where Jewish families, in great danger of discovery, were moved from family to family and village to village, from town to country and back again. Sometimes Jewish families traveled with false passports given to them by Albanians. Often Jews were disguised as Albanian peasants and covertly relocated. In the process, many Albanians were arrested and shot to death for their heroic activities.”