Albania honors locals who rescued Jews during the Holocaust with memorial
The Albanians protected the Jews despite Nazi German forces occupying the country.
Albania unveiled a memorial in its capital city, Tirana, on Thursday, to honor and recognize the Albanians who protected the Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
While the Holocaust killed over six million Jews, wiping out communities all over Europe, Albania was the only country where no Jews died or were handed over to the Nazis. Albanian citizens protected the few hundred Jews living in the country at the time, while also helping Jews fleeing from Germany and Austria by smuggling them abroad or hiding them at home, according to AP.
“We are the only country with more Hebrews after World War II, where the Hebrews came in search of protection and salvation,” Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said.
The memorial, placed at the entrance to Tirana’s Artificial Lake Park and close to Mother Teresa Square was built in light of the courageous efforts of Albanian’s citizens. Inscribed into the marble in Albanian, Hebrew, and English, is the sentence, “Albanians, Christians and Muslims endangered their lives to protect and save the Jews.”
The Albanians protected the Jews despite Nazi German forces occupying the country from September 1943 until November 1944, when they were pushed out by local communist partisans.
Israeli Ambassador Noah Gal Gendler highly praised Albania’s example of protecting the Jewish community during the war, AP reported.
“An excellent example from a small country which highlights the values of humanity, sacrifice and love, values which still stand as fundamental in Albania,” he said. “It would be magnificent if more nations would learn this part of Albania.”
The small Jewish community that remained in Albania after the Holocaust left the ex-communist country for Israel in 1991, just after the fall of the regime.