This exhibition is based on 12 large photographs taken by Norman Gershman, and the outstanding rescue stories of Muslim-Albanian families who saved Jews and were recognised as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. The photographs reveal the rescuers’ humanity as well as the unique ethnic identity of the Albanian population today.
Albania, a small and mountainous country on the southeast coast of the Balkan peninsula, was home to a population of 803,000. Of those only two hundred were Jews. After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, many Jews found refuge in Albania. No accurate figures exist regarding their number; however, different sources estimate that 600-1,800 Jewish refugees entered that country from Germany, Austria, Serbia, Greece and Yugoslavia, in the hope to continue on to the Land of Israel or other places of refuge.
Besa: A Code of Honor – Muslim Albanians who Rescued Jews during the Holocaust is about the Righteous Among the Nations – non-Jews who risked their lives saving Jews during the Holocaust. It is comprised of portraits and text about Muslim families in Albania who saved Jews during the Holocaust, converging between two seemingly opposed worlds. Prior to World War II, some 200 Jews lived in Albania. In 1943, the Albanian population refused to comply with Nazis’ orders to turn over lists of Jews residing in Albania. The remarkable assistance afforded to the Jews was grounded in Besa, a code of honor. Besa means literally “to keep the promise.” One who acts according to Besa is someone who keeps his word, someone to whom one can trust one’s life and the lives of one’s family. Impressively, there were more Jews in Albania at the end of the war than beforehand. This very human story, told through these sensitive portraits combines to highlight a little-known, but a remarkable aspect of the Holocaust.
This exhibition consists of 16 Panels. Each panel is approximately 800 mm x 1200 mm