Jews, Nazis, and Albanian Muslims

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peaceWe are all familiar with the stories of ‘righteous gentiles’, the many noble and courageous Christians who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives, helping to save European Jews from the Holocaust. But here is a story you might not know: During the Nazi occupation, entire Muslim villages in the small country of Albania sheltered Jews. During the previous years, as German Jews scrambled to get visas to escape the coming nightmare, country after country turned them away. Even the United States had a “quota” for Jews, and turned away thousands. But the Albanian Embassy granted visas without question.

There was no concept of “stranger” in Albanian culture. For the Muslims of Albania, a “Foreigner” was a “Guest”, and they were treated with the same hospitality as the three angels who visited Abraham.

The Albanian Prime Minister, Mehdi Frasheri, even issued a secret order to his fellow Muslims, defying the Nazi occupiers, that read: “All Jewish children will sleep with your children, all will eat the same food, all will live as one family.”