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Documentary seeks to explain why Albanians saved Jews in Holocaust
Norman Gershman and Stu Huck discuss a portrait in a documentary about Albanians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
August 3rd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Documentary seeks to explain why Albanians saved Jews in Holocaust

By Laura Koran, CNN

(CNN) - How many people would lay down their lives for a stranger?

It’s the question at the center of the new documentary “Besa: The Promise,” which premiered last weekend at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

The filmmakers’ answer: “Albanians would.”

During one of humanity’s darkest chapters, when millions of Jews, gays, communists and racial minorities were rounded up across Europe, many Albanians put up a fight to save complete strangers.

They risked their lives to shelter displaced Jewish families under Italian, and later German, occupation during the Holocaust. Many in the small, predominantly Muslim country in southeastern Europe took refugees into their homes despite the risks and the cost, passing their guests off as family members to keep them safe.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

At the core of this effort was a concept called “besa,” an Albanian code of honor that holds a person’s oath as sacred.

Under besa, a guest in one’s home must be protected at all cost. The code is uniquely Albanian and is cited in the new film as the main reason that Albanians opened their borders and their homes to displaced Jews when many others in Europe turned them away.

The code is fueled in part by the tenets of Islam under which saving a life is a blessed act.

Until recently, this chapter of history remained relatively unknown, hidden by the decades of isolation that Albania fell under following World War II.

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“Besa: The Promise,” which will be shown in different parts of the country in coming weeks, tells the story of Albanian rescues by focusing on the overlapping journeys of two very different men.

The first is Norman Gershman, a Jewish-American photographer who for the last decade has photographed many of the Albanian Muslims who joined the effort to shelter Jews. He has traveled to Albania to meet with them or their surviving family members, documenting their  tales of heroism.

The film’s second protagonist is an Albanian shopkeeper named Rexhep Hoxha, who was born after World War II but has struggled for decades to fulfill an oath that his now-deceased father swore in the 1940s.

Rexhep Hoxha holds one of the Hebrew prayer books left behind by the Jewish family his Muslim father rescued in Albania during the Holocaust.

Hoxha’s parents sheltered a Jewish family during the Holocaust. When members of that family fled to Israel, they left behind a set of religious books, which the Hoxhas promised would be returned to them one day.

But Hoxha never saw them again.

Lost to history

Albania is Europe’s only majority-Muslim country, and its Jewish population before the war was about 200 people.

To some, those facts may make it even more surprising that Albania succeeded where the rest of Europe failed.

According to Yad Vashem, the Israeli museum that holds the world’s largest repository of documents and information related to the Holocaust, there is not a single known case of a Jew being turned over to Nazi authorities in Albania during its occupation.

Incredibly, Albania’s Jewish population actually grew during World War II.

The reason so little is known about Albania’s unique role during the Holocaust has a lot to do with the country’s post-war history. Once the war was over, Albania fell under communist control and spent the next half-century behind the Iron Curtain.

Families who risked everything to save lives in the 1940s are only now getting recognized for their contributions.

'The documentary gods'

Rachel Goslins, who directed the documentary, is as familiar as anyone with the history of the war.

In her first short film, “Onderduiken,” she recounted her family’s ordeal hiding from the Nazis in the Netherlands. Yet Goslins said she was “gobsmacked” when she first heard about Gershman’s discoveries in Albania.

 “It just seemed like such an important piece of history,” Goslins said. She was even more amazed when she and her crew came across Hoxha.

Hoxha’s quest to return the books that were placed under his father’s protection brings the story of what happened decades ago into recent times, illustrating how the principles of besa have endured.

When she heard about Hoxha’s mission, Goslins said she thought that “the documentary gods have dropped a gift in your path.”

The film takes Goslins and her crew from Albania to Israel, charting Hoxha’s commitment to a promise he inherited from his father and his fear of passing it on to his son. Until he finds the family that his parents' sheltered during the war, he continues to carry a burden.

'We did nothing special. It’s besa!'

For some in Albania, the recognition they’re starting to receive for their Holocaust heroics has come as a surprise. The concept of sacrifice is so deeply rooted in Albanian culture that many do not understand why they are considered unique.

Time and time again, when Gershman visited the families of Albanians who had sheltered Jews during the Holocaust, he found people who were quick to downplay the significance of that act.

Gershman recalls how one man, whose parents had been involved in the effort to save Jews, said to him, “So what? Anyone in Albania would have done the same thing. We did nothing special. It’s besa!”

The concept stipulates that a person must put his guest’s safety above that of himself and his family. One Albanian man told Gershman, “I’d sooner have my son killed than break my besa.”

Gershman said, “Anyone in need, if they knock on your door, you have an absolute obligation to save them, to take care of them, irrespective of if they’re friends, enemies, whatever."

The lessons of besa

The makers of “Besa: The Promise” said they see the film as a lesson in interfaith cooperation. “Seeing Muslims as heroes, and seeing them as heroes to Jews, is not a particularly common story in our world,” Goslins said.

That’s something she said she hopes she can change.

It’s a message that has become a mission for Gershman, whose collection of photographs from Albania has been exhibited around the world and who has published a book called “Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II.”

Gershman takes the stories he heard in Albania to middle and high schools in the United States. He said he hopes to introduce the concept of besa to a new generation, thousands of miles from Albania.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture & Science • Holocaust • Islam • Judaism • Movies

soundoff (512 Responses)
  1. voodkokk

    How about a story about the Christians that saved the Jews and Muslims?

    August 4, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Cinders

      I take it you've never read "The Diary of Anne Frank?" lol Dude, you are SO pathetic and lost in your religious propaganda. Btw, why don't you read "Neighbors" about the Polish Christians in a village that herded all the Jews of their town into a barn and set it ablaze so the incoming Nazis wouldn't bother the town because it showed they took care of the "problem" themselves?

      August 4, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Guest

      I am muslim and I can tell you that in the early days of Islam, many muslims flew from the Arab peninsula to Ethiopia which was a Christian country to escape prosecution by their own people who weren't muslims. The king of Ethiopia treated them extremely well and protected them. Actually, in Coran, it is said that christians are the closest and the kindest to muslims. Now, when I read all the hate that some here in CNN leave about muslims, I just feel sad.

      August 4, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      They had planes in the 7th century, did they?

      August 4, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Guest

      I meant "fled", no there were no planes then

      August 4, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Frank

      Name ONE single nation in the history of mankind that has lived peacefully alongside a population of Muslims that were 50% of the population. NAME ONE!

      Bottom line is that every single country in the world throughout the history of ISLAM has been "ENSLAVED" by ISLAM and Muslims because the majority of Muslims are commanded to do so in the Koran. IT IS THEIR DUTY to spread ISLAM and consume all other religions. We can see this by looking back at History and clearly seeing they attack, take over and setup Shariah Law in every single nation that they get a 40% or more slice of the population.

      Do you want to sit back and let them grow and FIND OUT if they are going to start a civil war in America like they have just done and have done over the centuries in the middle east? We must be insane to think they are going to live peacefully next to infidels when their GOD and Koran clearly state THEY CANNOT and if they do they will go to he11. They are FORBIDDED TO! Yeah, there are a handful of Muslims who disagree and claim they are peaceful but the true Muslims who follow the Koran and the Koran says they are supposed to, those will take your country, your life and your freedom consider those Muslims "Apostates" or infidels as well. These so called moderates won’t be able to help stop the other Muslims carrying out Allah’s commands in the Koran and we will lose our freedom, our nation and our lives if we dont stop ISLAM from growing in the West. Its just a matter of time.

      BAN ISLAM FROM THE WEST or we will all look like the middle east. Which we all know is literally He11 on earth.

      August 5, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • Randall

      Frank: How about Albania? You are a dolt.

      August 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  2. JM

    How completely and totally wonderful. That is love.

    How beautiful.

    August 4, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  3. Danny

    There will always be good people in the world from whatever race, faith, location, etc. Thank goodness for that. And unfortunately there has always been bad ones as well. IT is the battle of good and evil, of dark and light, of yin and yang. It goes on externally and sometimes even within. Those with a strong faith in what is right and good and decent will always prevail. The creator has mad it so.

    August 4, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  4. Jubril

    Its just so surprising how people are quick to judge islam because of Sept 11, I a muslim from a christian family would not be in a religion that calls for us to attack folks of other religion, we share in christianity and jewish beliefs but a lot of people just hear the word Islam and think its evil, get to know about the religion before you judge, Muslims fought for france during World war 2 and they were not french nationals

    August 4, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • JM

      Amen, brother.

      People are people. There are good people and there are wicked people: in every culture and religion.

      God bless us, one and all.

      August 4, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Frank

      Quick to Judge? Let 1400 years of HISTORY of HORROR from ISLAM be the judge! THE FACTS! Not these sob stories. Go to bare naked Islam and see all the love and peace in ISLAM if you want to see the other 99.9% of ISLAM

      This is a farce. One good story for every million dead bodies Islam produces EVERY YEAR! YEAR AFTER YEAR!

      August 5, 2012 at 6:53 am |
  5. RickBangkok

    This post is totally off topic.

    Israel with the USA helping, has made a mess of relations with Palestine. Each time I read of mass Israeli action against the peope of Palestine, it is a page right out of the Nazi/Stalinist play book.

    This was a lovely story of peace and tolerance. I admire these Muslims. I know Muslims in other countries who are also very God loving and peace loving.

    You cannot make an entire people terrorists. That is just wrong of you.

    August 4, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Frank

      Name ONE single nation in the history of mankind that has lived peacefully alongside a population of Muslims that were 50% of the population. NAME ONE!

      Bott om line is that every single country in the world throughout the history of ISLAM has been "ENSLAVED" by ISLAM and Muslims because the majority of Muslims are commanded to do so in the Koran. IT IS THEIR DUTY to spread ISLAM and consume all other religions. We can see this by looking back at History and clearly seeing they attack, take over and setup Shariah Law in every single nation that they get a 40% or more slice of the population.

      Do you want to sit back and let them grow and FIND OUT if they are going to start a civil war in America like they have just done and have done over the centuries in the middle east? We must be insane to think they are going to live peacefully next to infidels when their GOD and Koran clearly state THEY CANNOT and if they do they will go to he11. They are FORBIDDED TO! Yeah, there are a handful of Muslims who disagree and claim they are peaceful but the true Muslims who follow the Koran and the Koran says they are supposed to, those will take your country, your life and your freedom consider those Muslims "Apostates" or infidels as well. These so called moderates won’t be able to help stop the other Muslims carrying out Allah’s commands in the Koran and we will lose our freedom, our nation and our lives if we dont stop ISLAM from growing in the West. Its just a matter of time.

      BAN ISLAM FROM THE WEST or we will all look like the middle east. Which we all know is literally He11 on earth.

      August 5, 2012 at 6:54 am |
  6. Jim Hirschman

    SANJAY, It is not a myth. I visited a camp. DACHAU, where my friend was interred, 1942-1945.. It was there and he knew death, and the many atrocities. Also told me of the RUssian soldiers in the camp next door and how they were starved to death, there in Bavaria.. It is not a myth.
    Get real. White, black, red or yellow, or EAst Indian.. The holocost
    happened. Only in your dreams "it didn't".

    August 4, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Epinoia

      At the start of WW2, Germany was importing 75% of her food. As you can imagine, that food supply quickly dried up once the war began. When you are in a situation like that, and you have to decide whether to feed your troops or criminals, which do you think gets the full allotment of daily calories? Which do you think gets the full allotment of medicine? And why do you think the USA or any other country would do it any differently if placed in the same situation?

      August 4, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  7. tapaDingDong

    besa is not unique .. this is known in the middle east for centuries ... guests are protected no matter what ... ask about the palestinians whom offered a safe heaven to jews prior to 1947 .. the guest became the owner ...

    August 4, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Albanian

      Besa has full meaning only in Albanian language!
      Explain it, why is not unique Besa and what connect it with Islam? ( You can find good deeds in every Nation, Religion,culture, but there is ONLY one Albanian BESA and it has nothing to do with Islam, since it pre-dates Islamization of Albania for many Centuries )

      August 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  8. chazzz

    Thank You for your contribution to Humanity...

    August 4, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  9. PATRIOT

    let's also not forget that IRAN EMBASSY IN BERLIN created 2000 fake passport for the jews and claimed them as iranian citizens and therefore saving many lives.

    August 4, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  10. cyg

    Not an honor code – it's called a survival code. Nazi's wanted everyone dead – when you fall under the category of "everyone that isn't Nazi" you tend to join forces to survive. Unfortunately no one joined forces to understand human nature when it comes to it's own survival.

    August 4, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  11. Spartacus

    In the wake of the miraculous 'Six Days War' of June 1967, the State of Israel handed over control of the Holiest Jewish Religious Site of the Holy Temple Mount Compound to the 'Wakf', the Muslim Religious Council and Trust in an unprecedented act of goodwill and tolerance for the sake of peace and harmony. What did Israel achieve and gain in exchange ? Absolutely nothing. The Muslims continue to defy, desecrate and defile the Holy Temple Mount Compound in Jerusalem by playing soccer, holding picnics and even throwing stones there. They also treat Jews with utter contempt and disrespect and will always regard the Jews with hatred. If past and present events on the Holy Temple Mount Compound are an indication, the Jewish State of Israel has received a massive kick in the teeth !!!! When is this outrage going to end ????

    Not until the rest of the world wakes up to the true nature of the Palestinian people and other such radical Muslims and the rest of the World Wide Muslim population which does 100% of nothing and says 100% of nothing about it..the fact that all of these people including every single Muslim on earth, having no historical what so ever to any of the land that makes up Israel not one square inch of it.

    In fact, there is not even one word...not one mention at all in the entire Koran of Jereusalem and no indication that it was ever even visited by any Muslim until almost a full 1000 years after the Jews were settled their. At which time all Muslims who did make the pilgrimage prayed to Mecca while there facing a completely opposite direction.

    Mohammed, the sacred Prophet of Islam Never spent 1 second ever their. He died without ever visiting...ever. This is Fact !!!

    It will also take a resounding effort by European governments as well as the Government of the United States to whipes out the completely uneducated and miss-placed racism against Jews that festers all over the United States and In France...these 2 places in particular.

    3/4's and probably more at least of this world has this issue completely backwards just based on the facts of the conflict alone.

    3/4's of this world regarding this issue is living in Complete and Utter denial...and as a result, right now the World has set itself up and with the American Presidents in action and cowardice continues to set itself up for a very rude awakening.

    Israel has had enough !!!

    Iran is now Marked and let me tell you this, if the world thinks Israel is going to allow Iran to keep doing what it is doing while America's Leaders play their pointless brain dead games with this issue, it is in for one heck of a rude awakening!

    Enough is Enough, the record needs to be set straight and directly int he Minds of Americans and until your President finds the courage of his convictions, which has been no where to be seen for the past 4 years...and starts to do his Job properly, the Path America is on right now will lead no where but the weakening of American Influence abroad.

    August 4, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Israel is the most oppressive, horrible nation on the planet, with the possible exception of North Korea.

      August 4, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • RickBangkok

      This post is totally off topic.

      Israel with the USA helping, has made a mess of relations with Palestine. Each time I read of mass Israeli action against the peope of Palestine, it is a page right out of the Nazi/Stalinist play book.

      This was a lovely story of peace and tolerance. I admire these Muslims. I know Muslims in other countries who are also very God loving and peace loving.

      You cannot make an entire people terrorists. That is just wrong of you.

      August 4, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Glh1

      So your response to a beautiful story of Muslims putting their lives and honor on the line to protect Jews is to blather hateful tripe about Muslims? Unbelievable.

      August 4, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • more informed than you

      "In fact, there is not even one word...not one mention at all in the entire Koran of Jereusalem and no indication that it was ever even visited by any Muslim until almost a full 1000 years after the Jews were settled their. At which time all Muslims who did make the pilgrimage prayed to Mecca while there facing a completely opposite direction."

      Wow, but typical, you lack a few things clearly: You do not know the Arabic language. You have never really read the Quran, and you lack knowledge of Jewish history. The Jews lost the holy land LONG before the advent of Islam. The Jews lost the holy land in the Jewish-Roman wars. After the Bar Kokhba revolt the Jews were dispersed, and Jersualem was rebuilt as a pagan center and the territory was renamed as Syria Palestina. In addition, Jews were forbidden to enter Jerusalem on the pain of death. Therefore, please stop leading people astray with your lack of historical insight into the Middle East, and go read some books.

      August 4, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Aminah

      On a smaller scale and more discreetly, Israeli Zionists in the Israeli government are doing to the Palestinians in the Holy Land what the German's did to the Jews in WWII. You've got your "facts" wrong "Spartacus." Only a Zionist would write his opinion in the way did, and try to distort history. "Jerusalem" is and English term that is not mentioned in the Qur'an because the Qur'an is in Arabic. If you read and understand the Qur'an in Arabic, you'll find that the reference of the "Far Holy Place of Prayer" around which is the Blessed Region" "Holy Land", and geographical place where Muhammad has proven that he visited in his night journey where he met with God/ Allah, Moses, and other prophets of God/Allah as God/Allah asked Muhammad and Muslims to begin praying five-times a day. It is Israeli Zionists who today call for "Jerusalem" to be an exclusively Jewish city by making life too difficult for Palestinian Muslims and Chirstians to survive there and trying to make them leave by outrageous taxes and ill treatment of Israel's own Muslim and Christian Arab citizens, that's aside from the Israeli treatment of Palestinian Arabs in the Occupied West Bank. Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived peacefully together without any issues or problems before "The English Brits" occupied the Holy Land in the early 20th century in order to set-up the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and they succeeded against the helpless unarmed Palestinian civilians and already bought Arab governments. It is Israeli Zionists who always desecrate the Al-Aqsa Mosque / "The Far Holy Place of Prayer." Please recall A. Sharon's walk inside the grounds on the Muslim Holy Mosque for the sole reason to cause mayhem and well aware that Muslim Palestinians would respond, and they did with the second Intifadah against the Israeli occupation. Israeli Zionists falsely claim that their Temple is the same compound as the Muslim "Far Holy Place of Prayer," and that's why they, with the help of Israeli government support, and against the will of Muslim Palestinians, excavate underneath The Compound to try and find any traces of The Alleged Temple. To this day, they still can't find any traces of Jewish temples there. But, they continue to defy these facts through force, aggression and bullying. Israeli Zionists must stop distorting history when it comes to the Holy Land and the Palestinians.
      It's sad that Spartacus chose to make his comment and attempt to project his false claims in this article. But, someone has to respond accordingly. Sorry to the rest of the readers.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Nope!

      @Spartacus
      AMEN!

      August 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Nope!

      "Israel is the most oppressive, horrible nation on the planet, with the possible exception of North Korea."

      Well, well! Here is displayed a true demonstration of real, genuine ignorance! LOL!

      August 4, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Frank

      Glh1
      So your response to a beautiful story of Muslims putting their lives and honor on the line to protect Jews is to blather hateful tripe about Muslims? Unbelievable.

      _______________________________

      Sounds like Taqkiya to me. The only GOOD story about Muslims I ever read. Lets focus on the ongoing daily Genocide of Jews, Christians and infidels WORLD WIDE and the honor ki11ings we are all starting to read about every day in the news. LETS FOCUS ON THE REALITY OF ISLAM! Not sob stories of the past!

      August 5, 2012 at 7:00 am |
  12. jamessavik

    Albanians are basically criminals. If they help anybody, they are working an angle.

    August 4, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Albanians are not criminals but hardworking people.

      Albanians are not criminals but hardworking people.

      August 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Din

      hahah..that's not true and you know it.. maybe you are little serbian dog :D, that wanna present albanians as a criminal people.

      August 6, 2012 at 4:24 am |
  13. Bardh

    BG -I feel sorry for YOU!

    August 4, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  14. Bardh

    It's soo hard to be ALBANIAN!
    It's soo good to be ALBANIAN!
    Even GOD is an ALBANIAN!

    August 4, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  15. BG

    Looks like CNN is taking some "journalistic liberties" once again.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Between 1941 and 1944, nearly 600 Jews from Greater Albania were sent to their deaths in various concentration camps around Europe. It is for this reason that many historians disagree over the role of Albanians in the Holocaust. While Albanians may have attempted to rescue the Jews in Albania proper, the government was aware of the roundup and deportation of Jews from the Kosovo region.

    After 1944, the Italians and Germans agreed to place much of the Yugoslavian territory under the authority of Albania. Many Jews from Serbia, Greece, and Croatia fled to this territory. On December 29, 1944, Tirana was liberated from German occupation.

    Throughout Albania’s communist period under the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha, the Jewish community was isolated from the Jewish world. All religion was strictly banned from the country. The Jewish population numbered between 200-300 citizens. After the fall of Communism, in 1991, nearly all the Jews of Albania were airlifted to Israel and settled predominately in Tel Aviv.

    Today, only ten Jews remain in Albania, most in the capital, Tirana. Where there was once an active Jewish community, today, there exists very little organized communal life. An Albania-Israel Friendship Society is active in Tirana, but with little assistance. One synagogue remains in Vloré, but is no longer in use.

    Albania-Israel Friendship Society
    Rruga Barriskatave, 226 Tirana
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Ah, Albania. Friend to the Jews...

    *crickets*

    August 4, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • The Last Ten Albanian Jews

      Shhh !! Don't draw any more attention to us – thanks.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • The Last Ten Albanian Jews

      There weren't 6 million fake jews alive during that time, never mind that they all lived in Germany. But, the Germans had to pay through the nose so the fake jews could create their nation of Israel because all the other countries through these Khazar's out.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • The Last Ten Albanian Jews

      Another Muslim perspective. Great. Just what we needed. (Psst.. say, Menachem, you'd better cue up the crickets again.)

      August 4, 2012 at 2:03 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      I wonder what the difference is between a human Jew, and an human.Albainian.. got to love that religion BS..loves to separate us and then slaughter for an alien...but it is good to know that god what ever she is is merciful...

      August 4, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • BG

      "I wonder what the difference is between a human Jew, and an human.Albainian [sic]"
      One of those groups has learned to live surrounded by an enemy who is sworn to kill them, and the other group just kills Jews.

      "... got to love that religion BS..loves to separate us and then slaughter for an alien..."
      So what are you, a Jew or a Muslim? Or are you just including yourself as part of the universal brotherhood of man? If that's the case, you might want to reconsider that militant atheist hobby of yours and take up stained glass instead.

      "... but it is good to know that god what ever she is is merciful..."
      *sigh* Gaia. I love the solstice. No, Evolved. Pick a side, either God is or god isn't. First we have to tolerate your butchered English, now we're being subjected to your schizophrenia? Please. Enough already.

      August 4, 2012 at 3:44 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      It's no surprise Israeli Jews are surrounded by people who want to kill them, seeing as they are occupying Palestinian land. Also, I've met several Albanians, none of whom seemed to be either Jew killers or wannabe Jew killers.

      August 4, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • Albania

      BG-Thanks for setting the record straight on the facts. Fantastic post!

      August 4, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      BG..Militant atheist.. hilarious...am I a Jew or Muslim luckily I am of no religious persuasion and yes I am like you.. part of humanity..Stained glass.. well ok I could sell it to those who put up the edifices to the aliens they love..
      What is your recipe for peace between the religions...I see none..

      August 4, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Stu Huck

      BG,
      You seem to try to mask yourself as part of the Albanian-Israeli Friendship Association. You are not part of that wonderful organization without whom, Mr. Gershman and I would never have been able to do this project.
      In Albania, no Jews were given up to the holocaust. None.
      Kosovo was part of Yugoslavia during the war. Thousands of Jews from Yugoslavia were given up to the holocaust. In Kosovo, however, many ethnic Albanians extended their Besa to Jews to save them. Part of our book, Besa – Muslims Who Saved Jews In World War II, tells the story of Kosovar Albanians who saved Jews.
      The important thing to me is to ask, "What would I do if I was faced with this situation?" In Albania, there was only one answer.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • BG

      @ Stu Huck

      I'm going on the presumption that you are indeed one of the authors of this book. If you're an imposter, fine. I'll play along anyway.

      First of all, the information I presented was cut and pasted, verbatim, from the following site:www..jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/albania.html. This site was prepared by the Jewish Virtual Library, a division of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. I purposely bracketed and listed the the author of the excerpt in an effort to avoid plagiarism. I never stated nor intimated any affiliated with the Albania-Israel Friendship Society.

      After you've had the opportunity to review this page, please tell me if the information is ether correct or misstated.

      August 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @BG

      Hey there, BG... Hope all is well.

      Thanks again for stopping by my blog and sayin' hi !

      BTW- If your original post above turns out to be accurate... well done.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      August 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • andy

      Yes there were Jews rounded uup in the Kosovo region but since you fallow history you will find out that the Kosavo region back then was occupied and under the rule of serbian invadors. There was not a government in albania from 7 april of 1939 when Italy occupied Albania until 1944 when the nazis left. and for your information history knows very well about these acts your history may not mention it but the real history the one written by historians they know about it they know very well about it.

      August 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • BG

      @ Peace

      Back at 'cha.

      Hey, this is turning out to be a -very- interesting little propaganda issue. It seems I've just scratched the surface. Stu Huck is a photographer out in Aspen who's been hosting a jazz show on NPR... hmm. Go to his facebook page and he lists his favorite "news" buddies as Maddow, Colbert and Stewart. So, we've got a left-leaning photographer who's making a substantial name for himself in the MSM (and tons of Muslim publications !!) by defending Muslims who -allegedly- pulled a 'Schindler's List' in Albania during WWII. Wait a minute....this goes back to 2010. Why's it just now coming to the public's attention? Maybe because of a failed film, Les Hommes Libre, (starring Michael Lonsdale... evil James Bond villain in Moonraker !!) that attempted to ply the same propaganda, unsuccessfully, about a mosque in Paris -allegedly- sheltering Jews during WWII.

      http://jewishrefugees.blogspot.com/2012/03/do-wartime-tales-of-arabs-rescuing-jews.html

      *** from the website (so I don't confuse Mr. Huck into thinking that I wrote it...)

      *** "Les Hommes Libres, it seems, is part of a trend to whitewash Arab sympathy for, and collaboration with, Nazism. Gilbert Achcar, a Lebanese academic, in his book The Arabs and the Holocaust, has made strenuous efforts to downplay the alliance of the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem with Adolph Hitler. Interfaith groups hold up Muslim Albania as a model of behaviour: The country ended the war with more Jews than it started with, although it only had 200 Jews anyway. On the other hand, thousands of Bosnian Muslims were recruited into SS Divisions in Yugoslavia, and committed unspeakable atrocities."

      Curiously, when some folks tried to confirm the -alleged- events portrayed in the film, they couldn't. Here's a GREAT treatise on Les Hommes Libre... http://journals.pennpress.org/PennPress/journals/jqr/JQRnewArticle.pdf

      Well, if they couldn't sell this Muslim-protector scenario in Paris, I guess it's time to move the story. To Albania. Where it's even more difficult to substantiate it, or separate the wheat from the chaff (who's lying..come on..tell us the truth..)

      I put this entire schtick down to propaganda advanced by a publicity-hound photographer and extreme left wing Jews who are willing to praise Muslims while reading their morning Hareetz leftist newspapers.

      Of course... I could be wrong. But it isn't likely.

      August 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • BG

      Well, sure. It's Haaretz.

      August 4, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • BG

      It's a really good rag.

      http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/for-some-young-visitors-holocaust-exhibit-on-righteous-muslims-calls-up-thoughts-of-gaza-1.269007

      *** from the website ( I didn't write it, Stu)

      *** the Arab high school girls visiting the show, which opened Tuesday in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, wanted to talk to journalists only about the harm that came to innocent people in Gaza. Amira Abu-Ganem, a 10th grader, who admitted knowing little about the Holocaust, said, "I learned that Muslims helped Jews without getting anything in return, but now it's hard for me because of what happened in Gaza. I can't forget Gaza even here," she said. Her friend, Hendi, said, "Just like Hitler put you in the dark, we have also now entered the dark and it's a heartache." Their principal, Ribhi Samra, said: "The exhibit is especially important at this time. Today, people always talk about Muslims as terrorists; here is an example of humane Muslims."

      😆

      August 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      BG....others....
      Thanks guys, for really telling it as it was and as it is!

      August 5, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • BG

      @ Stu Huck

      Well, it's been 12 hours... Did you read the information from, as you put it, "... that wonderful organization without whom, Mr. Gershman and I would never have been able to do this project." ?

      Just curious.

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      It's always a pleasure to talk with the authors of these little CNN stories. Some day Prothero might even make an appearance.

      August 5, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • Frank

      Right. More facts no one these days wants to hear.

      August 5, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  16. billdeacons

    Once again, we see that the stereotype of religious people does not encompass the reality.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • .

      This joker is another liar for the atheists to dangle their carrots in front of his face to say anything. The Albanians have been coming in droves to America for the last 20 years.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      As an atheist, I can honestly say that I've only ever dangled my carrot in front of the faces of w.hores.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Sanjay

      Jews have created this holocaust myth as weapon to humiliate and exact tribute from White peoples.

      And Whites are such gullible zombies, they rush to worship at the alter of holohaux.

      White kids are filled with guilt about their peoples, their history and their heritage, in schools, in media, on TV with all these lies.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I'll agree that Jews, particularly Israeli Jews, use the Holocaust to justify some pretty horrific things, but you can't deny that it happened unless you are an idiot.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Roger

      An atheist doesn't know the meaning of telling the truth. They follow the ultimate liar and that's all they know is lies. As a matter of fact, I heard the atheists got the gold medal in lying except you couldn't fly over to England for it, that country is sick of you too.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • mongo

      mongo no like lies told by lying atheist who lie. lying atheist who lie is lying. mongo smart.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Roger

      There is no such thing as j-ews anymore. The tribe of Benjamin that didn't become corrupted became Christians over the years. Only fake j-ews pretend they are j-ews.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Answer

      The day a religious nut bag comes out and tells the truth then his god will come for him/her.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Roger=TROLL

      August 4, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • mongo

      mongo no like fake jew. roger know everything. roger smart like mongo.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Roger

      Fake j-ews take money to get what they want. They got money to make Israel a nation again, paid for by the German Christians. There is no tribe of Benjamin living in Israel. Why do you think there is a war going on?

      August 4, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • mongo

      fake jew make roger and mongo mad.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Roger

      Rational bs doesn't like having his bs exposed. You atheists have always been the trolls throughout history.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • mongo

      roger say "am not, you are!" roger smart.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Please point out any BS.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Roger

      You believe that you fakers will be gods.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • mongo

      mongo realizing roger has deep issues.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Mmmm, no we don't. I believe I'll die and be worm food, although part of me hopes that there will be some sort of survival of consciousness after death, although I severely doubt such a thing will occur.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Wait just a minute. I don't have to die before I'm worm food. I'm worm food every day. I'm worm food as I type these lies.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Thanks for the flattery.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Roger. an atheist is simply someone who does not believe in the gods that have been invented,, you say they lie.. but that is just a knee jerk reaction to being asked for proof of you assertions.. religion is dangerous and divisive...Unless you can prove your god i could claim you lie..

      August 4, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Shhh Evolved, your pointing out the glaring hypocrisy in most Christians' reasoning.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      "Fake j-ews take money to get what they want. They got money to make Israel a nation again..."
      It is not Jews that made Israel nation again, it is God Almighty who has done it. And no one thwarts His plan, neither does He need anyone's help. Although He may use some unworthy pieces of clay to accomplish His purposes!

      August 5, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • Frank

      The Holocaust happened. My father was a Lt Colonel in the Air Force, flew 20+ missions over Germany in a B-26 Marauder. He walked through the streets of Germany and told me all about it. I have pictures from his scrapbook that showed the piles and piles of dead starved bodies, skin and bone from the Nazi concentration camps. Muslims will do or say anything to spread ISLAM. If you read the Koran, it clearly states its ultimate goal is WORLD DOMINATION at any cost! 70% of the Koran is nothing but what to do with NON MUSLIMS, how to treat us. Not about love and peace! Snap out of it America, Europe, Australia, Canada. If you dont, you can kiss your countries and your freedom goodbye because ISLAM is coming after it as it has been for 15 centuries!

      Dont believe it? Then plan on handing over your FREEDOM!

      August 5, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  17. Xhulieta Ismaili

    Another factor that helps explain Albanian tradition, is the fact that for a while now, we have co-existed as people/a nation with different religious believes i.e. there's religious tolerance and mutual respect. We have no history of persecuting others just because of their religion, or any other difference. Tolerance is part of who we are, and I dislike the fact that the recent war with Serbia, sometimes was described (by those who do not understand or do not want to understand) as a war fueled by religious differences and not nationalism, as it was in reality.
    Here's a link in relation to this article http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/besa/introduction.asp

    August 3, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    August 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • adopted USA

      Brainwashed Children usually believe in fairy tales. Adult believing in fairy tale is dangerous for humanity.

      August 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  19. Xhulieta Ismaili

    Thank you so much, for making this chapter of our history known to the rest of the World. It pains me sometimes to see others unfairly label my people as dishonest, and potentially dangerous.
    Please keep up the good work, and spreading the truth.

    August 3, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  20. Rational Libertarian

    If only Jews and Muslims could behave in such an honorable manner towards each other today, then maybe the Middle East wouldn't be such a cluster f.uck.

    August 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • .

      If only atheists and Muslims did what?

      August 3, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Make sense please.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Roger

      Rational is a liar and a bully.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Proof please.

      August 4, 2012 at 12:57 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.