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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.

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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. abbydelabbey

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke

    Some Albanians chose to do something - something that saved lives.

    I did research on the Armenian Genocide, and though some may find it hard to believe there were Muslim Turks who did their best to save Christian Armenians.

    Even Jesus offered the lesson of the Good Samaritan in an age when Samaritans and Jews did not get along.

    Isn't it sad that we cannot applaud the efforts of good people without someone resorting to racist, hateful comments?

    August 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Edwin

      The Balkans region was filled with many religions and nationalities, all living side by side in relative peace for hundreds of years. Jews and Muslims and Christians were often neighbors and friends. It is not surprising that they would try to protect each other.

      Sadly, that era seems to have passed - but maybe I am just being pessimistic. I hope so.

      August 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • David Golding

      I second your statement! Hate is an awful thing, and not all people have ill will towards decent people no matter their faith! Their is good and bad.. Try to see the Good, after all this is 2012, hasn't history caused enought lives loss, hopefully we are better educated today and can see all the wrongs of history, can't we learn from our past!

      August 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • ME II

      There are relatively good and bad people in any group, regardless of religion, or lack thereof.
      Since altruism and maliciousness seem to be distributed evenly, it makes one wonder why the 'true' religion doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. Perhaps it is just the spectrum of human nature and has nothing whatsoever to with religion?

      Also, @Edwin, it is interesting that you picked the one area that is, in fact, known for it's fighting and fragmentation, hence the term balkanization.

      August 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  2. portis

    The only good Jew lives six feet under.

    August 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Edwin

      Why would you even write something like that? Even internet trolls know that *some* kinds of hate messages get you banned from sites...

      August 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Sal

      What about imprisoned for war crimes and crimes against humanity?

      August 4, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • David Golding

      It must be awful to be you, you are your own worst enemy, I do not pity you, but I dismiss you!

      August 4, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • ME II

      @portis,
      I'm sure there are many fine Jewish miners, but there are many at ground level as well.

      August 4, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Albanian

      Before Internet age every neighborhood had few Ignorant s, but, most of them were local and stayed local, today with Internet access available even the dumbest of the dumb (Chief of dummies) became Global voice over night!

      August 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  3. Jeff Seckler

    How fast is that Jew Jesus Christ? You Jew haters ,if you're believers you aint going up that's for sure.

    August 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  4. ari

    this article is completely idiotic.

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

    no, it is not. it was codified by lekë dukagjini, a CATHOLIC who fought AGAINST the invading ottoman (muslim) empire.

    "Albania is Europe’s only majority-Muslim country"

    no, it is not. bosnia?

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

    not to demean the bravery of these albanians, but don't throw every other country under the bus while you're at it. an estimated total of 1500-1800 jews sought refuge in albania over the course of the war. in contrast, a single german man–schindler–saved over 1000 personally. poland (which was essentially destroyed in the course of the war) is home to over 6000 "righteous among the nations" (who saved and sheltered jews). there were "heroes" all over europe. there just weren't enough.

    i could go through this line by line, but i won't. suffice to say this: CNN, please make your reporters fact check their work before publishing it. and stop using the holocaust for political purposes please.

    August 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • John

      You make good points. It is interesting that the most secular people were the most altruistic in helping the Jews, based on scientific research, as someone noted below.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Samantha

      I dont think they are "throwing anyone under the bus." This is just one part of WWII history that has not been told.

      August 4, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  5. Rufus T. Firefly

    It's not too hard to imagine which side of all this Portis would have been on 75 years ago.

    August 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • portis

      In your dreams bozo!

      August 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  6. Lizzy10

    Very inspiring story. It's nice to read about man's humanity to man for a change. Long live besa!

    August 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  7. portis

    Just like Helen Thomas said "Go back to Poland"

    August 4, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Peikovianyii

      Please explode in your outhouse. It has a crescent sign on the door.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  8. Henry

    Nothing will bring the bigots out like this type of article.

    August 4, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • portis

      "This group of humans is apparently so special, so great, so awesome, so incredible, so protected and possibly so powerful that a strange situation has arisen in the Western World. We non-Jewish humans can write about most any other group of humans, but we cannot write about this group called "Jews" without a creating a firestorm.

      August 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  9. Peikovianyii

    These good and ordinary Muslims are being targeted by militant Islamic police states throughout the Arab/Muslim world.

    2012.08.03 (Risalpur, Pakistan) – Mujahideen plant a bomb on a child's tricycle at a market, which rips eleven people to shreds.
    2012.08.02 (Kirkuk, Iraq) – Muslim terrorists enter a home and cut the throats of a father, mother and two daughters.
    2012.08.02 (Baghdad, Iraq) – Women are among the casualties when Sunnis bomb a market in a Shiite neighborhood.
    2012.08.01 (Lagharai Thal, Pakistan) – Religious radicals gun down a school teacher.
    2012.08.01 (Jalrez, Afghanistan) – Four civilians are kidnapped and murdered by the Taliban.
    2012.08.01 (Mogadishu, Somalia) – Six guards are taken apart by two Fedayeen suicide bombers.

    August 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Edwin

      Not to discredit your argument, but militant thugs do these things all the time, all around the world. It happens even in the United States...

      August 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  10. portis

    Most Jewish only believe in one thing. Themselves! They do not care about any other nationality other than The chosen people!

    August 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Genia

      That is the same as saying all Muslims kill people, or all Baptist are like the WEstboro Baptist.Some Christians and Jews have a good relationship because they find common ground. Maybe we all should find common ground, even some athiest want peace. Peace and love the common ground?

      August 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • David Golding

      Sir, you are the one creating the fire storm, you need to chill and stop blaming others for your malcontent with your own life.
      Respectfully,
      A Jew who is alive!

      August 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  11. Noel

    The attempted humanization of barbarians by the liberal press. I'll be waiting for the story on how Jeffry Dahmer helped kittens in need.

    August 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Ok whatever

      Nol you ignorant slu...t

      August 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Edwin

      It is so truly sad that you have been brainwashed so effectively that new information cannot be processed by your brain. I doubt my words will even make sense to you, but I will try:

      Muslims are more than just one way, just one thing. They are people, and people are complex. I would tell you to let go of your narrow mindset, but I know that is unlikely - it is far more comforting for most people (like you) to believe a narrow-minded lie than have to deal with a complicated truth.

      August 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Johan S

      Some muslims did help the Jews, sorry to burst your bubble and attempts to suppress free speech.

      August 4, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Samantha

      You are ignorant to believe that Albanians are barbarians. Which by Webster definition is
      1: of or relating to a land, culture, or people alien and usually believed to be inferior to another land, culture, or people
      2: lacking refinement, learning, or artistic or literary culture

      Which if you have ever been there, know, or have known any Albanians, You wouldn’t call them as such. Maybe some things are over your head. Maybe you should stick to the basics in life.

      August 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  12. Keksi

    This is why Jews are returning favor by giving Kosovo to Albanian even at price of war with Serbs.

    August 4, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • allynom

      Right. Because as we all know, Jews control everything.

      Albania had 200 Jews. There is no mention here of by what numbers its Jewish population increased during the ware. One has to wonder why so few Jews lived there to start with; there are good and bad people everywhere, but the article fails to convince me that Albanian Islam is much different than any other sort.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  13. portis

    What's faster than a speeding bullet? A jew with a coupon.

    August 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Manda

      Wow, a bible quote followed by a couple of racist jokes. Are you really that transparent?

      August 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Please Grow Up

      I believe the only thing that's faster than a speeding bullet is a bigot's reply to that question. Ooops, you got there first.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  14. portis

    What's the difference between a Jew and a canoe?

    A canoe tips!

    August 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Peikovianyii

      You came into your own. Or another man's. Or it was reciprocated. You're flexible.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  15. portis

    He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

    John 1:11

    August 4, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Nope!

      If you're going to quote Scriptures to prove your opinion as valid, go then and read Romans 11. Here, I'llpost it for you so you wont' claim you don't have it on reach... so you cancontinue to spew your bigotry!

      1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 3 "Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"? 4 But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. 7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. 8 Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day." 9 And David says: "Let their table become a snare and a trap, A stumbling block and a recompense to them. 10 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, And bow down their back always." 11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. 12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! 13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? 25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins." 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?" 35 "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?" 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

      Any objections to Romans ch.11?

      August 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Ok whatever

      You faith is not fact. Just because you believe does not mean it is true. You both need to get out more.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Nope!

      "You faith is not fact......"
      Well, it's like this, sweetie... so long my faith is in Someone who is the ultimate reality, my faith is substantiated! It is too bad that you're blind and can not see it, even though the evidence is all around you!

      August 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      -Nope!,

      "Romans" by Paul of Tarsus, a misogynistic, misanthropic, ranting, raving zealot and super-salesman/PR expert, with not a single shred of verified evidence for his claims of supernatural beings and events? Why would you believe that guy?

      August 4, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Nope!

      O yeah?!
      Are the derogatory ti:t:les you give him a payback for what he says about you? LOL!

      August 4, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      -Nope!

      The epitome of deflection. LOL!

      August 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Nope!

      No, rather YOUR OWN denial of seeing the reflection of yourself in Paul's writings and facing WHO YOU ARE.
      Paul wrote by the Spirit of God. And if it is by the Spirit of God, it is God who speaks!

      August 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      -Nope!,
      "Paul wrote by the Spirit of God."

      What is your verified evidence for this?

      August 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Nope!

      What is your verified evidence for this?

      THE SPIRIT OF GOD, WHO TESTIFIES OF TRUTH.

      August 4, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  16. Daniel

    Why does everyone on here have to make it a matter of politics or religion? Why can't people just look at this as a little good in a time of such evil and horror? This was a great story, despite the cruel nature of the time.

    August 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Audra

      I agree. It's sad how many people are trying to pick a fight over this.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  17. LOWELL

    I don't believe a word of this Muslim propoganda.

    August 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Manda

      Yeah, next thing you know they will claiming that the Holocaust actually happened. Your prejudice is way to fine-tuned to fall for that either, huh?

      August 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Edwin

      So... if new information conflicts with the "truth" you have already been told, then the new information is a lie? Sorry, Lowell, but you have been brainwashed... there is really no other word for it. Only powerful propaganda machines can block people so effectively to learning new things.

      If I thought there was ANYTHING I could say to help you I would... but I suspect your brainwashing is so complete that you cannot even read my words and think I am anything other than a 'lying liberal.'

      August 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  18. More Secular, More Altruism

    Religion should not be a barrier to helping people.

    Oliner and Oliner (1988) and Varese and Yaish (2000), in their studies of heroic altruism during the Holocaust, found that the more secular people were, the more likely they were to rescue and help persecuted Jews.

    From: http://www.pitzer.edu/academics/faculty/zuckerman/Zuckerman_on_Atheism.pdf

    August 4, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Alicia Townes

      That goes to show that there was some kindness in the world.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  19. fritz

    It's irritating not knowing anything about these kinds of Muslims. Whenever I think of Muslims I see in my mind gangs of white robed ranting street protesters foaming at the mouth at western media or a gang of black hooded crazies beheading western men on video or Muslim families sucking off the welfare of western countries while murdering their children over cultural differences or beheading or burning little girls with acid or cutting off their noses when they get too uppity or wanting to learn and understand the world. But Muslims protecting Jews? Their mortal enemies? That seems crazy! What kinds of Muslims are these? What is this 'besa' thing? I'm already googling everything I can about Albania.

    August 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • ME II

      Are you paid to write slander/hate masquerading as concerned interest or does it just come naturally?

      August 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Guest

      Imagine if somebody were trying to judge americans according to what they read in the media: unpunished child molestation for years, mass shootings even now and then, male soldiers raping female soldiers, a mother killing her kids for no apparent reason (couple months ago in florida), an american soldier killing women and children in Afghanistan and the list goes on. Fortunately, everyday life is the US isn't like this. You can imagine that everyday life for muslims is different from what is described in the media.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Edwin

      The reason you never knew about these particular muslims is that Albanian has not been a media darling. But the better question is this: why do you actually believe that the people you see on TV - the ones "claiming" to represent Islam - really represent it? The news only shows the ones that will generate controversy and therefore readership... normal, quiet people - decent people - don't make the news.

      Decent christians don't make the news, either - which is why many atheists in big cities have such bad opinions of them. Likewise, American on TV don't make great news all the time... that is why Pakistanis hate us: they only know what they see on TV, and their TV shows them that we are filled with hate. They never stop to think that there might also be DECENT Americans. Like you, they see the TV and think that is what everyone is like.

      August 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  20. Rainer Braendlein

    There was an event in Munich/Bavaria where Hitler lived shortly after WWI which was very similar to the French Revolution. After the lost WWI godless communists or bolshewists which also had same Jewish leaders tried to take over rule in Germany in a very cruel way. Center of that communist movement was Munich. Possibly when Hitler became eyewitness of that awful events, he became an Anti-Semite. The communists wanted to found a Soviet republic in Germany.

    Hitler was a Darwinist.

    What was the reason of the Holocaust? Only Hitler's ill delusion?

    I guess that the Holocaust has something to do with the French Revolution, when the godless mob took over rule 1789-1799 in France. Up to this terrible event Europe had been the Christian Occident (today some moronic politicians still say that Europe would still be the Christian Occident, but that is a nonsense). Up to the French Revolution Europe was quite Christian, whereby, of course, the pope had caused some serious distortion of true Christianity. Every now and again Jews were persecuted, but not in the way like the Nazis did it. The French Revolution infected also Germany and workers began to revolt. The point is that by the French Revolution a process of destruction of the Christian heritage of Europe began. This prepared the soil for Nationalsocialism and Holocaust.

    Some demands of the workers were okay, but the great mistake of the labor movement was its godlessness which was outrageous regarding the history of the Christian Occident. Hence, a lot of established Germans resisted that movement and a long lasting struggle emerged which actually lasts up today. The issue is that the demands of the workers are justified, but their political impact always causes damage and destruction of the economy.

    Intellectual Jews were leaders and founders of the labor movement of the 19th century. In the same century Jews, also ordinary Jews, had got great relief by the conservative German state. They were allowed to built big synagogues, had own newspapers, could become politicans, soldiers, scientists, artists, writers, merchants, bankers, etc.. In the end of the 19th century a German Jew had the same rights like a native German, and they even called themselves Germans of Jewish faith.

    German Jews fighted for Germany in the First World War which was a showdown of the European nations. It was very bad, but not as bad as the Second World War. Both wars cannot be compared with each other.

    Now comes the decisive point. Even during the First World War the labor movement promoted great strikes of German industrial workers. The conservative German Establishment and military certainly perceived that as betrayal and the stab-in the back legend was born. It is a legend, because probably Germany had lost the war even without strikes.

    Hitler's logic was simple: Jews were responsible for the destructive labor movement, the labar movement was responsible for the defeat of the WWI by promoting strikes, hence the Jews were the misfortune of Germany.

    Hence, the Holocaust was simply a revenge of Hitler and some Germans which he had seduced for the defeat of the WWI.

    Of course, there was a second problem that many German Jews had easy jobs which caused the envy of the Germans. But that alone had not caused the Holocaust. The decisive virus was the stab-in-the-back legend, made-up by the conservative Germany military (Ludendorff, Hindenburgh) and pronounced by the Mouth Hitler.

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    August 4, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Hitler was Catholic

      According to his faith Hitler was saved and is in heaven. He may have believed Darwin's work on evolution was true, as many Catholics do, but he was still a Catholic.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • John

      Your spamming of this post FOUR times on the second page of comments is not very Christian.
      People know how to scroll down.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • truth be told

      Hitler was a catholic like most Europeans are catholic, in birth only. Hitler lived his adult life as an avowed atheist, committed his crimes as an atheist and died by suicide as an atheist.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Hitler was Catholic

      It is baseless speculation from Christians that claim he was an atheist.

      In Mein Kampf and public speeches Hitler made many statements that affirmed his belief in Christianity. He actively promoted the Positive Christianity movement and has never made any statements in support of atheism.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Nope!

      @truth be told
      Hitler also dabbled heavily in occult. No Christian dabbles in occult, otherwise he's lying to himself that he's a christian!

      August 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • mklsgl

      Evidently, you didn't study European History in college, and nothing in your comment has anything to do with the Albanian Muslims. Next time, try a bit harder to focus on the actual issue instead of anti-Semitic ranting.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Hitler was Catholic

      @Nope, do you consider Isaac Newton to have been Christian? He was heavily involved in occult studies and wrote about it extensively, but Christians love to claim him as one of their own.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Hitler was Catholic

      @Rainer, Hitler was obviously Christian, as he affirmed this over and over in many public statements and in his book. In private conversations he made both positive and negative comments about Christianity. People like Rainer and Truth Be Told ignore all the public support Hitler gave to Christianity, ignore all the private positive comments he made, and hone in on only the private negative comments.

      As if Christians never make negative comments about their religion and only a "devout atheist" would ever say anything negative about religion.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Carole Clarke

      The division between religion and secularism began long before the French Revolution. When Henry II of England squared off against his former friend Thomas Becket, whom he made Archbishop of Canterbury, stating a cleric who committed a secular crime would be tried by secular courts, Becket went against him saying the monk would be tried by a religious panel. That was the first break in Europe – Henry VIII squared off aganst the effect of the Lollards and later Lutherans and proclaimed himself the head of the English church, cementing the revolution into reformation. The reasoning of these two strong kings was personal but the outcome was public and massive, reaching far beyond their times. Albania was Christian until the Turks invaded and forcibly converted everyone, including what was Yugoslavia. Each region Islam conquered resulted in different versions of the original, mostly dictated by tribal and community customs. Albania adhered to its own code of honor where Christian Europe, the Americas, etc looked the other way. They were righteous men and should be honored.

      August 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Nope!

      HWAC, I believe that you are a liar who takes anything he can use and twists it – to suit his own agenda!

      August 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
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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.