In Praise Of Muslims Poem by Paul Hartal

In Praise Of Muslims

A small country on the shores of the Adriatic Sea,
neighboring Greece and the former Yugoslavia,
Albania has a majority Muslim population.
During the Second World War the country
was occupied by Italian and Germans armies.

Nearly half of the small Jewish community
in Pristina of the Albanian Kosovo region
in Serbia perished in the Holocaust.
On the other hand, thousands of Jews
sought and found refuge in Albania.
In many cases Albanians treated well
the Jewish refugees and sheltered them
in remote mountain villages.
More than once, the Albanian authorities
even provided them with false identity papers.

This shielding and caring attitude has been attributed
to the ancient tradition of besa, a code of honor
in Albanian culture to provide shelter and safe passage
to people who need help and protection.
The Holocaust Memorial and Research Center
Yad Vashem in Jerusalem recognized
75 Albanian citizens as Righteous Among the Nations
for aiding Jews in their hour of need in the Holocaust.

Mordechai Lazar and eighteen members of his family
in April 1941 fled from Yugoslavia to Albania
to escape the Nazi atrocities. They found a hiding place
in 1943 in Shengjerg, an isolated village
of the Tirana district. Two kind Albanians, Destan Balla
and Lime Balla, offered the Lazar family shelter
in their small house. The Lazar clan survived the war
and immigrated to Israel. In 1992 Yad Vashem awarded
to Destan and Lime Balla the title
Righteous Among the Nations.

Another Righteous Among the Nations, Nuro Hoxha
was a respected teacher in the Albanian village Terbac.
In 1943 Ilia Solomon, a Jewish friend,
asked Hoxha's help to hide from the Germans.
Hoxha opened the door of his house and sheltered
Ilia and Sarika Solomon, along with the couple's baby Mirela.
However, in 1944 Albanian Nazi collaborators
arrested Ilia. Hoxha confronted them. He threatened
them that, in accordance of the besa custom,
the village would take revenge on the collaborators
and their families if Ilia was not released. Two days later
Ilia was again a free man.
Nuro Hoxha helped the Solomon family
to survive the Holocaust without any monitary gain
and renumeration.

True History
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