November 14, 2006 2:48pm CST
Back Cover of the book: Ils n'étaient pas frères et pourtant... Albanie 1943-1944 or They were not brothers and yet... Albania 1943-1944 Shalom (original title) by Neshat Tozaj Le hasard veut que se rencontrent deux enfants albanais, l’un juif l’autre pas. Sazan et Solomon se lient d’amitié et découvrent les richesses de l’un et de l’autre. Puis vient la guerre et l’occupation nazie, la famille de Solomon est immédiatement cachée et protégée. C’est ainsi que par ce récit inspiré de faits authentiques l’on apprend qu’aucun Albanais juif ou réfugié ne fut déporté pendant la seconde guerre mondiale dans ce pays. Certains protecteurs particulièrement humains et courageux sont même allés jusqu’à sacrifier leur vie pour sauver ce qu’ils avaient accueillis. Pour eux c’était une question d’honneur. Ce livre passionnant et émouvant écrit dans un style limpide et poétique, malgré l’horreur des évènements, nous permet d’aborder une Albanie méconnue. Neshat Tozaj est né à Vlora en Albanie le 1er janvier 1943. Ecrivain, journaliste, juriste et directeur de la société Albautor (protection des droits d’auteur), Neshat Tozaj est au premier rang de ceux qui défendent les droits de l’homme et met son talent au service de son pays et de son devenir. —— -Few testimonies of Ladies and Gentlemen who found refuge in Albania under the nazi occupation: “Farewell, Albania, I thought. You have given me so much hospitality, refuge, friends, and adventure. Farewell, Albania. One day I will tell the world how brave, fearless, strong, and faithful your sons are; how death and the devil can’t frighten them. If necessary, I’ll tell how they protected a refugee and wouldn’t allow her to be harmed even if it meant losing their lives. The gates of your small country remained open, Albania. Your authorities closed their eyes, when necessary, to give poor, persecuted people another chance to survive the most horrible of all wars. Albania, we survived the siege because of your humanity. We thank you.” Irene Grunbaum. —— ...”There is a small country in the heartland of Europe called Albania where I was fortunately born, where hospitality to foreigners is part of their tradition. During the Second World War, not only did the Albanians save all the Jews who were living among them but they dared to share their homes, their food and their lives with them. Albania has its share of Oscar Shindlers, and, indeed, so many that we could never have thanked each glorious one of them. Let us be reminded that not one - not one - of the Jews living in Albania, or those who sought refuge there were turned over to the fascists - all found a safe haven at great danger to their protectors.”... Dr. Anna Kohen. —— “All Israelis that came from Albania were saved thanks to the generous sentiments of the Albanian people that considered it as a moral duty to protect in their own houses every persecuted emigrant... The marvelous and noble attitude of the Albanian people needs to be known because they deserve the world’s and every cultured man’s thankfulness… Even the poor peasants, not only received Jews in their homes, but also shared with them their last piece of bread.’ Another Jew, Nisim Bahar that got saved from the hands of the Nazis that wanted to execute him in Fier, wrote to his sister in law, Zhulia Kantozi: ‘I am in Ohrid I have climbed a hill on the lakeside and I see Pogradec. How I missed that country! If I could have wings to fly, I would come to kiss that holy Albanian land that saved my life.” Samuel Mandili (1945) —— ...”Albania was one of the only European countries that did not turn over a single Jew to the Germans. There simply were no deportations from Albania. My parents and I, along with many other German and Austrian families, found refuge in Albania and were hidden by Albanians during the German occupation of that country. In 1941, when Germany occupied Yugoslavia, hundreds of Yugoslavian Jews were able to escape to the safety of Albania because the Albanian government opened the border at Kosovo and let as many Jews into the country as were able to escape from the pursuing German army. It is a documented fact that the German general in Belgrade knew the names of all those who had escaped across the border and demanded their return within 48 hours. The Albanian government, instead of turning over even a single Jew, dispersed them in villages and on farms, gave them Albanian names and documents and then reported back to the German general in Belgrade: “We know no Jews. We know only Albanians.” ...Albanians, whether Muslim or Christian, are the most hospitable, generous and kind human beings. It should be emphasized that this was not just an act of their customary, known hospitality, this was an act of personal courage. They simply placed their belief in the necessity to help those in need above their and their family’s safety. Johanna J. Neumann, Silver Spring, MD —— ELEMENTS OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY PROTECTED IN ALBANIA DURING THE NAZI OCCUPATION TO FOLLOW... -----
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