The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education is co-sponsoring a traveling exhibit, “BESA: Albanian Muslims Who Saved Jews During World War II, Photographs by Norman Gershman.” The exhibit features 41 photographic images with accompanying text. It was developed by the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York City.
In 2003, renowned photographer Norman Gershman embarked on a project to find and photograph Albanian nationals and refugees from neighboring countries during World War II. By 2004, after two photographic journeys to Albania and Kosovo, he had discovered roughly 150 Muslim families who had taken part in the rescue of the Jews. During the period of 1943-1945 it is believed that the people of Greater Albania saved 2,000-3,000 Jews. The Muslim religious belief Besa, or Honor, is the basis for these righteous deeds of valor. Besa, the ancient code of honor, requires an Albanian Muslim to endanger his or her own life, if necessary, to save the life of anyone seeking asylum. Besa is, to this day, the highest moral law of the region, superseding religious differences, blood feuds and tribal traditions.
Grout Museum admission: $10 for adults; $5 for veterans, active duty personnel, and children 4-13; free to museum members and children 3 and under.
Film screenings and panel discussions on rescue during the Holocaust will take place on the evenings of April 24 (Old Central Ballroom, Maucker Union), May 22 (Grout Museum) and June 12 (location TBD).