Charlotte exhibit shows how Albanians sheltered their neighbors from the Nazis
By Michael J. Solender
Like freshly discovered treasures on a receding shoreline at low tide, once buried stories of personal courage are resurfacing in a photographic exhibit in Charlotte, 70 years after the acts of kindness occurred.
Stunning black-and-white imagery is accompanied by descriptive text highlighting stories of Albanians, acting on their conscience. The exhibit is part of the Violins of Hope programming coordinated by the UNC Charlotte’s College of Arts & Architecture.
The actions by the people of the small, predominately Muslim, Eastern European country of Albania are just beginning to be known and understood outside the mountainous nation on the Baltic peninsula.
The exhibit features more than a dozen stories and photographs depicting Albanians who sheltered and hid Jews, in accordance with the Muslim teachings of Besa, or moral code of honor. One who acts in accordance with Besa is someone who keeps his word, someone to whom one can trust one’s life and the lives of one’s family. ……………
Albania had a pre-war population of around 803,000, including about 200 Jewish families. After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, many Jews found refuge in Albania. Sources estimate that as many as 2,000 Jewish refugees entered the country. Following the 1943 occupation, the Albanians refused to turn over lists of Jews, instead providing sanctuary and safekeeping to their “guests.”……….
Humble acts of courage
“I learned that there were many others beyond those officially recognized,” said Gershman. “I wanted to document and share these stories.” Read more