Albania’s first Holocaust memorial, in remembrance of all the Jewish people who sought refuge and were given shelter in Albania during the Second World War, was inaugurated on July 8 in Tirana.
Three rectangular stone slabs with the same message engraved in Albanian, English, and Hebrew will serve as a place of remembrance and reflection.
“This memorial is to remember and honor the memory of the six million Jews of Europe that were murdered and the citizens of Albania who acted selflessly to protect the Jews when the world would not.”
During the ceremony, Israeli ambassador Noah Gal Gendler expressed gratitude towards the Albanian people for sheltering, hiding, and protecting about 2000 Jewish people during the Nazi occupation of Albania. He praised “the courageous actions of the Albanian people during the Holocaust, a resplendent act by a small country, that represents the values of humanity.”
In her speech, U.S. ambassador Yuri Kim expressed America’s appreciation of the Albanian people’s bravery who came to the aid of the Jewish people even at great danger to themselves.
During WWII, some 2000 Jewish people sought refuge in Albania and were protected by the local population. They were sheltered in Albanians’ homes, sometimes even given local names to hide their identity and others were hidden in mountain communities, away from advancing enemy forces. There were many Jewish people in the city of Berat and there still exists a “Jewish Quarter” which has now been vacated, along with a Jewish Museum, and a Star Of David in the local Mosque, where Jewish people were allowed to worship during the war.