Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The role of Albanians in the Holocaust

The Holocaust in Albania
Albania is unique in that it is the only European country occupied by the Nazis that ended World War II with a larger Jewish population than before the War. The Albanian response to the Holocaust is especially notable because it was Europe's only largely Muslim country. Even so only a Jewish family of six was deported and killed during the Nazi occupation of Albania [10]. Not only did the Albanians protect their own Jews, but they provided refuge for Jews from neighboring countries. The Albanians refused to compile and hand over lists of Jews. Instead they provided the Jewish families with fake documents and helped them disperse in the Albanian population[11].

The role of Albanians in the Holocaust has become a factor in the current issue over the independence of Kosovo. One pro-Serbian[citation needed] [12] author, Carl Savitch, writes that Italian forces in Albania rejected the Final Solution as “the German disease” and did not enforce anti-Jewish measures. This is why Albanian Jews were “rescued” in Albania, not because of anything the Albanians did themselves. Yad Vashem maintains it was both the policy of the occupying Italian authorities and the Albanian population that protected the Jews in Albania proper. [13].

There was no history of ideological anti-Semitism in Albania, Greece or Bulgaria. So, Albania was not unique in this regard. The small number of Jews in Albania also played a key role in the possibility to protect them all. During the Italian occupation, they were able to disperse and blend in with the general population. When Germany occupied Albania in 1943, the Jewish population was already beyond reach. However, the role of Albanian population on saving Jews is undeniable