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Jewish Rescue In Albania

Joseph J. DioGuardi


Muci--Here below is my response to those who are confusing (either deliberately for personal gain or unwittingly from misinformation or lies they are receiving from exhibits, articles, etc.), the Jewish Rescue In Albania, an ALBANIAN cultural ACT of "BESA" originating in Albanian antiquity as codified in the KANUN of Lek Dukagjini (a Catholic monk), with a religious MUSLIM ACT motivated by adherence to the Islamic teachings of the Prophet Mohammad in the KORAN. For those who know Albanian history, it is clear that the BESA act of Albanian hospitality, under which ALL Jews living in and escaping to Albania, Kosova and all Albanian lands were protected during World War 2 from the Nazis and saved from the Holocaust, preceded the Koran written in the 7 century AD/CE, by over a thousand years. The TRUTH must be told about the Albanian people whose history of tolerance for all people and all religions is unique in the modern era as evidenced by the selfless and death defying acts of Albanian Roman Catholics, Albanian Eastern Orthodox Christians, Albanian Muslims and even Albanian Jews (rescued from the Spanish Inquisition in the 14th Century) in saving ALL Jews located in Albanian lands from their Nazi tormentors. No other Nation can say this.---Joe


Beqir/Vebaj/Arben--Look what we started with Tom Lantos for the great benefit of the Albanian people when I and the AACL took him to Albania in May of 1990 to confront Ramiz Alia that the "iron/communist curtain" was still up in Albania even though the Berlin Wall had been taken done in October 1989. Lantos and I told the Communist leaders in Tirana to "tear down this wall" like Pres. Reagan told Gorbachev a few months earlier in Berlin. Ramiz Alia was so unnerved by our spontaneous activism for democracy for the Albanian people on our trip there that the next day, at a dinner with him and Communist leaders of Albania (I remember in particular Sophocle Lazari denouncing us at this dinner for our actions in Albania) that Alia went out of his way to "patronize" Tom Lantos (who was a Hungarian Jew who escaped the holocaust) by giving Tom a file from the Communist archives about 3 inches thick containing letters written from 1945 to the 1980's from Jews around the world who were saved from the Nazis by Albanians from Albania during World War 2. The tragedy was that these letters were not allowed to be received by the Albanian rescuers and were never replied to until I got the file from Lantos and sent it to my friend Eli Streit in Israel who took the letters to the Holocaust Museum (Yad Vashem) in Jerusalem. The rest is now good history for the Albanian people of Albania and Kosova since it has been verified by Jewish experts that NOT ONE Jew had been surrendered to the Nazis from any of the Albanian lands under the ANCIENT ALBANIAN CODE (KANUN) of BESA--having NOTHING to do with the Islamic religion and the teachings of the Koran even for those Albanians who professed Islam as their faith. And, EVEN FOR ALBANIAN MUSLIMS (who from my knowledge and experience were ALL secular) saving Jews was an Albanian cultural act under BESA and NOT one motivated by religion since Albanians acted as ONE even though they professed their love of God in different faiths--Christianity (Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox), Islam and Judaism. My wife Shirley Cloyes has written extensively about the unique history of Albanians and Jews and BESA as can be seen at . No one can dispute my account of this wonderful story since I was there with Cong. Lantos when it first came to light in May 1990 and have copies of all the documents shared with Israel in my Congressional archives. Shirley and I have gone to Jerusalem several times to witness the honors belatedly bestowed on Albanian families for their heroic acts in saving Jews during WW2. And, since 1990 over 60 Albanian families have been named "Righteous Among Gentiles and Nations" for their heroism. It is a shame that the Communist Party of Albania hid this from the world for 45 years thus preventing most probably hundreds more "Righteous" medals from being awarded because those rescued by Albanians from 1939 to 1945 had died between 1946 and 1990 and, thus, the first hand testimony required by YAD VASHEM was no longer possible. In spite of this the work by Shirley, me and the Albanian American Civic League and Foundation continues in building a STRONG BRIDGE between the Albanian and Jewish people.

---Joe DioGuardi


P: (914) 671-8583

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