Jews and Muslims Saving Each Other
Ten true instances when Jews and Muslims – at times risking everything – saved each other’s lives.
With increased tensions between Jews and Muslims, perhaps it is a good time to recall the following ten true instances when Jews and Muslims – at times risking everything – saved each other’s lives.
Saving Albania’s Jews
Albania, a small mountainous nation on the Balkan peninsula, is the only Muslim-majority country in Europe – and is also the only European nation that emerged from World War II with more Jews than before the war.
After Hitler came to power in 1933, Albania’s pre-war Jewish population of about 200 was soon swollen with hundreds of Jewish refugees from elsewhere in Europe, who hoped to travel on from Albania to Israel or other countries. Many stayed, and by the time German forces occupied Albania in 1943, up to 1,700 Jews lived in Albania.
When German officials ordered Albanians to round up and deport the Jews living in their country, they point blank refused. Incredibly, Albanian governmental agencies even provided Jews with fake documents, allowing them to escape detection. The desire to help Jews permeated Albanian society. Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum notes that Albanians “competed with each other for the privilege of saving Jews”. By the end of World War II, one Jewish family in Albania had been murdered by Nazi forces: almost all other Jews in Albania had been saved, protected by government officials and private citizens alike.
Senior authorities in Turkey also intervened a number of times to save Jews during the Holocaust. Some historians estimate Turkish officials saved the lives of 15,000 Jews with Turkish connections.
Behic Erkin, Turkey’s Ambassador to
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