Monday 27 June 2011

Missing Pages: Muslims Who Saved Jews During WW2

Missing Pages is a campaign by Exploring Islam Foundation to highlight the role Muslim's have played in helping Jews through the period of the Holocaust and before.  The Missing Pages website tells the stories of Muslim's and their families who hid Jews and helped them to safety:

Isak Kormaku:
We lived in the town of Elbasan. I was twelve years old, and my two other brothers are younger. It was just a few steps from here that our father sheltered six Jews in a stone house much like the one we lived in.

It is in the Koran that in the name of God we help all humans. They were Raphael Cambi, Chaim Isaac and Leon Isaac with his wife and two children. The Isaac family spoke Serbo-Croatian, as did our father. In 1945, they all left for Yugoslavia.
Leon Isaac came back for a visit in 1948. He and his family were living in Macedonia. To show his gratitude for saving the lives of his family, he wanted to give my parents a restaurant in Macedonia and offered to pay all their expenses for ten years. Our mother did not want to live in Macedonia so we stayed in Elbasan. After 1949, we lost contact with the Isaacs. The communists then imprisoned our father.
We have never sought recognition, but we are glad for this opportunity to have our father remembered. It is in the Quran that in the name of God we help all humans.

Mehmet Yshref Frasher:

My father was a scholar. He owned a printing press and was well known in our country. My great grandfather was a member of the government before King Zog. Our family is well respected with a long tradition of learning.

All through the Nazi years we were never afraid to save lives. All through the Nazi years we were never afraid to save lives. In 1943, we sheltered Sebita Meshon Gershon, his wife Berah, and their two daughters Hana and Stela. They left for Yugoslavia at the end of 1944. We sheltered Jakov (Jasha)
Altarac in our other home in Kamez. He came from Poland and had escaped from an Italian camp in Burrel in 1943. We also sheltered Joseph Lazar Gertler from Germany who had likewise been interned in Burrel by the Italians. Our neighbours never knew.
My father received a warm letter from Joseph Gertler from London in 1956. In 1990 I made contact with Hana and Stela Gershon who were both living in Brazil, and with Jasha Altarac who was in Israel.
After the war, the communists arrested and imprisoned my father. He was guilty of being an intellectual. We lived the Quran’s teaching to take care of the other.”

Edip Pilku:
My brother and I were young boys during the war. My father, Njazi Pilku, was a devout Muslim who had designed mosques here in Albania. In 1942, my parents sheltered a Jewish family in our home in Durres, hiding them for almost four years between there and our seaside home. They were the Gerechters – father, mother, and daughter – from Hamburg, Germany.

My parents sheltered a Jewish family in our home for almost four years They had sought asylum in Albania after Kristallnacht. They had been interned by the Italians, and were later arrested several times by Albanian collaborators, before they were rescued by my father. My mother, Liza Pilku, was German, so the Nazis often visited our seaside home. We introduced the Gerechter family as our relatives from Germany. Naturally, they were terrified.
Once in Durres, the Gestapo cordoned off the streets and searched with dogs for Jews. My mother came out of her house and scolded the Gestapo in German. She told them never to come back, to remember that she was German too. The Gestapo left.
After the war we lost all trace of the Gerechters. The communists took power and forbade contact with anyone from the outside world. My father was arrested in 1944. In 1945 the communists killed him. Our seaside home was confiscated.
Since the fall of the communists we have made contact with the Gerechter’s daughter, now Johanna Neumann, who lives in America. Johanna gave written testimony of her family’s rescue, and my parents were recognised by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.”

The wescite also features a book by Norman Gershman entitled  ‘Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II’ about the code of honour in Albania called Besa that instructeed Muslims to protect others from danger at all costs.

The book forms the basis for a moving documentary "Besa: The Promise"

Yoou can find out more at the website here or at the Gods House Film website here.

1 comment:

  1. what a wonderful article mashallah...i had no idea and would really like to know even more about it now!