We are pleased to announce the release of the video of the official Opening of the Wall of Honor in Prishtina, memorializing the role that Kosovar Albanians played in rescuing Jews and transferring them to safety in Albania. In this little-known story of friends and neighbors who had bonded for centuries, an entire nation saved every Jew who either lived in or entered the country during the Holocaust. (Albania became the only country in Europe that had more Jews after World War II than before.)
Much has been documented about the role that Albania played in saving Jews during the Holocaust. But now—for the first time, the Kosovar Albanian rescuers—who could not reveal themselves during the wartime occupation of Kosova (Nazis with Serbian nationalist collaborators)—were finally recognized for sheltering Jews at considerable risk of their lives.
After the October 7th massacre of Israelis and the current retaliation in Gaza, it is crucial to assert the hope for humanity offered by Albanians, who are Muslims, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Jews. For centuries, these people have lived side-by-side in harmony. The dedication of the Wall of Honor in Kosova on August 23, 2023,
asserts the victory of common humanity, united against the Nazi oppressor.
The event was led by Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, Balkan Affairs Adviser to the Albanian American Civic League and Executive Director of the Albanian American Foundation, and Lekë Rezniqi, the head of the Kosova-Israel Friendship Association. The speakers included Kosova Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Prishtina Mayor Përparim Rama, Albanian American Civic League President and former Congressman Joseph J. DioGuardi, who was the first to discover the hidden story of Jewish survival in Albania.
The honorees at the Opening of the Wall of Honor were Avner Shalev, recently retired Chair of the Yad Vashem Directorate, and Professor Rachel “Shelly” Levy-Drummer, whose grandfather was saved from the Holocaust by Lekë Rezniqi’s great-grandfather, Arsllan Rezniqi.
Inscribed on the Wall of Honor are the names of 23 Kosovar Albanians who saved Jews during the Holocaust, and whose role has been documented by the Kosova-Israel Friendship Association. Peace and equanimity between peoples with a common heritage and purpose cannot be celebrated at a better time.
Please click here to watch the video.
All the best,
Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi Joe DioGuardi
Balkan Affairs Adviser President