Albanian resistance during World War II (AP) (AP)
Albanian resistance during World War II

The Veseli family was among Muslims in Albania who sheltered Jewish families during the Holocaust.

By United With Israel Staff

Albanian Muslim Xhemal Veseli, 93, will attend an event in Warsaw, Poland, honoring those from across Europe who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. He himself is one of a handful of Muslim rescuers alive today.

The event, organized by Jonny Daniels of the From the Depths commemoration group, is titled “An Evening for the Righteous.” It will take place on November 14.

“In the remarkably fragmented and aggressive world we live in today, religion sadly often divides us,” Daniels said, according to JTA. However, he noted that people like Veseli “bring us together as Jews and Muslims.”

Veseli will travel with Albania’s foreign minister, Edmond Panariti, whose family also saved Jews from the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem has recognized Xhemal, as well as his late brother Hamid, as “Righteous Among the Nations.” In 1943, the brothers saved the the family of Joseph Ben Joseph as well as the Mandil family, both refugees from Yugoslavia, from Italian occupation forces.

Xhemel, 17 at the time, walked with elderly Jews for 36 hours, bringing them to his family home in Krujë. The Jews were hidden and sheltered for nine months, until liberation.

‘Only the Jews Showed Their Gratitude’

In an interview in 2004 with Hamid and Xhemal by Yad Vashem, the brothers noted that the Albanians opened their door four times to refugees.

“First to the Greeks during the famine of the World War I, then to the Italian soldiers stranded in our country after their surrender to the Allies, then the Jews during the German occupation and most recently to the Albanian refugees from Kosovo fleeing the Serbs,” they said. “Only the Jews showed their gratitude.”

Albania was a rare Nazi-occupied country in that its Jewish minority grew during the Holocaust. After World War II, there were approximately 2,000 Jews living in Albania, most refugees from neighboring countries.

The event will also be attended by rescuers from Poland and Belarus as well as officials from Israel, Denmark and the United States.