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Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II [Hardcover]

Norman Gershman

Price: CDN$ 44.74 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2008
Besa is a code of honor deeply rooted in Albanian culture and incorporated in the faith of Albanian Muslims. It dictates a moral behavior so absolute that non adherence brings shame and dishonor on oneself and one's family. Simply stated, it demands that one take responsibility for the lives of others in their time of need. In Albania and Kosovo, Muslims sheltered, at grave risk to themselves and their families, not only the Jews of their cities and villages, but thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazis from other European countries.Over a five-year period, photographer Norman H. Gershman sought out, photographed, and collected these powerful and moving stories of heroism in "Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II". The book reveals a hidden period in history, slowly emerging after the fall of an isolationist communist regime, and shows the compassionate side of ordinary people in saving Jews. They acted within their true Muslim faith.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse Univ Pr (Sd); 1 edition (Nov. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815609345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815609346
  • Product Dimensions: 28.7 x 28.7 x 1.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #609,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"At a time when conflict between Muslims and Jews attracts the attention of the media, it is heartening to be reminded that mutual aid and friendship also have characterized the relationship. The story told through the photographs of Norman H. Gershman is especially inspiring because the Muslims who saved the Jews in World War II did so at enormous risk to their own lives.... I hope that these photos and their stories become widely known. They offer hope for a future in which Muslims and Jews can overcome their conflicts and focus on their common humanity." - Former president Jimmy Carter

About the Author

Norman H. Gershman is a fine art photographer whose work is represented in museums throughout the world. His photographs have been featured in exhibits by Yad Vashem in Israel and the United Nations in New York. The stories in Besa will be the subject of a full-length documentary, God's House.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars uplifting! Jan. 22 2009
By sexy senior - Published on
This book restores one's faith in humanity. Goodness and caring for one's fellow human beings know no bounds of country or religion. This is a little known story of one country and one people's humanity and goodness. Yes, they are Muslims and yes they rescued Jews. How inspiring to read their stories. The photographs speak volumes. In this precarious world of ours this story gives one hope and knowledge of the goodness that humans are capable of. Thank you, Mr. Gershman for enlightening us and telling this dramatic and inspiring story. The photographs are beautiful. A must book for all time!
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BESA Aug. 21 2009
By Muradie Cura - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My Name is Hasim Cura.I was born in place called Ostros in Montenegro, as you can see I'm an Albanian Muslim,
I live in Australia, and one day I was listening in the Albanian News ,here in Sydney and I was interested to hear that My Albanian Muslim and Christians Brothers did help the Jews (Jevrej) as we call them, which I'm weary proud of them .The book was very eye opening for me because Living in Communists country like in Montenegro (X -Yugoslavia ) we didn't know because that's wasn't allow to to shove in the that time that Albanians where that Generous because us Albanian in X-Yugoslavia where Branded as Separatists and trouble makers.
Interestingly enough The BESA tradition is still being practiced today.
I liked the Book and I hope every Albanian and Jewish (Israelis) read this book. Also hope it helps all the family's that migrated to Israel after the war as well as the Palestinians in the same way they did receive Help.
Regards Hasim.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would've changed "Muslims" by "Albanians" March 17 2011
By Frank G - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The title is self explanatory but it can be a bit misleading. Besa is not exclusive to Alabamians of Islam religion but to all the Albanians. Nevertheless as you go through the stories and pictures on the book you quick realize that all the saviors who provided shelter to Jews during WW2 were muslim. Hence, when looked strictly from the perspective of the author and the stories on the book the title seems right, even though I would've changed "muslims" by "albanians".
A little note about the shipping: I received my fist book little bit messed up during shipping that's why I ordered the second one. I dint want to get bothered with RMA and I am glad I have two copies.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BESA IS NOT BASED ON RELIGION!! Nov. 9 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Bearing the name of this book I just want to clarify that "Besa" is not based on religion!!! Although I am Muslim, I would still like to make this clarification! Considering the author has read "Kanuni i Leke Dugagjinit", he should have known this already, instead of making such a statement. It is an "honor" to have such a name, especially considering the time period I was born in when Albanians in Montenegro weren't allowed to name their children Albanian names. "BESA"
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Photographer Norman Gershman spent five years gathering these stories and photos for BESA Feb. 7 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
BESA is a code of honor rooted in Albanian culture and based on the faith of Albanian Muslims. It entails a rigid moral adherence demanding one take responsibility for the lives of others in times of need - and in Albania and Kosovo, Muslims sheltered thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazis. Photographer Norman Gershman spent five years gathering these stories and photos for BESA: this survey is a powerful, moving visual and oral history account and is a top pick for any collection strong in Judaic Studies and World War II History, as well as Muslim history and culture reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

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