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Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II Hardcover – Nov 1 2008

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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 1.7 x 28.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #721,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x997688dc) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x998153a8) out of 5 stars uplifting! Jan. 22 2009
By sexy senior - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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!
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
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.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x998156d8) 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.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x998155d0) out of 5 stars BESA IS NOT BASED ON RELIGION!! Nov. 9 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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"
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99815c0c) out of 5 stars Very few people know about Righteous Gentiles who were Muslim; unfortunately this book doesn't tell much Aug. 19 2012
By Meaghan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Not many people realize that not just Christians but also Muslims saved Jews from the Nazis during World War II. This book tells the stories of some Muslim Righteous Gentiles in Albania and Kosovo -- mostly Albania. About 2,000 Jews lived in Albania prior to the war. Although Albania was occupied first by the Italians and then by the Nazis, because of the actions of their fellow countrymen almost none of the Albanian Jews were taken. Jewish refugees also flooded into Albania from other countries, mainly Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, and they received shelter as well.

From this book it appears that for the Albanians and the Muslim Kosovars, sheltering Jews was a matter of course, just something that you were expected to do. Even the then-King of Albania did his part, providing Albanian passports to 400 Viennese Jews so they could get out of the country. When he found out that the Jewish family he had formerly employed as his personal jewelers were destitute and didn't have the funds to emigrate to England like they had planned, he gave back all the jewelry they had made for him.

The author went to Albania and Kosovo and interviewed the people who had personally saved Jews, or, more often, their children or grandchildren, since many of the original heroes have passed on by now. Excellent photographs of each interviewee were included. Unfortunately, the stories were kind of lacking. They were all very short -- each less than a page, most no more than three to five paragraphs long -- and as a result not terribly detailed. When you're working off 60-year-old memories, or someone trying to recall what their long-dead mother or father told them long ago, of course it's going to very hazy. Many times they couldn't even remember the names of the Jewish people they'd helped. I think it might have been better to just have the transcripts of the interviews or something. I desperately wanted to know more, and the book left me feeling unsatisfied -- like getting up from the dinner table still hungry.

I must find more to read about Righteous Muslims.