Photo Credit: courtesy, Yossi Rozenboim
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Israeli philanthropist Alexander Machkevitch

Albania is celebrating the lives of its citizens who helped rescue the Jews in World War II with the establishment of a new “Besa” Museum, the Albanian Culture Ministry announced this week.

The new cultural space is to be located in the heart of Tirana and celebrates the heroic actions of Albanians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.


Prime Minister Edi Rama made the announcement at an event honoring Albanian “Righteous Among the Nations” during his recent visit to Jerusalem.

The new museum will be housed in an historic building (House of Toptans) that embodies the best of 19th-century Albanian architecture and has been designated a Cultural Heritage and Cultural Monument.

The residence has a quadrangular shape with the hall situated in the center and rooms distributed around the hall. The interior is decorated with mural paintings and wooden carvings.

An open design competition is being held for architecture design proposals for the museum, funded by Israeli philanthropist Alexander Machkevitch.

“I am humbled to be a part of this important project that will memorialize the bravery of Albanians who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust,” Machkevitch said.

“The Albanian people, and particularly Prime Minister Edi Rama, have shown great commitment to preserving the memory of these heroic acts, and it is an honor to work alongside them. This project is a testament to the power of solidarity and compassion in the face of darkness, and I hope it will inspire future generations to continue this legacy of kindness.”

Prime Minister Rama called the museum “another very important moment in Tirana’s history, urban development, and architecture.”

The prime minister added that with the project, Albanians will “finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief from a long-standing burden of obligation in relation to our children and visitors to our country, which is related to perhaps the most glorious page of Albanian history, the rescue of Jews during WWII.”

The Besa Museum is expected to serve as a meeting point, a dialogue center for cultural exchanges, and an added tourist attraction in Tirana, as well as a center for education and community engagement.

It’s important to note that Albania is the only country in Europe that had more Jews after World War II than before the war. The Albanian people refused to hand over a single Jew to the Nazis, and many Albanians risked their lives to protect Jews from persecution.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.