Albania – in contrast with much of Europe, where the Final Solution was remarkably efficient: 90 percent of Poland’s 3.3 million Jews were killed, 88 percent of Germany’s 240,000 Jews, 77 percent of Greece’s 70,000 Jews, Albanians saved virtually all the 200 native Jews population and 400 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria. Albanians also helped hundreds more Jews to escape from Nazi-occupied Balkan lands.
“Albania was one of the only European countries that had more Jews at the end of the war than at the beginning of the war,” said Michael Berenbaum, former project director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The exceptional difference in Albania was rooted in a national creed called besa that obligates Albanians to provide shelter and safe passage for anyone seeking protection, particularly if there has been a promise to do so. Failure to act results in a loss of honor and standing.