Kosovo inaugurates ‘Wall of Honor’ statue for 23 Albanians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust

by Cristian Florescu

On Wednesday, a statue was inaugurated in the capital city of Pristina to honour the brave actions of 23 Kosovo Albanians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust in World War II.

The “Wall of Honor” statue was respectfully placed in a park in Pristina, in the esteemed presence of descendants of the rescuers, esteemed political leaders, and esteemed ambassadors from the U.S. and Germany.

At the beginning of the war, around 500 Jews resided in Kosovo, which was then part of former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, a significant number of them were apprehended, forcibly relocated to nearby prisons or camps under Nazi control, leading to a tragic loss of nearly half their population.

Local Albanians assisted numerous Jews in their escape, often transporting them to the nearby country of Albania. Leke Rezniqi’s great-grandfather, Arslan, bravely rescued Jewish doctor Chaim Abrabanel, who was practising in Skopje, presently located in North Macedonia. Arslan Rezniqi provided him with shelter and collaborated with fellow Albanian, Arif Alickaj, to meticulously create counterfeit papers and ensure Abrabanel’s safe passage to Albania.

Leke Rezniqi informed The Associated Press that this particular instance exemplifies the exceptional nature of Albanian rescue efforts. He assured with utmost sincerity and emphasized the concept of besa (meaning ‘trust’ in Albanian), which signifies an unwavering commitment to never betraying such a promise, even if it entails personal sacrifices involving one’s own family.

In 2008, Arslan Rezniqi had the honour of being the first Kosovar to be recognized on the prestigious “Righteous Among the Nations” list by Yad Vashem for his courageous efforts in rescuing Jews during the Holocaust.

Since 2021, Leke Rezniqi has been residing in Haifa, Israel with the assistance of Abrabanel’s niece Rachel-Shelly Levy-Drummer, who kindly aided him in his journey to emigrate and obtain Israeli citizenship.

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