SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE - EUROPE
Tel. +33-147237637 - Fax: +33-147208401
Pristina, Kosova, 28 April 2014
By invitation of the The Kosova-Israel Friendship Association-Dr. Haim Abravanel (KIFA-HR) and its President Leke Rezniqi, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre-Europe co-sponsored its 2014 Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day) commemoration.
This followed an October 2013 visit by the Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels who stated:
"I travelled through Kosovo to meet with children and grandchildren of the rescuers of Jewish fugitives from the Nazis who were escaping from other regions of the ex-Yugoslavia", adding, "I visited, with the KIFA, the mountain passes through which the refugees were taken to safety in neighboring Albania, where they survived the Holocaust".
Samuels continued, "I was greatly moved by the story of 'the 100 White Hats' - the egg-shaped headgear worn by Kosovar peasantry - purchased by Leke's grandfather, Arsilan Mustafa Rezniqi, to disguise the fleeing Jews.
For this, Arsilan was recognized by Yad Vashem as a 'Righteous among the Nations'"
The ceremony was held on 24 April and featured the opening of the exhibition: "Rescue of Jews in Kosovo during the Holocaust - Uncovering a Hidden Legacy"
Samuels stressed that " this exhibition sets a remarkable example by Muslim Kosovo to the Muslim world",continuing, "the naming of your Kosovo-Israel Friendship Association for Dr. Haim Abravanel is testimony to our interdependent humanity. Leke's Muslim grandfather who was his rescuer, was, in turn to be saved by this Jewiosh physician".
The ceremony included the screening the Wiesenthal Centre's film of its mentor, "I Have Never Forgotten You - The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal".
The Centre congratulated KIFA for the essay contest it is launching in Kosovo's schools and universities, in association with Verbe et Lumiere - Vigilance, on "The Holocaust and Jews in Kosovo".
"These initiatives have brought together three heroic figures who overcame ethnic and religious boundaries to care for 'the other': Arsilan Mustafa Rezniqi, Dr. Haim Abravanel and Simon Wiesenthal. May they be our guides through the dark passages of contemporary hate", concluded Samuels.
For further information contact Shimon Samuels on 0033609770158