January 31, 2019

Albania proclaimed House of Life by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation

January 27, 2019

In a moving ceremony that took place in Tirana, at the South-West corner of the garden overlooking the Office of the President, a commemorative House of Life plaque was unveiled, proclaiming the country of Albania as a House of Life.

The Government of Albania was represented by President Ilir Meta, Minister of Culture, Eva Margariti, Minister for the Relations with Parliament, Elisa Spiropali, Minister of State for the Protection of Entreneurship – Eduart Shalsi. The Albanian Parliament was represented by the following members:Anasta Angjeli, Eduart Spaho and Milva Ikonomi.

The event was also attended by the leaders of all religion communities in Albania as well as the Ambassadors of the UK, USA, Russia, Poland, Brazil, Sweden, Italy, the Holy See, Japan, Germany, Croatia, Serbia and the EU.

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has bestowed this honor upon Albania in recognition of the country’s efforts to save Jews during the Nazi occupation. This beautifully-orchestrated rescue operation was a collective effort by the Albanian people, who were driven by the concept of BESA, a pledge of honor that translates into hospitality.

In fact, Albania was the only country under German occupation which ended-up WWII with a larger number of Jews than it originally had before the war broke-out. The reason for this singular fact is that Albanians have not only protected their native Jewish community but also Jewish refugees from neighboring countries.

Not a single case of denunciation is known.

President Ilir Meta honored the ceremony with his presence and his speech he underscored that “the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, named after an extraordinarily and bighearted diplomat, recognizes and appreciates the unparalleled humanist and noble acts of the Albanian people, proclaiming our country “House of Life” through the symbolic placement of the plaque we are inaugurating today in Tirana”. He added that “Through this solemn act, we not only once again make this inspiration and unique story of our compatriots known to the whole mankind, but we also pledge to convey and transmit this extraordinary human heritage to our children and upcoming generations as well”.

President Meta concluded his moving speech with this moving statement:

“Genocides and such inhumane acts against anyone that belong to a different religion, ethnicity or nationality cannot happen and above all, they should not be allow to take place in no way in the world where we all live today!

 Never again!

 This is the appeal of Holocaust survivors, some of whom were saved and rescued on this soil, thanks to the altruistic spirit of Albanians, and this is our very message today, from Tirana, the capital of “The newest world House of Life!”

The IRWF was represented by Ms. Silvia Costantini (Vice-President Europe IRWF) and Mr. Danny Rainer (Vice-President and Head of the IRWF Israeli representation. The latter declared in his speech that “the IRWF deals with recognition of goodness and the proclamation of Albania as a House of Life is an unequivocal expression of this acknowledgment….”. Mr. Rainer added that “no other country has ever been proclaimed as a House of Life”.

Following the ceremony, the organizers and attendants went to the Albanian National Museum, for the inaugural screening of Prof. Yael Katzir’s documentary film “The Albanian Code”, which tells the inspiring story of the Albanian rescue through the personal story of one survivor.

A video clip of ceremony of proclamation of Albania as a House of Life was broadcasted by the Albanian TV and can be seen here.

All the following photos are a courtesy of the Presidency of Albania

Meeting the President of Albania, prior to the ceremony. From left to right: Silvia Costantini, Ambassador Boaz Rodkin, Danny Rainer and President Ilir Meta

Danny Rainer with President Ilir Meta

Unveiling the House of Life Plaque

Mr. Rainer’s speech

Mr. Rainer’s concluding remarks

After the ceremony, from left to right: Ambassador Boaz Rodkin, President Ilir Meta, Silvia Costantini and Danny Rainer

A view of the ceremony venue

Screening of Prof. Yael Katzir’s documentary at the Albanian national Museum. From Left to Right: Prof. Yael Katzir, Ambassador Boaz Rodkin, President Ilir Meta and Danny Rainer