besa: the promise
BESA: The Promise is the untold story of the men and women of Albania – almost all of them Muslims – who faced down the Nazis armed only with their traditional honor code of besa and saved the lives of nearly two thousand Jews.
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Episode InformationMore than seven years in the making, BESA: The Promise is the untold story of the men and women of Albania – almost all of them Muslims – who faced down the Nazis armed only with their traditional honor code of besa and saved the lives of nearly two thousand Jews. This tale of heroism was nearly lost forever in the communist decades that followed World War II. It’s a story that’s brought to light through the contemporary prism of two men joined together in a remarkable and unexpected quest. One is Norman H. Gershman, a renowned Jewish-American photographer who is determined to record the bravery and compassion of the Albanians. The other is Rexhep Hoxha, a shopkeeper from Tirana, Albania, who asks Norman to help him locate a Jewish family his Muslim parents sheltered during the war. This family, he tells Norman, entrusted his father with three Hebrew books, books that – under the ancient Albanian code of besa – must now be returned. The journey that unfolds is extraordinary. With its thoroughly researched history and its profoundly emotional storytelling style, BESA: The Promise challenges some of the most fundamental assumptions about the presumed enmity between Islam and Judaism and eloquently reminds us of the power of good people to transform the way we view our world. Music score by Philip Glass http://besathepromise.com/