Muslime im 2. Weltkrieg

During the dark days of the Second World War, selfless acts of human compassion provided a bright ray of hope. These are the stories of Muslims who saved Jews.

A sanctuary for Jews in Paris Mosque

In Paris, a grand mosque built in honour of the 100,000 Muslim soldiers who died fighting for France in the First World War, became a sanctuary for Jews escaping persecution less than three decades later. Si Kaddour Benghabrit was a French Algerian who was deeply loyal to France. During World War I, he was appointed honourary consul-general and served the religious needs of Muslims in the French army. After the war came to an end, he worked in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 1920, when the parliament decided to acknowledge his loyalty by asking him to establish a mosque in Paris. Six years later, the Great Mosque of Paris became a reality and Benghabrit was appointed its rector.
A mosque built in honour of Muslim soldiers who died fighting for France became a sanctuary for Jews escaping persecution. When war broke out in Europe again, and Jewish lives were in danger, Benghabrit used the mosque as a hiding place, issuing each person with a fake certificate of Muslim identity. One North African Jew named Albert Assouline who had escaped from a German prison camp, wrote of his experience hiding in the mosque, “No fewer than 1,732 resistance fighters found refuge in its underground caverns. These included Muslim escapees but also Christians and Jews. The latter were by far the most numerous.” Accounts differ on the number of those saved, yet it remains a shining story of human solidarity.

Benghabrit held his position at the mosque for nearly thirty years until his death in 1954. He is buried within the same walls that safeguarded so many lives from the Nazis. As well as standing testament to those thousands of Muslim soldiers, the mosque is also a legacy of Benghabrit’s bravery and stirring sense of brotherhood.