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Refik Veseli Albania

Kruja, Albania… November 1943 – Mosa and Gabriela Mandil were professional photographers who lived in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia. When the Germans invaded in April 1941, Mosa and Gabriela and their two children, Gavra and Irena, fled south to the Italian-controlled province of Kosovo. However, they were soon caught and imprisoned in the city of Pristina from October 1941 until May 1942. While in prison, Mosa volunteered to take photographs of the Italian soldiers, thereby winning their favor. Consequently, the Italian soldiers allowed the Mandils to escape to Italian-occupied Albania.

Once in Albania, the Mandils settled in Kavaja. However, in the summer of 1943 they learned of the impending German takeover of Albania. The Mandils immediately moved to the Albanian capital of Tirana, hoping to find safety. There, Mosa found work in a local photography studio.

When the Germans occupied Albania in September 1943, sixteen-year-old Refik Veseli, an apprentice in the studio, asked his parents to hide the Mandil family. From November 1943 until liberation in October 1944, the Veseli family sheltered the Mandils in their small home in the mountain village of Kruja. They dressed seven-year-old Gavra Mandil and five-year-old Irena Mandil as Muslim villagers, allowing them to live openly in the village. Mosa and Gabriela had to remain hidden in the Veseli’s barn. Despite the many hardships, the Veseli family provided the Mandils with food, shelter, and hope.

After the war, the Mandils returned to Novi Sad, where they reopened their photo studio. In 1946, Refik Veseli joined the family in Novi Sad and completed his training with Mosa Mandil.

Refik Veseli died in 2000.