FYI: In Albanian, Q is pronounced like the CH in “churn,” and J is pronounced like a Y.
Beqir Qoqja (born 1914), Copyright http://www.yadvashem.org, Use consistent with fair use doctrine
Going into the planning for my theme last year, I knew it would be easiest to look among Albanian Righteous Among the Nations for Q and X names. Sure, if I’d looked hard enough, I might’ve found someone with a forename like Quentin or a surname like Quadrozzi, but from what little I know about Albanian names and language, I knew Q and X names would be really easy to find.
Beqir Qoqja owned a tailor shop in Tirana. Through a friend, he met Avram Eliasaf Gani, who’d moved from Vlorë in the wake of the Italian occupation. Beqir and Avram became very good friends, in keeping with Albania’s long tradition of almost zero anti-Semitism.
In September 1943, after the Italian-controlled areas fell under German occupation, Avram and his brother rented a place on Tirana’s outskirts, where they believed they’d be safe. However, on his way home one day, Avram was informed his brother and two other Jews had been arrested. Avram went to Beqir’s shop immediately and begged for help.
Tirana’s Sheshi Skënderbej (Skënderbej Square), Et’hem Bey Mosque to the right of the horse, Copyright AltynAsyr
Beqir thought nothing of taking Avram into his home, where he lived with a wife and five children. After a danger-fraught month, Beqir gave Avram traditional local farmer’s clothes and took him to the nearby village of Mukja. Here, one of Beqir’s friends sheltered Avram, and Beqir sent food and other supplies every week.
Five months later, after the Germans left, Avram returned to Beqir’s home, and then went back to Vlorë. They remained friends, and in 1991, Avram and his family made aliyah (moved to Israel).
On 6 July 1992, Beqir was honoured as Righteous Among the Nations.