– Honor and glory to the heroic Ulma family and all those who died helping their Jewish neighbors during World War II – said President Andrzej Duda on Sunday after the beatification mass of the Ulma family.
President Andrzej Duda, along with his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda, attended on Sunday in Markowa in Podkarpacie at the beatification mass Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children, who were murdered on March 24, 1944 by the Germans for hiding Jews. This is the first beatification of the family in the history of the Church.
“They wanted to survive, and yet they did not shrink from such ultimate acts of brotherhood.”
After the beatification, the president thanked Pope Francis for elevating the Polish family to the ranks of the blessed. – This is an important day for all of us, believers, but it is also an important historical day for the Republic of Poland, for our homeland, it is an important day for all Poles – Duda noted.
– Thank you with all my heart for showing the historical truth about those times and the fate of Poles, Poles and Jews on this land under German occupation, who all simply wanted to survive, wanted to survive, and yet did not shrink from such final acts. brotherhood, ultimate acts of mercy, said the president.
As he added, “the Ulma family helped their Jewish compatriots, even though they were fully aware that they could face death for doing so.” – They died together and I have no doubt that today they enjoy the joy of communing with God together – Duda emphasized.
– Honor and glory to the heroic Ulma family and all those who died helping their neighbors of Jewish nationality during World War II – said the president.
A thousand years of common history of Poles and Jews
He pointed out that Poles and Jews had lived on this land for a thousand years. – Both of these nations, also within the framework of the great Republic of many nations, continued and coexisted with each other, developing their cultures, which often intertwined and today constitute an element of our Polish culture – said the president.
He noted that “only World War II led to a catastrophe and an end to this – because the Jewish nation was decided by the Germans to annihilate and kill all Jews living in the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which they occupied.” – During World War II, they murdered over three million people in total. Only Jews of Polish citizenship – three million – said Andrzej Duda.
He emphasized that “there were no Polish authorities in the German-occupied territory that would collaborate with Nazi Germany, nor were there any German military formations in which Poles would serve in an institutionalized manner.”
The president on German legislation that was “intended to sow fear”
The president pointed out that the Germans had introduced “criminal legislation that was unprecedented” in the General Government.
– There was no such German legislation in the German-occupied countries of Western Europe, neither in France, nor in Belgium, nor in the Netherlands – there was no death penalty for an entire family for helping Jews in hiding. Such criminal law was established only here, Duda noted.
– This death penalty, not only for those who helped, but also for entire families, was intended to serve as deterrence, to spread terror. That’s what this legislation was put in place to do. It was as part of this criminal legislation that the entire Ulma family died, the president emphasized.
Murdered for helping Jews
Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children were murdered on March 24, 1944 by the Germans for saving Jews. The first Jews who died in the massacre were the two daughters of the Ulmas’ neighbors – the Goldmans: Golda (Genia) Gruenfeld and Lea Didner with their small child, as well as three Szall brothers, their 70-year-old father Saul Szall and another man from the Szall family. Then Józef and his wife Wiktoria, who was seven months pregnant, were shot in front of the Ulma children. At the end, the children were killed – eight-year-old Stanisława, six-year-old Barbara, five-year-old Władysław, four-year-old Franciszek, three-year-old Antoni and one-and-a-half-year-old Maria.
The beatification process of the Ulma family lasted a total of 20 years.
Righteous among the Nations
In 1995, Wiktoria and Józef Ulma were posthumously honored by the Israeli Yad Vashem Institute with the title of Righteous Among the Nations, and in 2010 by the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. Since 2018, at the request of the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, the National Day of Remembrance of Poles Saving Jews under German occupation, established by the Sejm and Senate of the Republic of Poland, has been celebrated.
Out of 51 countries in the world, Poles are the largest national group among the Righteous (7,232 people). In the General Government (Polish territories occupied by Germany) helping Jews was punishable by death.
Main photo source: PAP/Darek Delmanowicz