Government supports plans to honour Poles saving Jews during WW II

Deputy Culture Minister Jaroslaw Sellin declared on Thursday that the Polish government supported plans to commemorate the heroism of Poles saving Jews during the Second World War.

Sellin made the declaration during a meeting of the Sejm (lower house) Culture Committee, which debated a presidential draft establishing a National Day of Remembrance of Poles saving Jews. The president wants the day to be observed on March 17.

The official declared that the government would "adopt a positive position on the idea of honouring Poles saving Jews during the Second World War."

Sellin said that the only reservation he had concerned the date. "It would be worth considering not March 17 but March 24, the day when the Ulma family was murdered together with the Jews they were hiding. March 17 is the day on which the Museum of Poles Saving Jews during the Second World War opened," he added.

The committee would continue its debate about the draft during its next sitting.

Wiktoria and Jozef Ulma, a Polish couple from Markowa, south-eastern Poland, hid eight Jews in their home during the Second World War, for which, in March 1944, they were executed by the Nazi Germans together with their six children and the Jewish fugitives. At the time of her execution, Wiktoria Ulma was eight months pregnant; her oldest daughter was eight years old.

In 1995, Wiktoria and Jozef Ulma were awarded posthumous Righteous Among the Nations titles from Israel's Yad Vashem Institute. In 2010, the late Polish President Lech Kaczynski awarded the family the Commander's Cross of the Polonia Restituta Order. 

A museum named after the Ulma family was opened on March 17, 2016, in Markowa, southern Poland.