Story of Ulmas' martyrdom should be known worldwide says president
The tragic story of Ulma family murdered on March 24, 1944 by Nazi Germans for sheltering Jews deserves global recognition, Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, wrote in an article published on a number of global portals.
The service to beatify Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children, including the unborn baby Wiktoria was carrying, will be held on Sunday in the southeastern Polish town of Markowa where they died.
Every year on 24 March, the day Ulmas were killed, Poland marks the National Day of Remembrance for Poles who rescued Jews during the German occupation.
"The story of the Ulmas' martyrdom should be known worldwide," Duda wrote in his article.
He added that many of his compatriots shared the fate of the Ulma family during World War Two and both the Holocaust and the mass crimes against Poles are "profoundly important and still painful parts of the Polish history."
"As Poles, we are proud that on 10 September 2023, the Ulma family, our compatriots, will be added to the ranks of the Blessed of the Catholic Church. The significance of this event goes beyond the religious dimension – it will also be a tribute to heroes embodying the highest ideals of humanity," Duda said in his article.
He wrote that there was a very large Jewish community in pre-war Poland, and in the late 1930s, Warsaw was the world's second-largest Jewish population centre.
"The German plan for the total extermination of the Jews – horrifying in its inhuman, mechanical, almost industrial character – had to take these facts into account. Thus, in occupied Poland, the German Nazis created death factories – extermination camps for Jews from our country and other territories seized by the Third Reich," Duda continued.
Therefore, he added, the German occupation authorities expected resistance to their criminal actions and punished with death anyone who even attempted to help a Jew in hiding.
"But despite these harsh sanctions, thousands of Polish Jews found life-saving aid. They were helped escape the ghetto and provided with hiding places, food, money and false documents," Duda wrote, adding that Poles constitute the largest national group honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations, awarded by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem.
Duda's article was published as part of the worldwide media project called 'Telling Poland to the World', launched eight years ago, as a joint initiative by Poland's Institute for New Media, the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), the National Bank of Poland (NBP), the Foreign Ministry and the Polish Press Agency.
Earlier editions were centred around the anniversaries of the outbreak of World War Two, the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, the Polish January Uprising against Tsarist Russia or the Battle of Warsaw of 1920.