The Catholic Church has beatified its nine members, including an unborn child

The story of the Polish Catholic Ulma family, murdered by the nazis for sheltering Jews

This morning, the Catholic Church experienced an unusual event: the beatification of an entire family, including an unborn baby.

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Joseph Ulma (1900-1944) and Wiktoria Niemczak (1912-1944) were two Catholics from Markowa, today in southeastern Poland. They were married in 1935. He was a librarian and photographer, and she was a homemaker. When World War II began with the German-Soviet invasion of Poland, the Ulma had a farm. The Ulma couple had six children: Stanisława (1936), Barbara (1937), Władysław (1938), Franciszek (1940), Antoni (1941) and Maria (1942).

In mid-1942, the Ulmas sheltered two Jewish families on their farm: the Szalls (six people in total: the father, the mother and their four children) and Chaim Goldman's two daughters. The Ulmas sheltered them in the attic of the house. The Jews helped the Ulma family with the work on the farm to compensate for the extraordinary expenses the family had to face. Helping Jews was punishable by death in German-occupied Poland. The nazis murdered everyone in a house if they found Jews sheltering in it. Despite this, many Polish families helped and sheltered Jews, risking their lives and those of their children.

On the night of March 24, 1944, German police surrounded the Ulma farm, after having received a complaint exposing the Catholic family for sheltering Jews. After making all the occupants of the farm leave, the nazis murdered the Jewish refugees by shooting them in the back of the head. Later, and in front of neighbors who witnessed those events and who were forced to witness the events To serve as a lesson, the nazis murdered Joseph and Wiktoria, who was nine months pregnant and about to give birth.

Seeing the terrible scene of the murder of their parents, the children of the Ulma family began to scream: they were the next to be killed, to the horror of the neighbors who witnessed that brutal crime. A few months later, when relatives of the Ulma dug up their bodies to give them a Christian burial, they discovered that at the time of the execution, Wiktoria had begun to give birth. The Ulma family's martyrdom was a shows the atrocities committed by the nazis in Poland, a town that suffered horrors that are difficult to describe due to the harshness of the events.

In 1995, Israel's Yad Vashem awarded Joseph and Wiktoria the title of Righteous Among the Nations, which many Gentiles in Poland have received for helping and sheltering Jews during the Holocaust. In 2004, on the 60th anniversary of his murder, a monument was inaugurated in Markowa dedicated to the Ulma family, with this inscription:

"Saving the lives of others, they gave their own lives. Hiding eight older brothers in their faith, they were murdered with them.May their sacrifice be a call for respect and love for every human being! They were the sons and daughters of this land; They will remain in our hearts."

The expression "older brothers" refers to some words of Saint John Paul II, who referred to the Jews in this way in 1986.

This morning, the Catholic Church beatified the nine members of the Ulma family at a Mass celebrated in Markowa, with which he acknowledges his martyrdom as Catholics at the hands of the nazis. The ceremony celebrated today is especially important, since it is the first time that the Church has beatified an unborn child. This recognition of the Ulma family should serve as an incentive to learn the story of the many Poles who risked their lives to save Jews. Today, Poland is the country with the most Righteous Among the Nations recognized by Yad Vashem: 7,177 out of a total of 28,217 from 51 countries.

Cześć ich pamięci!
Honor to their memory!

Ulma family tomb in Markowa cemetery (Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhot).


Main photo: Konferencja Episkopatu Polski.

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