Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Ulma Family

During the Nazi Occupation of Poland, many Jews had to escape from the Nazis in order to save their lives. They were discriminated, their properties were confiscated, and majority of them were sent to concentration camps. Many of the Jews sought refuge in Christian households, but they were only given a few days to stay out of fear of reprisals. One family showed complete hospitality to the endangered Jews to the point of risking their lives out of performing this act of charity.

Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma lived in Markowa. They were poor peasants who owned a fruit orchard. They were married in 1937 and had six children: four boys and two girls. Jozef was known to be sympathetic to the Jews and have sheltered a great number of Jews since the start of the war. Many Jews came to be sheltered since the house of the Ulmas was far from the village and it gave them a sense of safety. The last Jews they sheltered were six members of the Szallow family and the Goldman sisters. The eight Jews hid in the attic of the Ulmas for many months.

One time, the Nazi police searched every house in Markowa for sheltered Jews. The police discovered the Jews hidden in the Ulma household. First, the policemen only took a photograph of the house then left them in peace. In March 23, the police began to plan a crime.

The next day, at dawn, the police came to the Ulma household. German police surrounded the house. Then, shots were heard. First to be killed were the eight Jews. Then, Jozef and Wiktoria were taken to the garden of their house and killed. Wiktoria was nine-months pregnant at that time. The last ones to be killed were the six children. The oldest child was Stasia, eight, and the youngest was Marysia, one. Many villagers were forced to watch the massacre as a sign of warning for those who shelter Jews.

Father Stanislaw Jamrozek, the postulator of the canonization cause of the family, said the request for canonization was initiated by Markowa residents, “who still cherish the memory of their murdered neighbors.”


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