A left-wing German newspaper alleges that a beatification mass held for Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children — who were killed on March 24, 1944, by German soldiers for protecting Jews — was conducted for political reasons and served as a “gift” from the Catholic Church to the ruling conservatives in the run-up to elections in October.
The beatification ceremony, held on Sunday in Markowa in the Polish Podkarpackie region, suddenly took on a political dimension after the German media decided to politicize this issue and attack Polish authorities.
“PiS Blesses Poland” is the headline the left-wing Berlin daily Die Tageszeitung (TAZ) decided to run. The title has since been changed to Wahlfahrtsort, which is a play on words referring to a place of pilgrimage (“Wallfahrtsort”) and a voting location (“Wahlfahrtsort”) which sound phonetically the same in German.
The head of the Pilecki Institute in Berlin, Hanna Radziejowska, pointed to the scandalous headline on the X platform.
“‘PiS Blesses Poland’ was run next to a photo of the Ulma family in a country (Germany) that did not punish the criminals and treated them as good citizens after 1945. Let’s make fun of the Ulmas. And let’s keep talking about the ’empty place of memory (about Poles murdered by Germans) in Germany,'” commented Radziejowska.
The Polish Minister for European Union Affairs, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, wrote that this is a “scandalous headline illustrating the superficiality of German ‘memory politics.'” He assessed that the Pilecki Institute’s reaction was appropriate and swift, adding that he will urgently discuss this matter “with German partners.”
In the publication in Die Tageszeitung, the author, Gabriele Lesser, focuses not on the history of the Ulma family but on the “political dimension of Sunday’s event”.
The author suggests that the date for the beatification of the Ulma family was not randomly chosen by Polish clergy and may be a “gift from the Church to the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) in the middle of an election campaign.”
“The bitter awareness that Poles were also perpetrators in the past, did not always act nobly, and some collaborated with enemies, has awakened in many the need for a new myth that would restore the former identity of heroes and victims,” the German newspaper wrote.