Polish family killed by Nazis for giving shelter to Jews during WWII to be beatified by Pope Francis

Ulma Family, source: IPN/Mateusz Szpytma.
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Pope Francis signed a decree recognizing the martyrdom of the Ulma family, which will result in the entire family being beatified.

The beatification of the Ulma family was approved by Pope Francis on Dec. 17, under the decree recognizing their martyrdom during the German occupation of Poland.

During World War II, the Ulmas sheltered eight Jews for two years despite the family’s poverty and the threat posed by the Germans. The German authorities learned of the family’s actions sheltering Jews in 1944 and murdered the parents, their six children, and the Jews the family tried to protect.

Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and their children lived in Markowa village in southeastern Poland, near the city of Rzeszów. In 1942, during the German occupation of Poland, they gave shelter to Saul Goldman, his four sons, Genia Grünfeld, Lea Didner, and her daughter.

It is not yet known when the Ulmas will be beatified, as the decree does not specify this. According to
Przemyśl diocese, the date is to be set soon. In the Roman Catholic Church, beatification means that a deceased person is declared “blessed” and worthy of limited public veneration. 

Reacting to the news of the beatification of the Ulma family, Polish President Andrzej Duda posted on Twitter that “their heroism is a symbol and the memory of them will last.”

On March 24, 1944, German policemen arrived outside the home of the Ulmas after learning that Jews were hiding inside. They killed the Jews and then murdered the entire family: Józef, Wiktoria, who was seven months pregnant, and their six small children — Stanisława, Barbara, Władysław, Franio, Antoś, and Marysia.

In Markowa, which at the time was inhabited by 4,500 people, not only the Ulma family that helped Jews survive the war. Twenty-one Jews survived the occupation thanks to the help of six families.

In 1995, Wiktoria and Józef were awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations. In 2010, Polish President Lech Kaczyński awarded them the Commander’s Cross of Polonia Restituta. The beatification process started 18 years ago.

To honor the Ulma family, Poland celebrates the National Day of Remembrance of Poles who Saved Jews Under German Occupation on March 24 every year. The Ulma Family Museum of Poles Who Saved Jews in World War II opened in 2016 in Markowa.

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