On the occasion of the National Remembrance Day for Poles Who Saved Jews under the German occupation, the Director of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, Dr. Karol Nawrocki, took part in the ceremony in Markowa.
After a prayer at the grave of the Ulmas in the local St. Dorota's Church, there was a Mass for their forthcoming beatification. It was led by the auxiliary bishop of the Przemyśl Archdiocese, Stanisław Jamrozek.
Letters to the participants of the ceremony were sent by President Andrzej Duda, the Speaker of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
In the letter, President Andrzej Duda emphasized the extraordinary importance of commemorating the heroic attitudes of Poles in saving the lives of Jews persecuted by the German occupiers.
I want today's holiday to become an inspiration for local communities throughout Poland to commemorate compatriots who opposed the terror of the Nazi Third Reich and - at the risk of their own and their families lives – brought help to the exterminated Jews. In this darkest hour of our history, they met the superhuman test of character, righteousness, courage and humanitarianism. And that is why Poles who saved Jews are our national heroes of World War II, just as the soldiers of the Home Army – the President stressed.
In turn, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki recalled that "Today we also remember about thousands of nameless, silent heroes supporting their Jewish neighbours. For those whose names, we will never know, we make a commitment to them that we will preserve their fate and record it in the memory of generations.
The Speaker of the Sejm, Marek Kuchciński, remarked that the "modest and quiet" Ulma heroism and the anniversary of their death commemorates the heroism of all Poles who saved Jews during World War II.
The ceremonies were attended by, among others, the head of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland Halina Szymańska and president of the Institute of National Remembrance, Dr. Jarosław Szarek and representatives of the Polish Society of the Righteous Among the Nations.
The celebration in Markowa ended with a meeting with the Polish Righteous in the Museum of Poles Saving Jews during World War II, during which the President of the Institute of National Remembrance, Dr. Jarosław Szarek, said that Poland was the field of struggle between good and evil.
In order for good and the truth to prevail we sometimes have to pay a high price. This is the price of suffering, this is the price of the cross, through which victory comes.
He added that the Polish nation was always faithful to the values of goodness, truth and beauty.
Christianity added love to it. Our civilization was built on such a foundation. It is necessary that this foundation lasts - said the president of the Institute of National Remembrance.
Representing the Polish Righteous, President of the Polish Society of the Righteous Among the Nations, Anna Stupnicka-Bando thanked President Andrzej Duda and the parliamentarians for passing the Remembrance Day for Poles who saved Jews under the German occupation.
It will also be a day of remembrance of the timeless values of courage, goodness and love for others - said Stupnicka-Bando.
The holiday was established by the parliament on the initiative of President Andrzej Duda, in accordance with the Act: in homage to Polish Citizens - heroes who in the act of heroic courage, incredible valour, compassion and interpersonal solidarity, faithful to the highest ethical values, orders of Christian mercy and the ethos of the sovereign Republic of Poland, saved their Jewish neighbours from the Holocaust, planned and implemented by the German occupiers.
The choice of the date of the established national holiday refers to the day when Germans in 1944 murdered the Ulma family. In the morning of March 24, 1944 in Markowa, the German military police murdered eight Jews and those who were hiding them - Józef Ulma and his wife Wiktoria, who was in advanced pregnancy. The Germans also killed their six children. The oldest, Stasia, was eight years old, the youngest child - one and a half years. Probably from the end of 1942, the Ulmas hid members of three Jewish families: the Didners, Gruenfelds and Goldmans. They were cattle merchants from Łańcut, Saul Goldman with four unknown sons and two daughters and granddaughter of Chaim Goldman from Markowa. One of Goldman's daughters, who died with her daughter of unknown name, was called Lea Didner, and her sister was Gienia (also using the name Gołda) Gruenfeld.