Pope Francis decided that the beatification ceremony of the Venerable Servants of God Józef and Wikoria Ulma and their 7 children will take place on September 10, 2023 in Markowa. The details of the ceremony were announced by the Archdiocese of Przemyśl.
The representative of the Holy Father will be Card. Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.
The Ulmas were brutally murdered by the Germans on March 24, 1944 for helping persecuted Jews. The family of Józef and Wiktoria Ulma was shot then, but there were more victims – 17 people were killed, Poles and Jews. The only “fault” of the Ulma family was the Christian attitude of love for one’s neighbor. The only “guilt” of the hidden Jews was the will to survive the Holocaust.
As the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) reminds on its website, in 1941 the Germans decided to “finally solve the Jewish question”, and the fate of the Jews became dramatic. Nearly 6 million European Jews died in extermination camps as a result of shootings, gas chambers and exhaustion. By the end of 1942, the officers of the German Reich murdered almost 1.3 million Jews from the Warsaw, Radom, Lublin and Kraków districts, over half a million from the Galicia district and about 130,000. from the Bialystok District. Also in 1941, the Germans, unlike the situation in the occupied countries in Western Europe, introduced the death penalty in Poland for any help to Jews. For this reason, about a thousand Poles were murdered.
“Operation Reinhardt, which started in March 1942 and was aimed at murdering all Jews in the General Government and the Białystok District, began to be implemented in Łańcut and its vicinity at the turn of July and August 1942. The Germans banned Jews from staying in Markowa and began deportation to the labor camp in Pełkinie, and then to the extermination camp in Bełżec. Some Jews from Markowa then asked the Ulma family for help. At first, Józef helped them build dugouts on the outskirts of the village. We know about a family of four, called Ryfki, whom he helped build a shelter in a ravine near the stream. However, it was not an effective way to survive – German gendarmes together with navy blue policemen carried out ad hoc searches for Jews: both in the village and in the vicinity” – remind the historians of the Institute of National Remembrance.
On December 13, 1942, the Germans ordered the mayor of Markowa to carry out a search operation. However, the mayor warned the villagers, thanks to which the hiding places were better secured. At least 26, mostly coerced, residents found 25 out of about 54 hiding Jews. They were locked up in the municipal jail, located at the main crossroads in the village. On December 14, 1942, they were all shot by the German gendarmerie from Łańcut. Despite this action, 29 Jews were still hidden in Markowa after December 1942, 21 of whom lived to see the end of the occupation. Eight were murdered together with the Ulma family on March 24, 1944.