June 21, 2024

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Beatification in Poland: The Ulma family, an example of heroism

Beatification in Poland: The Ulma family, an example of heroism

In Poland on Sunday September 10, an entire family will be canonized and collectively recognized as martyrs, for the first time. The Ulma parents and their seven children, who were shot in 1944, cover the Polish aid to Jews during World War II.

Vatican City – Interview by Delphine Allaire

They are already recognized in Israel as the “righteous among the nations.” Members of the Ulma family will be canonized this Sunday in Markowa, Poland. Joseph, Victoria and their 7 children – including an unborn child – were shot dead by the Nazis on March 24, 1944. They were hanged along with eight members of a Jewish family that had sheltered them for a year and a half. Ulma knew they were risking their lives but decided to act. Today in Poland they represent all those who helped the Jews during the Second World War, but also for the Church, explaining to us the incarnation of Christian heroism. Father Bogdan Prezis, Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in France.

There is no greater love than to lay down your life for those you love“. Always, we refer to the words of Christ, and it is in the image of Christ that Joseph, Victoria and their seven children gave their lives for their Polish Jewish neighbors. Remember that since giving one’s life is not a commandment, sometimes there are people of faith and humanity who go beyond the commandment in dramatic situations. I think the importance of this sanctification is to take. Through their courage and their attitude, they save man, they pull humanity up, especially in barbaric times. I think it is important to remind ourselves from time to time of the attitude of these people who today we say no.

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What does this family tell us about holiness? What is Ulma’s faith life?

Certainly others showed exemplary courage, but in this particular case, we may have had more access to their lives of faith, thanks above all to Joseph, who had many interests in photography, but was also involved in various associations in his village of Markova. . And the alignment of their attitudes with the gospel hastened their salvation process. There is no motivation other than the motivation based on Christ and their faith. The life of this unusual family was permeated by evangelical values.


Some of the ulama children.

This sacrifice is of the Holy Innocents

Of course, it must be remembered that at that time, on March 24, 1944, Joseph and Victoria already had six children, and she was pregnant with her seventh child in the sixth month of pregnancy. We just learned that this seventh child will also be sanctified. We actually have this image of a large family that is interesting today. And they know how to pass on their values ​​to their kids, that’s for sure a role model, that’s for sure.

Why are we talking about a Judeo-Christian martyr?

Let’s say a common martyr. At the same time as the death and execution of this entire Ulma family, eight Polish Jews who were hidden by the Ulma family lost their lives. In this village, there were other houses where the Jews were hiding.

How is this sacrifice of the Ulma family perceived in Poland?

It is certain that, especially after the end of Communism in Poland, a debate resurfaces from time to time about the attitude of Poland’s Jewish neighbors during World War II. Sometimes we see researchers – or so-called researchers – trying to prove that almost the entire Polish nation was complacent about the Holocaust, which is patently false and baseless. There are also people who, in a defensive reflex, want to minimize or deny the fact that there were collaborators. But we are well aware that in every society, in times of war, when there are no social constraints imposed by the social order, some people behave inhumanely. This is the dark side of human nature. So it is true that there are cases of cooperation. But I think the example exemplified by this sanctification gives another picture to this discussion, which is perhaps in danger of being exploited.

Goldmans, Lumbering, hidden by Ulma.

Goldmans, Lumbering, hidden by Ulma.

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On a historical level, what does this recognition say about Polish sacrifice and sacrifice during the German occupation?

We must remember that Poland was the only country without a coalition government during World War II, and for hiding Jews, the occupier’s imagined punishment was death. The Jews and their defenders. Everyone knows that Poland has the most righteous titles in the Yad Vashem memorial that honors the righteous among the nations of Israel. I hope the Jewish community will participate in this commemoration, not religiously, but in memory of the millions of Poles who risked their lives to help this Jewish people. Death.

What is the resonance of this bounty in Poland? What dimension does it have in society and the current landscape of faith?

This privilege has a significant impact. Markova village already has a museum dedicated to the Ulma family and other examples of what the Poles did to help the Jews, but I believe there will be more interest after the saint: the pilgrimage to this village and the organization of events surrounding this wonderful example of courage and heroism.

The tomb where the Ulama family is buried

The tomb where the Ulama family is buried