MURDERED BUT NOT OVERCOME
Lidia Dudkiewicz, The Editor-in-Chief of ‘Niedziela’
We have managed to live till the times when the Polish Seym set the National Day of Remembrance of Poles saving Jews from the German war occupation. Since now it will be celebrated every 24 March. The choice of the day is related to murdering the Ulmów family on Markowa in Podkarpacie by the Germans for giving a shelter to Jews. The Germans first shot dead the Jews hiding on the attic of the peasants’ hut, and then Wiktoria and Józef Ulmów. They did not save life of even their children, from whom the oldest child was seven years old and the youngest one was half a year old; the seventh child had not been born yet and started being born at the moment of execution. An eye-witness of the events confessed that the children were terribly crying and calling for their parents when they had already been dead. Then a lieutenant commanding the action, Eilert Dieken from the German gendarmerie gave an order to shoot dead also those children. The administrator of Markowa village, called to clear that place off the bodies, asked why also children had been killed. He heard the answer: ‘To protect your people from having trouble’.
Humble everyday life of the peasants’ family of the Ulmów from Markowa became their way for holiness. Wiktoria and Józef got married in 1935. During nine years their six children were born, and the seventh was still under heart of the mother. They were happy, religious and loving family. Wiktoria was completely devoted to her children and care about home. Jóżef was managing household. He was a very clever and wise man. In his home library he collected also the current Catholic press for adults and children. He was interested in novelties and inventions. He used modern methods of fruit farming and gardening. He even wrote an article to one of agricultural magazines. The house of the Ulmów family was the first in village to have a bulb light powered with a fan. Józef constructed also his first camera and developed his photography passion. He usually had the camera with him. Thanks to it, ,now we can see photos of his family and the whole Markowa village, till the year 1944. The rich collection of photos taken by him is in the Museum of Poles Saving Jews during the Second World War, named the Ulmów Family in Markowa and opened in 2016.
There is a beatification process of the Ulmów family. Today one can wonder why the parents of so many children decided to hide Jews for a year and a half, if they were threatened by death penalty for it. Their attitude surely required heroism. In order to understand it, one of saved signs is enough. In the house of the Ulmówm family, a copy of the Holy Scripture was found with the 42nd chapter marked with a pencil on page 151: ‘Commandment of love – A merciful Samaritan’. Next to the number of the chapter one word is written: ‘Yes’. Only that and even that….In ‘Our Ark’ (no. 4/2018) I found this writing: ‘All ways should be used to aim at changing false opinions on the extermination of Jews during the Second World War. It should be clearly emphasized that German death camps set up on occupied Polish lands were built against and without knowledge of Poles, who were opposing to Hitler’s policy towards Jewish people – they were liquidated like the Ulmów family. Despite that thousands of Poles risked their lives to save Jews’. These are words of Abraham Segal – a Jew who was hidden as a child by another family from Markowa village, and now he is still thanking Poles for his life.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 11/2018 (18 III 2018)