National Day of Remembrance of Poles Who Saved Jews Under German Occupation

Redakcja / Editorial staff, 22 March 2024
24th March is the National Day of Remembrance of Poles Who Saved Jews Under German Occupation. This date is linked to the tragic fate of the Ulma family and of the Jews to whom they had offered shelter. On 24th March 1944, as the result of denunciation, they were murdered by the Germans in the village of Markowa in the Rzeszów region. This year, we commemorate the 80th anniversary of these tragic events.

“In tribute to Polish Citizens - heroes who, in an act of indescribable courage, unparalleled bravery, compassion and solidarity, faithful to the highest of ethical values, in accordance with Christian mercy and the ethos of the sovereign Republic of Poland, saved their Jewish neighbours from the Holocaust, which had been planned and implemented by the German occupying force”, the introduction to the Act signed by the President of the Republic of Poland.

The public holiday—whose purpose is to commemorate all those who risked their lives to help Jews during the German occupation—was established by the Polish President Andrzej Duda in 2018.

The date is connected to the tragic story of Józef and Wiktoria Ulma, their children (8-year old Stanisława, 6-year old Barbara, 5-year old Władysław, 4-year old Franciszek, 3-year old Antoni and 1,5-year old Maria) and the Jews who for almost two years were hiding in the attic of the Ulma family home in Markowa. They were: Saul Goldman, his four sons (they were called Shalls), two daughters, granddaughter of Chaim Goldman, Lea (Layca) Didner with daughter whose remains unknown, and Genia (Golda) Grünfeld.

It was 79 years ago, on 24th March 1944, that the Germans murdered the Polish family and the Jews in hiding. The executions, carried out in front of the Ulma family home following the search of the premises, was the result of a denunciation (in all likelihood by Włodzimierz Leś, a ‘Blue’ policeman).

In 1995, Józef and Wiktoria Ulma were posthumously awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations. In September 2023, following a nearly 20-year-long process of beatification, by a decree of Pope Francis, the Ulma family was blessed by the Catholic Church.

POLIN Museum commemorates Poles who rescued Jews during the German occupation (1939-1945) by documenting their stories on the Polish Righteous portal.

We commemorate primarily people honoured by the Yad Vashem Institute with the title of Righteous Among the Nations, and the Jews to whom they had offered help. The stories of help are popularised against the socio-political context of the German occupation, taking into account the complexity and diversity of the attitudes of Poles towards the Holocaust. Our collection—which we have been working on since the year 2007—boasts almost 1,000 stories of help.

Today, on the occasion of the National Day of Remembrance of Poles Who Saved Jews Under German Occupation, we present the selected stories of help on the Polish Righteous portal. We also recommend our new publications which we share with you to mark this occasion.

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