Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma were a farming couple living Markowa, Poland with their six children when the Nazis came in 1939. At the time, Markowa was 90% Catholic, and 10% Jewish.
And in 1942 the Nazis began coming for the 10%. The majority of the Jews were massacred, but a few survived because Catholic families gave them refuge. From the beginning of the persecution, the Ulmas were one such family.
Even giving a Jew a drink of water in occupied Poland was punishable by death, let alone hiding Jews.
But Jozef and Wiktoria took in two Jewish families anyway, and these eight neighbors lived in the attic of the home and worked on the farm alongside the Ulmas. The farm was seen as a safe refuge, being several miles outside of town. And for two years it was.
But on the morning of March 24, 1944 Nazi soldiers arrived at the Ulma farm. They rounded up the eight Jews and shot each in the back of the head. Then, they assassinated Jozef, the pregnant Wiktoria and all seven children.
But the atrocity did not have the desired effect on the townspeople the Nazi’s had hoped for. The Ulma’s ultimate sacrifice only encouraged other families to pick up where they’d left off. And as a result 17 Jews survived the purge in Markowa.
Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma were given the title Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli government in 1995, and in 2003 their cause for cannonization was introduced in Rome.
Love your neighbor as yourself. For some, these are more than just words.
Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma are heroes you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.