Remembering the Saintly Martyred Ulma Family (including their Unborn child) of 9 on the Way to Sainthood on the Day of the Death


Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma and their 7 children (one still in the womb) were martyred on the 24th of March, 1944 . They along with their young children, were executed by Nazis for hiding Jewish families. Wiktoria was pregnant with their 7th child. The entire Ulma family— including the unborn child—will be beatified on September 10th. The childrens' names are: Stanisława, age 8, Barbara, 7, Władysław, 6, Franciszek, 4, Antoni, 3, and Maria, 2.
BIOGRAPHY: On March 24, 1944, in Markowa, one of thousands of villages occupied by the Germans, an event took place that shook not only its inhabitants, but also the entire region. The Polish family of Józef and Wiktoria Ulma was shot for hiding Jews. Seventeen people, including eight children, died simply because they were Jews or Poles who dared to give them forbidden help. Because human memory quickly fades, deforms, and additionally reaches the young generation to a small extent, there is a need to constantly remind the positive attitudes of the heroes of our Polish history.
In the interwar period, Markowa was one of the largest villages in Poland. In 1931, it had 931 houses with 4,442 inhabitants. The vast majority of them were Catholics. About 120 Jews lived in Markowa (nearly 30 families).

After the occupation of Poland, the Germans created a new administrative division. To maintain "order" in rural areas and in smaller towns was responsible, among others. gendarmerie. Markowa was subordinated to the branch in Łańcut. It was headed by Lieutenant Eilert Dieken, and one of the gendarmes subordinated to him was Private Joseph Kokott.
During the German occupation, Jews were deprived of all rights. They had to carry out various works for the occupant, they could not perform their professions. Soon, the establishment of ghettos began. In the summer and autumn of 1942, the Germans murdered most of the Jewish inhabitants of Markowa. The crime scene was mainly a dead animal burial ground. Those Jews who had previously hidden in peasant houses remained alive.

family hearth Józef and Wiktoria Ulma were one of the families who made the heroic decision to hide the Jews. Józef, born in 1900, was well known throughout the village. Multi-talented, he was the first to run a fruit tree nursery in Markowa. He promoted the cultivation of vegetables and fruits, which was not yet widespread at that time. His innovative farming methods were known not only in this field. Diplomas, which he received in 1933 at the District Agricultural Exhibition in Przeworsk, have been preserved - one "for ingenious beehives and self-designed beekeeping tools", the other "for exemplary silkworm breeding and diagrams of their life".Especially his last interest aroused curiosity not only of the whole village, but also of the surrounding area, and even of Prince Andrzej Lubomirski, who visited the Ulma farm
Józef did not shy away from social activities either. He was involved in the Catholic Youth Association, later he was active in the Rural Youth Association "Wici", where he was a librarian and photographer. His greatest passion was photography. He took thousands of photographs, largely preserved to this day, stored in many drawers, not only in Marków houses. He photographed his wife and children beautifully. There are also photos of Józef himself, showing a handsome man in a suit, tie and hat, whose face shows an intelligent, sensitive man.
Józef's chosen one was the youngest daughter of Jan and Franciszka Niemczak - Wiktoria, born in 1912 as their seventh child. Her mother orphaned her when she was 6; The father did not live to see his daughter's wedding either - he died a year earlier.

The marriage was well-matched and loved. In one of the joint photos you can see Józef holding Wiktoria on his lap, hugging each other. They soon had offspring. During the seven years of their marriage, six children were born to them: Stasia, Basia, Władzio, Franuś, Antoś and Marysia. If not for the tragedy, in the spring of 1944 they would have enjoyed their seventh baby. Wiktoria took care of the house - in one of the photos you can see how she draws or writes in a notebook for children, in others she is standing surrounded by a large and well-groomed group, holding the youngest child.
A difficult decision
It is not known exactly when (probably in the second half of 1942) and how eight Jews found themselves in the Ulma house: five men from Łańcut named Szall - a cattle trader with his sons known before the war, and close neighbors of the family Józefa's home: Gołda and Layka Goldman, the latter with her little daughter.
It is also difficult to determine what motives guided the Ulmas. Józef was known for his kindness to Jews. Earlier, he helped another Jewish family to prepare a hiding place in ravines. They were probably driven by love for other people, compassion and awareness of what awaits Jews if they do not receive help. The Ulmas saw with their own eyes how in 1942, on a neighboring plot, the Germans shot at least several dozen Jews from Markowa and the surrounding area.

How did the hiding place get exposed? The Szalls, who were hiding with the Ulmas, lived in Łańcut before the war. Realizing that the "final solution of the Jewish question" was approaching, they began to look for shelter. They were promised by Włodzimierz Leś, a police officer of the blue police in Łańcut. He came from Biała near Tyczyn. Like his grandparents who came from Eastern Galicia to Rzeszów, he was considered Ukrainian. He lived on the outskirts of Łańcut near the Szall family, with whom he had maintained close contacts before the war. He helped them hide from the Germans. When the situation worsened, the Szalls had to look for another hiding place.They then went to the Ulma family, friends of the farmers from Markowa, who hid them. The Szalls, however, kept pestering Leś, demanding his support, because most likely they left a large part of their wealth with him. Since he had been refusing to help them for some time, they themselves tried to recover their property or take over his other goods in return. There are many indications that it was then that Leś decided to reveal to his colleagues from the German gendarmerie the place where the Jewish family was hiding. Thanks to the preserved files of the court proceedings against one of the cases - Joseph Kokott, it is possible to determine the course of the cruel crime with great accuracy. The commander of the expedition group was the head of the German gendarmerie station in Łańcut, lieutenant Eilert Dieken. Other gendarmes were: Joseph Kokott, Michael Dziewulski and Erich Wilde. Of the blue policemen, two names were identified: Eustachy Kolman and Włodzimierz Leś.
Shortly before the morning of March 24, 1944, the gendarmes reached the buildings of Józef Ulma, located on the outskirts of the village. Leaving the carters with horses aside, the Germans, together with the guards of navy blue policemen, went to the house. Soon, several shots rang out - the Jews were the first to die.
The eyewitnesses of the other shootings were wagon drivers who were summoned by the Germans with an order to watch what punishment could be imposed on all those hiding Jews. One of the carters, Edward Nawojski, says that he saw the hosts - Józef and Wiktoria Ulma - taken out of the house and shot. According to the witness: "During the shooting, terrible screams were heard at the place of execution, the lament of people, children were calling their parents, and the parents had already been shot. All this made a shocking sight."

After the parents were shot amid screams, the gendarmes began to wonder what to do with the children. After conferring, Dieken decided that they should be shot. Nawojski saw three or four children shot by Joseph Kokott himself. The words of this Germanized Czech, spoken in Polish to the carters, were deeply engraved in Nawojski's memory: "Look how the Polish pigs are dying - which are hiding the Jews." The following died: Stasia, Basia, Władzio, Franuś, Antoś, Marysia and the seventh in the mother's womb, a few days before the planned birth. Seventeen people died in a matter of minutes. German criminals committed this crime with their own hands, using navy blue policemen as bodyguards.
After the murder of the last child, Teofil Kielar, the mayor of the Ulma family, arrived at the Ulma property, bringing several people to bury the victims on the Germans' order. He asked the commander, known to him from frequent inspections in Markowa, why children were also murdered. Dieken replied cynically, "Let the pack have no trouble with them."
After the crime, the Germans started the robbery. Kokott took Franciszek Szylar, one of those brought to dig a grave, and ordered him to thoroughly search the murdered Jews. Sam supervised with a flashlight. When Kokott noticed a box with valuables hidden on the chest next to the corpse of Gołda Goldman, he said: "That's what I needed" and put it in his pocket. After burying the corpses, he gathered the Poles and declared: "Nobody dares to know how many people were shot, only you and I know!" Despite the strict ban, within a week, five men dug up the Ulma family's grave and buried them in coffins in the same place. One of them says: "Putting Wiktoria Ulma's corpse into the coffin, I found out that she was pregnant.