VATICAN CITY ( Associated Press) – Pope Francis on Saturday declared martyrs to a Polish couple who were executed by German police during World War II for hiding Jews on their farm.
Józef Ulma, a farmer and beekeeper, and his wife Viktoria hid several members of the Jewish community who were being persecuted during the German occupation of Poland in the Polish town of Markowa. Apparently betrayed by an informer, the Jews were murdered by the police in March 1944. The couple was shot along with their six young children, the eldest of whom was 8 years old.
Recognition of martyrdom allows the couple to be beatified, the final formal step before sainthood. After being beatified, a miracle attributed to his intercession would be necessary for a final canonization, as the Catholic Church’s canonization process is called.
According to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, the couple witnessed the execution of Jews taken from their homes during the summer of 1942.
While the police were searching for other Jews, a Jewish family of six was given shelter in the Ulma home, along with two sisters from another Jewish family, who hid them in the attic of their farm. German police searched for Jews in the field and shot them, before killing the farmer, his seven-month pregnant wife, and their children.
According to the Vatican, Pope Francis became aware of the Ulma family when he visited Poland in 2016 during a pilgrimage. respect for human dignity”.
Poland was the first country to be invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in World War II. Members of the Resistance and the Polish government-in-exile warned the world of the Nazi mass murder of Jews, and thousands of Poles risked their lives to help Jews, even as other Poles murdered their fellow Jews. Gave or hunted them.
During the Holocaust, the Germans and their allies murdered almost all of the approximately 3 million Jews in Poland, and the Nazis built their main death camps in occupied Poland.