On 24 March 2019, for the second time, the Polish National Day of Remembrance of Poles Rescuing Jews under German occupation is going to be celebrated. It is precisely on this day, 75 years ago that the Germans murdered the heroic Ulma family from Podkarpacie along with the Jews they had been hiding.
This day was established - as stated in the act - "in tribute to Polish Citizens - heroes who, in the act of heroic courage, incredible bravery, compassion and human solidarity, faithful to the highest ethical values, orders of Christian mercy and the ethos of a sovereign Republic of Poland, rescued their Jewish neighbors from the Holocaust which was planned and implemented by the German occupiers. "
This day is an expression of reverence for all Poles who, showing mercy and compassion, helped Jews who were systematically murdered by their German tormentors. They motivated their actions in various ways - with love of one's neighbor, with the teaching of the Church, with a civic duty or with ordinary human decency. Regardless of the reason, each and every manifestation of help provided to hiding Jews was an expression of great heroism, especially considering the fact that on the territory of occupied Poland, the Germans imposed the death penalty for aiding Jews.
This aid, given in spite of the daily terror of occupation, was both individual and institutional - the example of the latter was the activity of the Council for Aid to Jews "Żegota", a secret organization affiliated with the Polish authorities.
Poles who saved Jews were, are and should serve as a role-model and an inspiration – They constitute not only the almost 7,000 heroes commemorated by the Yad Vashem Institute whose names and surnames are known, but also the thousands of Poles who have remained anonymous or did not receive this award. Today, after decades, it is impossible to determine their personal details.
One of the symbols of German crimes committed in retaliation for rescuing Jews is the tragic fate of the Ulmas of Markowa in Podkarpacie, a family murdered by the Germans on 24 March 1944. It was on this day that Józef Ulma, his pregnant wife Wiktoria, their six children, and eight Jews from the Didner, Grünfeld and Goldman families lost their lives.
It is not a coincidence that the 75th anniversary of these dramatic events is celebrated as the day of heroic Poles who, in those inhuman times, showed what the meaning of true humanity really is.
In connection with the Polish National Day of Remembrance of Poles Rescuing Jews under German occupation, we would like to briefly present the educational materials published by the Institute of National Remembrance regarding Polish-Jewish relations during World War II and people who risked their lives to helping Jews during the Holocaust.
The trailer of the "Passports to Paraguay" IPN production directed by Robert Kaczmarek: