The Sons and Daughters of This Land

Stand for Israel  |  September 13, 2021

Wiktoria Ulma and her children

As World War II began, Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma were leading citizens in the Polish town of Markowa. Jozef worked as the town’s librarian, and the couple also kept bees and grew fruit. They also had six young children, with a seventh on the way.

So when the Nazis invaded Poland and began to deport and execute their Jewish neighbors, the Ulma family knew they had to act, as the only Jews from the area to survive were those who found shelter in the homes of Righteous Gentiles.

Jozef and Wiktoria hid eight Jews – six members of the Szall family, as well as two daughters from the Goldman family – in their attic. For close to two years, those eight Jewish people found safety in the Ulma family’s attic.

But then, in March of 1944, the Germans received a tip from a local Polish police officer. They arrived at the Ulma home, where they found the eight hidden Jews, who were all murdered. Then, in order to send a message to any neighbors who might hide Jews, the Nazis also murdered Jozef, Wiktoria (who was about to deliver their seventh child), and all of their children.

For their sacrifice, Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma were named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. And in the village of Markowa sits a stone memorial to these Heroes of the Holocaust, which reads:

Saving the lives of others they laid down their own lives. Hiding eight elder brothers in faith, they were killed with them. May their sacrifice be a call for respect and love to every human being! They were the sons and daughters of this land; they will remain in our hearts.