|Jozef & Viktoria Ulma; Polish Catholics
Executed by the Nazis on March 24, 1944
Crime: Hiding a Jewish family
Feeding the Christians to ferocious, flesh-eating lions and tigers inside the Colosseum in ancient Rome was done for ‘entertainment’. Like a modern day Sunday football game packed with screaming fans, thousands upon thousands of shrieking spectators packed the seats and aisles inside the Colosseum as young men, women and even children were torn apart for the pleasure of the emperor and the citizens. This inhumane and vicious bloodlusting has been followed by centuries of Christian persecution. Today it has mushroomed into a horrendous and bloody human rights crisis. History has been witness to the wholesale slaughter of God loving people, both Christians and Jews. Loving God has proven to be a dangerous and deadly love affair for many.
During the summer of 1942 the Nazi military police began deporting Jewish families from Markowa to the Nazi death camps as part of the Final Solution. The only way Jews in Markowa could survive was for them to be taken in and hidden by non-Jewish Polish citizens. The Ulmas took eight Jews into their home. They knew what the penalty would be if they were found out but, being devout Catholics, they were not about to turn their backs on their Jewish neighbors. During the darkness of night the Szall family, which included dad, mom, and four kids plus two sisters from the Goldman family, were snuck into the Ulma house and hidden in the attic. Somehow they managed to stay in hiding for one and a half years.
Early on the morning of March 24, 1944, Lt. Eilert Dieken led his band of German soldiers to the Ulma house and surrounded it. They had been informed that the Szall family had been hiding there. They promptly caught all eight of the Jewish people which included two adults and six children. The prisoners were brought outside and several witnesses were gathered to act as observers. Each of the eight was summarily shot in the back of the head. Then Lt. Dieken ordered the Ulmas outside. He had the Ulma children lined up and made them watch as their dad and pregnant mom were shot to death right in front of them. The children began screaming so 23-year old Joseph Kokott got permission from Dieken to quiet them. He shot three of them while his fellow executioners, Michael Dziewulski and Erich Wilde, shot the rest. In a matter of minutes the German squad had executed 17 people. The 17th person was Viktoria’s seventh child. It was discovered upon exhumation to bury them in a cemetery that the child was almost born as Viktoria lay dead in the grave pit. What evil there is in the hearts of so many.
I include the Ulma family in this essay because we always discuss the people who are tortured, raped, imprisoned, brutalized and killed for their religious beliefs in terms of hundreds and/or thousands; and in the case of the Holocaust, many millions. We tend to lose sight of the individuality of each of those people. The Ulmas were no different than the rest of us. And, like the Ulmas, each and every one of those who has suffered the fear and agony of the religiously defiled, was an individual person with feelings, hopes and dreams. They had family and friends whom they loved, they laughed, they cried, they loved to dance and sing, to hug their children and to eat cake. They enjoyed a Sunday picnic and loved Christmas or Passover. And they all had every shred of personal dignity ripped unmercifully from their very existence. Their crime, in the case of the Ulmas, loving their neighbor through Christ; in the case of the Szall family and Goldman children, being the Jewish neighbors that were loved. To understand this heinous behavior by people against people is so hard to do. I can only surmise that it must be hatred of God Himself and, since the God haters cannot see or touch Him, they hate and defile those that love Him.
We here in the United States have been blessed with religious freedom. It is under serious attack by those who would eliminate God from our society. They do this by using the very freedom this nation affords them. They must turn to history to see what has happened in non-God societies. We can see the beginnings of serious Christian persecution right here in America. I hope and pray that there is not a future Ulma family somewhere within our borders. We must always remember how blessed we are to live in this country with the freedoms it provides. Freedoms worth dying for. Especially our first freedom, Freedom of Religion.
Post Script: Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma were declared Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1995 and their cause for Beatification was presented to Rome by the Catholic Church of Poland in 2003.