March 24 – The Polish National Day for Remembrance of Poles Rescuing Jews under German Occupation

Unfortunately, World War II was not limited to actions on the fronts. In the occupied territories, the Germans introduced unbelievable terror against civilians, especially to the Jewish population who had lived there for centuries. The conference in Wannsee near Berlin, which took place on January 20, 1942, focused on the practical implementation of the “final solution to the Jewish question.” In order to accomplish this task, death camps were established in Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka in the General Government. Jews were not murdered only in the camps. They died at the hands of the occupier on the streets of cities and towns. They died of hunger and thirst, deprived by the Germans of basic human rights. Despite the anti-Jewish propaganda propagated by the Germans, many Poles gave shelter and provided immediate help to the Jewish population. On October 15, 1941, the Germans issued a decree on the death penalty for any help to Jews, and then extended the punishment to those who knew about the aid, but did not report it to the Germans. Poland was a country where this barbaric law was literally applied.

We do not know the exact number of Poles saving Jews and the number of Jews saved by Poles, but “Whoever saves one life saves the whole world” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 37a).Poles saved such worlds.

On March 24, the Polish Parliament established the National Day of Remembrance for Poles rescuing Jews under German occupation. Date selection is not accidental. On March 24, 1944, the Germans murdered the Ulma family in Markowa in the Podkarpacie region: Józef Ulm, his pregnant wife Wiktoria, and their six minor children: Stasia, Basia, Władysław, Franek, Antek and Marysia, as well as eight Jews from the Polish family who were hiding Didner, Grünfeld and Goldman families. The Ulma family from Markowa became a symbol of Polish martyrdom for helping Jews.

24 March 2020