14.02.2018 History, News, Videos

The Ulma Family Museum. The Role of Architecture in Public Life

A documentary about a museum dedicated to those rescuing Jewish people from the Holocaust

Watch the film on the PCI’s YouTube channel

Co-produced by Polish Cultural Institute in London and NP/SP Film, this documentary tells a story of an architectural enterprise: design and construction of a museum commemorating the history of oridinary Polish people like Ulma family who were helping rescue Jewish people from the Holocaust.

About the Museum (source: Ministry Of Foreign Affairs)

The Museum in Markowa is the first museum in Poland dedicated to all Poles who rescued Jews. Until now, there has been no place in Poland to present – in a broader context – the profiles of heroes who risked their lives to help their fellow Jewish citizens facing the Holocaust.

The Museum inspired by the fates of the Ulmas shows the history of Polish heroes from the time of the German occupation in 1939-45. During World War II ,the German Reich decided on the “final solution to the Jewish question”. Poles who helped Jews in any way were put to death. Collective responsibility of entire families was subject to the Draconian law only in German-occupied Poland. Despite being threatened with execution, many Poles decided to help not only their Jewish neighbours, acquaintances, but also complete strangers. The Ulma family from Markowa is an example of those people.

Before World War II, Markowa – the largest village in Poland – was inhabited by nearly 4,500 people, including 30 Jewish families. The Ulmas gave shelter to two Jewish families: the Szalls and the Goldmans. On the night of 24 March 1944, the German military police, accompanied by blue policemen, got into the house of the Ulma family to brutally shoot, in front of witnesses, Józef Ulma and his wife Wiktoria, who was in the ninth month of pregnancy, their six children and eight Jews sheltered by the family. The heroic attitude of the Ulmas has become a symbol of the sacrifice of all Poles who would save Jews during the war.

Those visiting Markowa can get to know, among others, the history of Józef Ulma – a distinctive citizen and social activist who was the first to introduce innovative methods of horticulture and gardening. He was active in the local Catholic Youth Association and supported the Union of the Rural Youth “Wici” as its librarian. His greatest passion was, however, photography. Using a self-constructed photo camera, Józef Ulma took thousands of photos of his family and friends.

There were many more people like the Ulmas. Besides names well-known around the world, such as Irena Sendler and Jan Karski, there were thousands of nameless Polish heroes who would save Jews and have now become forgotten. The fates of Polish families who would save Jews during World War II have been outlined in the material attached below.In 1995, Israeli Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority) posthumously bestowed the Ulma family the titles of the Righteous Among the Nations. To celebrate those events a stone memorial commemorating the martyrdom of the family was erected in 2004.

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