On Sunday, nine members of the Ulma family, including a preborn baby, were beatified in their Polish hometown of Markowa, where on March 24, 1944, they were killed by Nazis. The family was murdered along with the eight Jewish individuals they were hiding in their home.
No regard for human life
The Nazis’ discrimination and hatred was not limited to the Jewish people. They aimed to “improve” the genetic makeup by eradicating people they deemed inferior: people who were disabled, Black, Roma, Slavic, and, of course, Jewish. They also killed Polish people and those in the Soviet Union in order to expand the German empire. Millions of people were deemed unwanted and unworthy by the Nazis, and through the use of skilled marketing, they convinced millions of Germans to either turn a blind eye or help to carry out genocide.
Adolf Hitler created a Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda that worked to alter the opinions and behaviors of German people, including the passive acceptance of the persecutions. The Holocaust Memorial Trust explained that Nazi propaganda painted genocide as the restoration of order by the Nazi government. Nazi films portrayed Jewish people as “subhuman” and newspapers maintained an antisemitic viewpoint. All the while, those put in concentration camps were forced to send notes home lying that they were being treated well.
In the village of Markowa, Catholic couple Józef (44) and Wiktoria Ulma (31) had a farm that included vegetables, fruit, beekeeping, and silkworm breeding. Józef also enjoyed photography and Wiktoria was part of the local theater. After nine years of marriage, they had seven children, including one preborn child.
In their town were about 20 Jewish families. According to the Institute of National Remembrance, by July of 1942, local Jewish families were being ‘hunted’ by the Nazis.
“The Ulma Family was known throughout the village as a place where those in need can turn for help, which brought two Jewish families to seek shelter with them in 1942,” Fr. Michael Niemczak, a relative of the Ulma family told Live Action News.
Local cattle trader Saul Goldman and his four sons — Baruch, Mechel, Joachim, and Mojzesz — knocked on the Ulma’s door and the family offered them a hiding place in the attic. Soon after, the daughters of Chaim Goldman — Genia Grünfeld and Lea Didner, along with Lea’s daughter, Reszla — joined them. For over a year, they were protected from the Nazis — a risk on the part of all involved.
In the spring of 1944, an officer of the Blue Police told his German superiors that the Ulma family was hiding Jewish people. On March 24, 1944, German police arrived at the Ulma home where they shot first the Jewish families and then the Ulma family on the spot.
On September 10, 2023, Fr. Niemczak traveled to Markowa for the beatification of the Ulma family. That includes Józef and Wiktoria, their daughters Stanislawa (7), Barbara (6), Maria (18 months), and sons Wladyslaw (5), Franciszek (3), and Antoni (2), plus an unnamed preborn child.
The Vatican has released a statement saying the baby was “born at the moment of his mother’s martyrdom.” During the beatification Mass, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro explained, “Even this child, as it was found in a common grave after the slaughter, was considered worthy of martyrdom,” referring to eyewitness accounts from those who saw the bodies, that the baby’s head and chest had emerged from the mother. It appears labor began as his mother was dying or had already died, and the baby died in the process.
They are all on the path to sainthood, having died martyrs of charity like St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic priest who exchanged his life for another man’s in the Auschwitz death camp.
It’s uncharted territory for a preborn child to be beatified, but the Vatican explained that “the children shared in the operative faith of their parents, while the unborn child in Wiktoria’s womb received a baptism of blood.”
Joe Heschmeyer, a staff apologist for Catholic Answers, told Live Action News, “The notion of ‘baptism of blood’ goes back to at least the 200s, with the strong Christian conviction that God wouldn’t deny salvation to catechumens [Christian converts under instruction] who were martyred before they had a chance to be baptized.” This, he explained, would be the “ultimate injustice.”
“Baptism of blood” is explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ.” The most well-known infant martyrs are the Holy Innocents.
There is also the “baptism of desire” for those who wish to be baptized, including children who die before they can be baptized and whose parents would have otherwise baptized them, including the preborn Ulma baby.
At the beatification Mass, Cardinal Semeraro called the Ulma’s home “an inn where the despised, outcast, and death-stricken was welcomed and cared for.” He said the couple lived “a holiness that was not only marital but was fully embedded in their entire family.” He also spoke about their preborn child.
“Without ever having uttered a word, today the little Blessed cries out to the modern world to welcome, love, and protect life, especially that of the defenseless and marginalized, from the moment of conception until natural death,” he said.
He noted that the child’s “innocent voice seeks to shake the consciences of a society where abortion, euthanasia, and contempt for life seen as a burden and not a gift are rampant.”
“The Ulma family,” said the Cardinal, “encourages us to react to that throwaway culture…”
The stranger at the door and in the womb
“The Ulma family learned heroic love by welcoming the stranger in the womb with every child they brought into the world and were prepared by that to welcome the stranger at the door when these Jewish families needed shelter,” said Fr. Niemczak.
To a newly pregnant woman, her preborn child is much like a stranger. She knows nothing about him, even though he exists within her. She doesn’t know his eye or hair color or if he is indeed a boy or a girl. She doesn’t yet know the joyous sound of his laugh. It will be weeks before she can feel him react to her voice and to the foods she eats. It can be difficult to accept a stranger into our lives, especially ones we weren’t expecting, but Fr. Niemczak explained that the Ulma family story can bring hope to such situations.
“To those who have lost children who were never able to be baptized, the beatification of an unbaptized baby gives great hope in God’s mercy for all little ones who died too soon,” he said. “To mothers who are afraid to welcome a new life into this world, they offer the heroic example of welcoming life in their own children as well as welcoming the endangered lives of their Jewish brothers and sisters. To parents who are afraid another child will jeopardize the care or attention they can give to the children they are already raising, the Ulma family reminds us that parents teach their children the value and dignity of human life better through deeds than words – actually welcoming and protecting life rather than just saying nice things about loving one’s neighbor.”
The abortion industry has no regard for human life
Like the Nazis, the abortion industry has no regard for human life. It freely kills preborn children even beyond the age at which they would be able to survive outside the womb. In order to justify these killings, they say that the children are better off dead than poor, disabled, adopted, raised by a single mother who is still in school, or living in foster care.
It falsely claims women of color will struggle as single mothers and therefore, they should kill their babies. It uses the high maternal mortality rate of Black women to justify killing their children. It says the parents of preborn children who are diagnosed with an illness or a disability should kill their children rather than watch him or her potentially suffer — ignoring the child’s humanity while presuming to know what the child would want.
The abortion industry labels certain human beings as unwanted and unworthy and it uses skilled marketing tactics — propaganda — to convince compassionate Americans to see abortion as freedom and as a right. It convinces women who have had abortions that it was ‘for the best’ and they should ‘shout it‘ with pride. It’s all smoke and mirrors to hide that abortion is genocide.
“From a purely pragmatic perspective, one could fault Wiktoria and Józef for putting themselves and their children in danger by sheltering these two Jewish families,” said Fr. Niemczak. “But people the world over are moved by their story because our hearts recognize that there is a law that runs deeper than pragmatism – every human life has a dignity worth protecting, even if it disrupts our lives to do so.”
Editor’s Note 9/20/23: Information was added to this article regarding the Vatican’s statement on and eyewitness testimony of the baby’s death.