Poland to open museum honouring Poles who saved Jews

8th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

A museum honouring Poles who saved Jews during the Holocaust will open next week in the southeastern village of Markowa, where Nazis killed a family of Poles for harbouring Jews, organisers said Tuesday.

"A photo covered in drops of the victims' blood is one of the most moving items that we have at the museum," its director Mateusz Szpytma told reporters.

Nazi-occupied Poland was the only country in which the Germans had decreed that citizens risked death for helping Jews during World War II.

More than 6,600 Poles have been honoured as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Israel's Yad Vashem institute, the title given to non-Jews who stood up to Nazi genocide -- outnumbering any other nationality.

On March 24, 1944, the Nazis killed Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma and their six children -- aged one to eight -- as well as the family of eight Jews that they had harboured for more than a year in Markowa.

The history of the family has become a symbol of the "many heroes who, without weapons, stood up to the Nazi regime," said Dariusz Stola, director of the Warsaw-based Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

The Ulmas posthumously received the "Righteous Among the Nations" honour.

The idea for the museum was born as a counterweight to revelations made by US historian Jan Gross in 2000. In his book "Neighbours" he revealed that in 1941 several hundred Jews were massacred by their Polish neighbours in the town of Jedwabne.

"We know full well that during the war, people had all sorts of attitudes towards Jews," said Szpytma, adding that the museum provides that historical context.

© 2016 AFP

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