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Museum honors Poles killed for aiding Jews during Holocaust

| Thursday, March 17, 2016, 6:03 p.m.

MARKOWA, Poland — Jews and Catholics offered prayers Thursday at the graves of Jews hunted by the Nazis and a Polish family killed for trying to save them, a solemn prelude to the opening of a museum honoring Poles who died for offering refuge.

Polish President Andrzej Duda and Israeli Ambassador Anna Azari took part in the formal opening of the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews, in the village of Markowa.

It stands near the place in southern Poland where in 1944 German soldiers killed Jozef Ulma, his pregnant wife Wiktoria and their six children, ages 1 to 8, as well as eight members of the Goldman, Gruenfeld and Didner families that the Ulmas were sheltering.

The museum is Poland's first memorial devoted to the Christians who helped Jews during the war, an act that was punishable in Poland by the immediate execution of helpers and their entire families.

A photograph that Ulma took of his Jewish neighbors that was stained with the Jewish victims' blood during the 1944 killings is among the items on display. Also shown are doors with bullet marks from the 1943 execution of five members of the Baranek family, which was sheltering four Jews in the southern village of Siedliska.

The day's observances began with Jewish and Catholic prayers at the wooded cemetery near the village of Jagiella, where the slain members of the Goldman, Gruenfeld and Didner families are buried. Local, state and Catholic Church authorities as well as schoolchildren heard Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, say Hebrew prayers for the dead.

Three children and two granddaughters of Abraham Segal, 86, who survived the Holocaust thanks to Polish farmers who hid him, came from Israel for the ceremonies.

“We are very excited by these ceremonies,” Segal's daughter, Pninit Naveh, said. “We are opening a new chapter for the new generations who must know history.”

She said her father brought his family on a visit to the area in 2006 and met with the families that helped save him.

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