Polish National Bank Dedicates New Silver Coins to Beatified Ulma Family

The National Bank of Poland have released new silver collector coins which honours the Ulma family who came to national prominence just after the Second World War.

by Michael Alexander | Published on February 29, 2024

On the 80th anniversary of all members of the Ulma family who perished in 1944, their memory is preserved on the latest collector coins released by the National Bank as their story of self-sacrifice resonates to this day. Their story begins at the outbreak of fighting with the invasion of Poland by armies of the Third Reich and the imposition of laws which restricted the movements of the country’s Jewish population. The Ulmas were active in their local Catholic parish Church and community, a highly regarded rural farm family in the small village of Markowa. Józef and Wiktoria Ulma had been married since 1935 and welcomed six children by 1944. After Poland’s invasion in September 1939, arbitrary and restrictive laws were introduced in the first half of 1942, which were aimed primarily at the Jewish population. Particularly restrictive of these ordinances was the threat of the death penalty for assistance given to Jews by the inhabitants. Despite the threat of certain death, Józef Ulma was asked for shelter in the autumn of 1942 by Saul Goldman and his young sons Baruch, Mechel, Joachim and Moses – which Józef granted to them. At the beginning of 1943, Saul’s relatives, Gołda Grünfeld and Lea Didner along with her daughter Reszla were also taken in by Józef and Wiktoria as they could not turn them away.

Though a very risky situation on the Ulma family’s part, Józef had hoped his efforts to aid the Goldman family would go un-noticed since their house was on the outskirts of the village. However, on the morning of the 14th December 1942, a terrifying warning to the villagers in the form of a mass execution of more than 20 Jewish inhabitants of Markowa was carried out. With this savage act of inhumanity, Józef became even more convinced his and Wiktoria’s decision to provide safety to the Goldman family was what their Christian teachings and faith expected of them. More than a year went by and as it seemed the Ulma family had gone nu-noticed by the authorities, there was a glimmer of hope they would all survive until the end of the war. It is believed that a local resident of the village had reported to the authorities of Jews taking shelter at the Ulma farm. On the morning of the 24th March 1944, German military policemen surrounded the Ulma farm, immediately rounded up all members of the Goldman family and summarily executed them. The police later turned their attentions of all members of the Ulma family and carried out a death sentence there and then - Józef and Wiktoria who, on the day of her execution was in the first stages of labour with her seventh child. Moments later orders were given to execute the Ulma children,  Stanisława 7, Barbara 6, Władysław 5 Franciszek almost 4, Antoni 2, and Maria 1 joined their parents in what was described later by townspeople as a senseless and savage act. Both families were buried in separate mass graves that day by local residents who were ordered to do so and to serve as a deterrent to others in the village who would defy the ordinances.

By January 1945, there seemed to be indication the war would soon be ending and some sympathetic villagers exhumed the bodies of the Ulma family and moved them to the parish cemetery in Markowa. Two years later the remains of the Goldman family were taken and buried in the Jewish cemetery in the town of Jagiełła. Wiktoria and Józef Ulma were honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations on the 13th September 1995. This is an honourary title created by the State of Israel to describe all non-Jews who, for purely selfless reasons, risked their lives in order to save Jews from being exterminated by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. On the 10th September 2023 Pope Francis proclaimed the entire Ulma family blessed or beatified which is one step before actual canonisation or Sainthood.

The silver proof coins with an oxidised finish are produced by the Mint of Poland at their facilities in Warsaw on behalf of the National Bank and designed by Robert Kotowicz. The obverse side depicts the entire Blessed Ulma Family – Józef and Wiktoria and their six children while the heart-shaped amber insert symbolises the seventh un-born child. Above the primary design is the commemorative inscription PAMIĘCI RODZINY ULMÓW (In Memory of the Ulma Family). The reverse side includes a composition of a palm leaf and lily flowers – the palm leaf is a symbol of martyrdom, while seven lily flowers symbolise the innocence of the seven children. Above the primary design is the text RZECZPOSPOLITA POLSKA 2024 with the denomination of 50 ZŁ. placed to the left of the palm leaf with Poland’s national crest of the crowned eagle shown on the right. The additional commemorative inscription is positioned below the design and reads BŁOGOSŁAWIENI and SAMARYTANIE (Blessed and Samaritans).

Denomination Metal Weight Diameter Quality Mintage Limit 
50 Zlotych.925 Silver62.2 g. 45 mm. BU oxidized5,000

Available from the 22nd February, each silver proof quality coin is encapsulated and presented in a heavy-gauge lined card case, accompanied with a certificate of authenticity. For additional information on these and other coins issued from the National Bank of Poland, please visit their retail webpage.

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Author: Michael Alexander

Michael Alexander image Michael’s background in both numismatics and banknotes spans more than three decades and whose activities have varied from being a dedicated world coin collector to coin & medal design, marketing, theme concept and production. His additional interests include banknote research and in 1997, he founded the London Banknote and Monetary Research Centre to further these interests and activities. The company continues to offer monthly currency bulletins to both online and printed publications which includes information about the latest banknote news and releases from Central Banks and Monetary Authorities around the world. Michael has been a contributor to COIN NEWS magazine based in the UK since 1998 where many of his in-depth interviews, articles and bulletins have been published.

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