WARSAW, Poland — Polish officials held prayers and ceremonies honoring Poles who gave shelter and aid to Jews during the Holocaust as the country for the first time marked a new national holiday in their memory.

The main celebrations were held Saturday in the southern village of Markowa. That is where German forces in 1944 executed a Polish man and his pregnant wife, Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma, their six children and the eight Jews they were hiding.

Poland’s president and prime minister sent letters that were read out that praised the courage of the Markowa family and the thousands of other Poles who helped Jews even facing the penalty of death during Germany’s wartime occupation.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said helping Jews then was “one of the most glorious pages of Polish history.”

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