The goal of murdering an entire nation in the name of an ideology brought many people to act against it. They were motivated by a deep and far-reaching solidarity, independent of the efforts of the Polish government-in-exile which established the Council to Aid Jews (Zegota) in 1942. Not only the Polish elite, but uneducated Poles had no doubt about the price [of helping Jews]. Only in Nazi-occupied Poland was the death penalty imposed for any help given to a Jew. Villages were burned and entire families were murdered, as in the tragic case of the Ulma family.
Today, thousands of applications are being reviewed by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem to honor Poles who rescued Jews with the Righteous Among the Nations title. Currently, 6,004 Polish citizens are on this list.*
What was the motivation of Polish Catholic civilians to help the Jews when faced with death and the death of their dependents? They conquered fear and the burden and responsibility for the fate of another; generally they did this due to their faith in God and love of their neighbor. For the religiously ambivalent agnostics, the general rules of tolerance and human rights applied.
*As of January 2016 the number is 6,532.