In August 1997, the Gombin Society undertook to save and protect the Jewish cemetery in Gombin. The decision came after exploratory visits by members of the Board of Directors and consultations with the Gabin Land Lovers Association, a local group dedicated to the preservation of the town’s history.
At the site of the abandoned Gombin Jewish cemetery the oaks planted by our ancestors were still standing, but the space was desecrated on a daily basis because of lack of protection. The cemetery was used by children to play soccer, littered with garbage, and cited in the study of the World Monuments Fund as endangered by pollution and nearby development. Few headstones remained at the site, the majority having been used by the Germans to build roads, sidewalks, and even a bridge near the center of town.
In October 1997, Gombin Society directors Leon Zamosc and Jeremy Freedman went to Poland to negotiate the details of the project with our partners in Warsaw (Nissenbaum Foundation, Remembrance Foundation) and in Gombin (Town Hall, Gabin Land Lovers Association, Communal Construction Company).
In August 1999, a group of nearly 50 Gombiner descendants and members of the Gombin Society Board of Directors returned to Gombin to hold an official rededication ceremony. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of Gombin’s citizens, by town and regional officials, and by Zygmunt Nissenbaum and his wife.
The project to save and protect the Gombin Jewish cemetery included the following elements:
1. Demarcation of the Cemetery In the official registry of real estate of the Gombin area, the town’s Jewish cemetery appeared as part of a larger lot that also included the First World War German Military Cemetery, a sand pit, and other adjacent areas. As a first step to protect the cemetery, it was necessary to ascertain its boundaries, which were not demarcated. The Gombin Society hired a geodesic surveyor who, on the basis of a 1915 map of the Jewish cemetery, drew a new map establishing the cemetery limits. The perimeter of the cemetery is 580 metres and the total area is 3.5 hectares. A legal decision was obtained from the Plock Regional Conservator Office, approving the demarcation of the Jewish cemetery.
2. Recovery of Headstones A contract was signed with the Gombin Communal Construction Company to recover gravestones that the Nazis had used to line about 80 meters of sidewalk in Browarna Street. It is worth mentioning here that this same company has saved stones and fragments while doing repavement work in other streets of Gombin.
3. Enclosing the Cemetery Within Fence and Gate With the help and initiative of the Nissenbaum Foundation, a Warsaw-based Jewish organization that works to preserve the traces of Jewish history and culture in Poland, a quality welded metal fence, set on concrete bases, was installed around the entire perimeter of the cemetery. An iron-wrought gate, with a double and a single door, was installed at the entrance.