The Gombin Society
320 County Route 105
Highland Mills, NY 10930
Dr. Lucia Pawlicka Nowak
Muzeum Okregowe w Koninie
ul Muzealna 6
Dear Dr. Nowak,
Re: Tombstone in Konin Catholic Cemetery by the Jewish Gombin Society
Dear Dr. Nowak,
On behalf of the Gombin Society I am pleased to submit to you the official request to erect a tombstone ("matzeva") to the Jewish victims of the CZARKOW (Konin) Forced Labour Nazi Camp.
The Gombin Society wishes to erect a proper tombstone in the Catholic Cemetery, on the mass grave where the Jewish victims dead are buried. I formally inform you that the Gombin Society authorizes you to obtain all the necessary permits and approvals from the pertinent civil and religious authorities.
I am attaching a page with the proposed text and the list with the victims names. The list is based mostly on Rabbi Aaronson diary and other survivors testimonies. The research for the names took 2 months and included various inquiry messages in the Internet, interview survivors from Gombin and an article in Bnai Gombin issue nr 10.
We also authorize you to make inquiries with those who would do the actual work, taking into account the following alternatives:
1) Erecting a simple stone matzeva with metal plaque (using thick aluminum metalphoto technique (like the family plaques we placed at the main Chelmno wall) or
2) A matzeva in stone, in the Jewish Polish traditional shape or
3) A matzeva on the ground, a slanted-shaped slab, right in the center, in front of the existing standing stone with the Polish plaque.
We completely trust you and we are sure you will
advice us on the best alternative. Please send us one or two proposals with
Please take into account that we will not be able to spend more than 2000 dollars. After investing so much in the Gombin memorial in Chelmno, we are nearly left without budget and we have few resources now. So kindly limit your quotation to the maximum of $2000. We will choose among the quotations you will submit and will respond to you quickly.
Thanking your kind cooperation and assistance and wishing you and all your staff warm season wishes and most successful new year 2000...
Representative in Israel
The Gombin Society
HERE LIE THE REMAINS OF JEWISH PRISONERS
MURDERED BY THE GERMAN NAZIS AT THE KONIN FORCED LABOR CAMP IN 1942 AND 1943
BEING JEWISH WAS THEIR ONLY CRIME MAY THEY FIND ETERNAL PEACE
WE SHALL NOT FORGET YOU!
JEWISH GOMBINER SURVIVORS AND DESCENDANTS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD, 2000
|AKAVIA||Father and son||from||OSMOLIN|
|ZIELONKA||Philip Fiszel Ber||from||GOMBIN|
|AND THE ANONYMOUS JEWISH VICTIMS WHOSE NAMES WERE NOT DOCUMENTED|
At the Jewish Mass Grave in the Catholic Cemetery of Konin, August 1999.
In the Picture: Israel Chomski and Robert Prospery
Konin Cemetery Memorial Project Status
By Robert Prosperi with Ada Holtzman
Published in the Newsletter of G.J.H.G.S. - the Gombin Jewish Historical & Genealogical, Issue os 14 June 2003
As most readers will recall, the Gombin Society has been planning a project to erect a memorial at the Konin cemetery since almost immediately after the trip to Gombin in 1999. Though it only took a few months for the impact of the visit to the mass grave on the edge of Konin’s Catholic cemetery to stir several people to start exploring ideas for a memorial project, it has unfortunately taken until now to get a concrete plan assembled, approved and coordinated with support in Poland.
Background & History
For readers that may not be aware of this project, it came about as a result of a trip to the Konin cemetery during the Society’s fall 1999 trip to Poland. Though the basic facts surrounding the cemetery and Jewish mass grave were known prior to the trip to Poland, actually visiting the mass grave in the Konin cemetery was an extremely moving event for many, if not all of the attendees. (Note: Please see the references below for details regarding the history of Konin, the Work Camp, Gombiners that were sent there and the creation of the mass grave in the Catholic cemetery.)
The first thing I noticed upon arriving at the site of the mass grave is how banal it appears. Located on the outer edge of the Catholic cemetery, its basic appearance and condition is very similar to the surrounding graves, excluding obvious factors such as its size and the star of David on the tombstone. Not until after much reflection does the fact that it does not appear unusual make an impact. There is no damage or graffiti on the tombstone; it was neatly cared-for and flowers were found on the site when we arrived. We were told an anonymous local inhabitant looked after the gravesite and regularly cleared leaves away, brought flowers, etc. Its also notable to point out that a mere 10 feet away, just beyond the outer edge of and all along the cemetery’s border, there was much trash, broken glass, etc. Because of its location on the border, this site could very easily have been neglected and become part of the outer border, however the loving care it has received for more than 50 years has very clearly led to it being treated as part of the Konin community’s revered past.
The tombstone currently over the mass grave has a brief inscription in Polish, which no one ever recalls the translation of, which indirectly led to this project. Several Society members independently reached roughly the same conclusion, that the site needed another sign, preferably in English to allow more visitors to read it, which captured the basics of who was buried there and why. The project goal is simply that: to erect a stone Matzevah with a simple plaque noting the events and a vow by Gombiner survivors and descendents to Never Forget the victims buried there.
Initial authorization and token funding was sent to Dr. Lucja Nowak, the director of The Regional Konin Museum in Poland in May of 2001, to begin the process of requesting proposals, reviewing language and wording issues with the Polish and local government, etc. After much time and numerous obstacles, we are now represented pro bono by Michael Traison, a lawyer of the International law firm Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone who is very active in Poland in preserving Jewish heritage. He made the breakthrough in the negotiations with Dr. Nowak and the artist who designed the Matzevah. We have recently reached basic agreement on project specifics as summarized below. We now need to act decisively to build on the recent project momentum to fund, authorize and complete the project.
The current plan is to erect a stone matzevah, using local stone in minimalist style similar to the other tombstones in the surrounding cemetery, inlaid with a metal plaque, engraved with the following simple text, in English and Polish:
HERE LIE THE REMAINS OF JEWISH PRISONERS MURDERED BY THE NAZIS AT THE KONIN FORCED LABOR CAMP IN 1942 AND 1943 BEING JEWISH WAS THEIR ONLY CRIME MAY THEY FIND ETERNAL PEACE WE SHALL NOT FORGET YOU!JEWISH GOMBINER SURVIVORS AND DESCENDANTS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD, 2003.
Then the list of the victims hay"d.
The stone will be located adjacent to the mass grave and will supplant the existing tombstone; site arrangement will be decided after final proposals have been reviewed and exact placement approved.
Project Funding Status
The current project is estimated to cost approximately US$3000, though exact costs cannot be determined until final proposals are received and the Gombin Society Board selects and approves a specific design. To date, a little over US$850 has been donated to the Gombin Society earmarked specifically for this project, most of that contributed several years ago. This is amazing considering the funds were donated without a dedicated fundraising effort or even a Please consider making a contribution to the Gombin Society to help us complete this project. We believe we can complete the project within the estimated cost, however we need to proceed relatively quickly in order to take advantage of the recent successful negotiations. Please send your contributions marked “Konin Cemetery Project” and they will be set aside from other Society funds, exclusively to fund this project. We will record all gifts and thank all nonanonymous contributors in a future issue of this newsletter, however your true thanks will be in knowing you’ve helped keep the memory of the Konin victims alive for future generations.
Please help us complete this important project, which will help preserve the memory of those that suffered at Konin as well as educate unknown thers who will help future generations trying to look back nd understand.
Additional Background and Reading
1. Jewishgen’s Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities:
2. Ada Holtzman’s websites:
3. Theo Richmond, Konin A Quest (Vintage Books 1996).
4. Rabbi Yehoshua Moshe Aaronson, Alei Merorot (Leaves f Bitterness) including diary from the Konin Labor Camp ublished by Rabbi Y. Aaronson, B’nei Brak, 1996.
Konin Museum in the Internet
Tel: +48 63 2427599 Fax: +48 63 2427431
Muzeum Okręgowe w Koninie
62-505 Konin ul. Muzealna 6
In September 2003, following negotiations carried out by Mr. Yehuda Widawski from Tel Aviv, we finally received the final propsal by Dr. Lucia Nowak. The price quotation of the monument is: $5000.-
Up to October 26th, 2003, $1600.- were collected. An appeal through the Internet Gombin SIG has started.
Balance to collect: $3400.-
We thank all the donors from the bottom of our heart!
Back to Konin Forced-Labour Camp Page
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Last Updated October 3rd, 2006