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[Page 102]

"Khurban Gombin"
The Destruction of Gombin2

Jacob Grziwacz 1

Until 1939 the Jewish population of Gombin counted 3100 people. Public life was very active in the Shtetl. There were libraries and public reading halls where writers and various public and political activists came to deliver speeches.

The drama group had special importance, and it was founded by the aid of the actors Adam Tomb and Sonja Altbojm. The theatrical circle performed many plays in Gombin and in the surrounding towns. A revolutionist youth run very active life, organizing strikes and demonstrations. Many of them sat in the prison of the nearby town Plock and some were sent to the "Brezer Konsentranza". 3

Gombin was commemorated in the Yiddish literature. Shalom Ash described typical characters from this shtetl in his stories and its beautiful landscape. Y.L. Peretz wrote about the "Kune" 4 near the synagogue of Gombin.

In Gombin stood one of the grandest wooden synagogues in Poland. It was erected in the 18th. Century, and was considered to be a preserved historical landmark. Many times, foreign visitors arrived from Poland and abroad to admire the special wooden relieves of its eastern wall and enjoy its external beauty.

The Hitlerians conquerors liquidated the Jewish life in Gombin. Immediately upon the Nazi occupation, all the Jews were assembled in the "New Market" square. The Nazis bit the Rabbi of the town and ordered the Jews to do "gymnastic" exercises, to run, to jump, to fall, and all sorts of strange abuses, and in the same time the fascists Vandals burnt the synagogue and the Beit Ha'Midrash. When the houses nearby caught fire also, the Hitlerians pushed the Jews into the fire, forcing them to take out with bare hands, doors, windows and other pieces of property from the burning houses. All this took place while the Nazis took photographs of the horrible scenes for their amusements.

In the beginning of the summer of 1942, about 600 Jews were sent to the Konin concentration camp. Before their departure, the commander Haag told them: "you are going to work, you have a chance to live. For the Jews who are left in Gombin the death is inevitable."

Out of these 600 Jews, only 18 survived the camps.

One day the Nazis rounded a few hundreds Jews for forced labor and ordered them to clean the Jewish cemeteries off its graves.

The Jews were ordered to remove the tombstones and they were forced to take out the corpses off the tombs, without tools, and remove the remains to the Christian nearby cemetery.

As retaliation to the killing of a German, the Nazis staged a public execution and shot dead 10 local Poles. They performed the same public execution, shooting 10 Poles also in the nearby town of Gostynin.

Few Jews escaped the massacre in Zychlin and Gostynin and came to Gombin. They informed about the cruel crimes of the Germans. They reported that near the city of Kolo, in Chelmno, Jews are gassed to death and burnt. The chief of the Judenrat was asked whether it would be better to run away to the woods and hide. He "calmed" them and said that they should only bribe the Germans more and appease them with more valuables and money.

The time of the great disaster arrived, in the summer of 1942. The Hitlerians murderers assembled all the Jews in the Fire Brigade square. The Jews were surrounded by armed FolksDeutche, fascists, Ukrainians and Lithuanians, who kept the Jews 3 days and night under the open sky, without food and some water. While the wife of Naftali Spiwak begged for some water, a FolksDeutche from Gombin, Maas, shot her on the spot (after the War he was sentenced to death by the Polish authorities ).

Only on the fourth day arrived big trucks with he Gestapo men, and by horrible and murderous blows, the doomed Jews were pushed inside and were transported to extermination in Chelmno.


In the same fashion the Jewish community of the nearby small town of Ostomin was liquidated short time afterwards.

Notes:

  1. Jacob Grzywacz was from a known family in Gombin. His brother, Boruch Grzywacz was a forced labor Jew in the Ghetto. His picture appears in the Yizkor book of Gombin, page 130 and is presented here. Another brother, Avraham, testified to Mr. Rothbart, in another chapter of that book, about the tragic murder of Chajale Stolcman, by the hands of the Nazis in Gombin Ghetto times. Avraham Grzywacz lived in the 60s in Montreal, Canada, and he commemorated his father, Wolf Grzywacz in the Yiddish "In Memoriam" part of the Yizkor book of Gombin, page 225. Return
  2. "Gombin: The Life and Destruction of a Jewish Town in Poland", " Gombin: dos lebn un umkum fun a Yiddish shtetl in Poylin", Gombiner Landsmanschaft in America, New York, 1969. The Yiddish part, translated to Hebrew by Meir Holtzman, and to English by Ada Holtzman. Page 102-103. Return
  3. The main detention camp for Communists in Poland in the 30s. M.H. Return
  4. The "Kune" was a special traditional Jewish punishment device, which was standing on the entrance to the Synagogue. It was built of two round metal boards and inside them was put the sinner. Everyone on his way to pray, used to pass the sinner and spit on him. The custom stopped but the device was kept and Meir Holtzman remembers it very clearly. Return


 

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