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Ruben Gelbart was born on Januray 20, 1926 in Tel Aviv. When he was 4 years old the family returned to Poland. He lived at Dobrska Street (now 19 Błękitnej Armii Street). His mother, Freidel Gelbart, nee Korzec was murdered in a gas chamber in Auschwitz, and his father Abraham was shot dead by the Nazis in 1945 in Gliwice during evacuation of the camp. Ruben's brother Mordechai (Motuś) was shot dead in August 1942 (he was 20 years old then) during liquidation of the Warta ghetto. His other brother, Moses (Moishe) died in August 1942 in the camp of Chełmno on Ner. Many relatives of Ruben died in that camp. All the Jews from the Warta ghetto were transported there.
On his way to freedom, Ruben Gelbart survived the camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. After the war, he settled down in Switzerland.
Many years had passed before Ruben came to his hometown. His daughter, Francine accompanied him during the visit. They saw Warta so different from the town he had to leave 45 years before. The view of the cemetery saddened him very much.
It was during that visit when Ruben first met Ireneusz Ślipek. The meeting fructified with great friendship of both gentlemen. Ruben actively supported Ireneusz in the latter's works aimed at reconstruction of the Jewish cemetery in Warta. The Warta cemetery and its history became the subject of Ruben's discussions with the authorities of Warta, Ministry for Religious Affairs in Warsaw, and, in February 2006, during his visit in Brussels, Ruben talked with the Chief Rabbi of Israel.
Ruben visited Warta a few times. In August 1995, he came here with his wife Irene, and his friends: Leon and Chania Klinowski, Sara Goldberg and Bronka Ajzensztein. Ruben's son Roger and grandson Daniel also visited Warta.
It was not only his brother's (Motuś) grave but also the whole cemetery that were important for Ruben.
In 1988, he founded a headstone for his brother Mordechaj.
Together with Leon Klinowski they founded a headstone to commemorate ten Jews hanged by the Nazis in Warta in April 1942. Ireneusz Ślipek placed the matzevah in the cemetery.
Ruben Gelbart, accompanied by his daughter-in-law Eva and granddaughter Nathalie, visited Warta for the last time in 2010.
Ruben Gelbart was highly interested in the Jewish cemetery until the end of his life.
He passed away in Switzerland on July 6th 2017.
* This information is published following consultation with Ruben Gelbart's daughter Francine Shaked (Gelbart) and upon her approval.