History

Although ,,Old Cemetery Powązki” did not share the misfortune of Warsaw and survived, but the second World War several times threatened its existence. Frequent bombings that took place around the cemetery, seriously damaged some of the tombstones. During the Warsaw Uprising, Nazi tanks were occupying cemetery avenues, shooting at the Downtown, destroying many of the side graves.

The owners of the precious tombs of Powązki were mostly the rich citizens. The war made many of them die or emigrate. Those who survived and stayed in the city had often lost their possessions, so could not afford to renovate the family tombs, built of grand scale and extravagance.

The tombs, which survived the war and post-war period, began to decay rapidly as a result of air pollution causing weathering, crushing and corrosion of the materials which they were made of.

George Waldorf inspired by advice of Professor Stanislaw Lorentz, decided to found a public guardian for Old Powązki who would try to restore the priceless artifacts. On May 7, 1974 in the Old Town Museum of History the first meeting of the Social Committee for the Care of Old Powązki took place.

George Waldorf, organizing the committee, tried to get people not only well known, but also those who shared his idea of saving Old Powązki. These included: Prof. Janusz Durko, Jacek Cydzik – architect engineer specializing in reconstruction and protection of monuments, Hanna Szwankowska - known varsavianist, Prof. Adam Roman with his knowledge and conservation experience, Kordian Trasiewicz - senior activist for Powązki, the Blikle family, Tadeusz Rudkowski - art historian, Kazimierz Łojewski - lawyer, journalist Barbara Olszewska - involved in all publishing projects of Powązki.

Speaking of people we can not forget about Committee conservators, as their knowledge and experience were crucial to the effectiveness of the renovation and conservation. From late 70s of XX century, about fifty qualified conservators were working in the cemetery, most of them were graduates from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, students of Prof. Adam Roman and his successors. Now, about fifteen conservators are working there permanently or temporarily. In 1979 on the base of the agreement with Warsaw Metropolitan Curia, the Committee got into free use the Old Hearse Building with its facilities, where conservation work could be carried on.

George Waldorf realized that support of even couple of dozens of competent and influential people was no guarantee of success. The idea of social care of Old Powązki must have been spread and popularized among the public and get its approval. To get that support he turned into the intellectual elite of Warsaw, mostly to the people of theatre and film. The support arrived immediately. Starting from 1975 on the 1 November, ,,All Saints Day” about 200 volunteers (mainly actors) walk through the cemetery avenues raising money under the slogan "Let’s save Powązki monuments."

In December 1999 George Waldorf died. Many people were worried that his death might mean the end of his work. Fortunately, thanks to the support of volunteers and people who care, nothing like that happened.


The Committee is an association registered in National Court Register No. NCR 24,029. It works under the Law on Associations and the Statute from 2008 it
was founded in 1974, by George Waldorf’s initiative, first as an independent committee of the Society for the Protection of Monuments and since 1989, as an independent association.
The Committee was headed by George Waldorf from the beginning until his death in December 1999.