In the lead up to the London Olympics, Yad Vashem put together an online exhibition of Jews in various sports prior to the Holocaust. The virtual presentation showcases a group of athletes at the prime of their sporting careers, the pictures creating a time capsule of a people before one of the darkest times in Judaism.
This photo featuring runners from the “Bar Kochba” group training was taken in Munich, Germany. It dates back to 1932.
Victor Perez was a Jew born in French Tunisia. He won the title of World Flyweight Champion in 1931 and 1932. He was arrested in Paris in 1943, and was detained in the Drancy internment camp. He was then sent to Auschwitz where he was killed on a death march in 1945.
This photo was taken in Grodno, Poland in 1925.
Dutch artist Bob Denneboom dove competitively, and ultimately became champion of the Netherlands. During the Holocaust, he went into hiding at his weekend cottage in Egmond-Binnen. When the area was evacuated, he went to live with his close friend, the gymnastics teacher Jan Klein. Klein gradually took in Denneboom’s entire family, hiding 17 Jews in his home. Denneboom passed away in 2001.
Attila Petschauer was born in Hungary in 1904. He became an Olympic fencer, winning the team gold medal and a personal silver medal in the 1928 Amsterdam games. He also won the team gold medal in the 1932 Los Angeles games. A camp officer who had been his teammate in the Olympics murdered him in a concentration camp in 1943.
This game of field hockey took place at the “Bar-Kochba” international sports games at the Grunewald field in Berlin, Germany.
This Jewish football team played in Poland before the Holocaust. On the far right is referee Menahem Nusbam. He was born in Nowy Sacz, Poland and moved to Lodz before the war. He escaped to the Soviet Union in 1939 and was sent to work in the coal mine in Ordzhonikidze. He joined Anders Army and followed displays of anti-Semitism to escape and join the Jewish Brigade. He survived the Holocaust.
This gymnastics display happened in the courtyard of the Girls’ Gymnasium in Budapest, Hungary.
The handball match between Maccabi Avshalom from Petach-Tikva and the Maccabi Berlin team took place in 1937 in Grunewald. It was the first appearance of a group from Eretz Israel in these games, where spectators were students from Jewish schools in Berlin. Maccabi Avshalom won the match, and went on to play in other cities.
These girls were murdered during the war. This was Chava Dochleuter’s (right) personal photograph, and was submitted to Yad Vashem by her son.
This picture is of a table-tennis match in Poland circa 1933.
Jewish tennis player Daniel Pren (left) represented Germany in a Davis Cup match against Francis “Frank” Townsend Hunter, who represented the US. Pren ranked as the top tennis player in Germany from 1928-1932, but was eventually banned from competition in 1933 due to the Nazi rise in power. He moved to Britain where he continued to play tennis. He passed away in 1991.
This volleyball team picture was taken in Poland.
View the entire exhibition of "Jews and Sports Before the Holocaust: A Visual Retrospective" here.