Czech and Polish Table Tennis Players of Jewish Origin in International Competition (1926-1957)
The beginnings of the 18th century marked the birth of Jewish sport. The most famous athletes of those days were boxers, such as I. Bitton, S. Eklias, B. Aaron, D. Mendoga. Popular sports of this minority group included athletics, fencing and swimming. One of the first sport organizations was the gymnastic society Judische Turnverein Bar Kocha (Berlin - 1896).
Ping-pong as a new game in Europe developed at the turn of the 20th century. Sport and organizational activities in England were covered by two associations: the Ping Pong Association and the Table Tennis Association; they differed, for example, in the regulations used for the game. In 1902, Czeski Sport (a Czech Sport magazine) and Kurier Warszawski (Warsaw's Courier magazine) published first information about this game. In Czech Republic, Ping-pong became popular as early as the first stage of development of this sport worldwide, in 1900-1907. This was confirmed by the Ping-pong clubs and sport competitions. In Poland, the first Ping-pong sections were established in the period 1925-1930. Czechs made their debut in the world championships in London (1926). Poles played for the first time as late as in the 8th world championships in Paris (1933). Competition for individual titles of Czech champions was started in 1927 (Prague) and in 1933 in Poland (Lviv).
In the 1930s, Czechs employed an instructor of Jewish descent from Hungary, Istvan Kelen (world champion in the 1929 mixed games, studied in Prague). He contributed to the medal-winning success of Stanislaw Kolar at the world championships. Jewish players who made history in world table tennis included Trute Kleinowa (Makkabi Brno) - world champion in 1935-1937, who survived imprisonment in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp, Alojzy Ehrlich (Hasmonea Lwów), the three-time world vice-champion (1936, 1937, 1939), also survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Ivan Andreadis (Sparta Praga), nine-time world champion, who was interned during World War II (camp in Kleinstein near Krapkowice).
Table tennis was a sport discipline that was successfully played by female and male players of Jewish origins. They made powerful representations of Austria, Hungary, Romania and Czech Republic and provided the foundation of organizationally strong national federations.
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