I just learned of another baby that was born in a concentration camp. This is something worth celebrating—another sharp stick in Hitler’s eye! When I learned about my mother-in-law’s birth in a camp, I didn’t understand how that was remotely possible. Then I heard about a few more babies born in camps and was forced to suspend my disbelief. And now, another one.
Although this baby died in January at age 70, his name, Rudi Klobach, popped up in my news feed today. As the much-loved soccer coach of Women’s World Cup star Carli Lloyd when she was a student at New Jersey’s Delran High School (1997-2000), his death is noted for the sole reason that he will not be able to watch Carli go toe to toe with Japan in the finals this year.
As exciting as the Women’s World Cup is, I’m more interested in his family’s history. Born on June 18, 1944 in Terezin concentration camp, little Rudi went on to have a good life that positively impacted many children.
Per an article in yesterday’s New York Times, “Klobach was born in 1944 in the Nazis’ Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, where his father was given the job of collecting bodies to put in graves,” his wife Barbara Klobach said.
Like so many survivors, he rarely spoke of his family’s experience during the war.
I learned a little bit more about him in his obituary. He and his parents, Klara and Karl Heinz Klobach, were rescued from the camp by the Russians and eventually settled in Düsseldorf Germany, where his sister Maria was born. In 1948, when he was four years old, the family moved to the United States, eventually settling in Pennsylvania after his father, a trained architect, received sponsorship from an American architectural firm.
In addition to coaching the girls’ soccer team through many a winning season, Coach K, as he was affectionately called, also taught German at Delran High School. In fact, the school’s German program wouldn’t exist without him: he built it from one class to a full-time curriculum with five levels of study. Deepening the school’s ties with all things Deutschland, Rudi established a German Club and traveled with his students every other year to Germany, Austria and Switzerland to enrich their language learning.
In 2011, Rudi was inducted into the South Jersey Hall of Fame in 2011. As a New Jersey native, I appreciate that they left off the “New” in the title. Sometimes Jersey is just Jersey, plain and simple.