Archives for posts with tag: Terezin


terezin quote fixedI 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.

rudi klobach hall of fame trophy

Photo: courtesy of Mark Makela for The New York Times

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.



Several months ago I wrote about Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest living Holocaust survivor. She’s still alive and presumably tickling the ivories, but she’s also another year older. Tomorrow, November 26, she will be 108 years old.


According to this article on, Alice swam daily until age 97, still plays piano daily, and is an eternal optimist (How could she not be? Imagine living that long with a sour disposition? Doesn’t seem possible…). Hope I’m half as spry at half her age.

The video above is one of many that were done in April 2008. There’s a total of 12 clips; here’s a link to all of them.

Leeds College of Music in West Yorkshire, England, is launching a Terezin Music Hub in February 2012. According to a press release from Leeds, “The Hub will aim to provide a focal point in the UK for the study of music and musicians interned at the Terezin (Theresienstadt) concentration camp during WWII, through creative practice, research and collaboration. It will also encompass related disciplines, including music during the Holocaust in particular and creativity in adversity in general.”

When I first heard about this I was a little disturbed. Something about it sounded off to me but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then I realized it was the wording of it in the Yorkshire Evening Post:

“The college is aiming to become a world centre for the study and promotion of music during the Holocaust, as well as creativity in adversity in general.”

Seeing the word ‘promotion’ coupled with ‘Holocaust’ was a bit too crass for me. But I wanted to know more so I looked in other places, most importantly straight from the source—Leeds College—and discovered it’s actually a wonderful idea that is going to enhance the future of the study of music. Especially studying the idea of creativity during adversity.

The Hub will kick off at an international conference at Leeds on February 26 and 27, 2012. The Ambassador to the Czech Republic (where Terezin was located) has agreed to be the Hub’s Honorary Patron (whatever that means). The conference will commemorate what would have been the 100th birthday of Eliska Kleinova, sister of composer and pianist Gideon Klein, who played a seminal role in Terezin’s cultural life. Gideon was murdered in Auschwitz; his sister survived Terezin and Auschwitz and died in 1999. Professor Eliska Kleinova was a highly respected musician based in Prague.

The focus of the conference will be on musical performance and composition in Terezin. Klein’s Piano Sonata, which he wrote and dedicated to his sister, will be performed.

I’ve written before about a woman who survived by playing piano in the orchestra at Terezin. Her name is Alice Herz-Sommer and at 107 she’s the oldest living Holocaust survivor today.

I Never Saw Another Butterfly is the name of a book of poetry written by children in the Terezin concentration camp. The book is named for a poem written by Pavel Friedman, who was killed in Auschwitz.

Poetry is a wonderful way to get at emotions buried so deep that normal prose can’t reach. It’s also an easier method for kids as their thought process and writing skills are more fragmented, which lends itself quite well to poetry (although my friend, poet Lynn Melnick, might disagree…what do you think, Lynn?).

Here are some from Texas elementary school student Katy A.:

Lying in our filth
We pray to God for some food
Help us through the night.

Coming into play
The sounds of pain and need
Look into the eyes.

Tired and weary
Standing for days at a time
In the rumbling trains

Darkness takes over
Bones sticking out of my chest
Where else can we go

More student poetry, this time from a middle school in South Carolina:

We lost our freedom
Nazi’s came and took our lives
Why are they so cruel?
by Walker Knight

The camp is lonely
I’m so hungry, I ate dirt
Mad being a Jew
by David Sanchez

The fence, cold, hard, tall –
divides humans from humans
It should be torn down!
by Alyssa Steele

Sky dark as night rain
Pouring down; dark room door, shut
We were no more
by Mason Duncan