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baby pisetskaya

Shelia and I had many Jewish and Russian friends. We didn't care about nationality: there was no anti-Semitism in Kursk before the war. My sister and I and our friends went to swim in the river, celebrated Soviet holidays and went to parades. There were many gatherings in our apartment. My friends from the orchestra visited me. We sang, danced and had a lot of fun.
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Rafael Genis

My elder brother was a member of Betar [3] and enrolled me there. I didn't attend the meetings of Betar, where the methods of foundation of the Jewish state were discussed. Our Grandpa made brown shirts for me and my brother. I became a member of Maccabi [4], we often arranged all kinds of sports game and contests. We still celebrated Jewish holidays and Sabbath at home and we did it not to hurt our parents. On holidays I went to the synagogue with my father though I didn't believe in God at that time.
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Janina Duda

He was the best soccer player, left striker, Janek, that is Jankiel Baran.

He was a very well known athlete – he was one of the best soccer players in all of Belarus.
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I worked in sports. I have the fondest memories of this sports period. I was the vice-president of the Bialystok branch of the Spartak club. I was deeply involved in sports, because I was a competitor. I competed in bicycle racing, I was even the runner-up regional champion. I was practically the regional champion, because the winner was a girl from Leningrad or Moscow. That’s youth and young people; it’s hard to talk about politics. I organized clubs in the region, we used to go to Hrodna [100 km north east of Bialystok, today Belarus] to start clubs there.
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Wiktor practiced sports at Ha-Koach as well and I remember this funny story. Our friend, his last name was Wojcik, had a weaving loom at home. And he made some textiles. And we ordered bathing suits from him. He made them for us on his weaving machine. The swimming pool on Czechowskie lake was opened in Lublin at that time. When we jumped into the water, his underwear, excuse my language, stretched all the way down to his knees, because it was made from some poor yarn…
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Since the very beginning, since I was a little girl, I was very interested in sports. Perhaps I had a lot of energy and needed an outlet? There was no way to let this energy out at home, in those two rooms, so I joined the Ha-Koach sports club in Lublin. This club was a part of Maccabi [14], a large Jewish sports organization. I played volleyball, basketball, did some discus throwing, shot put, but I was too short for that, I was only 1 meter 60 tall. I mean then, at that time, I was somewhat in the middle, now I’d be a midget compared to girls like Otylia [Otylia Jedrzejczak, Polish Olympic champion in swimming in 2004], who is 1 meter 85. Anyway, nowadays sport has a different character. Then, it was purely amateur. I played ping-pong. I would sometimes leave for practice, get half a loaf of bread from somewhere and a bag of apples, eat that from morning until night and spend the entire day on the field… In 1936 I went to a sports camp organized by Maccabi.

This period meant a lot to me. I had an outlet for my energy; secondly, I had fun, I liked sports, I liked games. We’d meet on the Unia playing field in Lublin. It was a sports club. There was also the Strzelec sports club. I remember a volleyball match with the Unia girls. And the boys, Poles from Unia, threw us high up in the air, because they were so glad we showed those girls who were so stuck up. There were no differences then [between Jewish and Polish youth].
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Margarita Kamiyenovskaya

My father adored to go for a saunter. I accompanied him. As I grew up, our routes became longer. We went hiking throughout Estonia. We left home on Saturday and came back late Sunday. My mother didn't join us as she was delicate. My father and I spent the night in hamlets. Estonian peasants didn't cluster together in villages. Each peasant family settled on a small or large farmstead depending on the prosperity of the hosts. Whichever hamlet we came across, hospitable hosts offered us something to eat, fresh milk and to stay overnight. Estonians were good people. There were no thieves. Dwellers of Estonian hamlets didn't even lock their doors when they left the house. They just propped up the door with a broomstick which meant that the hosts weren't in. My father and I were mad about the sea. My father was an excellent swimmer and he taught me how to swim. I spent a lot of time at the seaside in summer time. There was a beach not far from our home. There were swimming courses held by an instructor. I also took those courses. I swam for seven kilometers every day. Then I hired a kayak and went across the gulf. On the way back I longed to swim, so when I was half way I jumped off the kayak and swam. Then I got back on and went back home. I also went in for water jumping. I enjoyed swimming with my father. Once, my father saved a drowning man. Apart from swimming I went skiing and did gymnastics. There was the Maccabi club [see Maccabi World Union] [13], which offered a lot of sports activities. There was a wonderful gym there.
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Arnold Fabrikant

Vilia was fond of sports and finished the Faculty of Physical Education of Odessa Pedagogical College.
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Amalia Laufer

He was a pioneer and a member of the Komsomol [5] league like any other Soviet child. He went in for sports. In summer he went swimming with his friends, they played football and went to discotheques.
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Miklos Braun

I always did a lot of sports. I swam and I played table tennis, I was good at skating, and I also played water polo. I used to go to Uncle Komjadi, to whom Hungary owes a debt of thanks for all he did for the sport of swimming. He was always wet—always around the water. Uncle Komi was a very good soul. Then there was hiking, which we often did with our father. We’d get up at dawn, at two or three in the morning, and leave—we didn’t take the tram or anything like that—and by 9 or 10 o’clock we’d be in the mountains. We also used to go to the open-air pool in Csillaghegy in the summer.

We did not go on holidays very much. I was six years old when my father had a meeting with someone, somewhere around Lake Balaton, I can’t tell you whether it was in Boglar or in Lelle. I ran after him and asked him to take me along because I had never seen Balaton before. So I saw Balaton for the first time then. I used to row a lot; we had a shared second-hand boat and went rowing on the Danube in it. On some occasions, we took a tent and went for a longer period.
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henryk prajs

anna schwartzman

At the age of 7 I became a member of the Romanian Zionist youth sports organization, Maccabi. We had gymnastics, social interaction and attended lectures on Jewish history, traditions and culture. The club also organized events. On Saturdays we had dances and concerts. There were different groups: choir singing, athletics, dancing. The orchestra was superb. Once a year we were taken on a trip and lived in a summer camp by the river for two weeks. We had to wear a Maccabi uniform. The junior group girls wore a blue skirt, white shirt and white tennis shoes. On the left breast we had the Maccabi pin, and we wore a blue tie. At 14 I was moved to a senior group. The uniform differed slightly - the skirt was not blue but white.
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Apolonia Starzec

We hiked a lot in the mountains with my husband. We didn't ski but hiked and that's how we spent any leisure time we had.
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Leon Glazer

There was also a Jewish football team in Bielsko. It was called Hakoah. I was too young for a player, but I was a fan. I went to all the matches. A 'Maccabiada' [15] was held there once [a Jewish athletics meeting]. I don't remember in which year, but I was 14, maybe 15 then. [In 1937 Hakoah Bielsko won the title of Maccabi Union Champion in Poland. Hakoah's rival in the championship match was the team from the Katowice Jewish Sports Club, which lost to the Bielsko side 1:6]

Among the teams that came were Maccabi Cracow, Maccabi Lodz and Hasmonea Lvov. The best pre-war team was Hasmonea Lvov. Hoenig [Editor's note: actually Honig], a great defender from Hasmonea Lvov, moved to Bielsko after that and played in a Polish team, in BBTS [the Bielsko-Biala Sporting Society]. I remember a few of the players in our Hakoah team, including the two Gruenstein brothers. One was called Aron; I can't remember the name of the other brother.
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On Sundays we would go to Aleksandrowice to the swimming pool together. That was this village just outside town, so you went on foot, there was a Jewish cemetery in that village too [the cemetery is still there]. The pool was an outdoor one, and I think that in fact it was some Jews that had built it. A ticket cost perhaps 50 groszy, the same as a ticket to the movies. These girls that we had our eye on used to go there. We wanted to flirt with them, but somehow it didn't work, because we were still upstarts, we were 13, maybe 14. Our school wasn't co-educational. Boys separately, girls separately. That's why we only knew each other a bit, by sight.

There were swimming competitions at that swimming pool in Aleksandrowice that Horowitz and I very often went to, because Bielsko had a very good swimming team - Hakoah Bielsko. [Hakoah Bielsko: Jewish Zionist sports club founded in 1912. Financed by membership subscriptions (1 zloty in 1939), the proceeds from the annual Hakoah Balls, and subsidies from the Jewish Community Organization in Bielsko. The club had several sections: athletics, football, tennis, and a swimming section including water polo. It functioned until September 1939; the club's activities were not resumed after the war. In 1953 it was officially struck off the register of Polish associations and clubs.]

I remember two Jewish girls winning the Polish championships: Dawidowicz over 100 meter breast stroke, and Kandl over 200 meter freestyle. [From 15- 17 July 1939 the Polish swimming championships were held in Bielsko. Hakoah Bielsko was the only Jewish team taking part in those championships. The club became Polish swimming champions on that occasion. Kandl won 2 gold medals, for 100 and 200 m breast stroke. Trude Dawidowicz: 3 silver medals for 100 and 400 m breast stroke, and for 100 m backstroke.] We used to go to water polo matches too - Hakoah Bielsko even played in the top league.

Horowitz even lent me a bike, because I didn't have one of my own. In the winter we used to go skiing. The tram went to Gypsy Wood, just outside Bielsko, you went a little way on foot and there are the mountains, the Beskid. And with Horowitz almost every Sunday in the winter we used to go skiing. I had my own skis, these two simple boards, nothing brand-name. As far as I remember, my parents bought me those in Dattner's sports shop on 3 Maja Street. My friends all had skis, so I begged my parents to buy me some too. But I don't think it was for any special occasion. And so we used to go to Gypsy Wood for the day skiing and come back. Yes, what I had, what my parents bought me, were those skis. What I could have. And so that was how I spent my childhood.
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