Traute Kleinova

1918–1975

by Jacov Sobovitz

In Brief

Gertrude “Traute” Kleinová was a Czechoslovakian table tennis player. Noticed at a young age for her athletic ability, she later defeated the reigning world champion in 1935 and went to the World Championships in London. During the war, Kleinová was deported to Theresienstadt and then Auschwitz but she survived and emigrated to the United States.

Article

Gertrude “Traute” Kleinová was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, on August 13, 1918. From early childhood she had to help her widowed mother make a living by delivering milk in her neighborhood. The boys of her class used to accompany her on her chores so that she could finish her rounds earlier in order to be able to participate in the activities of the local Jewish athletic club. She could outrun most of the boys and she beat all of them in table tennis.

One of the athletic coaches at the Jewish club advised Kleinová to visit the table tennis division of the local Maccabi club. Here she became an instant success, both her special talent and good looks being immediately noticed by the chairman of the division, Jacob Schalinger (whom she married in 1939), and by its coach, Eric T. Vogel.

At the national table tennis championships held at Olmutz in 1935 she defeated the reigning world champion, M. Ketnerova, and as result was selected for the national team that was sent to London to compete in the World Championships.

Klein was a member of the Czech team that won the Corbillon Cup (World Championship) in 1935, beating Hungary 3:1 in the final. She won again with the national team in 1936 and in the same year she also won the mixed doubles event at the 1936 World Championship in Prague with her partner Miloslav Hamer.

Together with most of the local Jews, including her coach Eric Vogel, Kleinová and Schalinger were deported to Theresienstadt in December 1941 and were eventually sent separately to Auschwitz. Her husband perished but Traute Kleinová survived, along with Eric Vogel, who later became her second husband.

In 1946 Kleinová and Vogel emigrated to the United States. She died of cancer in 1975 and Vogel died two years later. In 1994 Traute Kleinová was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Bibliography

Petrusich, Amanda. "The Jewish Trumpeter Who Entertained Nazis to Survive the Holocaust." The New Yorker. April 22, 2019.

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How to cite this page

Sobovitz, Jacov. "Traute Kleinova." Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. 27 February 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 25, 2024) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/kleinova-traute>.