The Museum welcomed three staff members of the Eintracht Frankfurt Football (Soccer) team yesterday: International Director Samy Hamama, Communication Director Jan Strasheim, and International Coordinator Ernest Strul. Their advance request to visit allowed our Collections and Exhibitions team to select some Permanent Collection objects related to soccer to share with our guests.
Among these selections were the photos of and letters from Paul Mahrer, the Czech Olympic soccer player who was eventually sent to Terezín ghetto/concentration camp, whose story of survival is documented in an earlier blog post.
Rebecca Frank, Curatorial Research Assistant at the Museum, also showed them the 1940 blue and white soccer jersey from the Hakoah Soccer Club, worn by Joseph Zinn (1921-2010), and shared the story behind the jersey.
Joseph Zinn was born April 6, 1921 in Vienna, Austria, where he belonged to the Hakoah Soccer Club. He came to the U.S. in March of 1939, with his sister and brother; they lived with an aunt and uncle in the Bronx. Joseph and other Austrian émigrés re-started the Hakoah Soccer Club in New York City.
Joseph’s father Benzion was born in Delatyn, Poland. His mother Sarah (nee Kimel) was born in Halicz, Poland. His father was a watchmaker, who spent 5 months in Dachau after Kristallnacht. After being released, he was given 24 hours to leave Austria, and was able to get to Belgium, from where he came to the U.S. in 1940.
But Joseph’s mother was not able to leave Austria in time. She was deported to Poland and murdered in Treblinka.
Joseph graduated from James Monroe High School in 1942, and entered U.S. military service in March 1943, three months before he became a U.S. citizen on June 19. Basic training was at Camp Croft, SC. He joined the 69th Infantry Division at Camp Shelby, MI and left for England November 15, 1944, arriving there on November 26. In January 1945, Joseph was sent to France as a replacement and was assigned to the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion in Belgium. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and the Rhineland Campaign.
At the end of the war, Joseph took a job with the War Crimes Commission (WCC) as an interrogator/interpreter, and was involved in the interrogation of Jurgen Stroop and other suspected war criminals. After his discharge in April 1946 as a PFC he stayed with the WCC in a civilian role. He came back to the United States in September 1946 and attended City College under the GI Bill, graduating with a degree in civil engineering. He had a career as a civil and structural engineer.