Centropa’s AudioWalks take you on a journey through the Jewish history of Central and Eastern Europe.

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Historic picture of the former sportsground "Maccabi"
Historic picture of the former sportsground "Maccabi"

Former Maccabi sports ground

Element 340
Fizkulturna St / corner Bryans’ka St
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In 1923, Chief Rabbi Rosenfeld inaugurated the Maccabi sports ground in Chernivtsi. With a capacity of 12,000 seats, it was the first Jewish stadium in Greater Romania. The sports club Maccabi already existed since 1910, when Chernivtsi was still part of the Habsburg Empire. Since the club was affiliated with the Zionist movement, one of its goals was to raise Jewish youth in a Zionist spirit. The club´s most important sections were gymnastics, soccer, and track and field athletics. In addition, there were sections for handball, table tennis, swimming, skiing and ice hockey.

In the early 20th century, other “national” clubs were also established, such as the Romanian club Dragoș Vodă, the German Jahn club, and the Ukrainian club Dowbusch. There were also two more Jewish clubs – Hakoah and the workers sports club Borochow. Sports, especially soccer, provided an ideal opportunity for Chernivtsi´s different national, ethnic and religious groups to compete with each other.

Maccabi’s soccer team also played against Jewish clubs from abroad. In her interview with Centropa, Sylvia Segenreich speaks about her brother, Theobald Engler, who played for Maccabi:

My brother was a member of the Maccabi soccer team since he was ten. The team would even travel to Bucharest and play against Maccabi Bucharest. In 1938, when Theo was fifteen, he wanted to emigrate to Palestine like his Maccabi friends. But my dad did not let him go since he was too young. In 1941, the Germans shot my brother in Chernivtsi. He was only eighteen.

In 1932 and 1935, Maccabi delegations participated in the first two Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv. In 1934 Maccabi Chernivtsi was supposed to host an international sports festival, but one week before the event, Romanian authorities banned the event, arguing there were safety concerns. The festival was then moved to Prague.

After Soviet troops entered Chernivtsi in 1940, all Jewish clubs, including Maccabi, had to cease their activities. Under Romanian military administration, the stadium served as a collection site („Sammelplatz”) for Jews who were about to be deported to Transnistrian camps.

Today visitors find apartment buildings on the grounds where there used to be the stadium. Nothing remains that might remind visitors that there used to be a Maccabi sports ground. The installation of a so-called stumbling block to commemorate the deportation of thousands of Jews from to the historic location of the Maccabi Stadium was scheduled for 2017, but had to be postponed several times because the location had not yet been developed as a building site.

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