Maccabi Zagreb was founded in 1913 under the name of Jewish Sports and Gombal Society and in 1921 it was renamed Maccabi Zagreb. Until 1941, it operated in the Maccabi Hall, Palmotićeva 22, and since 1945 it has operated in the Jewish community of Zagreb, Palmotićeva 16, with primary activities table tennis and futsal. Its members were many successful athletes who also competed in many Maccabiads (in Europe and Israel). The Maccabi Zagreb Sports Club is one of the activities and sections of the Jewish Community of Zagreb.
In 2005, the Maccabi Zagreb Hall (Dojo) was built, which, in addition to Maccabi members, is also used by DV "Mirjam Weiller", as well as members of the Women's Section of JCZ.
JIU JITSA (self-defense) took place for the same year under the professional guidance of Sensei (Predrag Jukić), and is planned for ages 12-60. Starting in 2021 and during the pandemic, Maccabi Zagreb Fitness was launched three times a week, currently via an online platform led by Prof. Mirka Nikolac.
In early October 2021, the practice of martial art MUAY THAI (Thai boxing), aimed at all ages, started, under the professional direction of coach Goran Borović.
Maccabi Zagreb is a member of the European Maccabi Confederation (EMC).
If you want to join the work of Maccabi, please contact us directly.
Saša Cvetković, president of Maccabi Zagreb
From the pre-war history of Makabi (Maccabi) Zagreb:
HA-KOL, August to September 2015, edition no.: 141, Fredi Kramer (the author)
Maccabi Zagreb (Makabi Zagreb)
City of Zagreb has been the focal point of all activities of Jews in Croatian sports.
In 1806, after formation of the Jewish Community of Zagreb, there were more and more cultural, donation and class associations and clubs wherein the Jewish identity has been reinforced. Hence, formation of a Jewish club dealing in sport activities was encouraged.
Since this initiative had been strongly supported by numerous members of the Jewish Community, in 1913 the Jewish Gymnastic Sports Club ( Židovsko gombalačko športsko društvo ) was incorporated. The meeting of Initiative Board was held on March 23, 1913 and that year is considered as a year of the Club formation, although the Inaugural Meeting was held on January 25, 1914. Most engaged and responsible for this praiseworthy action were dr. Otto Braun, dr. Dragutin Zwieback, Julio Koenig, Hinko Graf, Aleksandar Licht, Hugo Slesinger and Adolf Licht.
In 1920, after merging with the youth sports club, the Club was named Makabi Zagreb (Maccabi Zagreb).
First president of the Makabi Zagreb was dr. Dragutin Zwieback and members of the first Board were dr. Otto Braun, Zlatko Rosenberg, dr. Hinko Loewy and David Stern. Gradually, in addition to the initial gymnastic section, other sections were developed and formed: track and field sports, football, fencing, wrestling and weight-lifting, skiing, table tennis, tennis, hockey and boxing sections. Between two wars, majority of Jews in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia were living in Zagreb and had the largest Jewish Sports Club Makabi Zagreb. In the Kingdom of Yugoslavia the Makabi Zagreb was the only club with members who were all Jewish.
Beside the gymnastic, fencing, football, tennis, table tennis and boxing sections were top competitors in Croatia and elsewhere.
Most prolific period of the Makabi Zagreb was from 1923 to 1937 when the Club was managed by Julio Koenig and dr. Samuel Deutch, the Secretary.
Formed in 1921, athletics has been one of the oldest sections within the Makabi. Athletes, members of the Makabi, participated in rallies organized by HAŠK. Koloman, Schneler – record holder in 800 m and 1500 m races, Miroslav Dobrin – long-distance runner and the race walker; later on a prominent official of the Yugoslav Athletic Federation and the long-standing Secretary of HAŠK, Mirko Mirković, Oskar Tauber, Zdenko Kraus, Pavao Klein, Vili Kaiser and other excellent athletes had showed great success and achieved big results.
After the World War One Makabi – Football Section - was formed on November 30, 1919 at the initiative and support of HAŠK members dr. Ivan Spitzer, Milan Šorš, Herman Šlosberger and Alfred Klaber. In this manner, operation of the Maccabi Club was revitalized, since it ceased almost completely during the World War One. Core of the Maccabi first team consisted of the experienced players playing in different football teams before the formation of a football section. Due to this fact, the first Makabi Zagreb football team was from the start one of leading teams of the Zagreb sub-federation. Beside the first team, Makabi had very prospective junior generation providing players for the best selection. In the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Makabi was the only club consisting solely of Jews. Makabi football players first had the official appearance on March 25, 1920 when they played a match against the reserve team of HAŠK. The reserve team of HAŠK consisted of its former first-team players, all of them very experienced and battle-tested fighters, while the Makabi still had no sufficient team-work and a true team-play, and, hence, was defeated by 6:0. However, the result wasn’t so important but the fact official appearances have begun. In its football history Makabi had always excellent coaches, and the most famous among them were Czech Karel Koželuh, who also coached HAŠK at that time; Danko Premeri, football member of Concordia and Gradjanski Clubs; followed by the international football player of HAŠK – Branko Kunst. Jews accomplished marked results in football. They successfully advanced to higher ranks of the Zagreb sub-federation and before the World War Two they were fighting to enter the Federal League and they would probably become its member if the War didn’t begin and terminated the activities and its operations of Makabi. Makabi played its first international football match on July 16, 1921 against HAKOAH from Graz and won it by 3:1 (1:0). Three members of Makabi were prominent international referees – Pavao Kauders, Otto Rosenfeld and Bruno Jelinek. Furthermore, many of them were referees of the federal rank like Milan Graf, Branko Višnjić, Milan Šorš and so on. Numerous successful Jewish sportsman – numerous Jews were very active and prominent participants in the Zagreb, Croatian and Yugoslav football federations. No less than three presidents of the most popular Croatian football club were presidents of Gradjanski – Hinko Rosenberg, Željko Berger and Vladimir Premrou; they were patrons and sponsors as well. In the period before the World War Two, Gustav Deutsch was the vice president of Gradjanski. He played a great role in formation of the largest generation of Zagreb “purgers” /burgher/. Deutsch was the biggest patron and supported significantly Makabi and all of its sections. Minister Ivan Torbar was the president of Gradjanski in that period and his best and most generous assistant was Gustav Deutsch who financially supported all players and took care that numerous young football players participate in junior teams of Gradjanski under the professional leadership of the great coach – Martin Bukovija. Arpad Hahn, internist-cardiologist from Zagreb, excellent Makabi football player and in his later years technical official and leader of the football section left and unforgettable imprint in the Makabi football section. Makabi football team was best under the leadership of Branko Kunst in the period from 1934 to 1941.
Makabi fencing section was one of the most successful. Makabi had several champions of Zagreb, Croatia and Yugoslavia, and the most famous competitors were Hugo Arnstein, Slavko Stern, Miroslav Juhn, Mirko Mirković and Fredi Kahan.
Tennis section was formed in 1922. It had around thirty members, and the best tennis player was Alko Kohn. Also, several famous and excellent tennis players were Jews who played in the most prominent tennis clubs of Zagreb, like Franjo Schäffer and Aleksandar Podvinec – Davis Cup team member. Schäffer was the leader of later prominent players – Franjo Punčec, Franjo Kukuljević, Dragutin Mitić and Josip Palada. Woman tennis players Olga Njemirovski and Fricika Blis Despot achieved extraordinary results.
Boxing, wrestling and weight-lifting section of Makabi was formed in 1923, and the very engaged head was Dragutin Rotschilas, vice president of the Boxing, Wrestling and Weight-Lifting Federation of Croatia followed by Eugen Berger, the officer. Best results among the wrestlers were achieved by Leo Diamant and Fischer (his first name was lost in destroyed archives – author’s note).
Makabi table-tennis section was formed in 1930 and successfully participated at the Zagreb championship from the start. Team championship of Zagreb for the season 1931/1932 was won by Zlatko Weiller, Rosenfeld and Müller as team members. In 1932 at the Yugoslav championship the Makabi team won the second place and Zlatko Weiller became the individual champion. Table-tennis players of Makabi were always among the best. Particularly outstanding team existed immediately before the World War Two, when Zlatko Weiller and Adolf Heršković were team members. Ladislav Hexner was also an outstanding player. He was a member of HAŠK together with Maks Marinko – Slovenian and Žarko Dolinar.
Also, the boxing section, formed in 1932, was very strong. First major success was achieved in 1934 at the Zagreb championship when the Makabi team (Branko Jungwürth, Leo Pollak, Izidor Gotesman, Hitenstein, Schultais and others) won the first place. Polak and Gotesman were most successful and, in opinion of Milan Maglica, the famous Croatian boxer, Leo Pollak was the best Croatian boxer before the World War Two.
There are no detailed data about the swimming and rowing sections but, however, it is known that Jews have participated in ZPK (Zagreb Swimming Club) of which Olga Fischer-Miočka, the swimming champion and record holder, and extraordinary water-polo players Miki and Saša Kleing, later well known as Strmac brothers, played a significant role.
Goals achieved by Maccabi founders – in addition to Zagreb, Jewish sportsman and sportswoman were very active in Split, Dubrovnik, Osijek, Sisak, Vinkovci, Čakovec, Varaždin, Belišće, Bjelovar, Karlovac and other towns and cities. There were many Jewish sportsman and sportswomen in Split who played noticeable roles in their clubs. Rudi Glajher and Mario Paškeš were excellent water-polo players of the Jadran Club and Silvio Altarac was a very good swimmer of the same club. Furthermore, Jews living in Split were big patrons of the Croatian sports. Viktor Hajon was a good water-polo player in the Jug from Dubrovnik and he was one of presidents of the Croatian Swimming Federation. Jakov and David Ferera from Dubrovnik were rowing in the Neptun Club and swimming at Dančane.
When Maccabi was formed, goals were to gather the Jewish youth, organism strengthening and the body resistance improvement, sports spirit and companionship development and getting to know each other resulting in full development of competitiveness required in various sport disciplines, both among the members and later on in competitions with other sport clubs of Zagreb and Croatia. Jews – sportsman and sportswoman, members of Maccabi were very useful and successful and contributed significantly to the development of Croatian sports. Unfortunately, many of them vanished in the war as Nazi victims, but the memory of them and their achievements, not only as extraordinary sportsman and sportswoman but also great patrons and promoters of the Croatian sports, is still present in all communities wherein they were active. The memory shall last forever and their names shall be mentioned by future generations as well. Maccabi has left an indelible imprint and, hence, we would like to express heartfelt thanks to them at this time as well.
Text taken from;
HA-KOL, August to September 2015, edition no.: 141, Fredi Kramer (the author)
Note: HAŠK - Hrvatski akademiski športski klub (Croatian academic sport club)