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February 9, 2012 11:23 am

American-Jewish Hockey Player Makes History Playing for German National Team

avatar by Levi Epstein

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Ice hockey goaltender of the Straubing Tigers, DEL. Photo: wiki commons.

After decades of German contrition for what has come to be known as one of the worst crimes in history, a Jewish male athlete is set to represent the very country that formerly wronged and persecuted his people, in the Olympics.  He will be the first male athlete to do so since the fall of the third Reich over half a century ago. (Sarah Poewe, a South African with a Jewish mother, was the first Jewish female athlete to represent the country, swimming in the Olympics for Germany in 2004.)

The grandson of a Jewish holocaust survivor, 28 year old Evan Kaufman is an American born professional hockey player who moved to Germany in 2008 after receiving an invite to play for the Dusseldorf Metro Stars – one of the Germany’s most successful professional hockey franchises.

The Minnesota native  played forward at his state college for four years (from 2004-08) and went undrafted by the NHL.  As a result he ended up perusing a career overseas joining the German hockey league (DEL), which was founded in 1994 and now contains the highest number of American and Canadian players outside of North America.

His grandfather Kurt’s story of escape from death camps and subsequent Nazi evasion in addition to losing his entire family to the war is one familiar to many, but what renders it unique is the reality that his Grandson will now be representing the same country he was once forced to flee.

This weekend Kaufman will suit up for the German national team in Minsk for the Belarusian Cup, a tournament which features some of the best teams in the region. Kaufman says he is “proud to represent the team “and was quoted in London’s Daily Mail saying: ‘I didn’t have to think hard about it. It is a great honor but it will also be a very emotional moment for me when I hear the national anthem played.’

Kaufmann and his wife Danielle have said that they’ve felt at home since coming to Germany in 2008 and his parents make the transatlantic trip on a regular basis to visit them.

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