The scion of a wealthy German family with manufacturing interests, Hans Halberstadt took up the sport of fencing as a young man in his home town of Offenbach en Main. He competed for Germany at the 1924 Olympic Games on the epee and sabre teams and in the individual epee.
A raconteur and man on leisure, he claimed to have had a locker in every major club in Europe, so that he might travel freely without the encumbrance of a fencing equipment bag. A decorated war hero from the First World War, Hans was taken by the Nazis in 1937 and informed – he claimed not to have known – that he was of Jewish heritage.READ MORE...
Friends in high places or bribes got him out of an internment camp and eventually onto a boat out of Rotterdam that took him to New York. After a cross country bus ride, he joined his brother and sister who had earlier relocated to San Francisco.
Hans arrived in January of 1940, penniless and with no occupation other than fencing. He opened the Halberstadt Fencers Club in 1941, living in the back of the rented space, and remained there as teacher until his passing in 1966. His club became the center of the San Francisco fencing community and flourished in his lifetime. It continued on after his death and remains today the longest continually operating fencing club on the West Coast.
I return to the pages of The Fencer today, to reprint (actually, re-type) an article written by Pierre Paret for the February, 1948 issue. A portrait of Hans Halberstadt.
While looking through all the photographs the Archive has amassed of Hans Halberstadt, two things become clear. First, he got around. He clearly traveled a great deal. There are pictures of him all over his European playground.
In digging through a number of sources, including the Halberstadt scrapbooks and our West Coast Fencing Archives, I have found quite a number of photos of Hans with one – or the other – of the Thomson duo. With careful examination, I’ve begun to develop a feel for seeing one over the other.
Mark Headley and I hold the distinction of having dismantled the salle d’armes that Charlie Selberg put together in the woods of Southern Oregon. On the outside, it looked like this: On the inside, like this: Taking it all down for transport to Berkeley and...
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