|Born||January 29, 1904|
|Died||February 1, 1975(aged 71)|
|Occupation||Olympic water polo player|
|Home town||Roudnice nad Labem|
|Height||6 feet, 1 inch|
Epstein was Jewish, and born to Maximilian and Helena Epstein. He grew in Roudnice nad Labem on the bank of the Elbe River, 22 miles north of Prague, in what was then the Austro-Hungarian province of Bohemia. He lived in a house built by his father in 1900 on the site where in 1830 his grandfather built the first house owned by a Jew outside the Jewish quarter. In high school, he became a competitive rower and swimmer. He also became a swimming coach.
In 1924, he joined the Czechoslovak Army, was picked for reserve officers school, and became a second lieutenant. The Czechoslovak National Swim Club asked that he be furloughed to compete for them.
Water polo career
Incarceration in Nazi concentration camps
He was incarcerated in a number of Nazi concentration camps during World War II, after Hitler invaded and annexed what is now the Czech Republic in 1938. Epstein was deported first to Theresienstadt concentration camp, then to Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to a small labor camp called Frydlant. All of the other members of his family were killed as a result of being gassed by the Nazis.
He married Franci, a dress designer who had herself been interned at Theresienstadt concentration camp, then Auschwitz concentration camp, and finally Bergen-Belsen concentration camp from which the Americans had liberated her, and who was also the only survivor in her family. They had a daughter, Helen Epstein, who became an associate professor of journalism at New York University, and two sons.
In New York City, in 1948 the New York Athletic Club permitted Kurt to observe one of their water polo matches, but clarified that inasmuch as they did not accept Jews as members, he would not be hired as a coach. After a decade of being unable to find steady employment, he ultimately became a cutter in a clothing factory of Star Children's Wear in the Garment District.
- Joe Eskenazi (September–October 2006). "A Jew, a Czech, an Officer, and an Olympian" (PDF). Martyrdom & Resistance. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- "Kurt Epstein Biography and Olympic Results". Sports-reference.com. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- "A Jewish Athlete: Swimming Against Stereotype in 20th Century Europe, by Helen Epstein". Plunkett Lake Press. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- Helen Epstein (April 13, 2009). "My Father, The Jewish Athlete". The Jewish Writing Project. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- "Kurt Epstein". The New York Times. February 2, 1975. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- Helen Epstein (November 4, 1990). "The House on Jan Hus Street". The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- Helen Epstein (1988). Children of the Holocaust; conversations with sons and daughters of survivors. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-011284-7. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- Alan L. Berger, Naomi Berger (2001). Second generation voices; reflections by children of Holocaust survivors and perpetrators. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0-8156-0681-8. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- ".". The New York Times Magazine. 1990. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- Alan Levy (July 27, 1994). "Helen Epstein: Growing Up Czech in New York". The Prague Post. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- "Patrick Mehr, Consultant, Weds Prof. Helen Epstein". The New York Times. December 12, 1983. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- Paul R. Mendes-Flohr, Jehuda Reinharz (1995). The Jew in the modern world: a documentary history. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507453-X. Retrieved November 8, 2011.