Slade, John : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Slade, John

Hans Schlessinger

field hockey

Country Represented:
United States

Years Competed:

Olympic Info:
Slade was a star athlete in Germany in the 1930s and was the country's top field hockey goaltender; he was expected to be the starting goalie on the 1936 Olympic team. Following the Nazi rise to power, however, Slade was prohibited from competing for his Frankfurt club and he immediately resigned.

After leaving Germany in 1936, Slade emigrated to the United States and was a member of the U.S. field hockey team at the 1948 London Olympics (there were no Games in 1940 or 1944 due to World War II). At the age of 40, Slade was the starting goaltender, and although the U.S. lost every game (2-0 to Afghanistan, 3-1 to Switzerland, and 11-0 to Great Britain) and Slade played through a head injury, he said, "Here I was, a Jewish refugee, and I played on the American team. It meant more to me than if I had won a medal for the German team in 1936."

Born to "highly assimilated" Jewish parents in Germany, Slade was given no Jewish education but at the age of 13, he asked to be bar-mitzvahed. He personally arranged to have Hebrew lessons and his bar mitzvah was the first time his parents had ever been inside a synagogue. Following the Nazis' rise to power in the 1930s, Slade was forced out of his athletic club due to the Nuremberg Laws and soon left Germany.

He went to the United States, changed his name from Hans Schlesinger to John Slade and worked for Bear Stearns, an investment firm in New York. In 1942, Slade volunteered for the U.S. Army during World War II and occasionally conducted interrogations of captured Nazi officers, including General Jurgen Stroop (who ordered the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto).

In 1945, Slade was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery after leading his company in the capturing 100 SS soldiers in a Bavarian Castle! After the war, Slade helped Bear Stearns create an overseas department in Europe. He returned to the United States and continued to work at Bear Stearns. A strong supporter of American Jewish and Israeli educational, cultural, and philanthropic organizations, Slade received an honorary degree (Doctor of Humane Letters) from Hebrew Union in 1997.

In 2003, at the age of 94, Slade still walks to work four days a week. In addition, on Fridays, he publishes from home a stock brokerage newsletter "John Speaking" that has a circulation of 20,000. On March 26, 2003, Slade celebrated his 67th anniversary with Bear Stearns.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. 1908, d.September 12, 2005

Frankfurt, Germany

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)