Dieter Kober


May 17, 2022

Dieter Kober (January 2, 1920 in Halberstadt – October 1, 2015 in Radebeul) was a German-American musician, conductor, music teacher, founder and music director of the Chicago Chamber Orchestra.

Living in Germany

Dieter Kober was born in Halberstadt as the eldest son of the businessman Albert Kober and his wife Hedwig. In 1922 the second son Martin followed. The Kober family was one of the new citizens of Halberstadt. After the First World War, as a member of the German-Jewish population of the Prussian province of Posen, she was exposed to pogroms after the Greater Polish Uprising. After the province of West Prussia passed to Poland as a result of the Versailles Treaty, they fled to the German Reich with a wave of emigration. The intellectual family with a wide range of interests, whose paternal grandfather had been a chasan (cantor) in Glogau, was interested in art, history and music . The parental home made it possible for Dieter Kober to receive musical training on the bassoon and cello at an early age. After Hitler seized power in 1933, Dieter Kober experienced the changes in the National Socialist school system as a secondary school student. Intellectual education had to give way to physical training and military education due to new legislation. Kober's increasing discrimination because of his background was the trigger for him to emigrate to the USA after graduating from secondary school. The parents did not want to leave Germany. He received a visa from relatives in the USA in 1936 and emigrated to New York City at the age of 16. His parents and brother managed to escape there in 1938. They later lived in Louisiana, where the father ran a gas station.

Living and working in the USA

Kober graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in New York in 1938. Without being an American citizen, he was not admitted to the City College of New York. He then moved to the state of Nebraska, to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Here he was accepted into the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) state development program at the university and trained in military science courses and leadership training laboratories for deployment in the United States Armed Forces. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the USA's declaration of war on Japan on December 8, 1941 as well as Germany's declaration of war on the USA on December 11, 1941 interrupted the course of study. Due to administrative difficulties, he was not drafted until December 1942. Basic training began at Camp Kearns in Utah, a camp complex of the United States Army Air Forces. Kober was sworn in at the Hagerstown (Maryland) courthouse as a soldier without American citizenship. After an intelligence test, he was one of those selected who were secretly transferred for further special training. He was sent to the Camp Ritchie Military Intelligence Training Center, a top secret camp complex run by the US military secret service, a top-secret camp complex in which a total of around 15,200 young men were trained in eight-week courses during World War II from 1942 to 1945 as a special unit for the US Army's secret service including Guy Stern, Stefan Heym, Klaus Mann and the Austrian Hans Habe. Kober was assigned to Camp Ritchie-Military Intelligence Service (MIS) in the state of Maryland. He completed his special training in a military intelligence unit composed mostly of German-Jewish and Austrian émigrés, later known as the Ritchie Boys. For this elite unit, which was subordinate to the Pentagon, intelligent, mostly educated German-speaking members of the United States Army were selected who were motivated as emigrants, active against