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Johann "Rukeli" Trollmann beim Training in der Sportschule Berlin-Charlottenburg
© Manuel Trollmann

Johann "Rukeli" Trollmann * 1907

Schulterblatt 71 (ehemaliges Flora-Theater) (Altona, Sternschanze)

JG. 1907


Johann Wilhelm "Rukeli" Trollmann, born 12/27/1907 in Wilsche, County Gifhorn, 1938 labor camp Hannover-Ahlem, detained at "Gypsy headquarters" in Hannover in June 1942, deported to Neuengamme concentration camp in October 1942, transferred to the Wittenberge satellite camp, slain in summer of 1944

Schulterblatt 71 (Flora Theater)

Rukeli was born as the sixth of nine children of Wilhelm "Schnipplo” Trollmann And his wife Friederike, née Weiss. He grew up in and around Hannover. He started boxing at the age of eight. In the 1920s, he was a successful amateur fighter; however, he was not nominated for the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928. In 1929, he started his professional career.

On June 9th, 1933, Johann Trollmann fought against Adolf Witt in Berlin for the German light heavyweight championship. In spite of the fact that had Rukeli had clearly won by points, the bout was called a draw. Only after a uproar arose in the arena, Trollmann was officially declared winner and German champion. However, the decision was annulled a week later by the German boxing authority. A Sinto could not be allowed to bear such a title. Trollmann’s last victory as a professional boxer over Gustav Eder at the old Flora Theater in Hamburg in the tournament for the German light heavyweight championship on November 5th, 1933 marked a turning point. After that, Rukeli no longer dared to win a bout because of the verbal and physical aggression against him from the audience. In January 1934 his manager cancelled the contract with him.

On March 18th, 1935, Rukeli became father of a baby girl, Rita Edith, and married her mother Olga Bilda on June 1st. Three years later, Johann Trollmann got divorced, in the hope "that his wife and child would have better chances if he disappeared from their life”, as his biographer Roger Repplinger wrote.

In 1938, Trollmann was sent to the labor camp Hannover-Ahlem for a couple of months. In November 1939, he was drafted into the Wehrmacht. Wounded in the campaign against the Soviet Union, he was discharged from the Wehrmacht in 1942. In July of that year, he was arrested in Hannover and detained at the Zigeunerzentrale ("Gypsy headquarters”) until October 1942, when he was transferred to Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg.

After an SS guard had recognized him as Trollmann the boxer, he had to fight SS men every evening. In February 1943, an illegal prisoners’ committee arranged Trollmann’s fake death in order to save him. He was declared dead and assumed the identity of a prisoner who had died. A few weeks later, he was transferred to the satellite camp in Wittenberge, where he was assigned to work at the plant of the Phrix company, where textile fibers were made from straw. There, he fell victim to an act of revenge in summer of 1944 and was beaten to death by a capo.

Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: March 2019
© Christiane Jungblut

Quellen: Repplinger, Zigeuner, 2008, S. 174; Trollmann, Johann Trukeli Trollmann, (12.6.2009).

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