Rolf Abrahamsohn

Rolf Abrahamsohn said himself that he has two faces. There could hardly be a more fitting way to describe him. Even before meeting him, he demonstrated his quick wit, irony and humour on the phone. He put everyone off their guard, made the other person's insecurity disappear and created a familiar and pleasant atmosphere.

About Rolf Abrahamsohn

Rolf Abrahamsohn was born in Marl on 9 March 1925, the third of four sons. His father, who fought as a German front-line soldier in the First World War, married Rolf's mother in 1919. Together they ran a textile business. Rolf Abrahamsohn had a very happy childhood. He grew up mainly with Christian friends, with no distinction between Jews and Christians. This changed abruptly when the National Socialists came to power. All of Rolf Abrahamsohn's family members died in concentration camps or due to illness. He himself lived through seven different concentration and labour camps and weighed just 39 kg at the end. Nevertheless, after the war he played a key role in rebuilding Jewish life in the Ruhr region and supporting projects in Israel, even though the images of the past gave him no peace.

Abi, give up the Jewish community, give up that, give up that and give up that. But if students are looking for you, then go there. And if you can convince just one out of 50 children that Jews are no worse than Christians, then you will have achieved a lot.

Rolf Abrahamsohn

A picture to live on

All of Rolf Abrahamsohn's family members died in concentration camps or due to illness. In memory of his family, he bought a plot of land in Acre (Israel) to plant an entire forest for them. A few years ago, Rolf told us in an interview: "And I am happy and glad and (...) now I am building a forest in Israel for my parents. I had the first thousand trees planted four weeks ago. Five thousand trees have to be planted to have a forest."

Our encounter

We met Rolf Abrahamsohn in 2012, the second survivor we met in Germany and the first from our own region. His story touched us deeply, as it is filled with incomprehensible pain. He was a man with whom you could laugh a lot, but who was also noticeably haunted by his past. He regularly surprised us with his humour. Rolf Abrahamsohn told us that when he lost his strength and tears ran down his cheeks, he quickly countered with a little joke and was then able to continue his story. We were also able to share in these jokes, as well as many of his amusing anecdotes, such as how he got the nickname "Würstchen" (sausage) or why the well-known US actor Cameron Mitchell (known from the western series "High Chaparral" or from the film "How do you get yourself a millionaire?") helped him get a Ford Mustang. It is a pure gift to have met Rolf Abrahamsohn.

Rolf passed away in December 2021.