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A Fight for Memory: Monument Honors Sinti Boxer Murdered by the Nazis

Trollmann memorial in Viktoria Park

Johann Trollmann was a young boxing star when the Nazis came to power. The highpoint of his career should have been winning the light-heavyweight title in June 1933. But Trollmann was a Sinti and he was soon stripped of his title. Before long, he would fall victim to the Nazi genocide.

It seems an odd place for a boxing ring — nestled beneath a canopy of trees in a quiet corner of Viktoria Park in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. The structure is made of concrete, its base slopes steeply in one direction and a dozen concrete spherical objects resembling boxing gloves cling to the ropes. But what’s it doing here?

Nearby, a plaque bearing a photograph of a handsome young man in boxing gloves clears up any confusion. The ring amid the trees is a temporary memorial dedicated to Johann Trollmann, a boxer who was stripped of his light-heavyweight title by the Nazis in 1933 after winning a fight just a stone’s throw away on Fidicin Strasse. There was no place for a champion like Trollmann in the Third Reich — he was a Sinti. And like half a million other Roma and Sinti, he would fall victim to the Nazis’ racial policy of annihilation, dying in a concentration camp in 1944. Continue reading

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