Nadeslala Maryna Ovner
Johann Trollmann was a German boxer whose ethnicity was Sinto (Gypsy). Throughout the late 1920’s he became increasingly well-known and successful. In June 1933 he beat the German heavyweight champion.
The Nazi authorities did not want to allow him to win, but under pressure from the audience gave him the title. They took it away, however, only a few weeks later, accusing him of „dancing like a gypsy.” A follow-up match was set-up, and Johann was not permitted to move his feet, only throw punches. He was knocked out after a few rounds, and his career ended.
Later he was drafted by the Wermacht and fought on the Eastern Front. However, all Roma and Sinti were then discharged from military service. Johann returned to his hometown of Hannover only to be picked-up and sent to the concentration camp at Nuengamme. Here he was recognized and forced to compete in boxing tournaments, much against his will. In 1944 he was put against a powerful Kapo (prison overseer) in the camp, known for his brutality. Johann won the contest and became a camp hero. However, winning the match was his death sentence. Not long after, the Kapo took advantage of his weakened condition after performing hard labor all day to beat him to death with a shovel in revenge.
The Leo Baeck Institute has a small amount of material related to the persecution and extermination of the Roma and Sinti people in the Shoah.