Wednesday, 25 April 1945

Garden Colony "Trinity": Liberation of Hans Rosenthal

On April 25, 1945 Soviet units reach the allotment garden colony "Trinity" in the Berlin district of Lichtenberg. For two years the 20-year-old Hans Rosenthal, later known as "Dalli, Dalli" quizmaster, has been hiding here. He survives the persecution and the war thanks to the help of the allotment gardeners Ida Jauch, Emma Harndt and Maria Schönebeck.

Hans Rosenthal grew up in a Jewish family in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg. As a child he experienced the growing anti-Semitic persecution by the National Socialism. Both parents died at an early age. Together with his brother Gert, Rosenthal was sent to a home for orphans and had to take on the name Hans Israel Rosenthal. On October 19, 1942, Gert Rosenthal is deported to Riga and shortly afterwards is murdered in the Majdanek concentration camp. Other relatives did not survive the Holocaust either.

Rosenthal is sent to a Jewish training camp (Hebrew: Hachshara) near Sommerfeld in Lower Lusatia, but after its being forbidden in 1940 he is sent to do forced labour as a gravedigger for the Neuendorf farm near Fürstenwalde. Later he has to work as pieceworker in a cannery in Berlin-Weissensee and Torgelow.

On 27 March 1943 he manages to escape. With the help of Ida Jauch, a non-Jewish friend of his mother, he goes into hiding in an allotment garden of the "Trinity" colony in Lichtenberg. The people living there are mainly people from modest backgrounds who, due to a lack of work and homelessness, had converted the allotments into modest accommodation. When the 58-year-old dies unexpectedly, Maria Schönebeck, a neighbour and friend of Jauch, takes care of the young Hans Rosenthals.

After his liberation in 1945, Hans Rosenthal trained at the Berlin Radio, where he worked as an assistant director. However, due to conflicts with the supervisory bodies of the Soviet-controlled broadcasting corporation, he moves to the western sectors in 1948 and joins RIAS. Here he became known to a large audience as an entertainer, especially with his quiz show "Dalli-Dalli", which was broadcast from 1971 to 1986. Only late in life does Rosenthal talk about his Jewish past in Germany. In 1980 his autobiography "Two lives in Germany" is published.

From the memories of Hans Rosenthal:

"In the last week of April, apart from the thunder of guns, I heard a sound that was new to me: a rattle that made the earth shake - tanks. Tank tracks, tank engines, dull impacts. It was not exactly singing in my ears. But it was the sound of freedom...
I left the arbour and ran, without further consideration for my situation, in the direction from which the rattle of the tank tracks came. I took cover behind a hedge. And then I saw the tanks coming, dirty, noisy monsters. One stopped next to me. I ducked. I saw the Soviet star on the tank tracks, very clearly...
Only later did I learn that behind such hedges Hitler's boys and men from the 'Volkssturm', the last contingent, had lurked and directed 'bazookas' against the approaching tanks...
I proudly put my 'yellow star' on my jacket and set out to meet the liberators. I was no longer afraid of Nazis, although the possibility of a counterattack still existed."

"Just outside the Central Stockyard there was a Russian tank, its crew chatting away. Waving brightly, happy, I approached the tankers. One of them was Jewish. He greeted me warmly and spoke German with me. He and his comrades had to advance to the city centre in a few minutes, he said. Whether he would survive it, who would know. I shook his hand. "Massel tov," I said to him, "good luck."

(Source: Hans Rosenthal, "Zwei Leben in Deutschland“ (Two lives in Germany), Gustav Lübbe Verlag: Bergisch Gladbach, 1993, p. 87f.