Simon Rosenberger

Simon Rosenberger (1885-1931) was a pioneer and in many aspects a man of the first hour: as a member of MTV Munich of 1879 he was only active in sports for a short time, but at the age of 15 he was already the best in theory in almost all sports. He worked as a civil servant accountant and he founded, among other things, both the Munich and the Bavarian refereeing associations, worked and wrote for Seybold’s ‘Der Fussball’ in the 1910s, from 1921-1925 as editor for the ‘Kicker’, published the newly founded DFB refereeing newspaper from 1926-1931. Also he was active in numerous refereeing associations, including the then newly founded federal refereeing committee of the DFB from 1925-1931.

🇩🇪 For the German version look here.

With heart and soul

His colleague, referee and functionary Carl Koppehel, intentionally deleted him from football memories. Especially because of Koppehel’s personal animosities towards Simon Rosenberger (+1931). But Rosenberger’s Jewish faith helped, well, legitimised Koppehel’s behaviour. Koppehel not only erased Rosenberger from sports history by not mentioning him, but also many other Jewish athletes and clubs. Carl Koppehel was a top technocrat during the Nazi era and was still convinced of the totalitarian system of the National Socialists after the Nazi era.

Envy and resentment against Simon Rosenberger

The memory of Simon Rosenberger’s legacy, which was believed so surely, is buried. But it is not lost.

My first article about him has already appeared in the DFB Refereeing Magazine, and I am currently writing a biography in German for and about Rosenberger. It is expected to appear in early 2021. It will also be translated into English if there is sufficient demand.

“It is this very image of the ever tireless one that will probably remain in our memory more perennially than any other”

“Due to my ineradicable corpulence, I never did particularly well in the activity (except for continuous swimming, but according to the Archimedean principle this was not difficult). On the other hand, I was soon able to participate in all kinds of sports in theory, for which reason I have been able to ‘let my light shine’ in club and association committees since I was 15 years old”.
– This is how Simon Rosenberger described himself and his development as an sportsman so far.

Simon Rosenberger was a pioneer in German arbitration during the Weimar Republic. He was a referee with heart and soul and in the 1920s he campaigned for the popularity of football in Germany, well-trained referees and a uniform interpretation of the rules throughout Germany.

This was a major problem in the 1920s in Germany, because not only the version of the Laws of the Game published by the DFB deviated from the international ones. No, the interpretation of the DFB rules also varied from regional association to regional association and also from referee to referee.

When he died unexpectedly at the age of 46, all famous German football stars were sure in their obituaries that Simon Rosenberger would always be remembered.

But this was not the case.

Damnatio Memoriae of resentment and infamy

“To this day, Mr Koppehel still doesn’t see that it was a mistake to have been involved with the Nazis.”
– Note of the US occupation authorities in November 1947 after interrogation of Carl Koppehel

Both Koppehel and Rosenberger were the refereeing experts of their time in Germany. But Koppehel could hardly bear to have anyone next to him, yet he was held in high esteem within the referees and to some extent within the DFB. On top of this came Koppehel’s very national ideology. Simon Rosenberger, on the other hand, was patriotic, but very well acquainted with Walther Bensemann and had previously lived in the Munich bohemian culture of the early 20th century.

Carl Koppehel also acted against Simon Rosenberger during his lifetime and was glad when Rosenberger died of a heart attack at the age of 46. The reason for Koppehel’s animosities, lace and open rejection of Rosenberger was based on envy and resentment.

Carl Koppehel could not begrudge Simon Rosenberger this success and looked forward to satisfaction.

Rosenberger had hardly died when Koppehel quickly tried to unite the DFB referee newspaper with his German referee newspaper. Just one week after Rosenberger’s funeral, the DFB Refereeing Newspaper and Koppehel’s German Referees’ Newspaper were merged and both will be published by Carl Koppehel. A prankster who thinks evil of it.

Last year an German article of mine about Simon Rosenberger already appeared in the DFB-SRZ, but still without Koppehel connection, because I did not have sufficient sources at that time: Simon Rosenberger in the DFB referee newspaper 06/2019 (🇩🇪).

I am currently writing a biography of Simon Rosenberger in German language, which will be published soon. Currently, I am preparing for the editorial office. A sneak peak into the book is possible here.

Carl Koppehel was the head of the DFB press office during the Nazi era and from 1950-1958. He also regularly wrote historical chronicles about the DFB and refereeing. Simon Rosenberger is not mentioned in any of them. Whether Koppehel felt satisfaction?

In the immediate post-war period, ideological NSDAP supporters were washed clean and much was concealed, not only at the DFB. But it would be too easy to excuse Koppehel as a child of his time. Even after the Second World War, Koppehel defended the so-called Führerprinzip and used LTI, the typical Nazi language forms and words. Koppehel was a top technocrat who quickly adapted to the regime, adopted principles that suited him, glossed over the DFB’s activities during the Nazi era and his own history as well.

Koppehel was passionate about football like Rosenberger & Co, but was obviously resentful and spiteful when he was not the centre of attention. His moments as a choleric man have been handed down. The Nazi era was very useful to him, after he had already acquired the DFB referee newspaper and the book “Der Schiedsrichter” (The Referee).

Simon Rosenberger was a Jew, but probably not a believer or practicing person. It need not be anti-Semitism that Koppehel removed him from the history of football, but above all personal animosities.

Rosenberger was not, however, an isolated case, and Koppehel was involved in historical misrepresentation not only during the Nazi era but also afterwards, and made no further mention of Jewish football in particular in his reports and books.

Remind Simon Rosenberger

Friend and colleague Walther Bensemann wrote in the Kicker as obituary:

“In the September 8th issue, our readers were able to learn about the passing of our former editor, Simon Rosenberger. With Simon Rosenberger our movement, namely the cause of the referees, lost one of its most capable minds. A well-known game master to the older generation on the field, a friendly and good sports friend at the debate table, he was no stranger to the younger generation as the publisher of the DFB refereeing newspaper. Who doesn’t remember the always friendly employee at the board table of our association congresses? His great ability as a skilful stenographer to unravel the tangled threads of the most passionate speakers led him to the certainly not easy position of a stenographer at the association congresses, and it is precisely this image of the always tireless will probably remain in our memory more perennially than any other – it was the last one. We owe the good Rosenberger a great deal. After all, he had dedicated himself entirely to sport, had helped to develop it and participated in the joy of its success. We owe him more than a good memory! Simon Rosenberger died in bitter distress, as one of the many disappointed by the sad present. Two children mourn their father who had passed away, a wife who was always trying to ease the burden of her husband’s life, is faced with nothing. Shouldn’t all of us, who have known and appreciated the good Simerl for a long time, help a little bit to pay off a small debt of thanks in the right place?”

The obituary is like a last, sighing gesture and clearly testifies to the esteem in which Bensemann Rosenberger was held during his life and afterwards. But it also bears witness to Rosenberger’s economic and financial problems, a consequence of the world economic crisis.

My goal is to remind of Simon Rosenberger and to make him (again) as famous as his contemporaries predicted. I don’t just want to be remembered by his employers, the footballers and the DFB, or by all the referees, but by everyone who lives for football. Just as he did.

Let’s give him the recognition and memory he deserves.