Simon Rosenberger, born in 1885, was a referee and football fan with heart and soul who advocated that the game of football and the rules should be the same throughout Germany at that time. But he encountered obstacles – not only from club officials and the press, but also among referees.
Organising the arbitrage
He was a pioneer and in many respects a man of the first hour: as a member of the MTV München of 1879, he was only briefly an active sportsman, but by the age of 15 he was already the best in theory in almost all sports. Among other things, the trained civil servant accountant founded the Munich Referees’ Association, worked for Seybold’s “Der Fußball” in the 1910s, as an editor for the Kicker from 1921 to 1925, edited the newly founded DFB Referees’ Newspaper from 1926 to 1931 and was active in numerous referees’ associations, including the DFB’s Federal Referees’ Committee from 1925 to 1931. He campaigned for a uniform training of referees throughout Germany as well as a uniform interpretation of the rules across the region – something that was glaringly lacking in Germany in the 1920s. As a result, he became a well-known figure in German football.
Leaving a legacy
The obituaries are almost the only historical sources to find out how popular and respected Rosenberger was. He seems to have been friendly, humorous, fair, idealistic, helpful, profound and analytical. He is referred to as a cosmopolitan who was popular in many places, had many friends and did not take himself too seriously. His knowledge and skill were particularly emphasized when it came to the rules and their interpretation. Others noted his skills as a captivating speaker who knew how to explain the meaning and spirit of the rules to the audience like no other.
Rosenberger died of a heart attack at the age of 46.
When Rosenberger died, everyone was sure in their obituaries that he would be remembered for a very long time. But, surprisingly, this did not happen. A certain Carl Koppehel worked to systematically erase the legacy of Rosenberger from public memory.
Simon Rosenberger’s fate is not unique, because Carl Koppehel, a colleague of Rosenberger who became an important organiser of football in Hitler’s Germany, and like-minded people not only erased him from history, but many others. Historians have a task to find out more about such ‘erased memory’ and consider now to remember them again.
Find out more
Frequent contributor to Football Makes History Petra Tabarelli has written about Simon Rosenberger recently in the DFB Referee Magazine.
One of the rare photos of Simon Rosenberger (Source: Petra Tabarelli).
LIFE STORIES To discover now
Do you wanna know more?
HISTORY CAN BE EXPLORED THROUGH THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS
Browse our collection of stories about football history and inclusion. With the history of football being made up of millions of stories, of individuals and communities, of movements and processes, we offer stories that can inspire our cultural conversations today.
Get to know untold stories where individuals are making history with football. When faced with insurmountable challenges, individuals past and present can use football as a cultural force to foster positive change in society. We honour these individuals and tell their ‘untold’ stories in short videos.
Explore our innovative educational resources that use football’s history, heritage and legacy to engage young people. The resources include ready-made lesson plans and historical source collections for school history education as well as toolkit with activities for non-formal settings.
In the wake of the 2015 migration peak, activists and volunteers across Europe have been involved in supporting refugees, sometimes with the simple act of offering space and friendship to participate in football through grassroots clubs to help newcomers integrate.
BBC Sport’s Football Focus visits Bundesliga side FC Union Berlin, a “rebellious” football club from East Berlin with a special set of fans, playing their first season in Germany’s top flight 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
LATEST POST You may also be interested in
A class of high school history students in Oslo was asked to create an ideal starting XI line-up based on Human Rights. Find out why and how it went.
A loving fan and musician put together his two passions and created this compilation of tunes from the Jazz Age.
Prayer days on stadiums, faith rooms and inclusive chants: here is how English football is adapting to a changing world.
Engage young people through Football Makes History’s own Guidebook and Toolkit for promoting social inclusion in formal education or Non-formal settings
Telling the history of a city through football stories: a celebration of Amsterdam.