Mark’s History: The German refugee who changed his name to Rodley

rodley german 2
Arnhen Oosterbeck Cemetery 2009. Photo:

November 9th 1938 was known as Kristallnacht in Germany (‘The Night of Broken Glass’)  which saw a massive co-ordinated attack on the Jews in Germany, writes Mark Stevenson.

For Hans Rosenfeld this was the last straw. He was a university mathematics student and he fled Germany at the first chance he got.

He arrived in England in 1939 and by 1942 he was living in Rodley.

His ability to speak fluent German drew the attention of the Army and in 1943 he was a linguist in the 21st Independent Parachute Company, seeing service in Africa, Italy and Holland – specifically, Arnhem. 

No.8 Stationweg in Arnhem. Photo: Google

He was killed in a trench in a front garden while at No.8 Stationweg in Arnhem.

Hans was grateful to the country that had given him refuge but it can’t have been easy fighting his fellow countrymen, no matter their hatred for him.

Most Germans who fought for us would change their name.

He changed his name to John Peter Rodley in honour of Rodley, the place he lived whilst a refugee.

He left behind his wife Rachel and son Nigel, who went on to work for the UN and Amnesty International.


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