Hanning Schröder (1896 - 1987)

Hanning Schröder was born in 1896 in Rostock into a family of music lovers. His father was a captain and Hanning fought in the First World War. He later studied in Jena, Munich, and Freiburg, at first medicine and then musicology, violin, and viola. In the mid-1920s he started playing in various ensembles and later worked in theater, radio, and film in Berlin.

He married Cornelia Auerbach, a Jew, who had a PhD in musicology, in 1929. Their daughter Nele was born in 1934. In the early 1930s Hanning Schröder gave numerous concerts as part of the Harlan Trio, together with his wife and the instrument builder Peter Harlan. He worked together with Paul Dessau and Hanns Eisler until 1933, when they emigrated because Hitler took power.

Hanning and Cornelia Schröder were barred from the Reich Music Chamber in 1935, but Hanning was given special authorization to play viola for theater and film orchestras. Like his wife, he opposed the Nazi dictatorship. This was known to the Gestapo, which searched the Schröders’ home in Berlin-Zehlendorf several times. The couple followed the persecution of the Jews with great concern. Through Cornelia Schröder’s family connections to the Harnack family, they heard about Arvid Harnack’s leading participation in the Red Orchestra resistance group and his execution in December 1942. They knew that they had to be cautious, but nevertheless maintained contact to their Jewish friends and relatives.

When in late 1943 Hanning and Cornelia Schröder heard about the Rewalds, who had gone into hiding, they had Werner Rewald do some repair work in their home in order to assist him financially. In spring 1944, when the Rewalds had no place to stay, Hanning Schröder took them in without any hesitation. Cornelia Schröder, who because of her Jewish heritage and the increased air raids had moved with their daughter to Mecklenburg, sent food from there to help support the couple in hiding.

In January 1945, Hanning Schröder was supposed to be drafted into the Volkssturm, a national militia of older men and young boys established during the final months of the war. Ilse Rewald disguised herself as a UFA secretary and managed to get him released by registering an invented complaint. When the war ended in late April 1945 Hanning Schröder was at home, together with the couple he had been hiding. The Rewalds continued to live with him until they found other accommodations. They then moved into a house on the same street and remained close friends with the Schröders for the rest of their lives.

Hanning Schröder worked in the eastern part of Berlin but continued to live in West Berlin. In 1957 he composed a string quartet piece called “In Memoriam: Lied der Moorsoldaten” (In Memoriam: Peat Bog Soldiers Song). The suffering and the courage of Nazi opponents in the concentration camps had moved him profoundly. Once the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, he worked as a freelance composer in West Berlin.

Through the efforts of Ilse and Werner Rewald, Hanning Schröder was honored in 1978 by the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations. A memorial plaque was mounted in May 2002 on the house in Zehlendorf at Quermatenweg 148, remembering the courageous efforts of Hanning and Cornelia Schröder to save the Rewalds.

Rewald, Ilse. “Der Preis des Überlebens.” In Jüdische Berliner: Leben nach der Schoa; 14 Gespräche, edited by Ulrich Eckhardt and Andreas Nachama, 189–207. Berlin: Jaron, 2003.
Hanning Schröder
Photo: German Resistance Memorial Center



  • Mixed marriages

    Mixed marriages

    Marriage between Jews (or non-Aryans according to the Nuremberg Race Laws) and non-Jews was banned through the “Blood Protection Law” of September 15, 1935. Preexisting marriages were tolerated. Depending on the religion of the children, “privileged” mixed marriages were distinguished from “nonprivileged” ones. Initially spared deportation, the situation for Jews in mixed marriages became increasingly uncertain as of 1943. In some areas, spouses in mixed marriages were deported.