Germany mourns the passing of Berni Vossebein

Berni Vossebein competing in over 80 men’s singles at the 2006 World Veteran Championships in Bremen (Photo: courtesy of DTTB)

The oldest living German champion, Berni Vossebein passed away, a result of a stroke, on Tuesday 12th January in his hometown of Bochum, he was 95 years old.

One of the leading players in Germany in the 1940s and 1950s, he won seven doubles titles at the national championships and was twice the men’s singles runner up.

Hans Wilhelm Gäb, DTTB Honorary President, paid a moving tribute to the “Lion of Bochum”, a name aptly christened by Heinz Eil, an ARD radio reporter.

“With him an age in our sport comes to an end, the epitome of a fighting spirit at the table, a never ending enthusiasm for our sport and an example of warm humanity. Berni deserves all the honors our sport can give him.” Hans Wilhelm Gäb

Enjoying dinner (left to right) Sepp Seiz, Dr. Dieter Mauritz, Berni Vossebein (Photo: courtesy of Ebby and Diane Schöler)

Additional to national success Berni Vossebein, a left handed attacking player, represented the national team on 16 occasions, competing in four World Championships – 1953 (Bucharest), 1956 (Tokyo), 1957 (Stockholm), 1959 (Dortmund).

Following the conclusion of his playing career, he turned his attention to coaching, principally advising young players. From 1971 to 1987, as one of the coaches for the West German Table Tennis Association, significantly being the mentor of Wilfried Lieck to Christian Süss. Later, preferring to stay in the background, he proved a most valuable advisor, his knowledge indispensable.

Away from the table tennis world, he was a qualified hairdresser.

“You were and are just a fine person. You have long been considered a historical figure in our sport”, the message from Hans Wilhelm Gäb, last year on Berni Vossebein’s 95th birthday.

German national team, far right is Berni Vossebein. Also pictured from left to right are Conny Freundorfer, Dr. Dieter Mauritz, Poldi Holusek, Karl-Heinz Eckardt (DTTB-President) and Sepp Seizossebein.(Photo: courtesy of Ebby and Diane Schöler)

Sadly, his wife passed away several years earlier; unfortunately, the current pandemic prevented a larger gathering at his funeral.

Germany mourns but remembers with pride, a true gentleman who set a fine example, one for all to follow, never forgotten.

Berni Vossebein at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf (Photo: Peter Hübner)