During the Second World War he worked with The Schulze-Boysen / Harnack Organization, one of the resistance groups known as the Rote Kapelle between 1940 and 1942, and was arrested by Gestapo together with other members of the group in 1943. He claimed that he was unaware of the anti-Nazi activities of his friends, and that they had only met to listen to music. His friends in the Rote Kapelle did not betray him either, even under torture, and he was released for lack of evidence.
In 1945 he was appointed to the newly established Universität der Künste Berlin (HfM) where he taught and, in 1970, became director until his retirement in 1978. He continued to live in Berlin, where he died in 2001. He is survived by his wife, Inge Roloff and his sons, Stefan Roloff (filmmaker), Ulrich Roloff (flutist), and Johannes Roloff (pianist).