Rohde, a Berlin native, earned his Abitur diploma at the Graues Kloster school and went on to study classical languages and literatures in Berlin and Marburg. He earned his Habilitation in Marburg in 1931. Since he was married to a woman of Jewish origin, his academic career was brought up short in 1933. In 1935, he was invited to Ankara, Turkey, at the recommendation of language and literature scholar Eduard Norden. At the university there – which was then still under construction and was not officially opened until 1946 – Rohde founded the Department of Ancient Languages and Literatures. During this period, Rohde became friends with Ernst Reuter, who had also emigrated to Turkey.
Rohde came to the newly founded Freie Universität Berlin in 1949 as the university’s first professor of classical languages and literatures and remained active at the university until his death, in 1960.