Life Stories

From circus acrobat to Resistance fighter: the story of Raymond Gurême

Raymond Gurême was born in 1925 near Paris into a French Manouche (i.e. Sinti in French) family. As did several generations of the family before them, his parents owned a small circus and a travelling cinema: the family toured France and parts of Belgium and Switzerland where they were warmly received in villages deprived of Read More…

Life Stories

The escape of the Schauerjans family to Switzerland in 1943

The transcript of the escape story of the Schauerjans family is the result of a collaboration between descendants of the circus family and the French historian Laurence Prempain. Until 1943, Rosa (born 1902) and François Jacob Schauerjans (1903) lived with their children Edwige (born 1928) and Roger (born 1938) in Grenoble, France. Two versions of Read More…

Life Stories

The Esther family and its strategy to survive WWII

After WWI, Baptiste Esther (1893-1973) and his wife Méli Falck (1896-1955) run with their children a small circus. About the daughters Rita and Zélie Esther we know that they worked with horses. Baptiste Esther trained also his Spanish godson Marius Swils who lived with the family and later became an agile horse rider. The Esthers Read More…

Life Stories

Dark Stars: An Arab-German Circus Family during the Third Reich

“He had a spectacular scar that split his palm from index finger to his wrist,” recalls Bertrand Laurence of his strongman-acrobat grandfather, Houssein ben Ibrik. “It was from his early years in Morocco. To stop the attacking blade, he’d grabbed the sword of a pirate mounted on a camel. With his other hand, he swung Read More…

Life Stories

Rodion Nikitins (14.4.1915*) – A circus artist’s journey as an entertainer through Soviet and National Socialist occupation

The Latvian-born circus performer Rodion Nikitins lived through WWII performing in different circuses and theatres in Latvia, Germany and Nazi-occupied Prague. In his autobiography Of Flight and Freedom from 1987, Nikitins confesses that his work as an entertainer gave him more opportunities and options during WWII than those available to his family members or friends Read More…

Life Stories

Edit Sandor Kleinbarth (1931- ), a circus child during the war

Edit Sandor Kleinbarth was born in Budapest in 1931. Her parents were Sandor and Elise Kleinbarth. Her father came from a “private” Hungarian family. He had learned the art of school riding in the Czech Circus Henry. Also, he developed and presented animal revues with monkeys, ponies and donkeys. Her mother, however, came from the Read More…

Life Stories

The internement of the Sénécas in the wake of WWII: A family circus behind barbed wire

Originally from Belgium the Sénécas worked as a Circus family throughout France in the interwar period. As a travelling company and without a fixed residence, the nine children of Albert Sénéca (born 1907, Belgium) and Joséphine Sénéca, (born 1907, France), were born in different places in France. In the wake of WWII, the Sénéca family Read More…

Life Stories

The circus-menagerie Michelet and its bonds with the city of Gièvres

For decades, the Michelet family owned a menagerie-circus (first Ménagerie Lorraine Giacometti/ later Cirque-ménagerie Michelet). Many articles and advertisements published in newspapers state that this family activity goes back to the second half of the nineteenth century. On tour the family went into different partnerships with other well-known circus companies, like Albus and Grüss/Gruss. Henri Read More…

Life Stories

Gisela Nyman (1934- ) – An artist star of the post-war period rising in Eastern Germany

Gisela Nyman, born Blumenthal, was the daughter of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. She grew up in her birth town Leipzig. As a child, the Hungarian actor Marika Rökk became the role model for the young Gisela. At the age of five, Gisela began her ballet training. Later, she took also music lessons. Read More…