Life Stories

Jacques Queyrois:  Political Activist and Owner of the Circus Karmah. From Fakir Acts to the French Resistance 

Albert Queyrois, a Frenchman also known by the stage name Karmah, lived a life full of eclecticism and change. He also possessed an uncanny ability to incite political provocation. Born in Bordeaux in 1893, he was originally a cabinetmaker by trade, working in Faubourg Saint-Antoine in Paris. His father, Jean Queyrois, earned his living as a carpenter. His mother, Catherine Despéries, was Read More…

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…

Project Preparation

First preparatory project meeting with members of the circus community at the circus archive Winkler in Berlin, 3.11.2018

At a first preparatory meeting concerning the conceptualizing of the exhibition, the project members explored together with members of the circus community, including representatives of the German Society of Friends of the Circus and the European Circus Association, the limits and consequences of sharing in-group knowledge, information that may carry symbolic or social weight within Read More…

Teachers

International Teaching Training Seminar in Eisenstadt (AUT)

This training seminar with international speakers is part of the project “Forgotten Cosmopolitan: The Diverging Fates of Europe’s Circus People in the Wake of the Second World War”. On the basis of already existing research results, the speakers want to inform about the life, persecution, death and survival strategies of circus people in Europe during 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…