Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen in Germany

Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen


Owner 1916-1953: Lorenz Hagenbeck
First elephant arrived1916
Closed down1953
Address Krögers Hof, Stellingen
Place Hamburg
Country Germany

Directors-1948: Carlo Hagenbeck (assistant director)
1916-1926: Richard Sawade (assistant director)
1916-1953: Else Hagenbeck (assistant director)
1926-1936: Richard Sawade (director)
1936-1941: Herbert Hagenbeck (director)
1949-1953: Erich Hagenbeck (director)
1949-1953: Erich Hagenbeck (director)
1949-1953: Fritz Wegner (director)

Key People: Otto Sailer-Jackson (animal trainer)
-1944: Ingeborg Rhodin (animal trainer)


Elephant department

Head keepers
of elephants
1936-: Walter Kaden
(elephant trainer)
-1921: Wilhelm Philadelphia
(chief elephant trainer)
1925-1926: Epi Vidane
(elephant trainer)
1929?-1944: Hugo Schmitt
(chief elephant trainer)
-1952: Werner Behrens
(elephant trainer)

Elephant keepers-1944: Lulu Gautier
Record history
History of updates2024-03-10

Latest document update2024-03-10 02:19:06

Cover of the book "Animals are my life"

Cover of the book "Animals are my life"
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Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen, located at Krögers Hof, Stellingen, in Hamburg, Germany , was founded in 1916 and the first elephant arrived in 1916. Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen closed down in 1953.

Comments / picturesThe animal dealer Carl Hagenbeck Jr. (1844-1913) operated 1887-1889 Carl Hagenbeck Circus but due to bad experiences he sold it 1889 to Barnum & Baileys Circus in USA, and due to bad experience never wanted to have a circus again.

His son Lorenz Hagenbeck (1882-1956), had a dream about being a circus owner, but his father refused his wish, why Lorenz had to wait until his father death, in 1913. Then came World War I...

Adolf Strassburger had a Circus Strassburger for sale, including tent, 63 horses and 3 elephants during tour in Norway.

In 1916 Lorenz Hagenbeck borrowed 40 000 Mark from Hamburgs largest bankier, Max Warburg, and bought Strassburgers circus, and the name was changed to Cirkus Hagenbeck, founded by Lorenz 1916 in Kristiania (Oslo), Norway. Later the circus had winter quarters at Krögers Hof in Stellingen, close to Carl Hagenbecks Tierpark. In 1953 the circus closed down, and the land was sold, and in the same year the present "Schule Sportplatzring" was built.

Lorenz Hagenbeck also bought 2 elephants from Hermann Blumenfeld.

1916-03: 5 elephants reached Malmo at the end of March from Stellingen.

I had just gone to Sweden again to buy up horseflesh when Adolf Strassburger offered me his circus. But I had not the money. Nor had Uncle John, at Stellingen, anything in the kitty. Yet he supported the plan which I immediately conceived. As our name stood well in Hamburg, and in spite of the bad financial position our credit was good, I plucked up the courage to apply to the famous banker, Max Warburg. He immediately accommodated me with a rather large sum, sufficient to enable me to offer Strassburger a good price and make preparations to start a new Carl Hagenbeck tented circus. There was no lack of performing animals at Stellingen, and we had enough exotic animals at our empty mangers to be able to send a seemly animal show on to the road.

Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen in Germany Germany
I bought back two elephants from that veteran circus manager, Hermann Blumenfeld he had bought them from us shortly before the
beginning of the war.
Blumenfeld was a temperamental fellow, known as Hermann-Hermann, because he used to get so excited that he
always repeated the end of a sentence once or twice. 'Jolly glad,' he assured me, 'jolly glad to give you your old elephants back; they're eating me out of house and home, house and home, anyway out at my place at Magdeburg at Magdeburg they're just
standing about on the chain, on the chain. You can pay me when you like, you like. Send me the draft home, simple address, just Blumenfeld, Guhrau-Guhrau.'
-'Guhrau once or twice?' I asked.
-'Why, once, of course, just Guhrau-Guhrau.'
-'Just Guhrau, then?'
-'Oh no, damn it, I've not got any birds, any birds . . . '

The animals reached Malmo at the end of March, where in the meantime Strassburger\'s wagons had been painted orange and blue
and with our name. Now the seventy-six horses which we had taken over, the three elephants and a number of zebras, camels and donkeys
had the opportunity of welcoming new colleagues arriving from Stellingen. With the outbreak of war my old friend and teacher Richard Sawade had hastened home from South America, and now stood at my side while I made preparations for our first night in the Oslo circus building.

'A circus manager\'s place is in the ring, especially when the circus bears so famous a name I' Thus Sawade, and he was quite right.
Though I had hitherto never worked in the ring, I now took on the elephant Group, trained by an old keeper of ours to a new number
performed together with the Strassburger elephants. I had only time for five rehearsals with them in our Swedish winter quarters.

One of the Group was a large Sumatran bull elephant with Tusks about three Feet long, and his idea was at the outset to make sure that his new owner respected him, to which end he made a persistent attack on me. Luckily I was pretty good at handling the fourteen-foot-long elephant Whip and getting round him, cracking it, which of course all went to enhance the dramatic effect.

First night! Standing in the paddock behind the scenes, awaiting the whistle cue with my elephants, I had a real touch of footlights
fever. There was my cue, my entry march. Curtain up! And I was already in the dazzle of the ring. Behind the scenes Sawade had just
handed me a big glass of champagne. I bowed forcefully to the audience and then I saw my elephants already racing round me at
such speed that I could hardly tell which was first and which last. My faithful coachman Otto, who saw it all, stood right in their track. But in a moment I had the animals under my command, though I had to keep whispering to Otto to ask what came next! 'On one foot.' 'Pirouette !' he prompted me, and I bellowed out my orders as if the poor elephants were hard of hearing. Those first few minutes were centuries to me. Ah, but there it was at last, the triumphal march from Aida. All up for the pyramid stand! Our turn was over, and we marched out !
My dress shirt was glued to my body, but the applause seemed all right. The Oslo folk were enthusiastic. Sawade gave me a satisfied
wink of his left eye. Nevertheless, a few days later I learned my lesson. Advance agent, press manager and business organiser all at the same time, I had taken the night express to Stockholm. What was that I heard during the night? A cheerful mixed company of fellow passengers had mentioned my name. They were laughing. Why were they laughing? They were laughing because I had shouted so when I was in the ring ! Vox populi! After that I tuned down my ring voice to drawingroom strength, and my poor elephants showed their gratitude by becoming surprisingly docile.

Animals Are My Life, by Lorenz Hagenbeck

1916: Now, while the circus continued working, in the Stettin Central Hall, in order at least to cover the winter costs in Germany, Uncle John managed to hire the empty Chiniselli circus building in Warsaw. It was terribly cold when we loaded up at Stettin for Warsaw. Once again the Army Enlistment H.Q. combed through our personnel, so there I was myself, in driving snow, working elephant Jumbo at my side. All night long Jumbo had been busy heaving our circus wagons on to railway platform trucks. Ten long hours that faithful animal, well wrapped in a padded tarpaulin, kept by my side and worked so diligently that I shared my last bottle of rum with her that is to say, I used her half bottle to mix her a tubful of warm grog...Once there, we played two months long in the Polish capital. There was ample horseflesh for the carnivores, but not sufficient raw greenstuff for our herbage eaters, so that we lost two elephants, one of these being Nauke, a bull with magnificent Tusks. This was a hard loss for us; for now, during the war, it was of course out of the question to get substitutes from India.

Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen in Germany Germany
Circus Hagenbeck in Berlin, 1926. (The first elephant ridden by Epi Vidane) Photo: Bundesarchiv.

1927: Southamerica with 12 elephants.

1929-1930: the s.s. Parana discharged her cargo in Hamburg docks, and we raised our own big top over the Hamburg Heiligengeist Field. Beside the big tent we had used in South America we erected another, a rather smaller one, for the animal show. All our stabling tents were ranged round the sides of a big open square, within which we could tether forty-one elephants. This Herd was made up of the animals of both our circus programmes and the Stellingen Animal Park, which had just been enriched by a new contingent from India. That elephant assembly was an imposing sight, not without its publicity value in daily and weekly press. But it was only a momentary demonstration for the official elephant counters. After our opening shows at Hamburg, our larger enterprise went to Scandinavia and the smaller to Holland, and then we resumed at once our practice of taking with us only just as many
elephants as we required for pure circus work. But in the initial display we also showed elephants which we generally used solely for
loading purposes, including them as the Bunder-men* in the final 'pyramid', the item in which the elephants march out, each with its
front Feet on the back of the one in front. We also showed some African bull elephants, which later had to be withdrawn, for when on heat it is too dangerous to let elephant bulls come into a circus. When we paraded through the streets we always took great precautions against accidents. Animals Are My Life, by Lorenz Hagenbeck

1931: ...the unemployment figures exceeded the six million mark and one nearly needed a special certificate to be a street sweeper, business was so bad that we decided to keep only one circus on the road. The following year, with heavy heart, we implemented that decision. There was hunger in Germany, and veteran business men with years of experience behind them kept a worried eye on the political pendulum, wondering whether it was to swing to right or to left. [...] I make no secret of it, both of us, father and son, wept when Hans Stosch-Sarrasani left our Essen hotel room after we had signed away our elephants, our many zebus, our camels and our lovely horses.
Animals Are My Life, by Lorenz Hagenbeck

In 1932 there was even a succesful elephant breeding, when Minjak, although concieved in Leipzig Zoo, was born in January 1932 on tour in Essen.

Due to the economy in Germany, Hagenbeck was forced to bring the Circus abroad, which eventually became his fortune.

1933: The Circus toured with 50 circus wagons to different countries in Europe, Egypt, India, China, Japan, Southamerica, U.S.A. and Madison Square Gardens i New York, and to Londoner Olympia. (A newly found film by Film historian Konstantin von zu Mühlen, gives an interesting insight in the world tour. The film was on Television, at NDR Fernsehen in December 2018.)

In Oviedo, Spain, one pregnant female Asian elephant died, because of miscarriage.

India has many elephants, but no German police dogs, so I exchanged one of these for an elephant. At that time more than one Maharaja had his zoo, and all of them showed great interest in our menagerie. I still remember clearly a visit paid me by the Princes of Baroda and Talcher. One of them bought giraffes from us. I was paid in elephants, which I took back to Germany when the circus went.Animals Are My Life, by Lorenz Hagenbeck

Records about Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at
Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen in Germany Germany
These are the eight Hagenbeck elephants presented by Walter Kaden. (1935?)

William "Buckles" Woodcock

Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen in Germany GermanyThe elephant trainer Hugo Schmitt had accompanied Hagenbeck\'s Circus to London for the winter season of 1936 to 1937 at the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington, and among his Herd of elephants had two (at that time rare) African specimens. He was one of the first trainers to work with the Species.

1936:The Carl Hagenbeck Circus arrived to the Montevideo port, Uruguay, in the ship Paraguay the 4 December of 1936, proceeding of Hamburg, Germany. During the trip a storm take the ship and several vehicles was damaged. The circus début was the 11 December in the Rodo Park, Montevideo city, after they comes to Buenos Aires, Argentina, realizing an important tour along the country in 1937.
Cesar Ortega, circus message board,

Records about Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at
Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen in Germany GermanyThis is a newspaper picture of Walter Kaden with one of the Hagenbeck Circus elephants. Argentina 1937.

Cesar Ortega

William "Buckles" Woodcock

But World-War II ended the tour. While our tented circus was still touring the Argentine, groups of performing lions and tigers, African and Indian elephants, sea-lions and various artistes went from Stellingen to Berlin\'s Deutschland Hall.Animals Are My Life, by Lorenz Hagenbeck

1937: 20 elephants. Our last peacetime tour wound up with our show at the Bremen fair. Then came our traditional "works banquet" at Stellingen, when once a year all who worked in the circus, in whatever capacity, joined in a festive evening. The favourite dancing partner that evening was a senorita from Mexico, who was also our only feminine animal catcher. This was the first occasion on which we could admire lovely Erika Cook. Since, in 1864, Lorenzo Casanova founded the line of our animal catchers and world travellers, we had had no less than forty-eight men who year in, year out caught for us from the North Pole to the South. Animals Are My Life, by Lorenz Hagenbeck

1940: We took up our winter quarters in our Viennese circus building. Then in 1940 we set out on a tour, going north as far as Dessau, and ending up in Danzig, which was still not blacked out. This was my second son, Herbert's, last tour. The following year, he fell seriously ill and died. Animals Are My Life, by Lorenz Hagenbeck

The Circus was already suffering from 1943 bombings, when in november 1944 the winterquarters were totally destroyed.

1945: The surviving 8 arabian horses, Mathis tigers and five elephants were sent to Sweden during 1944, under the supervision of Carlo Hagenbeck, son of Lorenz. The elephants became later confiscated by Sweden as as alien property and sold to Ringling Brothers Circus in U.S.A.

1947: Ringling bought 5 elephants from Circus Hagenbeck, and hired Hugo Schmitt as elephant trainer, who later became Ringlings chief elephant trainer in U.S.A. stayed on Ringling until 1971. (Billboard 15 mar 1947)

1949: Lorenz Hagenbeck went on tour again, but after the war people in europe were to poor to keep his Circus with an income. 1953 he closed it down.
1956: Lorenz Hagenbeck died 26 Feb 1956, in Hamburg.

Lorenz Hagenbeck had the sons Carl-Lorenz "Carlos" Hagenbeck (1908 - 1948), Herbert Hagenbeck (1911-1941), Erich (1912-?), and grandson Dietrich Hagenbeck.

Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen in Germany Germany

Records about Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at
Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen in Germany Germany
Three generations- Lorenz Hagenbeck, his son, Carl-Lorenz and the latter\'s baby son, in the zoo in Stellingen.

William "Buckles" Woodcock

References for records about Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2024). Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

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