Founded 1916 in Kristiania (Oslo), Norway, by Lorenz Hagenbeck (1882-1956), son to Carl Hagenbeck (1844-1913).
Carl Hagenbeck operated 1887-1889 Carl Hagenbeck Circus but due to bad experiences he sold it 1889 to Barnum & Baileys Circus in USA.
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. Lorenz Hagenbeck bought 2 elephants from Hermann Blumenfeld.
1916-03: 5 elephants reached Malmo at the end of March from Stellingen.
reached Malmo at the end of March
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.
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.
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.
...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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.