Karl Strassburger

From the list of elephant persons Family: Strassburger

Karl Strassburger
Profession circus director
Personal details
Born 1899 in Germany
Dead 1953-05-07 Trelleborg in Sweden

Spouse(s) Regina Strassburger

Country Germany

Title owner 1919-
Location at Circus Strassburger in Netherlands

Biography details

Leopold Karl Strassburger , circus director in Germany

Born 1899 in Germany dead 1953-05-07 in Sweden , son of director Adolf Strassburger Jr. and assistant director Wilhelmine Strassburger .

1919: His father Adolf Strassburger died.

Leopold Karl Strassburger, took over the circus and married his cousin, Leopolds (Adolfs brother) daughter Regina Strassburger, and together with Reginas sister Elly Strassburger and Karls brother Hans Strassburger they brought the circus into one of the largest in Europe, travelling in two units.

1936: Karl Strassburger moved to Holland

1938: Toured Sweden with Henning Orlando under the name Cirkus Orlando-Strassburger.

World war II and Circus Mikkenie-Strassburger

Karl Strassburger
Karl Strassburger performed until into the German occupation of Holland in 1940, and even during the occupation as Circus Mikkenie, where Frans Mikkenie, a non-Jewish Dutch circus man, officially ran the circus.

Death of Karl Strassburger

1953-05-07: During the Swedish tour, Karl Strassburger died by drowning in the town Trelleborg. Officially because of Heart problems, but a Swedish doctor from Goethenburg, who made a health check one months before, wrote that the Heart and blood pressure was good. The Swedish circus historian Alf Danielsson, writes that there was a general opinopn within the circus people that Karl Strassburger committed suicide.

After Karl Strassburger died in Trelleborg in 1953, the sisters Regina Strassburger and Elly Strassburger tok over the management of the circus.

Carl Strassburger came from a German-Jewish family, whose horse circus tradition reached back to the early nineteenth century. In 1926, he took over the company from his father Adolf and his uncle Leopold. At that time, it had already ascended to the first league of German circuses. While Carl became the director, his siblings and cousins functioned as co-owners. Unfortunately, the family did not notarize the handover, and this negligence would have serious consequences after 1933. The Nazis categorized Carl Strassburger preliminarily as “Jewish half-caste of second degree”, since his mother Wilhelmine Kossmeyer had been catholic, and most likely his paternal grandmother as well. However, the official owners of the circus were still Adolf and Leopold, and they were considered to be (at least) “Jewish half-castes of first degree”.

Circus Strassburger with oriental facade, Erfurt 1935 (Zirkusarchiv Winkler, Berlin)

First attacks on the “Jewish circus” occurred in the course of the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses on April 1, 1933. Carl Strassburger and his managing director Emil Wacker made every effort to come to terms with the new system. Wacker became a member of the NSDAP, founded a National Socialist company cell, and obtained a writ of protection by the Staff of the Deputy Führer. However, these measures could not protect the circus from local calls for boycott, advertising bans, and other chicanes. In order to prevent the threatening bankruptcy and a potential dispossession, the Strassburger family sold the whole circus for 200.000 German Reichsmark to Emil Wacker (!) and Paula Busch in August 1935. For the latter, the purchase served as a compensation for the loss of her stationary circus building in Berlin, which was released for demolition. The German press reported with satisfaction that the circus is “now in pure Aryan hands”.

The former tent construction of the Circus Strassburger under the name “Circus Busch”, Erfurt 1938, (Zirkusarchiv Winkler, Berlin)

With a part of his staff members, Carl Strassburger went to Belgium, where he managed to establish a new and successful circus. On the day of the German attack on Belgium in May 1940, the Belgian police arrested the circus director temporarily, while a raging crowd shot the circus lions and looted technical equipment and horses. Single German staff members were deported as “enemy aliens” to the internment camp of St. Cyprien in Southern France.

Under German occupation, Carl Strassburger allied with the Dutch manager Frans Mikkenie. This tactical move proved to be effective. Although the German authorities continued to doubt the real “Mischlingsgrad” (Jewish half-caste degree) of the director, they nevertheless allowed the “new” circus “Mikkenie-Strassburger” seasonal tours through the Netherlands and Denmark until 1943. In the late stage of the war, the tours came to a halt.

After the war, Carl Strassburger received the Dutch citizenship, married his cousin Regina, and became the most successful circus director of the Netherlands. In 1953, however, his life ended in an unexpected tragedy during a tour through Sweden. Presumably caused by a Heart attack, he fell into the harbour basin of Trelleborg and drowned. Ten years later, the circus Strassburger was dissolved.

Martin Holler


Total: 1 children

  1. Gisele Strassburger.


Siblings through the father Adolf Strassburger Jr. (? -- ?):

  1. Hans Strassburger Born 1911-03-21 Dead: † 1965

Karl Strassburger s ancestral Ahnentafel:


Karl Strassburger
Born: 1899

Adolf Strassburger

Born: ?

Paternal Grandfather:
Salomon Strassburger

Born: 1839-04-02
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Adolf Strassburger
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Babette Wulff
Paternal Grandmother:
Amalie Koch

Paternal Great-grandfather::
Paternal Great-grandmother:

Wilhelmine Kossmayer

Born: 1874

Maternal Grandfather:
Wilhelm Kossmayer

Born: 1880
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Wenzel Kossmayer
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Mina Kübler
Maternal Grandmother:

Maternal Great-grandfather:
Maternal Great-grandmother:

Reference list


Koehl, Dan, (2024). director Leopold Karl Strassburger in Netherlands. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 24 April 2024 at https://www.elephant.se/person.php?id=880. (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

Selected publications

Links about Gisele Strassburger

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Categories director | circus | Circus Strassburger | Strassburger family | Born 1899 | Dead 1953 | People from Germany

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