Albert once told me of his days in the German Army during the war and details of the bitter end when their position was overrun by Russian tanks and imprisonment in a concentration camp where a good many died of starvation.
He said that having studied the types of insects the bears at the zoo relished, he managed to stay comparatively healthy, so much so he was sometimes accused of collaborating with the enemy.
He and the other Officers received harsh interrogations and he quickly learned that those who provided all the information they knew were afterward never seen again so he remained silent figuring he would die anyway.
Then one morning they awakened to find the Guards had vanished and then the ordeal of getting out of Russia began.
He sounded bitter when he described his arrival home and finding the same people who had agitated the war still in Office and making large sums of money during the country's restoration.
In fact his own family urged him to rejoin the furniture business but decided to return to the Hagenbeck Zoo and at the first opportunity delivered one of the Zoo's arena bear acts to the Ringling Show and remained.
I wish I could write better and describe the day of his capture.
Albert said that aboard the tanks were unkempt Russian farm women bearing scythes and pitch forks, screaming hysterically and hacking away.
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
Posted by Buckles at 4/01/2015 05:58:00 PM
The following images are frame enlargements from some European circus movie footage circa the late 1950s-early 1960s. The act is not identified on the film’s soundtrack but I’m assuming that these are Ursula Bottcher’s polar bears.
Posted by Buckles at 4/01/2015 05:09:00 AM
This 1966 poster featuring Ursula was done by noted German artist Gunter Schmitz for a poster competition sponsored by the VEB Zentral Zirkus, which I understand was the state controlled organization that oversaw the three major circuses in what was then the (East) German Democratic Republic.
"In conversation with Trolle Rodine, this act came up and he pronounced her name "Bercher".
Posted by Buckles at 4/01/2015 04:51:00 AM
Ursula’s polar bear act first appeared in San Diego in 1976 with the 106th Edition Blue Unit. In 1978, we recorded her music for the Circus Super Heroes TV special which was taped in San Diego. (For that recording session, bandleader Ronnie Drumm conducted to a videotape of her act that had been made at Circus World, where she was currently appearing.) In 1980, when Ursula was in back San Diego with the 110th Edition Blue Unit, I got her autograph on the reproduction of the Schmitz poster that appears in the book 100 YEARS OF CIRCUS POSTERS. (Actually, I was too timid to knock on her dressing room door and had Ronnie Drumm take it in for me.) I’d like to think that Ursula was probably surprised to see this poster turn up in San Diego!
"John Herriot told me Ms Bottcher was strictly business, when he was Performance Director at Circus World he often tried to engage her in conversation but to no avail.
In passing he would say, "Good Morning Miss Bottcher...isn't this a beautiful morning here in sunny Florida?" and without breaking stride, the answer was always the same....."Fifty...Fifty!".
Posted by Buckles at 4/01/2015 04:49:00 AM
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Outstanding picture, I marvel at how these well dressed gentlemen would scramble up on top of a railroad car to get a better view.
If you could go back in time and tell them, "One hundred years from now the show will get rid of these things!.....I wonder what their response would be?
Posted by Buckles at 3/31/2015 05:26:00 AM