Archival Research

Bundesarchiv Berlin-Lichterfelde (BAB):
The BAB is of central importance for the project as such, since its collections contain files of all relevant Nazi authorities on the highest level. According to the finding aids, more than 170 file titles concern circus and artistry up until the year1945. Most promising are the files of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (BAB, R 55) and the Reich Chamber of Culture (BAB, R 56-I) in general, and of the Reich Chamber of Theatre (BAB, R 56-III) in particular. The membership was obligatory to artists in order to get their working permission, but every applicant had to prove his ‘Aryan’ origin. The personal files of circus directors and artists are partly recorded, too. At the same time, the fate of foreign artists and forced labourers like a Russian group of acrobats, who had to perform for Wehrmacht soldiers, can be explored with the help of these collections.
Apart from the files of the Propaganda Ministry, the course of the enforced alignment and aryanisation, but also the difficulties during the war, are documented in diverse BAB collections, among others NS 5, R 2, R 43, R 58, R 1501, R 3101, R 3903.
In regard to Roma and Jenische circus artists, the files of the Research Centre for Racial Hygiene and Population Biology (BAB, R 165) and the Collection Arnold (BAB, ZSg 142) reflect not only the ideological racism of German authorities, but partly also the individual fates of affected minority members.

Altogether, our research will refer to the following collections of the BAB:
– NS 5-IV and NS 5-VI (Deutsche Arbeitsfront)
– NS 18 (Reichspropagandaleiter der NSDAP)
– R 2 (Reichsfinanzministerium)
– R 5 (Reichsverkehrsministerium)
– R 36 (Deutscher Gemeindetag)
– R 43-I and R 43-II (Reichkanzlei)
– R 55 (Reichsministeriums für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda)
– R 56-I (Reichskulturkammer)
– R 56-III (Reichstheaterkammer)
– R 58 (Reichssicherheitshauptamt)
– R 165 (Rassenhygienische und bevölkerungsbiologische Forschungsstelle)
– R 1501 (Reichsministerium des Innern)
– R 3101 (Reichswirtschaftsministerium)
– R 3903 (Reichsanstalt für Arbeitsvermittlung und Arbeitslosenversicherung)
– R 4606 (Generalbauinspektor für die Reichshauptstadt)
– R 8136 (Reichskreditgesellschaft AG)
– ZSg 142 (Sammlung Arnold)
– Collections of the former Berlin Document Centre (BDC)

Further collections of archives and libraries:
Movies on circus, programs, reviews, and censorship office cards will be viewed in the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv (BA-FA) in Berlin.
A further useful and necessary supplement to the BAB collections is the research in the State archives like the ones in Berlin, Dresden, and Hamburg, since they reflect the local implementation of central orders in regard to travelling circus people. Especially important are the files of State ministries for internal affairs and of the police.
Concrete cases of deportations, mass shootings, and other Nazi crimes can be analysed at the Bundesarchiv branch in Ludwigsburg, where the large collections of the Central Office of the Land Judicial Authorities for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes are kept.

Individual fates of victims can also be researched in the archive of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. As a partner of our project, the ITS will provide us with materials on travelling circus people who were missed or tried to get a compensation for their suffering after WWII.

In addition to the Federal and State archives, three special collections on circus history seem to be very promising: First and foremost the ‘Sammlung Varieté – Zirkus – Kabarett’ of the Berlin Town Museum, which contains more than 200,000 objects and documents, among them the estate of circus directors and artists. A further important collection can be viewed at the ‘Circus-, Varieté- und Artistenarchiv’ of the Marburg University, which holds more than 70,000 photos as well as biographical information on 22,500 circus people. Last but not least, the private ‘Zirkusarchiv Winkler’ of Gisela and Dietmar Winkler is situated in Berlin, and although the collection focusses mainly on the circus history of the former German Democratic Republic, it also contains an important compilation of newspaper and journal articles of the time before 1945, and even a special collection on Sinti and Roma.

The research will also include analyses of interviews conducted and collected by Yahad – In Unum (Paris), the Shoah Foundation, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma (Heidelberg).

Research on France, will also discuss the history of travelling circus people among Roma communities who have been targeted by administrative rules, interned in internment camps and partly deported to concentration camps in Germany and Austria during WWII and to death camps. The previous registration system imposed in 1912 and extended during the interwar period will provide the historical background and the archival basis for an analysis of structural evolution of Roma families in France under Nazi German occupation. Three different territories will be investigated: Southern France under Vichy Regime (1940-1942) and Occupation regime (1942-1944), near Montpellier and near Marseille; Paris province under Occupation Regime (1940-1944) and Northern territories (Nord-Pas-de-Calais) under Military administration of Belgium and Northern France.

Archives Nationales, Paris.

  • Registrations, controls and mobility of ‘nomads’ and ‘forains’, 1940-1944,
  • House arrest and internment policy;
  • Administration of the ‘nomads’ question by Vichy authorities
  • Relations with occupation authorities regarding the ‘nomads’ question.
  • Series 19880349, F7, 1BL, BB18.

Archives départementales du Nord, Lille.
Registrations, controls and mobility of ‘nomads’ and ‘forains’, 1940-1944, series
House arrest and internment policy;
Documents related to the deportation, convoy ‘Z’, January 1944, from Malines;
Series 1W, 27 W, 4 Z, 476 W, M 208.
Archives départementales du Rhône, Lyon
Registrations, controls and mobility of ‘nomads’ and ‘forains’, 1940-1944, series
House arrest and internment policy;
Series 540 W, 817 W, 4011 W.

Archives départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône, Marseille
Registrations, controls and mobility of ‘nomads’ and ‘forains’, 1940-1944, series;
House arrest and internment policy;
Documents related to the camp of Salliers, 1941-1944
Series 4 M, 5 W, 97 W, 142 W.

Archives départementales de l’Hérault, Montpellier
Registrations, controls and mobility of ‘nomads’ and ‘forains’, 1940-1944;
House arrest and internment policy;
Series 2 W, 147 W, 667 W, 452 W, 83 W.

In Scandinavia, the research on travelling circus people will draw on the private collections of Markku Aulanko (Hämeenlinna) and Heikki Nevala (Helsinki). After the death of the famous Scandinavian circus historian Sven Hirn, his records were transferred to Nevala’s archive. Our project will also study the private collection of the Finnish Circus/Tivoli Sariola at Kerava Museum. The mentioned archives are general collections of Scandinavian circus history, but include also life stories of Jenische from Germany and circus artists with Roma background. Our project will also build on the collections on travelling circus people at Bohusläns Museum (Uddevalla), Danish Immigration Museum (Farum/Copenhagen) and the collection of Anders Enevig at the National Library of Denmark (Dansk folkemindesamling, Copenhagen).

The collection at Bohusläns Museum includes also material of the German/Swedish circus family Eisfeldt. Richard Brun, an ancestor of this family and well connected with circus families in Germany and Scandinavia, is asked to participate in our first meeting in Paris. He will try to help us with the access to other private collections of (former) circus families in Germany and Scandinavia.

Also, the German Society of Friends of the Circus with its members around the world has signalized that the organization will help us to get access to private collections on circus history and to come in contact with persecuted circus artists and Holocaust survivors.

All archive sources will be used according to the archive laws.

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