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Germany Winter quarters (Feb. 2021)


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Jan 20, 2014
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With the last light we arrived at the location on the 2nd day of our tour.
The caretaker was nowhere to be found and all buildings were locked.
As we walked we noticed that the lock on a side door of the stables was not closed and so we could still take our pictures.
The site is inhabited and can only be entered with permission.

After the VEB Zentral Zirkus was founded in 1963, the construction of winter quarters began. In the first construction phase, several residential units, a canteen, stables for, among other things, giraffes, horses and elephants, workshops and offices were built. In 1965, "Object 2" was built on the opposite side.

The entire wintering area now covered more than 11 hectares and was the largest and most modern in Europe. What was special was that the full-time circus workers received their full salary during the winter break and got free accommodation and food all year round.
In 1967 the middle section of the former Barlay building was rebuilt here and connected to the stable. Another trial management was built in this rotunda, which was intended as a temporary measure.
A steel structure for aerial performances was installed by 1982, which was ultimately carried out independently.

• four car parking halls
• Feed hall for hay and straw
• Equipment hall for the festival facilities
• Stable for 20 horses, an exotic train, giraffe and Berolina elephant
• Barlay rotunda as a test arena with control room, cloakrooms, workshop and sanitary rooms

The rotunda was used by the State Artistic School as well as for smaller events such as press conferences or TV productions.
In the winter months, the winter quarters became the home for all three circuses and the folk festival facilities. Here the technical systems and vehicles could be overhauled and animal trainers and artists could try them out.

The winter quarter was an independent part of the company, in which around 50 employees worked on long-term repair programs or on special new products even in summer.
The more difficult it became to obtain material and equipment typical of the circus from the national economy, the more the winter quarters had to develop into the basis of technical reconstruction and the manufacture of work and basic equipment.
More and more wagons were built themselves and repair work, previously carried out industrially, was taken over by themselves.

From 1986 a tailor's shop, a saddlery for repairing tent equipment, an electrical and electronics workshop and a sandblasting shop were set up, and the painting workshop was expanded to include a spray painting shop.
Props were initially created in cooperation with specialist companies.

From 1983 onwards, the use of a designer and the establishment of our own props workshop created the basis for being able to manufacture the necessary work equipment more efficiently and, above all, more quickly.
Even more than 30 years after the company ceased operations, remnants of the original buildings can still be found
The VEB Zentral Zirkus soon became known throughout Europe and brought the GDR good income. In 1980 it was decided to rename the name to "State Circus of the GDR", as the original name was probably not the best sounding one.
Unfortunately, things went downhill at the turn of the century. The Treuhandanstalt decided to split the circus into four separate companies - the Eros, Berolina, Busch and Circ-Commerz.

It quickly became apparent that it was not a good idea and in 1991 the circuses were merged again under the name “Berliner Zirkus Union GmbH”. But none of that helped. After various sales (some for 50 cents), buybacks and mergers, the Berlin Circus Union was completely dissolved by 2000 and all its assets were removed. The animals and equipment were sold to other circuses or zoos.
Much of the winter quarters of the GDR State Circus was demolished to make room for a garden center. The arena was placed under a preservation order in August 2012.

A modern residential area was created around it. An old villa, a training building and what appears to be a residential unit were also spared from being demolished.

In the meantime, the site has been bought by a private investor who runs a restaurant there. The caretaker also lives on the site.

A little bit of information: The mother of the famous Berlin polar bear "Knut" appeared in various shows until the state circus of the GDR was dissolved, then was only sold to the Nuremberg Zoo and later ended up at the Berlin Zoo.



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Dec 16, 2013
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I really like this. Something a bit different and unique 🤡