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Over the past three years we have welcomed many fascinating speakers to The Circus as part of our series of monthly eyewitness history talks in cooperation with the ZZB (Centre for Witness to Contemporary History). It has been wonderful to hear of the personal experiences of people who have lived in our city, and the tales they have to tell, but it is possible that our speaker this month has one of the most extraordinary stories we have heard so far.

Salomea Genin was born in Berlin in 1932 to Polish-Jewish parents, and the family fled the Nazis to Australia in 1939. By the early 1950s Salomea was a committed member of the Australian Communist Party, and visited the German Democratic Republic as a delegate of the World Youth Festival. Out of this visit was born a desire to help build an anti-fascist state in East Germany, and in 1963 she moved there. Twenty years later she came to the realisation that she had willingly participated in what was a police state, and in turn this led her to join the political opposition and build a new life, even before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of East Germany.

We are really excited to be welcoming Salomea to The Circus on Tuesday 25th March to hear her story of exile and the joy and anguish of her multi-faceted homecoming. As always, the talk will be in English, open to all and free of charge, although we will be collecting donations for the ZZB to help them fund their important work.

Eyewitness History Talk: Homecoming – A Jewish Australian in the GDR
Speaker: Salomea Genin
Date: Tuesday 25th March 2014
Time: 6pm
Venue: Fabisch at the Circus Hotel, Rosenthaler Platz 1, Berlin-Mitte

Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-M0804-754 / CC-BY-SA


As part of our regular series of Tuesday history tours, tomorrow afternoon Mike will be taking Circus guests north to the Berlin Wall Trail, focusing on the Bernauer Straße and the Berlin Wall Memorial. Bernauer Straße divides the neighbourhoods of Berlin Mitte and Wedding, and thus became the border between East and West Berlin during the years of division. It was here that some of the most dramatic scenes of August 1961 played out, as the wall was built and people desperately tried to make their escape. A number of escape tunnels also crossed beneath the Bernauer Straße, and it was also home to the Church of Reconciliation, which found itself stranded in the death strip of the Berlin Wall until it was eventually destroyed in the 1980s by the East German regime.

The tour is free for Circus guests, will take place at 1.30pm on Tuesday 18th February, and places are limited so make sure you sign up at reception.


Berlin is a city of stories, a place where it sometimes feels like there is a memorial on every corner where history permeates every length of pavement and every building older than a handful of years. The city is packed with museums that help us imagine the unimaginable. Then there are the monuments and memorials that stimulate reflection, as well as the piles of books in the windows of bookstores that take us back in order to explain those momentous events that shaped not only Berlin but the modern world. But the process of encasing history in buildings, marble or the pages of a book can put a distance between us and the events, and sometimes it takes a conversation, the hearing of personal testimony, to really bring history to life.

Once again we are really pleased to be welcoming another eyewitness speaker to the Circus, as part of our ongoing series of history talks in cooperation with the ZZB – The Centre for Witness to Contemporary History. The talk is taking place at The Circus Hotel on Wednesday 12th February, and as always it is completely free, takes place in English, and everyone is welcome.

Our speaker this month is Frau Gericke who was born in Berlin in 1925, and grew up through the Weimar period, the Nazi’s rise to power, and the Second World War. In 1945 her family’s home was confiscated to be used as Winston Churchill’s residence during the Potsdam conference, and was only returned to the family after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990.


Eyewitness History Talk: Growing Up in Germany 1925-50

Speaker: Frau Gericke
Date: Wednesday 12th February 2014
Time: 6pm
Venue: Fabisch at the Circus Hotel, Rosenthaler Platz 1, Berlin-Mitte

Image: Heike Vogt – via Wikimedia

Marx and Engels
Next Tuesday’s (11th February) history tour takes us back in time to a specific period of Berlin’s fascinating past, as we embark on a morning wandering around some of the sights and important locations from the forty-odd years when the eastern half of the city was the capital of the German Democratic Republic. Led by Circus Communications Manager Paul – who along with Jim has a long-held fascination with the history of East Berlin – the tour will leave from the Circus and explore the streets around Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Karl-Marx-Allee, Alexanderplatz and more. You will hear stories about life in East Berlin and the history of communism in Germany and the German Democratic Republic, as well as the decline that would lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the reunification of 1990.

The tour is free for Circus guests, involves some walking, and places are limited, so please make sure you sign up at reception.

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Once again we are really pleased to be welcoming another eyewitness speaker to the Circus, as part of our ongoing series of history talks in cooperation with the ZZB – The Centre for Witness to Contemporary History. The talk is taking place at The Circus Hotel on Tuesday 21st January, and as always it is completely free, takes place in English, and everyone is welcome.

Our speaker this month is Helga Wille who has lived in Berlin from 1963 until present day. Inspired by the events of the Cold war, Helga studied political science in West Berlin. During this time Helga formed a very close relationship with the Hildebrandt family in the east and the Versöhnungskirche in Bernauer Strasse east Berlin. As a result of this relationship she made many border crossings into East Berlin. Helga will share her experiences living in a divided city, sharing stories of border crossings and the personal circumstances of friends that she discovered on the other side.


Eyewitness History Talk: Life in a divided city 1963 – 1989
Speaker: Helga Wille
Date: Tuesday 21st January 2014
Time: 6pm
Venue: Fabisch at the Circus Hotel, Rosenthaler Platz 1, Berlin-Mitte

Please note: the event is of course free to attend, and as part of our cooperation with the ZZB we make a donation to help fund their very important work. If you would like to contribute to our donation, you can do so on the evening.

Image credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-33809-0001 / Quaschinsky, Hans-Günter / CC-BY-SA


(above: FIFA Fan Fest Berlin © ArGe Fanfest Berlin)

Happy New Year everyone! Now, we know some of you reading this have perhaps been to Berlin before or are thinking of coming to visit us at The Circus sometime in the future. In case you need an excuse – and let’s face it, there is never much need of an excuse to visit Berlin – we have put together our top ten things to look forward to in the city over the next twelve months… and perhaps we will see you at the Circus for one or more of them!

Berlin Fashion Week

We kick off, in the middle of January, with the winter edition of Berlin Fashion Week where you can disvoer the latest trends at the different shows and trade fairs, and there is usually an interesting complimentary programme of exhibitions, nightlife and other events taking place during the week as the city gets its glad-rags on. Some of the highlights include Bread & Butter at the former Tempelhof Airport and Premium at Gleisdreieck.

January 14-19; Berlin Fashion Week Website

Berlinale – International Film Festival


(above: Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin (Berlinale) © visitBerlin | Koch)

2014 is the 64th edition of what is the world’s largest public film festivals, and one of the most important anywhere. During the ten days of the festival there are over 400 films shown, ranging from Hollywood smash hits to independent cinema from the four corners of the world, and with a bit of planning it is possible to get tickets for almost anything you want to see. The festival is held in February, and as always we will produce our own Circus guide to the event – take a look at the 2013 version here.

February 6-16; Berlinale Website

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review 2013
So what did we get up to over the past twelve months? Well, as we flick through the archives we can see that there was quite a lot…

We spent most of January renovating the lobby and reception area of the Circus Hostel, to make sure things were fresh and new as we entered the New Year. In February we launched Issue #4 of our magazine, got serious on Twitter, launched a new tour as Ally took guests around some of the best street art in the city, oh… and won some awards for both the hostel and the hotel.  As spring approached we enjoyed the sun, as well as new TV channels in the hotel and our regular eyewitness history talks, whilst into April and The Kitchen at the Apartments featured in a book from Gestalten, we launched the Café Conversations at the Hostel, the behind-the-scenes team moved into a new office, and Berlin became the unlikely sporting capital of the country (at least until Bayern Munich had the last say).

Into May and we could not help ourselves with our Eurovision Song Contest Party, the company featured in the Volksbank annual report, and we made more improvements to our hotel roof terrace. June began with sad news as we said goodbye to two close friends and partners of the Circus, Terry Brewer and Michael Kersten. We spent a nice evening with our neighbours in the Fabisch courtyard, Mike launched his Berlin Wall tour, we created some new neighbourhood maps, and we began our summer series of yoga and sundown drinks on the roof terrace.  As the summer progressed we received commendations for the hostel, the hotel and the apartments, gave our lion a name, launched the Kitchen Culinary Club… and, oh yeah, the company bought the Circus Hostel building.

Into the autumn and time to take a break? Not a bit of it… as we brought Oktoberfest north to Berlin and welcomed the return of Berliner Abend to Fabisch, taught the world Berlinerish, were nominated for SO!Apart awards, held the last ever Karaoke Klub and celebrated five years of the Circus Hotel… including a party and all as Jared and Felix began to cultivate their tasches for Movember. We ended the year as we began, with further renovations on the ground floor which led to the opening of our new gastronomic space called Katz & Maus, before we could relax into a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

See you in 2014!

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Next Tuesday (December 17th) we are extremely pleased to be welcoming back to The Circus Jutta Hertlein, as part of our series of talks in cooperation with the ZZB – The Centre for Witness to Contemporary History. Frau Hertlein has been to The Circus before, and it was an extremely interesting evening as she told us all about her life and experiences of living in Berlin during the time the city was divided by the Berlin Wall.

Frau Hertlein grew up in East Berlin until the age of 13, when she moved with her mother to West Germany. At the age of 25 she moved back to Berlin with her husband, living in the West of the city for 24 years until the fall of the Berlin Wall. During that time she made many visits to friends and family in East German and the GDR, and some of the stories she tells about the border crossings are not only fascinating, but at times barely believable when we look back on it now.

After the talk Frau Hertlein will be available to answer any questions you might have. Once again we are expecting it to be an extremely interesting and informative evening and, as always, the talk will be in English and is open to everyone.


Where: Fabisch @ The Circus Hotel, Rosenthaler Strasse 1, Berlin-Mitte
When: Tuesday 17th December 2013 at 6pm
Topic: Life in the Divided City
Speaker: Frau Jutta Hertlein

Image Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-L0521-0015 / Kutscher (verehe. Kubiziel), Sig / CC-BY-SA

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