I entered a dream world when I walked into the lion’s cage, but I wasn’t afraid. Not with Jürgen controlling the big tawny cats with their huge manes knotted like thick Persian rope.
He was a large man with big hands and a powerful voice. His presence overwhelmed me. I witnessed up close the intense energy flow he maintained with his big cats, connecting with them with his mannerisms, the timbre of his voice, the silent commands he gave them with his clear blue eyes. He exuded a feeling of strength and invulnerability I shall never forgot…
Then a beautiful dark-haired beauty showed up in his tent, demanding he fire me and take her back as his assistant.
No, he told her. She must choose between her Nazi friends or him. She couldn’t have both. She refused, saying that without the support of her “friends,” the circus would be shut down.
She left in a huff and the next day Frau Schneider was served with papers closing her erotic circus for selling alcohol and tobacco, items which circuses were forbidden to sell under German law.
That night Jürgen disappeared with his big cats.
I was again jobless.
I often wonder what happened to Jürgen after Hitler and his minions came to power. Did he ever see the dark-haired beauty again? I know he was in love with her by the way he looked at her, but he wasn’t willing to sell his soul to the demonic men of the National Socialist movement.
They were like a poison you ingested a little at a time, he said, killing all that was good and pure inside you until you felt the full effect and the light turned to darkness. Then it was too late.
When I returned to Berlin on this trip, I checked the newspaper records and found a clipping about a lion tamer and his big cats who came to the rescue of Resistance fighters in Poland.
According to the story, the Poles had blown up a railway bridge then found their way to the circus with a Nazi patrol hot on their trail. Jürgen insisted on hiding them. He must have known what would happen next when he left the door to the lions’ cage open…
When the Nazi soldiers tracked the Resistance fighters to the circus, they threatened Jürgen but he gave a silent command to his big cats to attack. The Nazis opened fire on the lions, killing one and wounding two others, but the Germans were no match for the remaining lions who killed the attackers and allowed the Resistance fighters to escape.
Jürgen stayed with his wounded animals until the end, then he escaped into the forest with the others.
He was never heard from again, but I have the feeling Jürgen continues to work with the big cats, most likely in a small circus in the Eastern sector.
His heart still broken.
Lady Eve Marlowe