Alarm in the Circus

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Alarm in the Circus
Directed by Gerhard Klein
Produced by Paul Ramacher
Written by Wolfgang Kohlhaase
Hans Kubisch
Starring Erwin Geschonneck
Music by Günter Klück
Cinematography Werner Bergmann
Edited by Ursula Kahlbaum
Distributed by PROGRESS-Film Verleih
Release date
  • 27 August 1954 (1954-08-27)
Running time
75 minutes
Country East Germany
Language German

Alarm in the Circus (German: Alarm im Zirkus) is an East German crime film directed by Gerhard Klein. It was released in 1954.


Klaus and Max are two poor boys from West Berlin, whose families are to poor to pay for their higher education. They face a bleak future. Their only hobby is boxing, and they are both desperate to purchase real boxing gloves. The two meet Klott, a gangster who owns a bar that serves American soldiers. Klott offers to pay them if they would assist him to steal valuable horses from a circus in East Berlin. The two agree and travel to the Soviet zone, where they meet a girl named Helli, a member of the Free German Youth, who explains to them that in the communist east, the lack of money will not bar their way to education. The two realize the error of their ways, contact the People's Police and help the officers hinder Klott's plans and arrest the other thieves working for him. The two remain in East Berlin.



Alarm in the Circus was the first of the so-called "Berlin films", a trilogy of pictures that were made in collaboration between director Gerhard Klein and writer Wolfgang Kohlhaase, that were notable for their pioneering of neorealism in German cinema and for the manner in which they reflected the reality of the city in the years before the building of the Berlin Wall, that was critical of the Americanization of its western side. It was followed by the sequels A Berlin Romance (1956) and Berlin - Schönhauser Corner (1957).[1]


Alarm in the Circus was viewed by 3.6 million people in 1954, becoming the highest-grossing East German film of the year,[2] and sold 5,515,078 tickets in total.[3] sold Klein and Kohlhaase both won the National Prize, 3rd degree, for their work on the film.[4]

The Catholic Film Service defined the film as "exciting, well-made crime film that presents the background of a divided Berlin in a highly authentic manner."[5] Peter C. Rollins and John E. O'Connor wrote that it had "drawn a clear contrast between the city's halves that fit the official communist paradigm."[6]


  1. ^ Seán Allan, John Sandford. DEFA: East German cinema, 1946-1992. ISBN 978-1-57181-753-2. Pages 9-10.
  2. ^ Alarm in the Circus on PROGRESS' website.
  3. ^ List of the 50 highest-grossing DEFA films.
  4. ^ Alarm in the Circus on DEFA Foundation's website.
  5. ^ Alarm in the Circus'' on the German Film Lexicon.
  6. ^ Peter C. Rollins, John E. O'Connor. Why we fought: America's wars in film and history. The University Press of Kentucky (2008). ISBN 978-0-8131-9191-1. Page 323.

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