Van Droysen Sisters


Dora Herms (the shorter of the two "sisters") was born in 1888 in Berlin. By age 19 she was noticeably tall enough to garner an appearance at the Passage-Panoptikum as "Riesenbackfisch Dora".  At other times she appeared as "Brunhilde". In 1914 Dora travelled to the States with another tall lady and a troupe of Chinese acrobats to appear with the Barnum & Bailey circus. Four years later she married the "Dutchman" William Van Droysen who in reality was Werner (or Anton) Syre who came from Duisburg. The giant couple toured together throughout Europe and eventually made their way  to America in early 1922 to appear with the Barnum and Bailey circus sideshow.  Along with them was their infant daughter Ruth who was born in Berlin.  The trio returned in 1923 to appear at Sam Gumpertz Dreamland Circus Sideshow at Coney Island.  Sad to say, but when little Ruthie was only four years old, her Dad passed away.

    Annie Haase, was born in 1906 and was advertised as being from Holland but others say she too was from Berlin. Her stage name was Kaatje Van Dyk but she was also known as "Hilda" or "Charlotte". I don't know of her early career in showbusiness but it was jump-started in 1926 when it was heavily advertised that she was to marry the giant man and fellow Holländer Jan Van Albert (Johann Kramer). This, of course, was nothing but a publicity ploy as "Lofty" (as he was known in the U.S.) was married in 1921. When the "couple" split up Annie found herself alone, a fledgling showwoman. So it came about that in 1926, with the two giantessess apart from their mates, they decided to join forces and become Elsie and Hilda - the Van Droysen Sisters.

    The "sisters" toured together till at least 1939 when they appeard with the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus. Perhaps because of the emminent U.S. involvement in WWII the team split up, but Kaatje continued appearing solo and was seen as late as 1962 in Vienna.  In 1968 she was still considered to be the tallest woman in the world. Whatever became of the two ladies and when they passed away I do not know.


Above text courtesy of Quasi-modo


Van Droysen Sisters  Wallenda's Traveling Germany circa 1930





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