Life in a German Carnival

This is a Guest Post by Sonja Herbert,Sonja and her five siblings were raised in a caravan, traveling the carnival circuit from town to town in post-WWII Germany.

Many children, when they think about running away, want to join the circus. As a little girl, raised in a caravan in a traveling carnival, I didn’t want anything more than to live in a real house and have a hance to learn about God.

Before I was born, my half-Jewish mother hid from the Nazis in a circus, where she met my father, the rightful owner of the circus. After the war, Mutti and Vati, my parents, were married. They kept the circus for a few years more, but then had to abandon it in favor of a tiny carnival. They traveled the small towns in central Germany trying to keep their rapidly growing family fed with the proceeds from a merry-go-round and a shooting gallery.

Even though I can’t remember the war, I remember the devastation, both physical and spiritual, which the German people had to live with after it was over. Ruins and unexploded bombs littered not only the country, but also the cities, and lost and orphaned children overwhelmed the orphanages. Food was hard to come by, and education was almost non-existent, especially for a carnival child whose family traveled from town to town every week or two.

My mother, emotionally burned by rejection from her pastor (she was raised Lutheran), rejected any form of spirituality, and never taught her children anything about God. However, when I was eight, I had a vision and developed a strong desire to be in a church, to live in a house and to have God love and approve of me. I had to hide such feelings from my family, because they made fun of them.

As I grew older, Germany, along with our family, became more prosperous. And eventually my search for God found its conclusion when I met the LDS missionaries. Against my family’s ridicule and the overwhelming odds of living in a traveling carnival and having to work every Sunday, I converted. God’s loving hand worked the miracle I needed to reach my goal of living in a real house and being able to go to church on Sundays instead of having to run a carnival attraction.

Can you envision living that way? Read Carnival Girl, and you’ll discover a new world!


About The author:

Sonja converted to the LDS Church, served a mission, married an American soldier, and immigrated to the USA. She received a BA at SUU in Cedar City, and an MA in Language Acquisition from Brigham Young University, taught high school, German, and ESL for many years, and is now a full time writer. A mother of six and grandmother of thirteen, she resides in Provo, Utah. Contact her at,, or


2 thoughts on “Life in a German Carnival

  • June 10, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    So fascinating! I met Sonja at a writer’s conference a little while back, and it was so interesting talking with her about her story. I can’t wait to read her book, Carnival Girl.

    • June 26, 2012 at 11:35 am

      Thanks you Chas! I was a pleasure to meet you too. How are things going for you?

Comments are closed.