(Let me be your) Foto-Eisbär
July 20, 2015 12:39 PM   Subscribe

From the 1920s to the 1960s, German people loved to pose with actors dressed as polar bears. Large images here, smallish images here. In German: a gallery and a book article (The Foto-Eisbär: an unusual memento of beautiful moments). Other pictures from the internet: Wehrmacht soldiers with a person in polar bear suit. Revelers in polar bear costumes (with poodle), Berlin, 1929. And many, many others.

From the German gallery cited above: For photographers, the polar bear pictures were a good source of income. Such a photo cost 3 to 5 Marks at that time. Carl Bitterling, who operated a photo studio on Rügen Island in the 30s, took advantage of the "Foto-Eisbär" fad to encourage bathers to pose for such pictures. His son (photo) was playing the role of "Susi", a female polar bear. The bathing months were for the "Photo-Polar bears" a rather sweaty affair. Historian Michael Schimek thinks that the suits were made of sheepskin before WWII and later of fake fur
posted by elgilito (10 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
This is really cool. That Wehrmacht picture in this form is a classic around my house that has led to "they still do not know I am bear" being a phrase that's used on a weekly basis, but I had no idea it was an extended thing for 40 years.

So many covert bears. I wonder what their plan was.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:42 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't care what ANYONE says. Germans of the mid-century were delightful eccentrics.
posted by incomple at 12:47 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't care what ANYONE says. Germans of the mid-century were delightful eccentrics.

Must... resist... urge.. to.. Godwin.. thread...
posted by davros42 at 12:57 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Germans really like polar bears, and I don't understand why. Why the special affinity? They were crazy over little Knut (who, given, was adorable).
posted by wormwood23 at 1:02 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wonder if the video for Herbert Grönemeyer's Mensch is related.
posted by Wemmick at 1:24 PM on July 20, 2015

Is that first photo in the Guardian article really just "a German couple?"
posted by lagomorphius at 2:13 PM on July 20, 2015

Ein Leben ohne Eisbär ist kein Leben.
posted by chillmost at 2:37 PM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

i wonder if Iriving thought about this, when he wrote Hotel New Hampshire
posted by PinkMoose at 7:25 PM on July 20, 2015

We had our photo taken with a polar bear inside a glacier in Switzerland in the 1970‘s. It was a school trip and it taught me the most important lesson I ever learned at school - nothing will ever make any sense.
posted by fallingbadgers at 9:54 PM on July 20, 2015 [13 favorites]

This is great. I had no idea.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:15 AM on July 21, 2015

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