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Famous German Circus Director Dies

October 15, 1998

STOLBERG, Germany (AP) _ Adolf Althoff, a prominent member of a legendary circus family once honored for saving a Jewish couple from the Nazis, has died, city officials announced Thursday. He was 85.

Althoff died of heart failure Wednesday evening. He had been admitted to a hospital for treatment of a fracture two weeks ago in Stolberg near the city of Aachen where he lived, Stolberg officials said in a statement.

Born into a traditional circus family, Althoff formed his own circus along with a sister at the age of 21. A performer himself, Althoff led the circus to international fame after World War II, traveling throughout Europe and even to the United States.

During the Nazi era, Althoff concealed the identity of two performers who were Jewish, Irene and Peter Bento, to save them from persecution. Irene Bento worked as a trick rider, and her husband as a clown.

In 1995, Althoff and his wife Maria were honored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel for saving the couple.

He is survived by his wife and son. Funeral services are planned for Tuesday in Stolberg.

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