Lecture on Carl August Lorentzen

Lecture on Carl August Lorentzen

The story of Carl August is not just the story of a jailbird who can not keep his fingers from someone else's belongings. It is also the story of a human being, a man who grew up in unfortunate family circumstances. At a time when there were violent changes in society in Copenhagen and in the rest of Denmark. There were new political influences, the family structure changed, and technology's development also radically changed things. The year 1893, where Carl August's parents got married, thus laying the foundation for, inter alia, Carl August's life, was the year in which the first telephone connection between the Swedish and Danish king was established and the first conversation took place. As a matter of fact, in the same week as the marriage took place.

In Copenhagen there were also major changes in the social and residential area. By the end of the 1890s, a large immigration took place from country to city and in Copenhagen, a lot of apartment buildings were build in the neighbourhoods. Many and large investments were made, unfortunately, lots of homes were partially empty at times, and it contributed partly to the large housing collapse around 1907.

Carl August and his family moved around in many neighbourhoods. From the slums in the inner city to the outer neighbourhoods, especially in Nørrebro, until Caroline Augusta, Carl August's mother, had enough of her husband's violent drinking and social deroute. In 1904 they were divorced, not long after the smoke of Carl August at the orphanage, the orphanage of Godthåb in Frederiksberg. It was the starting point for a very busy career, where Carl August rushed in and out of various institutions, including improvement institutions and dozen houses, not least Horsens State Prison, where Carl August died in 1958.

The lecture, like the book, is a story about a person who had an unfortunate start in life, who struggled through his tumultuous life and who after all had the luck of preserving his dignity. He received great respect from his surroundings, especially in the last part of his life, including the police, who called him a gentleman thief, and not least his fellow prisoners and lots of ordinary Danes. In their eyes, he was a hero, an unusual man who had shown a will of steel when it came to breaking out of prisons. When he dug out of Horsens State Prison in 1949 through a 18 meter tunnel, he became world famous. For example, the writer, architect and poet, Piet Hein intervened for him and argued for his pardon.

Carl August was a man, an artist and burglar who got some chances that could have changed his life for the better, but where less lucky circumstances made his life go cold, not just once but several times.

The lecture is held with tales from his life, little clever anecdotes, showing pictures of his life, not least photographs of his many paintings and other crafts he produced throughout his life, both inside and outside prisons.

Review of Østbirk Bibliotek:

Jan P. Skaarup delivered a heartbreaking lecture on Carl August Lorentzen's life and transformation from poor backyard boy in Copenhagen to Denmark's most famous outbreak king. The lecture gave an exciting insight into a life there - in between the many prison stays - also lived in a hurry and so on. You got a good insight into the problems you had at the start of the 20th century, and that were not so different from those we are dealing with today. It was a catchy and very interesting evening at Østbirk Library.

Thank you for a good lecture

Regards Lene Holmelund Danielsen