Girl became neither an elephant nor an alligator. Amazing disease!

(ORDO NEWS) — The bizarre disease “ichthyosis” made the German Susie look like a character from a science fiction film.

Freak shows were popular until the middle of the 20th century. Crowds of people, not really thinking about anything, looked at bearded ladies, Siamese twins,” living skeletons”, giants, freaks twisting their heads or piercing themselves with rapiers and swords, men with three legs and two penises, amazing half-hearted women and even girls with four legs and two vaginas.

In the meantime, those same “freaks” were almost forced by social arrangements to use their illness and earn money from it: here is the case of the German Susie.

Girl became neither an elephant nor an alligator Amazing disease 2
Ichthyosis is a rare disease that causes keratinization of the skin and multiple health problems

Skin disease

“Ichthyosis” etymologically comes from the Greek language and translates as “fish”. But most of the “human exhibits” suffering from this skin disease often used an epithet in their direction with a reference to an alligator or an elephant.

Susie Korje’s skin was especially rough and cracked, so the name “elephant skin” seemed more appropriate and illustrative.

Information differs: Susie was born around 1909 under the name Charlotte either in the western district of Berlin or in Vienna, Austria.

In early childhood, Susie began to aggressively manifest ichthyosis: the skin quickly thickened, turned gray and cracked to a visually elephantine quality.

Due to the severity of her condition, Susie endured physical pain on a daily basis.

It intensified and worsened, moreover, with numerous infections and diseases, since the bacteria got into large cracks that formed on the skin even from the most imperceptible movements.

Sometimes the girl could not even blink without risking life-threatening cracks.

In addition to the physical pain, Susie was not spared the emotional/moral pain: the girl was the subject of ridicule and isolation from her peers.

On hot summer days, while other children frolicked in the water, Susie rubbed ice on her hands, trying to cool her skin, because due to ichthyosis, she could not sweat normally.

Girl became neither an elephant nor an alligator Amazing disease 3
The life of the girl turned out to be tragic due to illness

Freak show

Susie’s parents, in an effort to improve her quality of life and prevent infection, soaped their daughter daily with plenty of oil and moisturizer.

For the rest of her days, Susie will use all kinds of medicines and techniques to maintain skin quality and overall health. In 1927, Susie first came to the United States with a freak show troupe.

Together with her manager, Susie later emigrated to the United States to escape the impending World War II. It is known that she lived in an apartment in the western part of New York.

There, the girl often “exhibited” (performed) at the Hubert Museum on 42nd Street and Coney Island in the 1930s. Susie even worked at Madison Square Garden for the famous Ringling show in 1967.

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Newspaper clipping announcing Susie in the US

Witnesses of her speeches and Susie’s acquaintances said that she was a shy, withdrawn and quiet woman who preferred to keep a low profile.

She performed relatively actively until her manager passed away in the late 1960s. With his death, both Susie’s career and her love of business died.

Her last confirmed public appearance was at the Allentown Great Fair in Pennsylvania as the only attraction, the Swamp Girl.

According to some reports, Susie retired to Germany, but others believe that she died in New York in 1975.


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