Cadaver Revolt

CADAVER REVOLT - Brawn-riots 1919 in Hamburg

Hamburg in the year 1919: take the decaying cadavers of dogs, cats, and rats, add a bunch of furs and skins and top it all off with a mysterious mush that is covered with a thick layer of mold. All these ingredients combined make up the recipe for “the best brawn in Hamburg” which, exactly  100 years ago, caused the severest food safety scandal of the Hansa city: the brawn-riots. Our new show “Cadaver Revolt 1919” starts on June 26th and is set to run until the end of August at the Hamburg Dungeon.

The “Cadaver Revolt 1919” show at the Hamburg Dungeon clearly illustrates why this rotten meat scandal infuriated the citizens of Hamburg: at the ‘packing plant of horrors,’ unskilled laborers have the order to throw everything that even remotely resembles an animal into the meat grinder and then press it into brawn. No matter whether the cadavers of rats, spoiled pigeons, dead cats, or decaying dogs: as long as the ingredients are processed beyond recognition, the protagonist of the show, manufacturer Starck, has no scruples about serving them as the finest meat products to the citizens of Hamburg.

Due to demonstrations in front of the plant, more and more of the regular workers lose their nerves and stop going into work. Consequentially, unskilled laborers are recruited and inducted into the secret production of rotten meat. Today we are recruiting you and the other visitors of the Hamburg Dungeon. The hiring criteria are simple: a strong stomach, a poor sense of smell, and absolute ruthlessness. But the atmosphere at the plant does not evoke the wish for long-term employment: it is dark and hot, the tone is rough; blood and sweat are dripping from every surface and there are barrels filled with animal cadavers in every corner of the room, carrion flies circling the rotting flesh.

In addition to these callous working conditions, the laborers live in fear of being lynched at any moment because a revolting mob is rioting right outside the doors and is trying to gain entrance into the packing plant.


  • What caused the brawn-riots?
  • What is the secret recipe of the company Starck?
  • Which person from the group is ruthless enough to be recruited as a laborer at the plant?



During the brawn-riots, war-like conditions prevailed in the Hansa city: the Reichswehr had to be called out from Berlin, including tanks and machine guns. After seven days, the brawn-riots ended on July 1, 1919. 80 people died.

But there was a positive side to the riots: a law was passed in September of the same year, strengthening consumer protection. The food law “law regarding the handling of food and semi luxury food” forces the manufacturers to disclose any and all ingredients. In addition to this law, the hygiene inspection in the food processing industry was increased significantly.