Great German Children’s Stories

Oma is in town! Ella and Pax get to meet their great grandmother from Germany! (Oma means ‘granny’ in German) And while she’s been here I’ve learned a little about Germany. I would love to go visit them someday. We’ve been to Italy, but didn’t make it up to the rest of Europe. The food there sounds amazing, especially the bakeries and candy! And since my wife spent so many years there as a little girl, I would like to know what it was like for her, too.

Of all the stories about Germany I’ve heard at the dinner table the past few days, one was most shocking! The children’s book Struwwelpeter is kind of like an Aesop’s Fables, short stories and poems with a moral. But this book is extreme! Take for example the “Dreadful Story of Harriet and the Matches.” This story teaches a valuable lesson to children of all ages that if you play with matches, you will light yourself on fire and burn a horrible death. The illustrations also add to the creepiness. For this story they show a young girl engulfed in flames with a few forest creatures watching nearby.

Other images of note include something like a mad clown character chasing a small boy while lopping off his hand with pruning shears. And on one website I saw, there was a mother who was holding her son’s arm on a saw horse and cutting it with a hack saw!

Calvin and Hobbes had a comic strip once that had Calvin making crazy faces and trying to get it stuck like that, just like everyone warns will happen. We use these kinds of scare tactics as parents sometimes, but this book just takes things too far!

Here’s the poem about Cruel Frederick:

The Story of Cruel Frederick

Here is cruel Frederick, see!
A horrid wicked boy was he;
He caught the flies, poor little things,
And then tore off their tiny wings,
He kill’d the birds, and broke the chairs,
And threw the kitten down the stairs;
And Oh! Far worse than all beside,
He whipp’d his Mary, till she cried.

The trough was full, and faithful Tray
Came out to drink one sultry day;
He wagg’d his tail and wet his lip,
When cruel Fred snatch’d up a whip,
And whipp’d poor Tray till he was sore,
And kick’d and whipp’d him more and more:
At this, good Tray grew very red,
And growl’d and bit him till he bled;
Then you should only have been by,
To see how Fred did scream and cry!


2 Replies to “Great German Children’s Stories”

  1. Struwwelpeter was my Grandma’s favorite book as a little girl! (she was also from Germany)I can remember her telling me some of these stories when I was little. They are rather disturbing!


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