Friday, June 12, 2015

If LEGOs Came from Germany, "Everything Is Awesome" Would Be a Dirge

I used this picture to illustrate part of yesterday's post.

It was just something vaguely appropriate and disturbing that I Googled. But completely awesome Drunkard Miss Othmar just informed me that this is in fact an illustration from Der Struwwelpeter, a German children's book from the 19th century. It consists of ten stories that teach moral lessons to German children. And by "teach moral lessons," I mean "traumatize and scare the crap out of little kids who may later grow up to be Hermann Goering as a result."

This is not the face of a man who was exposed to
"My Little Pony" in childhood.
Germans are great storytellers, but as a people, their outlook on life is less than sunny. I know; I'm three-quarters German, and my veins run with a viscous mixture of stoicism, moral inflexibility, and black humor. We're great at parties, but we kill at funerals.

Literally. Not literally. But sometimes literally.
If you've never read the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales in their original, non-Disneyfied form, it may surprise you to learn that Cinderella's stepsisters tried to fit into the glass slipper by chopping off parts of their feet, or that a certain princess reacted to a certain frog by throwing it against a wall instead of kissing it. The moral, of course, is that...uh, most people are dumb shits and life is full of pain? Yes, that.

Anyway, I went straight to the Wikipedia entry for Der Struwwelpeter and was absolutely delighted by what I read. Essentially the entire book is a dire warning to children to never ever ever do anything wrong, lest they suffer pain, humiliation, and general torment.

Suddenly I feel I've failed as a parent by not imparting this important lesson to Precocious Daughter.

For example, the image I used is from the story "Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher" (The Story of the Thumb-Sucker), in which a little boy who won't stop sucking his thumb has it lopped off by an insane tailor with a huge pair of scissors and some kind of grudge against harmless childhood vices. No wonder my mother was so adamant that I stop sucking my thumb when I was a toddler; she knew what the next step was if brushing my thumbs with bad-tasting goo didn't work, bless her heart.

Then there's this story, as described on the Wikipedia page: 

"Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar"(The Story of the Soup-Kaspar) begins as Kaspar, a healthy, strong boy, proclaims that he will no longer eat his soup. Over the next five days he wastes away and dies.


Gott im himmel, I love being German.

Über alles, baby.

You totally need to read the synopses for all ten stories. You thought Lemony Snicket was dark? He's a pussy. 

Thanks, Miss Othmar, for making my day with this information.

Oh, and if you want to read another amazingly effed-up German children's story, check out a post I wrote a few years back about Hans Huckebein, the Unlucky Raven. It ends delightfully badly for the titular bird.

The End.


  1. In late 19th and early 20th century Germany children were routinely strapped to their beds at night to prevent them from doing anything with their hands. Or moving. You Teutonic types have such great stories, so why don't they work?

    Seriously the original "Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs" ends with the wicked queen forced to dance in red hot iron shoes until she dies. I dream that's a whole sequence on a Disney editing room floor.

  2. Ich haff der unexpurgated Grimm Bruder fairy tales. Gut, nicht wahr? Der stories make your heart go, was say, pit-a-pat!

    By the way, if you think the Grimm stories are grim, you really need to read the original Arabian Nights sometime.

  3. Heh. Glad to help. My brother and I were most fascinated by Max & Moritz:
    They were bad boys who played tricks on the neighbors and finally pissed off the wrong person.
    The main page of this site has all those freaky German tales: Fortunately, my forebears are Bavarian, and generally more fun than the more stodgy northern Germans. I never really worried about being fed into the grinder...


You're thinking it, you may as well type it. The only comments you'll regret are the ones you don't leave. Also, replies to threads make puppies grow big and strong.