The German Obsession with Fairy Tales

  • Jack Zipes


It is not by chance that the cover of the August 11, 1984 issue of The Economist portrayed a large, green-shaded picture of Hansel and Gretel with a beckoning witch under the caption, “West Germany’s Greens Meet the Wicked World.” Inside the magazine a special correspondent began his report:

Once upon a time (in the late 1960s), a hostile stepmother (West Germany’s Christian Democrats) and a kindly but weak father (the Social Democrats) decided that they had no room for children who thought for themselves. So they abandoned Hansel and Gretel (rebellious young West Germans) in a dense wood. Far from perishing, as their parents had expected, Hansel and Gretel became Greens. They quaked at the forest’s nuclear terrors and cherished its trees. Soon they spied a glittering gingerbread house at the Bundestag in a clearing. Being hungry, they ran inside. This was their first big test. For the house belonged to the wicked witch of the establishment.1


Fairy Tale German People Folk Tale Literary Institution German Writer 
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© Jack Zipes 2002

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  • Jack Zipes

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