Banned Grimm tales survive the censors

26th January 1996 at 00:00
Germany. The fairy tales of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, despite being discredited for their violence and social sterotypes, are still the stories best remembered by Germans.

A survey that Professor Dieter Richter, a cultural scientist at Bremen University carried out among young German adults shows that the top ten list of favourite fairy tales is dominated solely by the Grimm brothers. The favourite is Snow White, followed by Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty.

The Grimms' tales have not always been in favour. They contain cruelty and bloodshed. Some post-war critics saw them as a root cause of German cruelty during World War 2. The theory was taken seriously and in 1946 Britain banned publication of the tales within its occupation zone.

Later, in the anti-authoritarian years of the late 1960s West German parents themselves condemned the Grimms' works for their anti-social aspects. Although the teaching of the Grimms' works was suppressed by West German parents and schools, Professor Richter's study shows the children, now young adults at university, have the same knowledge of fairy tales as other generations.

"My conclusion is that fairy tales remain highly resistant to the type of vehement pedagogical criticism which took place in Germany during the late 1960s," he said.

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