Between fascination and children shock: “The shock-headed Peter”

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Educational value or a Horror book for kids? The “Struwwelpeter” by Heinrich Hoffmann polarized. Why he is still relevant today, and relevant, exhibition at the Ludwigalerie in Oberhausen.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    The story from the Struwwelpeter

    The Frankfurt doctor Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894), invented the figure of the shock-headed Peter, in the year 1844. In his picture book “Struwwelpeter”, he tells stories of disobedient children, against the advice of their parents. One of them is the shock-headed Peter, of the finger nails cut not like to leave the hair comb. Another child of the dreamer johnny Look-in-the-air.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    Struwwelpeter on the big screen

    The story of “Struwwelpeter” has inspired since its publication nearly 175 years, again and again, artists, writers, and filmmakers. The film adaptation by the German Director Fritz Genschow came in January 1955 to the cinema and visually close to Heinrich Hoffmann’s book template. In addition, the protagonists speak in the Film, also in rhyme.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    Political Satire: “Shock-Headed Hitler”

    The political Satire “shock-headed Hitler – A Nazi Book Story” appeared during the Second world war in 1941. Behind the Pseudonym of “doctor of horror” stuck in the British illustrators Robert and Philip Spence. In your Version Hitler accepts as the “dithering Adolf” the role of the zappel Philip. Mussolini is satirized as Hans Look-in-the-air.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    From the human to the animal

    In 2007, the comedian and children’s book author Erwin Grosche the original Text by Heinrich Hoffmann, the language modernized. Out came “The animal Struwwelpeter”. The Illustrator, Sara ball designed to images that are based on the original drawings, but they replaced the people in their Interpretation by different animals.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    The sad story with the lighter

    The German rock band Rammstein had the children’s book for inspiration. In her Song “Help me,” said Till Lindemann in the first-person perspective, “The sad story with the lighter” by Paulinchen. The original Text of Heinrich Hoffmann took over the Band even literally.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    Struwwelpeter as a Comic

    On the occasion of the 200. Birthday Hoffman was released in 2009 a modern Struwwelpeter Version of the Comic-book style. In the adaptation of the Illustrator David Füleki the shock-headed Peter and the rest of the well-known figures in the children’s book of the strict government to say to the fight. This had prohibited any type of mischief and rebelliousness under.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    “Dr. Böhm’s Struwwelpeter”

    The German presenter and satirist Jan böhmermann has interpreted the stories from struwwelpeter new. In several episodes he has the struwwelpeter in today’s time. Be addressed helicopter mothers, Chemtrail conspiracy theorists, and lactose intolerant Yoga-fanatic.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    Struwwelpeter-Park

    In Bad Erfurt in the Federal state of Thüringen the figures of Heinrich Hoffmann is dedicated to since 1994 a whole Park. The shock-headed Peter and other well-known figures in the children’s book populate as wooden figures the so-called fairy meadow. Hoffmann himself is said to have spent with his family several summers in the air Spa town in the Thuringian forest.

    Author: Anna Ellbracht


  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    The story from the Struwwelpeter

    The Frankfurt doctor Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894), invented the figure of the shock-headed Peter, in the year 1844. In his picture book “Struwwelpeter”, he tells stories of disobedient children, against the advice of their parents. One of them is the shock-headed Peter, of the finger nails cut not like to leave the hair comb. Another child of the dreamer johnny Look-in-the-air.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    Struwwelpeter on the big screen

    The story of “Struwwelpeter” has inspired since its publication nearly 175 years, again and again, artists, writers, and filmmakers. The film adaptation by the German Director Fritz Genschow came in January 1955 to the cinema and visually close to Heinrich Hoffmann’s book template. In addition, the protagonists speak in the Film, also in rhyme.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    Political Satire: “Shock-Headed Hitler”

    The political Satire “shock-headed Hitler – A Nazi Book Story” appeared during the Second world war in 1941. Behind the Pseudonym of “doctor of horror” stuck in the British illustrators Robert and Philip Spence. In your Version Hitler accepts as the “dithering Adolf” the role of the zappel Philip. Mussolini is satirized as Hans Look-in-the-air.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    From the human to the animal

    In 2007, the comedian and children’s book author Erwin Grosche the original Text by Heinrich Hoffmann, the language modernized. Out came “The animal Struwwelpeter”. The Illustrator, Sara ball designed to images that are based on the original drawings, but they replaced the people in their Interpretation by different animals.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    The sad story with the lighter

    The German rock band Rammstein had the children’s book for inspiration. In her Song “Help me,” said Till Lindemann in the first-person perspective, “The sad story with the lighter” by Paulinchen. The original Text of Heinrich Hoffmann took over the Band even literally.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    Struwwelpeter as a Comic

    On the occasion of the 200. Birthday Hoffman was released in 2009 a modern Struwwelpeter Version of the Comic-book style. In the adaptation of the Illustrator David Füleki the shock-headed Peter and the rest of the well-known figures in the children’s book of the strict government to say to the fight. This had prohibited any type of mischief and rebelliousness under.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    “Dr. Böhm’s Struwwelpeter”

    The German presenter and satirist Jan böhmermann has interpreted the stories from struwwelpeter new. In several episodes he has the struwwelpeter in today’s time. Be addressed helicopter mothers, Chemtrail conspiracy theorists, and lactose intolerant Yoga-fanatic.

  • In many cases, The struwwelpeter adapted and parodied:””

    Struwwelpeter-Park

    In Bad Erfurt in the Federal state of Thüringen the figures of Heinrich Hoffmann is dedicated to since 1994 a whole Park. The shock-headed Peter and other well-known figures in the children’s book populate as wooden figures the so-called fairy meadow. Hoffmann himself is said to have spent with his family several summers in the air Spa town in the Thuringian forest.

    Author: Anna Ellbracht


“Look, here he is, Pooh! the Struwwelpeter!” So one of the most well-known children’s books in Germany, if not the world. The Frankfurt physician and psychiatrist Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894) wrote the picture book “der struwwelpeter” in 1844, after he was on the search for a children’s book for his three-year-old son Carl, according to his own statement, the only “silly collections of images and moral stories” in stores. Therefore, he simply bought a blank book and wrote the story itself.

The Success Story

“The Struwwelpeter” is considered to be one of the first narrative picture books, the associated Text and image together. The history sold well. Up to the death of Hoffmann’s 950.000 copies appeared.

Doctor and author: Heinrich Hoffmann

The success of the children’s book was not only limited to the German-speaking countries. Hoffmann himself said to the big demand: “The Rascal has conquered the world, quite peacefully, without the shedding of blood, and the bad guys are more on the world than I do. You will not have learned all sorts of languages I don’t even understand.”

Today, The struwwelpeter is available in over 40 languages and 70 dialects. The booklet is considered to be one of the most influential works of children’s literature of the 19th century. Century, but also as one that has caused a lot of Controversy.

The stories from Struwwelpeter and co.

The picture book includes several rhyming stories, the act of disobedient children. The stories all have one thing in common: The children refuse to listen to the prohibitions of their parents and suffer because of that grisly fates.

Paulinchen in “The sad story with the lighter”

So Hoffmann tells the story of the girl named Paulinchen, the plays in spite of the warning of their parents, with matches and burns. The soup-Kaspar starved to death, because he refuses to eat, and Konrad will not be cut off both his thumbs, because he stops to suck on it.

Unpleasant consequences Hans Look suffer-in-the-air, does not consider it necessary to lower his gaze and into the cold water falls, and the Zappel-Philipp, the tears when the Wobble the table cloth down. The nasty boys mock a “moor” and be dyed in a vast ink-black. The title character shock-headed Peter is mocked by other because he cut refuses his hair and finger nails.

The narratives can be all of them understood as a warning to children and the consequences of misbehaviour in an exaggerated way.

The fascination of the shock-headed Peters

Since his appearance in the “struwwelpeter has been parodied” in many ways and adapted. The well-known children’s book character, is used to political Satire and to the present time. The unprecedented success has caused in addition to the new form of presentation for the time, unusual imagery, the Hoffmann in his history.

“You have to imagine that in the Biedermeier, the picture books were designed in a way that you have shown children morals. It was very lovely, because you had an idea of a very well-behaved, obedient child. And that’s exactly how it was pictured at the time in the books,” said Linda Schmitz, the curator of the Struwwelpeter exhibition in the Ludwig gallery in Oberhausen. Brave Biedermeier children do not occur in the case of Hoffmann: His protagonists are brash and headstrong.

The Struwwelpeter in its original Form

Black Education?

Heinrich Hoffmann was a psychologist and, as such, convinced that it is of no use, children simply ask to be well-behaved. Therefore he illustrated the consequences of control failure with concrete examples on the most dramatic way. In the course of time, his stories were frowned upon, therefore, in part, as a black pedagogy. This view has eased today, however. Meanwhile, the “struwwelpeter considered” rather, from his time out, where he was considered quite progressive.

“This is all created caricatured, but it was also, of course, is to cause a change in behavior. To illustrate to the children that This can happen if you’re playing with fire,” says the curator, Linda Schmitz. Hoffmann did not want to make the children but pointless to fear, but you only want to warn very clearly against the dangers of everyday life. So it was in the year 1844, for example, even a bigger Problem if a child of the thumb sucking, since the hygienic care was still as rich as it is today.

The Struwwelpeter in modern Comic Form

Timeliness of the shock-headed Peters

Even if the stories of the “shock-headed Peter” due to the radical shown in education measures from today’s point of view, not in accordance with sound, you will read, nevertheless, until today. The characters always stay up-to-date expressions such as “Zappel-Phillip,” or “slovenly Peter” are in today’s use of language, anchored. “The figures are still used today to caricature society and reflect,” says Linda Schmitz. “They have been etched in our collective memory.”

The Exhibition “The Struwwelpeter. Zappel-Philipp, Pauli and Hanns Look-in-the-air between fascination and children scare of Hoffmann to the Bohemian man” is seen from the 22.09.2019 to 12.01.2020 in the Ludwig gallery in Oberhausen.