At the end of World War II the Allied Forces tried to ban the publication of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales in Germany. They argued that their bloody content had contributed in some part to the cruelty and bloodshed the Germans had displayed during the Third Reich. This exhibit consists of a selection of German children’s books in which children come to harm and blood is shed, posters that detail the Nazis’ obsession with blood and its purity, and a short video on the Nazis’ ideology of blood.
This juxtaposition of material demonstrates that while some of the children’s literature and folktales may suggest a German penchant towards cruelty and a readiness to shed blood to discipline children and preserve the purity of German blood, fairy tales from other cultures can be a great deal more violent than their German equivalents. One example of this is Charles Perrault’s version of Little Red Riding Hood from 1697, when compared with the Grimm Brothers’ version from 1812.
Peter Arnds teaches comparative literature and literary translation at Trinity College Dublin. He is an internationally renowned scholar of German culture and the author of several books on literature. He has translated a Swiss novel to English (Rapids, Dalkey Archive Press), and has published poetry and prose. Dr. Arnds has taught in the US for many years and has held visiting positions in Afghanistan and India.