Marzipan Houses: The Burning Issue in modern Europe

I have a passion for Fairy Stories and how they originated. If you asked people in the street where Fairy Stories priginated, they will probably give you one of three answers:

Answer One: Hans Christian Andersen

Answer Two; The Brothers Grimm

Answer Three: I don't know

Fairy Sories have crossed borders. Different countries will know some of them and, maybe, not know others at all. I have no idea why this should be so. Take Brüderchen und Schwester chen (Little Brother and Little Sister), very well known here in Germany, not known at all in the UK. Some that are well-known in both countries are Cinderella, Snow White and Puss in Boots (and there are many more). I suspect Walt Disney is responsible for spreading Fairy Stories more than any book could ever do. But they showed Disney's censored stories. He wanted a happy ending and no real nastiness in the story. Original Fairy Stories are not always so pleasant.


Take Hänsel and Gretel, a story that is probably known all over Europe (including the UK) and in America where the European immigrants would have brought the stories with them. I am sure you all know this story. The wicked Stepmother wanted to get rid of the two children and told her husband (their father) to lose them in the wood. Reluctantly, he agreed to do it. The first time he did as he was told, Gretel (the clever one) used white pebbles to mark their route into the wood and when their father left them, the children followed the white pebbles back to their home. Stepmother was furious so ordered her husband to take them further into the wood and again he agreed. This time a line of bread criumbs was used to mark the route but once they were alone, they could not find the trail of breadcrumbs, the birds had eaten them. So, they were lost.

Eventually, they found a house made of sweets. They were starving so they started to eat the roof when an old lady appeared at the door. The old lady, who was really a witch, tricked them to come inside and she promply caught Hänsel and put him into a cage as her prisoner and she made Gretel her slave. Actually, Hänsel was intended not only to be her prisoner but also to be her dinner. When she wanted to eat him she told Gretel to check that the oven was hot enough. Gretel pretended she did not know what the witch meant so the irritated witch bent down and looked at the fiery oven herself. Gretel took her chance. She gave the witch an enormous shove, pitching the old lady into the oven and then Gretel shut the door. The witch was trapped and screamed as she was burnet alive. When she was 'reduced to ashes' as the story says, Gretel freed Hänsel and they searched the house, finding various treasures and precious stones. They found their way back to their home where they found that their stepmother had died and father was alone. He was over-joyed to see them and, with the witch's treasure, they all lived happily ever after.

Now, the end of the witch has probably been sanitised in most books outside Germany, but, if my games are typical, in Germany the original fate of the witch is kept uncensored. Below are some examples of her demise.

Märchenquartett by Scherer.

All the stories are 
illustrated as silhouettes.

Märchen by Nürnberger. 

Note how Gretel is 
posing for the camera 
and loving her task

Märchenquartett by ASS. 

German girls 
are stronger than 
you think!

Märchenquartett by Berliner 

Don't burn youself, 

Märchen-Quartett by Schmid

Black smoke! 
Perhaps Gretel is 
being elected 
as Pope Gretel.

Märchen-Quartett by Bielefelder

The witch was way 
ahead of her time. 
Look at the 
psychedelic socks!

by Gustav Weise Verlag

Finally, look at how two 
different artists saw 
the witch. 
Here she is so pleasant, 
she might have been your 
favourite auntie..

Märchen-Quartett by Bielefelder

...whilst here, this one is 
a Real Witch, 
the best witch in 
my entire collection. 

Illustrated by Erika Leo-Urban



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