• Germany's news in English
 

Family minister cuts racism from fairytales

Published: 18 Dec 2012 15:45 GMT+01:00

When Pippi Longstocking's father is referred to as "Negro-King" or Jim Button is called "Negro-Baby" (in the 1960 children's novel by Michael Ende) Schröder intends to "replace them on the spot while I'm reading, in order to protect my child from taking on such expressions," she told Die Zeit weekly.

"Even without bad intentions, words can cause damage," she said. "When a child is older, I would explain what kind of history the word Neger has, and how hurtful it is to use that word."

Depending on how it is used, the German word Neger can mean anything from the outdated and inappropriate term "negro" to the seriously offensive "nigger" in English.

It was the first time the family minister had revealed her personal opinions on raising children, and talked publicly about raising her 18-month-old daughter Lotte.

She also described Grimm's fairytales as "often sexist." "There is very rarely a positive female character in them," she said, which is why she intends to read other stories as well as the Grimm classics, to give her daughter other role models.

Perhaps more controversially, the minister also said that she intends to stop pretending that Father Christmas exists "as soon as the first doubts appear." She said she would then tell her daughter, "Father Christmas is just a nice story."

But though she said honesty is very important to her when raising her child, she said there was one situation where she would always lie - when parents realize that they love one child more than another. "[One would] have to be very rational and absolutely never show that. Never. That really is an iron rule," she said. "That is one of the few situations where I would definitely lie."

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

18:57 December 18, 2012 by MaKo
I am somewhat pleased to know that Schröder can, in fact, occasionally identify sexism. Now if only she'd inspect her own political ideaolgy under the same hard light with which she interprets fairy tales...
19:42 December 18, 2012 by trevzns
Fairytales?

Racism and sexism is paramount to german and european culture. After 800 years of superiority it maybe in the DNA?

Why only suppress fairytales like Grimm brothers and continue to perpetuate other lies and myths?
19:51 December 18, 2012 by TheCrownPrince
Silly. I think that there is often a reason for political correctness, but this goes too far. Grimm's fairy tales are age-old stories with an unique flair, ardously collected by the two brothers over years and years, coming right from the ordinary and simple folk in those days. Grimm's fairy tales are perhaps one of Germany's most precious legacies, a world of encapsulated dreams, ancient memories, poetic truth and of course terror, which belongs (sadly) to every life. To change them just because they may not fit in some agenda is not only silly, but quite philistine.
19:51 December 18, 2012 by Englishted
@trevzns

In which culture is it not so?
22:51 December 18, 2012 by jg.
...she would then tell her daughter, "Father Christmas is just a nice story."

followed by:

"...she said honesty is very important to her when raising her child..."

Perhaps her political views don't allow her to be honest about the religious nature of Christmas.

I wonder how far she would be prepared to go in revising and sanitising European culture and history, to fit in with her ideological views, Book burning was used for this purpose in Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany - would she feel comfortable in such company?
23:00 December 18, 2012 by ChrisRea
Unfortunately sexist and racist attitudes can be found in some famous children's books. For example those written by Enid Blyton/Mary Pollock. I see no reason to perpetuate these outdated ideas. I prefer the Swedish model of "Egalia" - http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-202_162-20074594.html.
23:09 December 18, 2012 by trevzns
@Englishted #4

I do not have an answer for that question? However. What I do know, its not only europeans. The Japanese read and educate their young children racist fair-tails in school. Not sure I understand what the Japanese issue is with black people?

I will go out on a limb and include China and the other european conquered Indonesian countries? I know of mexico and other south american countries. Most of the Caribbean Islands, another mixed group of conquered and colonized people read to their young children racist stories.

Some in the above mentioned groups, use the Bible and Quran to justify racist and sexist fair-tail stories. Why any black person would subscribe to the teachings and worship in those religions is a mystery to me?
05:06 December 19, 2012 by gorongoza
I suppose she could do better as a mother and excellent as a Minister if she teaches her kids the history of her country and reveal all the sketons in the cupboards.

Pathetic Minister !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
08:51 December 19, 2012 by HansT
I suppose if she wanted to, she could point out something that most Germans find very uncomfortable... namely that most of Grimms' fairytales were transcribed from the French Huguenots who took refuge in Germany and other countries in the 18th century. (That way we can blame it on the French...)
11:10 December 19, 2012 by bugger
trevzns sounds like an anti-German, anti-European racist.
15:57 December 19, 2012 by LeoZotov
LOL. I think the most dangerous people in the world are initiative idiots.

Unfortunately she doesnt understand that these words had no such "tolerant" meanings in Lindgren's years & have no racist sense today in most of cultures. It has a racist meaning only in US & for politicians.

Tolerant synonyms: for Lindgren's "Negro-King" = "Afro-American in-the-future-King", yes classic Fairytale....
20:25 December 19, 2012 by charlenej
LeoZotov - even if that were true, her point is that in today's world, in which her children live, those phrases are offensive, so she doesn't want them in her child's vocabulary. She didn't censor the whole story, just the phrasing. She can't have her kid going to the store, pointing at Black people and saying, "Look mommy, A Negro!!!" That wouldn't go over, would it?
13:56 December 20, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
So they are cutting racism from fairytales? Are they going to cut it from history also? There would be none to teach then.
18:59 December 20, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
I say our "Christian Democratic" family minister should have the Bible banned. A book which contains genocide, adultery, murder, incest, rape, violence, racism, xenophobia and sexism, and yet, we see no problem making it available to young schoolchildren.
01:23 December 21, 2012 by lenny van
Some of my best friends have been niggers, negros, coloured, black and afro-American. I tolerated all of them.
06:35 December 21, 2012 by wenddiver
Truth is an essential foundation of Freedom. When a malcontent censors an artists work they ou have a right to disagree with a persons thoughts, even argue with all of your power, but censorship is a form of thought murder that should never be tolerated. Nobody has the right to erase a person's thoughts or words and replace them with their own, while passing to history their wisted thoughts as the original Authors.

Such a censor should never be allowed near children or students of any age. Just another book burner type. In the end Freedom must win, and people not smart enough to create must not be allowed to deface the works of the creative.
Today's headlines
Schumacher Jr lives up to his name
Schumacher Jr is too young to drink any of that champagne. Photo: DPA

Schumacher Jr lives up to his name

Mick Schumacher Jr did his famous father proud on his Formula Four debut on Saturday by claiming a trophy as the best rookie and finishing ninth, despite starting 19th. READ  

Deutsche Bank to sell Postbank
Deutsche Bank acquired Postbank in 2008. Photo: DPA

Deutsche Bank to sell Postbank

Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank announced late Friday it was seeking to sell its Postbank subsidiary as part of a revamp to improve profitability. READ  

Far left activists attack immigration office
Photo: DPA

Far left activists attack immigration office

Far-left extremists attacked an immigration office in Leipzig early on Friday morning. It was the second targeted attack on an official building in the city in recent months. READ  

Steinmeier: Armenia wasn't genocide
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo:DPA

Steinmeier: Armenia wasn't genocide

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier insisted on Friday that calling Armenian massacres genocide risks belittling the Holocaust, after President Joachim Gauck broke a taboo by using the word on Thursday. READ  

Schumacher Jr launches Formula race career
Mick Schumacher on test day earlier in April. Photo: DPA

Schumacher Jr launches Formula race career

Michael Schumacher's 16-year-old son starts his Formula Four career this weekend, under the pressure of living up to the famous family name of the seven-time Formula One world champion. READ  

Property of the week
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Mr Lodge

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

A highly sought-after location, great connection to public transport, and a very stylish interior – Does that sound good to you? Then you’ll love this week’s property! READ  

Germany's most polluted cities
The sun rises behind a coal-burning power station in Lower Saxony. Photo: DPA

Germany's most polluted cities

The Federal Environment Ministry has named the most polluted places around the country, with Stuttgart claiming the undesirable title of Germany's most polluted city. READ  

Göring's daughter fails in bid to win father's assets
Edda Göring photographed in 1942. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Göring's daughter fails in bid to win father's assets

The Bavarian government rejected on Thursday an attempt by Hermann Göring's daughter to win back her father's assets, which the government seized in 1948. READ  

Tugce accused admits to delivering fatal blow
Tugce Albayrak's death shocked Germany. Photo:DPA

Tugce accused admits to delivering fatal blow

When 22-year-old Tugce Albayrak was fatally beaten in a MacDonald's car park in November 2014, Germany was left in a state of shock. On the first day of her attacker's trial he admits to 'boxing her on the ear.' READ  

Prosecutors want info on spies' help to US
Gerhard Schindler, head of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency. Photo: DPA

Prosecutors want info on spies' help to US

Federal prosecutors have asked for access on files from the Bundestag (German parliament) inquiry into mass surveillance, after news that German spies helped the US eavesdrop on European leaders and businesses. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
German beer day: take the tour
Features
Off to Norway at 18 km/hour
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Gallery
The smileys Germans love to text
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
National
Expats face Monday deadline to register to vote for UK election
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,191
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd