It’s a legend Part of medieval folklore. It inspired a story by the Brothers Grimm, The Sons of Hameln. The city hired the piper to get rid of the plague of rats. Following the hypnotic tones of the Magic Flute, paraded the rodents that followed him to his doom. But the city refused to pay the piper for his services. And he planned his vengeance by attracting the children of the city with his melody. And what is the real story behind “The Pied Piper of Hameln”?
Indications of its origin
The story is likely based on a historical incident that actually happened. The proof is engraved on Hameln’s own walls. A plaque on the stone facade gives express evidence: «On June 26, 1284, the day of Saint John and Saint Paul, 130 children born in Hameln were fetched from the city by a flute player in brightly colored clothes. After they passed the Kalvarienberg near Koppenberg, they disappeared forever.
The inscription isn’t the only clue. An entry in the town books from 1384 mentions it. “It’s been 100 years since our children left.” A Lüneburg manuscript from the 15th century tells a similar story of 130 children. What really happened?
The theories are innumerable, according to Wibke Reimer, coordinator of the Hamelin Museum
“Perhaps,” said Reimer, “the pied piper played the role of a so-called locator or recruiter. They were responsible for organizing the migrations to the east. They wore brightly colored clothes and played an instrument to attract the attention of potential settlers. “
At that time the region was on the verge of becoming a German colony. ‘Did something happen that the officers covered up? Something so traumatic that it was transmitted orally for so long? What remains in the collective memory for centuries? All local records point to June 26th as the day the children disappeared. This day is also the date of the pagan summer solstice.
The possible massacre
Another theory is that the piper was the emblem of a pagan shaman. He took the youth of Hameln with him to his summer festivals. And the local Christian faction, hoping to cement the region’s conversion, attacked and massacred the group.
A less bloody theory is that the children were taken to the local monasteries.
However, if the narrative suggests a possible historical tragedy, it also offers artistic redemption. “The story of the Pied Piper,” says Reimer, “is known in at least 42 countries and 30 languages. Maybe more. And it shows up in international art, literature and music. The flute player is a common legacy of many people, and this cultural legacy unites us ».
The real story behind “The Pied Piper of Hameln” could come from a tragedy. But his legacy became an occasion for artistic celebration. And of course literary.