Child Eater Fountain, Bern, Switzerland

The Kindlifresserbrunnen, German for Child Eater Fountain is a fountain at the Kornhausplatz (Granary Place) in Bern. It is one of the Old City of Bern’s fountains from the 16th century. It was created in 1545/46 by Hans Gieng in place of a wooden fountain from the 15th century. The new fountain’s original name was Platzbrunnen (Plaza Fountain); the current name was used first in 1666.

Kindli is a Swiss German diminutive for the German word Kind, meaning child. A literal translation of the name Kindlifresserbrunnen therefore would be “Fountain of the Eater of Little Children”.The fountain sculpture is a sitting ogre devouring a naked child. Placed at his side is a bag containing more children.

Because the ogre is wearing a pointed hat resembling a Jewish hat, it has been speculated about the possibility of the ogre being the depiction of a Jew as an expression of blood libel against Jews. Another theory is that the statue is the likeness of Krampus, the beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish children during the Christmas season who had misbehaved.

According to other theories it is a depiction of the Greek god Cronus eating his children or the Roman Saturn eating the months, though Cronus should have six and Saturn twelve rather than the sculpture’s eight.[3] It may also represent a warning to children to avoid falling into the, at that time, nearby Bear Pits.

Visit Switzerland. Epic Switzerland Adventure Route © Monika Newbound

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