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. It may also represent a warning to children to avoid falling into the, at that time, nearby Bear Pits.
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