Kassel, culture: Brother Grimm museum
The museum of the world-renowned brothers, Jacob (1785 - 1863) and Wilhelm Grimm
(1786 - 1859), who spent the decisive years of their lives in Kassel. On the
ground floor of Palais Bellevue, a permanent exhibition on the lives and work of
the Brothers Grimm provides a chronological documentation of the most important
periods in their lives in association with their scientific and political
The Grimms were born in Hanau near Frankfurt.
They were educated at the Friedrichs Gymnasium in Kassel and later both read law
at the University of Marburg.
From 1837 until 1841, the Brothers Grimm joined five of their colleague
professors at the University of Göttingen. This group came to be known as Die
Göttinger Sieben (The Göttingen Seven). They protested against King Ernest
Augustus I of Hanover, whom they accused of violating the constitution of that
state. For this, they were all fired from their university posts by the king.
Wilhelm died in 1859; his elder brother Jakob died in 1863. They are buried in
the St Matthäus Kirchhof Cemetery in Schöneberg, a district of Berlin.
The Brothers Grimm are well known for publishing collections of German fairy
tales, as Kinder- und Hausmärchen ("Children's and Household Tales"), in 1812,
with a second volume in 1814 ("1815" on the title page), and many further
editions during their lifetimes. Along with traditional German stories, many
originally French tales entered the collection through a Huguenot tale-teller
that the Grimms used as one of their main sources. English translations of the
7th edition (1857) remain popular, and they exist now predominantly as highly
expurgated and saccharine versions intended for children, even though the folk
tales that the Grimms had collected had not been previously considered stories
for children. Witches, goblins, trolls and wolves prowl the dark forests of the
Grimms' ancient villages, as well as the deeper psyche of the insular German
city-states of the time. Modern psychologists and cultural anthropologists read
in quite a bit of emotional angst, fear of abandonment, parental abuse, and
sexual development in the stories that are often read at bed-time in the West.
The child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim in his book The Uses of Enchantment read
familiar Grimms' fairy tales as Freudian myths. A modern editor of the Brothers
Grimm and interpreter of the fairy tales tradition is Jack Zipes.
In the very early 19th century, the time in which the Brothers Grimm lived, the
Holy Roman Empire had just met its fate, and Germany as we know it today did not
yet exist; it was basically an area of hundreds of principalities and small or
mid-sized countries. The major unifying factor for the German people of the time
was a common language. There was as yet no significant German literary history.
So part of what motivated the brothers in their writings and in their lives was
the desire to help create a German identity.
Less well known to the general public outside Germany is the Brothers Grimms'
work on a German dictionary, the Deutsches Wörterbuch. Indeed, the Deutsches
Wörterbuch was the first major step in creating a standardized "modern" German
language since Martin Luther's translation of the Bible from Latin to German.
Being very extensive (33 volumes, weighing 84 kg) it is still considered as the
standard reference for German etymology.
The brother Jakob is recognized for enunciating Grimm's law, Germanic Sound
Shift, that was first observed by the Danish philologist Rasmus Christian Rask.
Grimm's law was the first non-trivial systematic sound change ever to be
You can get more information on the Web-site of the Brother Grimm museum:
Brüder Grimm-Museum Kassel
Schöne Aussicht 2
Opening hours: Monday till Sunday 10.00 am - 5.00 pm
Palais Bellevue, View from Aue