Text: “One popular legend in Stuttgart, Germany is the tale of the Stuttgarter Ratskeller. According to the legend, the Ratskeller (City Hall cellar) was once home to basically a group of goblins or dwarfs known as the Stuttgarter Männle. The story goes that these goblins would steal food, spill wine, and generally wreak havoc. The citizens of Stuttgart tried everything they could to get rid of the Männle, but nothing worked. One day, a cook came up with a plan. He prepared a large vat of stew and laced it with a potent sleeping potion. He then placed the stew in the Ratskeller, where the Männle could smell it from their hiding place in the cellar. As soon as the Männle tasted the stew, they fell into a deep sleep, and the cook quickly sealed the cellar shut with a large stone slab. The Männle were trapped inside, never to cause trouble again. The Stuttgarter Ratskeller is still sealed and people say that the goblins still sleep beneath the city streets.”
Context: BA is one of my closest friends and was very happy to be sharing folklore from his hometown. Apparently, this is a very very popular folk tale that is told even to tourists visiting Stuttgart. BA was told this story by his mother when he was about 8 years old and BA claims he always thought it was funny. He always knew it was not a true story but also thought it was very cool how an effort was made to keep the ratskellar closed. He also recalls how when he was little he was more keen on the possibility of the story being real but now he obviously knows it is untrue. BA believes this is a tale more suited for younger audiences and tourists unfamiliar with the folklore of Stuttgart.
Analysis: This was a very fun tale and I actually found myself to be very intrigued. BA was also very well versed when telling it, which showed me it was an important piece of folklore from his hometown. The story is typically told by locals and tour guides who want to share the city’s rich history and culture with others, but it is kept alive within the community itself usually from a mother or father to their own children. The legend of the Stuttgarter Ratskeller is an example of a classic folk tale that tells the story of mischievous creatures who are eventually defeated by human ingenuity. The tale reflects a common theme in folklore where humans overcome supernatural forces using their intelligence and cunning. The story of the Stuttgarter Männle is also a way for the people of Stuttgart to connect with their past and honor their ancestors. The city has a long and storied history, and the legend of the Stuttgarter Ratskeller is one way for the people of Stuttgart to remember their past and preserve their cultural heritage. Additionally, the legend of the Stuttgarter Männle is a fun and entertaining story that captures the imagination of both children and adults. The tale has been retold in many different forms, including plays, books, and movies, and it continues to be a beloved part of Stuttgart’s folklore. But, from what BA told me, it seems to be more suited for a younger audience.