Black Forest village stories

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Maibaum, illustration from 1848 for “Befehlerles”.

The Black Forest village stories are a collection of 27 stories by Berthold Auerbach , which were written between 1843 and 1880 and set in the rural environment of the Black Forest . Berthold Auerbach is regarded as the "father" of the literary genre of the village history because he essentially determined the production and reception of the genre.


Honoré de Balzac developed in his novel " The Human Comedy " a panorama of the French society of his time. Berthold Auerbach created a small-scale monument to the rural cosmos of his home village Nordstetten . In his essay “Vorreden statt Nachreden” from 1843 he writes: “I tried to describe an entire village from the first to the last house, so to speak.” The stories are interwoven, so that the reader, like Balzac, time and again individual characters and met their fates. Some of the stories have the length of short novels (10 to 50 pages), others the length of short novels (100 to 250 pages).

At the age of 28, in 1840, Berthold Auerbach began to put his Black Forest village stories on paper. He sketched the first drafts of the village stories in July 1840, when he received news of his father's death in Bonn, far from home. In 1842 he published the first five Black Forest village stories in magazines for the educated public, see magazine editions .

For the book edition of his stories, Auerbach looked for a long time for a publisher who was willing enough to risk something new. Karl Mathy , the partner of the Mannheim publisher Friedrich Bassermann , recognized the potential of the village stories. The first nine "Black Forest village stories" were printed in two parts as a book by Bassermann in 1843. Due to the great success, three more volumes followed by 1854. Further village stories appeared by 1880, including Auerbach's most successful story “ Barfüßele ” in 1856 and under the subtitle “After thirty years. New Village Stories "three more stories.

List of Black Forest village stories

Title page of the first volume of the Black Forest village stories, 1843.

Edition used: #Volksausgabe 1884 .

No. year title tape
1 1842 The clumsy 1
2 1842 The war whistle 1
3 1842 The castle builder Vefele 1
4th 1842 Tonele with the bitten cheek 1
5 1842 Commanders 1
6th 1843 The enemy brothers 1
7th 1843 Ivo, the Hajrle 1
8th 1843 Florian and Creszenz 2
9 1843 The Lauterbacher 2
10 1845 Convicts 2
11 1846 The woman professor 3
12 1847 Lucifer 3
13 1849 The Geigerlex 5
14th 1851 Hops and barley 4th
15th 1852 The story of Diethelm von Buchenberg 4th
16 1852 The square or the American box 5
17th 1852 Brosi and Moni 7th
18th 1853 Erdmuthe 2
19th 1853 The Lehnhold 5
20th 1853 A house of their own 6th
21st 1856 Barefoot 6th
22nd 1860 Joseph in the snow 7th
23 1861 Edelweiss 8th
24 1876 Des Lorles Reinhard 9
25th 1876 The dud from America 9
26th 1876 The nest by the train 10
27 1880 Brigitta 10


This section contains contents of selected narratives.

The clumsy

"He stood calm and firm and made the military salute to his place of birth."

The story “Der Tolpatsch” published in 1842 was Auerbach's first Black Forest village history. - Aloys Schorer, a hard-working, good-natured young man with the "nickname" Tolpatsch falls in love with the Marannele. Before he begins his military service, he makes her promise not to marry before his discharge from the military. On vacation he learns that Jörgli has seduced the Marannele and is going to marry it. In his disappointment, Aloys emigrates to America with relatives.

In the story " Ivo, der Hajrle ", which appeared a year later in 1843, the reader learns how Aloys fared in America. Years later, Aloys wrote a letter to his mother: He is happily married and has a young son, and after initial difficulties, his economy is flourishing. He sings praises for freedom and equality in America, but he still suffers from homesickness, less for Germany than for his people he has left behind.

More than 30 years after the publication of “Der Clumsy” and “Ivo, the Hajrle”, Auerbach took up the subject again in 1876 ​​with the story “ Der Clumsy from America ”. Aloys Schorer's son goes to his father's homeland to choose a wife. He falls in love with the daughter of Marannele, who once disdained his father. The father overcomes his old resentment and agrees to his son's marriage.

The war whistle

"When he woke up, the first thing he asked for was his pipe."

The story "The War Pipe" from 1842 describes how a passionate pipe smoker is weaned from tobacco smoking. - The story takes place at the time of the Napoleonic campaigns:

"Every farmer could see the whole of world history filing past from the royal box of his own house, ... and all this great spectacle often cost the farmer nothing but house and farm and perhaps his life."

19-year-old Hansjörg shoots a finger off with the pistol so that he doesn't have to go to war. The wounded man is brought to the bricklayer's house, where his daughter Kätherle takes care of him. The young people get closer and fall in love with each other. One day two French marauders dash through the village, and one of them snatches the beloved pipe out of Hansjörg's mouth. Hansjörg and two friends want to chase after the French, but Kätherle holds him back by promising to marry him, and the two friends also half-turn back for fear of their own courage. Hansjörg vows to quit smoking and remains steadfast when his pipe miraculously returns.

The castle builder Vefele

"Not far from Hirschau the Mohrle jumped towards him, it was wearing a red scarf in its mouth."

The story “Des Schloßbauers Vefele” from 1842 describes the self-inflicted isolation of a man and the cruel fate of his daughter. A stranger buys the castle property and builds "the most elegant house in the whole village", which is why he is called the castle builder. He quarrels with God and the world and leads endless trials with the peasants in the village. He and his family are therefore shunned by everyone. Of his children, only the youngest daughter Vefele remains in the family.

The castle builder also lives in constant quarrel with his wife, only the Vefele can settle the frequent quarrels. The mother dies of grief, and only now does the father realize what he has lost in her. One day a field shearer turns up in the village. He makes advances to the father and daughter in their loneliness and impregnates the daughter. After the father's death, he causes the Vefele to turn all of their possessions into money in order to emigrate with him to America. However, the field clerk steals her money and disappears, never to be seen again. The Vefele drowns himself in desperation in the Neckar, only his red scarf remains, which his dog Mohrle wears in his mouth.

Tonele with the bitten cheek

"There! there! "cried Sepper," there lies your hunter, now marry him. "

In the story “Tonele with the bitten cheek” from 1842, two unfortunate coincidences lead to death and ruin. - The Sepper and his sweetheart Tonele are “a wonderful couple”. Tonele is very fond of Sepper, but he still torments it with his jealousy of the hunter. A teasing bite in the cheek of his sweetheart turns into a mishap for Sepper: he bites too hard and Tonele feels disguised for his life, and Sepper doesn't want to know anything more. The maneuvers to Stuttgart, and in the meantime the Tonele turns to the hunter. Upon his return, the Sepper happened to see the couple. He starts a scuffle with the hunter, a shot is released from his rifle and kills the hunter. Sepper escapes into a foreign country, and the Tonele is "only released from life after many years of lonely grief".


"Then he calmly took his ax from his left arm and with a 'There!' he struck them on the notice board. "

In the story “Befehlerles” from 1842, Auerbach castigated the arbitrariness of the authorities. - Matthes illegally fell a maypole in his own forest and placed it in front of his treasure Aivle's house (see cover picture ). Matthes is illegally arrested in a humiliating manner and sentenced to 10 Reichstalern. On the occasion of the maypole crime, the chief bailiff posted an arbitrary ordinance that forbade the men of the village the age-old right to carry an ax. The men chop up the notices of the authorities and report themselves. Buchmaier, the leader of the men, gives an incendiary speech in front of the chief magistrate in which he claims the peasants' freedom rights:

“The little gentlemen, who stand from top to bottom, enjoy playing the commands; at last they write it according to notes, how Henn 'has to cackle when she lays an egg. "

The men are formally sentenced to a fine, but the chief magistrate is transferred and his ordinance is ignored.

The enemy brothers

"Woe! Alas! Alas! you lived in hatred with hardened hearts. "

The story “The Enemy Brothers” from 1843 describes the fate of two brothers who have been at enmity with one another for 14 years. - The cause of the brotherly quarrel was a void inheritance dispute after the mother's death. Since then they have been living strictly separated in the same house, ignoring each other. When a new pastor comes to the village, he calls the brothers over and reminds them of their fate in the afterlife:

"Woe! Alas! Alas! you lived with hardened hearts in hatred, ... go forged together, languish forever in hell. "

For fear of the terrible judgment, the two brothers reconcile and live in harmony from now on.

Ivo, the Hajrle

Ivo defends his girlfriend Emmerenz against the "fiends" of the gray geese.

The story "Ivo, the Hajrle" from 1843 describes the development of a young man who wants to become a Catholic pastor but then decides against celibacy. - Ivo, the six-year-old son of the carpenter Valentin, enthusiastically experiences the primacy of the tailor's son Gregor. When the father asked whether he would like to become a Hajrle one day, Ivo answered with a happy yes. Ivo continues to live in her parents' house and enjoys country life. He loves animals and field work. His dearest friends are the servant Nazi and the poor neighbor's daughter Emmerenz. When he was old enough, he attended the Latin school in Horb, the monastery school in Ehingen and the Konvikt in Tübingen.

During the holidays, which he usually spends at home, he encounters emmerenz again and again, and when he realizes that he is in love with her, he feels violent guilt. The would-be pastor also sorely misses his beloved farm work. The conflict in his soul leads to a falling out with his parents because he wants to give up the pastor career. He leaves the Konvikt and sets off for Strasbourg to emigrate to America. On the way he encounters the estate of his friend Nazi, who, due to a tragic fate, served as a servant, but took over the parental estate after the death of his brother. Ivo lets his emmerence come and marries her. As one of the richest farmers, Nazi gives Ivo a sawmill, on which he and his emmerenz lead a hard working life.

Florian and Kreszenz

Florian and Kreszenz move across the country as scissors grinders with their children.

The story “Florian und Kreszenz” from 1843 describes the fate of a young couple who almost forfeit their bourgeois existence due to the man's weakness. - Kreszenz, the daughter of a poor tailor, is supposed to marry the geometer from the city at the request of her parents, but she loves the butcher's journeyman Florian, but "he has nothing, I have nothing, and twice nothing is nothing".

Kreszenz decides against his better judgment for Florian. He does not succeed in building a secure bourgeois existence, things “go sharply downhill” with him, in the end he participates in a robbery and has to be in prison for six years. Kreszenz adheres to him and they marry after Florian is released. The connection results in two children, and the family travels across the country as jugglers and scissors grinders. Eventually they meet the birth father of the Kreszenz, a pastor who helps them build an existence as a butcher.

"Isn't it, it's a clean girl?"

The Lauterbacher

The story “Der Lauterbacher” from 1843 tells the fate of a young teacher who is transferred from the city to the countryside and only slowly overcomes his resistance to village life. - Adolf Lederer from Lauterbach loses his parents at an early age and grows up in the orphanage, where he also becomes an assistant teacher. When he was transferred to the village of Nordstetten as a teacher, he was initially unable to overcome his reluctance to live on the farm.

Little by little he joins individual people, especially the ancient grandmother Maurita. Adolf becomes an important person in the village, he marries Maurita's granddaughter, the beautiful farmer's daughter Hedwig, and founds a reading club to improve the village education.

"You have a heavy 'carry'," said Jakob.


The story "Convicts" from 1845 tells of two convicts who find their way to a happy life together after their release. - Jakob had to go to prison for five years because he knocked down a man while he was drinking and he died as a result. After his release he finds a job as a farmhand at the Adlerwirt. Magdalene went to jail because she took the blame for stealing cutlery for her dissolute father. She gets a job as a baker's maid.

Jakob and Magdalene find each other and start a family with the support of the poor lawyer. Jakob finds a job as a railway attendant and lives with his wife and child in an idyllic little house by the railway.


The story “Lucifer” from 1847 tells the story of a man who emigrated to America for reasons of religious freedom. - Luzian is a wealthy, well-respected farmer in the village. Once the pastor announced from the pulpit that God had punished the farmers with a bad harvest because of their sinful life.

Lucian cannot hold back with his opinion: he believes in a benevolent God and not in a punishing God and calls out to the pastor: “This is shameful lies and deception!” The pastor considers Lucian to be a living product of Lucifer and proves him and his family with the excommunication. In the end, Luzian has to atone for his supposed godlessness with six weeks in prison. After his release, he emigrates with his family to America, where freedom of religion is guaranteed.

The Geigerlex

"The burning house could no longer be saved."

The story "Der Geigerlex" from 1849 tells the story of Alexis Grubenmüller, called the Geigerlex. The lively violinist came to the village 30 years ago and delighted everyone with his fiddle. He married the sun hostess who died a few years before him.

When his house burned down, he waived the payment of the damage in favor of the community and instead received a lifelong pension. He continued to live happily for a while, and the community built a schoolhouse on his property, to which he bequeathed his violin. After the school was inaugurated, he passed away peacefully.

Hops and barley

After completing his military service, the farmer's son Franzseph can no longer find his way back to normal life, so that he is soon decried as a lazy man. His widowed mother loves her son dearly and, despite his sloppiness, treats him very leniently. Franzseph joins the unpopular Emil Faber, who has bought a farm in the village and challenges the grudges of others with his way of life and advanced methods. Franzseph is promised to Madlene, the daughter of the mallet maker, one of Faber's worst enemies. Dissatisfied with his own way of life, Franzseph mows a barley field of the mallet farmer the night before the start of the harvest, to show the world what a great guy he is.

That same night, Faber's hop field is destroyed and Franzseph is suspected. He takes the blame because he wants to protect his future father-in-law, whom he believes to be the perpetrator. It turns out, however, that Klaus, the son of the mayor, who also applies for Madlene's favor, destroyed the hop field in order to ingratiate himself with the mallet farmer. Franzseph and Madlene get married, the “idler” proves himself to be a capable farmer, and only the tense relationship with the mallet farmer temporarily tarnishes the young couple's happiness.

The square or the American box

The story "The Square or the American Box" from 1852 tells the story of an emigrant who returns to his homeland. - The story begins with a lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of emigrating to America. Xaveri is the wild, maladjusted son of the wealthy laughing farmer and the grandson of the old laughing farmer who doesn't believe in America's existence, that's all lies and deception. Xaveri's large head, which hardly fits a hat, earned him the nickname “the square”.

A connection with the ploughman's daughter Lisabeth is not established, she marries the Lenz farmer Philipp, to whom Xaveri owes his nickname. After six years of military service, Xaveri works as an unpaid servant at the ploughman and lives on. In his dissatisfaction, he decides to emigrate to America. His mother and brother Trudpert prevent him and urge him to marry the unloved shopkeeper widow. The marriage is unhappy and eventually Xaveri emigrates to America. After three years he returns from America. He is reconciled with his wife, works as a servant for his brother and is appointed village rifleman.


The story of "Erdmuthe" from 1853 tells of two young people from warring families who only find each other after some strokes of fate. - Gottfried is an ambitious, wealthy farmer. There is tension and competition between him and his light-blooded brother-in-law, Cyprian: Gottfried seems to succeed in everything and Cyprian is constantly pursued by bad luck. He buys an inn in another village. Thereupon Gottfried demands that his brother-in-law surrender the mother property in order to secure it for Erdmuthe, the daughter of his deceased sister. Cyprian refuses and his house and fields are auctioned off. This laid the foundation for a lifelong enmity, which also extends to Gottfried's son Bläsi and Cyprian's daughter Erdmuthe, who love each other without admitting it. After many years and after Cyprian's downfall, Bläsi and Erdmuthe meet and become a couple despite all adversities.

Joseph in the snow

Berthold Auerbach, Black Forest village stories, Joseph in the snow.jpg

“Here rests a child who got lost in the forest ... So it stands on a small cross in the churchyard of the forest village.” A benevolent fate saved little Joseph from the same fate, “and his wrong way became the signpost from much misery to much Luck". This is how the story of little Joseph and his wandering begins.

Six-year-old Joseph is the illegitimate son of the rich farmer's son Adam Röttmann and Martina, the daughter of poor Schilder-Davids. The young people want to get married, but Martina's mother, the wild Röttmännin, an angry woman who has husband and son under her thumb, stubbornly resists.

On the night before Christmas Eve, Joseph cannot sleep because his father is supposed to visit him tomorrow. On Christmas Eve, the seamstress Leegart comes to the Schilder-Davids to sew a jacket for Joseph. Since the women see him as a troublemaker in their conversations, his mother sends him to the shoemaker, who is a great friend of children. Adam and his parents go to the Heidenmüller family: he is supposed to become engaged to Heidenmüller-Toni. The son has given up his own will and all resistance, although he is otherwise a strong-minded man. During the engagement party he rides to the Schilder-Davids to visit his son as promised.

But his son has disappeared! Apparently he went looking for his father. One looks in vain for him everywhere, and since it is already dark the grown men of the village get together to look for Joseph in the light of the torch in the snow. Martina and Adam join them and swear to marry each other, come what may. After hours full of fear, one finally finds Joseph with the Heidenmüller family. In the future he will be nicknamed "Joseph in the Snow" because his wrong way through the nightly snow ended well. Despite the resistance of the wicked mother-in-law, Adam and Martina get married on Christmas night. Soon a daughter will be born, and the strong, broad Adam carries it around in his arms: "You would never have believed that he could be so skillful and handy".

Magazine issues

No. year title magazine
1 1842 The clumsy. A Black Forest village story. Europe. Chronicle of the Educated World, 1842, Volume 3, Pages 1–21, pdf .
2 1842 The war whistle. A Black Forest village story. Newspaper for the Elegant World, 1842, number 105-107, pages 417-427, pdf .
3 1842 The castle builder Vefele. A Black Forest village story. Newspaper for the elegant world, 1842, number 73–78, pages 289–311, pdf .
4th 1842 Tonele with the bitten cheek. A Black Forest village story. Der Freihafen, 1842, pp. 40–58, pdf .
5 1842 Commanders. A Black Forest village story. Newspaper for the elegant world, 1842, number 194–197, pages 773–788, pdf .
10 1846 Convicts. Village history. Urania. Paperback for the year 1846. New series, volume 8, 1846, pages 337–421, pdf .
11 1847 The woman professor. Narrative. Urania. Paperback for the year 1847. New series, volume 9, 1847, pages 283–446, pdf .

Book editions

  • Egidius Schmalzriedt (editor); Berthold Auerbach: Black Forest village stories: with over 200 original illustrations and documents of the time. New popular edition. Stuttgart: Staufen, 1982. - Contains:
    • Black Forest village stories 1–6, 11, 13, 15, 21–22 (numbering according to the list of Black Forest village stories ).
    • "Preamble saves gossip".
    • Auerbach's autobiographical notes.
    • Original drafts for the first Black Forest village stories.
    • Auerbach's works.
    • Swabian in German. A little glossary.
  • Berthold Auerbach's Complete Black Forest Village Stories. Popular edition in 10 volumes, Cotta: Stuttgart 1884, pdf .


  • Bertold Auerbach: To JE Braun, from the author of the Black Forest village stories. In Europe. Chronicle of the Educated World, 1843, Volume 4, Pages 33–36, pdf .
  • Berthold-Auerbach-Literaturkreis: Auerbach as the founder of village history , 2012, pdf .
  • Egidius Schmalzriedt (editor); Berthold Auerbach: Black Forest village stories: with over 200 original illustrations and documents of the time. New popular edition. Stuttgart: Staufen, 1982.
  • Bettina Wild: Topology of Rural Areas: Berthold Auerbach's “Black Forest Village Stories” and their significance for the literature of realism. With excursions to English literature. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2011.

Web links

Wikisource: Black Forest Village Stories  - List of digital copies


  1. #Wild 2011 , page 50.
  2. #Auerbach 1843.2 , page 36.
  3. #Smalzriedt 1982 , pages 622–625.
  4. # Berthold-Auerbach-Literaturkreis 2012 .
  5. #Volksausgabe 1884 , Volume 1, Pages 178-185.
  6. #Volksausgabe 1884 , Volume 1, Page 27.
  7. #Volksausgabe 1884 , Volume 1, Page 84.
  8. #Volksausgabe 1884 , Volume 1, Pages 99-100.
  9. #Volksausgabe 1884 , Volume 1, Page 113.
  10. Hajrle: Little Lord, Pastor.
  11. Nordstetten has been a district of Horb since 1971,
  12. When the young teacher arrives in Nordstetten, he is teased about his hometown Lauterbach, because the Lauterbach Strumpflied was well known.
  13. Carry: Payload.