A Cologne Folklore about the Heinzelmännchen Gnomes:
On our afternoon stop in Cologne we walked to the old market square to check out our favourite fountain, the large “Heinzelmännchenbrunnen” (Heinzelmännchen fountain) in front of the Früh brewery.
Built in 1899 by Edmund Renard and his son Heinrich, the Heinzelmännchenbrunnen commemorates the Heinzelmännchen and the tailor’s wife. It tells the story of the Heinzelmännchen, the little people who did all the work at night so that the people of Cologne could laze around during the day. The story was recorded from folklore by Ernst Weyden, a teacher in Cologne.
As the Legend Goes
There once was a time when the Heinzelmännchen did all the work for the people of Cologne during the night, so that they could be lazy during the day. They did all sorts of work like baking bread, washing and all kinds of housework. No one ever saw them – in return for the work, one of their demands was that they were never to be seen or disturbed.
During this time, there was a tailor to whom the gnomes took a liking to. When the tailor got married, the gnomes brought all kinds of beautiful vessels and utensils to the tailor’s house. These they had stolen from other homes.
When the tailor’s family increased in size, the little ones gave the tailor’s wife much help in her household affairs. They washed, scoured and did everything in the house for her.
This went on for some time until one night the tailor’s wife became too curious and she was dying to see one of these Heinzelmännchen. She spilled some dried peas on the stairs to make them trip and fall so that she could see them during the day.
Needless to say, the Heinzelmännchen were not pleased and they left town and never came back again. From then on the citizens of Cologne had to do all the work themselves.
So ends the story of how Curiosity killed the cat for Cologne.