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Kindlifresser: The Child Eater of Bern, Switzerland

Stashed in: Europe, Travel

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Der Kindlifresser

Standing in the middle of Bern, Switzerland, is the Kindlifresser, or “Child Eater.” The fountain sculpture towers above the ground a baby half stuffed into his mouth, and a sack full of three alarmed tots slung over its shoulder presumably for later snacking. The disturbing sculpture is no modern work of art; built in 1546, it is one of the oldest fountains in the city of Bern.

Kindlifresser has been standing in Bern for nearly 500 years, and nobody is really sure how it got there. The 3 main theories are:

  1. Since his hat looks something like the judenhuts that Jewish men were forced to at the time, he could have served as some kind of warning to the Jewish community.
  2. He could also be a depiction of the Titan Kronos of Greek mythology, father of the Olympians Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. Kronos tried to devour all of his children to prevent them from overthrowing him, but he failed to eat Zeus, which led to his downfall.
  3. The final theory is that he is the elder brother of Duke Berchtold, the founder of Bern, who went mad and supposedly ate some of the town children, thought there is no historical evidence of this ever happening.

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