Most of us know the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. In short, in the year 1284 the town of Hamelin, Germany was plagued with rats. They hired the Pied Piper who played his magical flute and led the rats out of town and into the river where they all drowned. When he returned for his fee, the town refused to pay him for his services. As an act of retribution he again played his magical flute and with all of the children being captivated by the tune, they followed him out of town and never ever returned.
There are varying endings to this famous legend and it seems that there is some truth in the fact that the town lost an entire generation all those centuries ago:
Perhaps it was simply that many young people moved and settled in the north and east of Germany, where they were better able to make a living for themselves (some bits are Poland today)?
Perhaps it was a children’s crusade which went horribly awry.
Perhaps the children followed a pagan cult leader to dance in the forests of the Koppelberg hills. It is said they were swallowed up by an avalanche or a sinkhole!
Perhaps it was when many 12th centuty Saxons were invited to settle in Transylvania by the Hungarian king who ruled at the time?
these lead to the fun one…
Romanian legend has it that the children who were led away by the piper (to a cave in the Koppelberg hills) re-emerged from under the ground, in the Meresti Cave of the Varghis Gorge in Transylvania.
I know what I like to think!
“In Transylvania there’s a tribe
Of alien people who ascribe
The outlandish ways and dress
On which their neighbours lay such stress,
To their fathers and mothers having risen
Out of some subterraneous prison
Into which they were trepanned
Long time ago in a mighty band
Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land,
But how or why, they don’t understand.”
– Robert Browning
Here is a link to one of my favourite childhood videos which tells Robert Browning’s version – starts about two minutes in!