The Robber Hotzenplotz
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The Robber Hotzenplotz is a character from the childbook author Otfried Preußler. There are three tales about Hotzenplotz:
- The Robber Hotzenplotz (1962)
- News from the Robber Hotzenplotz (1969)
- Hotzenplotz 3 (1973)
All three books were illustrated by the drawer Franz Josef Tripp, like most of Preußler’s works. These books were translated in 34 languages (e.g.: French: Le Brigand Briquambroque, Italian: Il Brigante Pennastorta, Spanish: El bandido Saltodemata, Turkish: Haydut Haytazot). Moreover, more than six million books were sold. All three books were recorded on CD’s and tapes.
At the beginning of the 1960s Ottfried Preußler worked unsuccessfully on the initial approaches on Krabat. Due to the disappointment, he took the decision to change and to write something amusing. He decided to write about a clown tale (Kasper), which included all the typical characters of a clown story: Kasperl (the clown), Seppel, Grandmother, the robber, the police officer (who has the Bavarian name Alois Dimpfelmoser, wearing a spiked helmet), the wizard (Petrosilius Zwackelmann) and others. Preußler named the robber after a city in Silesia, which is called Hotzenplotz in German and Osoblaha in Czech. This name impressed Preußler very much during his childhood, so that he still remembered it. The book was published in 1962.
The first tale of the robber Hotzenplotz was very popular among the readers. Originally Preußler only planned to write a single book about the robber Hotzenplotz, but after receiving requests from children with detailed suggestions for further books about the robber, he decided to write another book about Hotzenplotz, seven years after publishing the first book.
Due to the fact that the dog Wasti, which was accidentally transformed into a crocodile by the widow Schlotterbeck and which was not transformed back to its originally body at the end of the second book, Preußler again received letters from readers. For this reason he wrote a further book in which he took care of not leaving an open ending. Furthermore, he explained at the end of the book that it definitely was his last clown tale.
The Robber Hotzenplotz
The smart robber Hotzenplotz attacks Kasperl’s (clown) grandmother and steals her coffee machine, which is very valuable to her as it was a gift from Kasperl and Seppel. Moreover, the coffee machine can play her favorite song “All new in May”. Kasperl and Seppel try to catch the robber Hotzenplotz, as they do not think the police officer Alois Dimpfelmoser is capable of catching Hotzenplotz. They bury a wooden box, which is filled with sand and which has a tiny whole on the bottom which is stuffed with a small match, to find out where Hotzenplotz lives. Moreover, they write “Caution Gold” on the box. After bringing the wooden box in the forest, Hotzenplotz appears immediately and takes the wooden box. At the same time, Kasperl and Seppel pull out the match and get themselves in safety. Trusting that there is gold in the wooden box, the robber brings it to his den of robbers, where he sees whats really in it. Furthermore, he discovers the track, created from the sand, which leads directly to his hidden place.
Therefore, Hotzenplotz spreads a second track with the remaining sand from the wooden box, which leads to a pit next to his den. As soon as Kasperl and Seppel see the second track, they decide to separate and hit the hay of the robber Hotzenplotz. Meanwhile, Kasperl falls into the pit, the robber Hotzenplotz shoots Seppel in the face with pepper. However, Kasperl and Seppel changed their hats on the way to the den of robbers, as they did not want to be recognized. As Hotzenplotz can only identify them with their hats, he gets confused and mixes them up.
Moreover, Kasperl plays the fool and pronounces very often Hotzenplotz name wrong, so that Hotzenplotz sells him to the wizard Petrosilius Zwackelmann for a small snuff of tobacco. Zwackelmann needs a servant who peels his potatoes, as he is not able to peel them with magic. However, Kasperls continues playing the fool and pronounces Zwackelmann’s name wrong, so that he gets very angry and thinks that it is a proof that Kasperl is too stupid to discover his magic secrets. In the night Kasperl tries to escape from the castle of the wizard, but during his escape he notes that is impossible to get out of the castle, as Zwackelmann cursed it. Zwackelmann wakes up and sends Kasperl to his bed and tells him that he will punish him, if he disturbs his sleep again. In the meantime, Seppel has to work for Hotzenplotz in the den of robbers.
When Zwackelmann visits his friend in Buxtehude, he has to leave Kasperl alone in the castle. While Kasperl is alone, he suddenly hears somebody calling for help. The shouts come from the basement of the castle. Although there are signs that permit entering the basement, Kasperl goes downstairs and discovers a toad in a pond, which speaks human language. It turns out that it is the fairy Amaryllis who has been transformed into a toad by the wizard Zwackelmann. In addition, she has to live in the pond in the basement of the castle. As she wants to be a fairy again, she asks Kasperl to get the fairy herb which grows in the high heath, below an old weather spruce, and which is only visible in the moonlight. Furthermore, she tells him how to break the curse and how to escape from the castle. He can escape if he leaves a part of his personal clothes in the castle. Kasperl leaves Seppel’s hat in the castle and starts his journey to the high heath, where he has to wait for the moonlight to find the fairy herb.
In the meantime Zwackelmann returns from Buxtehude and notices that the potatoes are not peeled and that Kasperl disappeared. Moreover, he discovers Seppel’s hat. He uses a magic spell on Seppel’s hat to let Kasperl appear. Suddenly he faces Seppel, as only the person to whom belongs the clothes appears. Seppel helds one of Hotzenplotz boots in his hand, as he was about to clean it and explains the misunderstanding to Zwackelmann. Now, Zwackelmann wants Kasperl to appear in his castle, therefore, he needs Kasperl’s real hat. Unfortunately, Seppel does not have it, as Hotzenplotz burnt it. Zwackelmann gets really angry with Hotzenplotz and let him appear with the help of his boot, which Seppel has. When Hotzenplotz appears, Zwackelmann starts a discussion with him and transforms him into a bullfinch and locks him into a bird cage, as he is still very mad with Hotzenplotz. After converting Hotzenplotz, he commands Seppel to finish Kasperl’s work, peeling the potatoes in the kitchen. Afterwards, Zwackelmann starts to search for Kasperl.
In the meantime, Kasperl returns to the castle with the fairy herb. As it makes him invisible, he can go into the basement without any problems. The toad transforms back into the fairy, only with the touch of the fairy herb. Suddenly, Zwackelmann appears in the basement vault, as Kasperl left the door open. Zwackelmann sees what is going on and gets a tantrum. Due to the tantrum Zwackelmann falls down in the pond and dies. The fairy is very grateful to Kasperl, and gives him a ring with three wishes. Afterwards, Kasperl and Seppel return to their home and bring the enchanted bullfinch, which is Hotzenplotz, to Alois Dimpfelmoser. In the meantime, the fairy destroys the castle of the wizard Zwackelmann and returns to her fairy world. On their way home, Kasperl uses his three wishes. First, he wishes that the coffee machine, which now plays “All new in May” with two voices, returns to his grandmother. With his second wish, he gets his hat back. He uses the third wish to convert the bullfinch back to the robber Hotzenplotz in Alois Dimpfelmoser’s office. When Hotzenplotz appears in Dimpfelmoser’s office, Dimpfelmoser confines him immediately in the fire house. Finally, Kasperl and Seppel receive a reward for catching the robber Hotzenplotz.
News from the Robber Hotzenplotz
By pretending that he suffers an appendicitis, Hotzenplotz can successfully escape from the fire house, as Alois Dimpfelmoser, who got a promotion to a commissioner, believes him. The robber Hotzenplotz escapes with Dimpfelmoser’s new uniform and attacks Kasperl’s grandmother again. Due to the uniform, she thinks that Dimpfelmoser attacked her. However, this time, Hotzenplotz does not steal anything from her. He only eats sauerkraut and a fried German sausage, which she prepared for Kasperl and Seppel. In the meantime, Dimpfelmoser lies helpless in the fire station, only wearing his underwear and wrapped with the firehose, with his head in the fire bucket. Due to that, his voice sounds very dull and strange, so that Kasperl and Seppel do not recognize his voice, when he shouts for help, as they pass by the fire house.
Kasperl and Seppel do not believe that he is Dimpfelmoser and that he got overwhelmed by Hotzenplotz. Only by finding out that Hotzenplotz attacked Grandmother, they return to the fire house, to release Alois Dimpfelmoser. As Dimpfelmoser does not wear his uniform, they put him into a barrel for cucumbers and bring him to Grandmother’s house. Afterwards, Kasperl and Seppel go out to pick up Dimpfelmoser’s second uniform, which he only uses for special occasions. After putting on his second uniform, Dimpfelmoser, together with Kasperl and Seppel want to attract Hotzenplotz and to lock him up again in the fire house with the help of a false treasure map. But everything turns out completely different, as Hotzenplotz looks through the trick, so that Kasperl and Seppel attack erroneously Alois Dimpfelmoser and take off his uniform as they think that he is Hotzenplotz. Hotzenplotz surprises Kasperl and Seppel and locks them up in the fire house and takes Dimpfelmoser’s bicycle. After waking up from his loss of consciousness, Dimpfelmoser forgives Kasperl and Seppel. They release themselves from the fire house, by driving the old fire truck through the wall. Afterwards, they drive directly to Grandmother’s house, as they are afraid that Hotzenplotz attacked her again.
In the meantime, Hotzenplotz returns to Grandmother’s house and kidnaps her, demanding ransom money. He brings her to his dens of robbers, where she is forced to be his house keeper. Dimpfelmoser, Kasperl and Seppel find a letter in Grandmother’s house, in which Hotzenplotz demands ransom money, which corresponds to the amount of the reward which Kasperl and Seppel previously received. Kasperl and Seppel want to give Hotzenplotz the requested money. Unfortunately, during the handover, they get caught by Hotzenplotz and he brings them to his den of robbers. Dimpfelmoser sees the whole scene with the help of the crystal ball from the widow Schlotterbeck, who is a fortune teller. While he is looking at the crystal ball, Dimpfelmoser gets so mad with Hotzenplotz, that he punches on the table, so that it vibrates smoothly. Unfortunately, the crystal ball does not work when it receives vibrations, so it turns into darkness. Therefore, he cannot see where Hotzenplotz hides Kasperl and Seppel.
Dimpfelmoser starts to search Kasperl and Seppel with the help of Wasti. Wasti was a long-hair dachshund from the widow Schlotterbeck, which she erroneously transformed into a crocodile, while she was trying to learn witchcraft. In the meantime, Grandmother has to cook a mushroom soup for Hotzenplotz. While Hotzenplotz eats the soup, his three prisoners tell him that the mushroom soup contains bang mushrooms, which will explode in his stomach. Furthermore, they tell him that he can only avoid the explosions, if he binds a rope all over his belly. Hotzenplotz believes their lies and let them bind a rope over his belly. While binding Hotzenplotz they try to reach the keys for their ankle shackles. But Hotzenplotz keeps the keys in his breast pocket, which is covered by his captivated hands. Suddenly Dimpfelmoser appears with Wasti and helps them. Hotzenplotz gets caught again and Kasperl and Seppel receive their money back and bring Hotzenplotz together with Wasti, Grandmother and Dimpfelmoser to the police station. This time Hotzenplotz gets locked up directly in the prison and not in the fire station. Afterwards, the Grandmother cooks fried German sausages and sauerkraut for dinner.
Due to his good behavior Hotzenplotz is released from prison and decides to give up his job as a professional thief. He visits Kasperl’s and Seppel’s grandmother to apologize for his previous attacks. However, Grandmother does not trust him and locks him up in her closet. Alois Dimpfelmoser, who received a further promotion as a chief inspector in the meantime, appears and releases Hotzenplotz, as there is no proof of any attack. Furthermore, Hotzenplotz confirms his earlier release from prison by an official letter. However, Dimpfelmoser wants to keep an eye on Hotzenplotz and visits the widow Schlotterbeck together with Kasperl and Seppel to spy on Hotzenplotz with the help of her crystal ball. They observe that he disposes his gunpowder and his weapons from his den of robbers. Unfortunately, they cannot follow the complete activity, as the night begins and the crystal ball turns into darkness.
Dimpfelmoser asks the widow Schlotterbeck to observe Hotzenplotz as soon as the sun rises. Kasperl and Seppel go out to catch Hotzenplotz as they assume that he intends new crimes. On their way to the den of robbers they build a trap by binding a sand bag on a tree and stretching the end of the rope over the ground, so that the sandbag falls down, when someone touches the rope on the ground. When Seppel tries their trap, it works perfectly and the sandbag falls on his head, so that he now lies unconscious on the ground. Fortunately, Hotzenplotz arrives and helps Seppel to wake up with his snuff.
Finally, Hotzenplotz can convince Kasperl and Seppel that he wants to be an honest man by setting on fire all his complete gunpowder. After the explosion of the gunpowder, they bury all his weapons in the moor. Afterwards, the three sit together around a camp fire, enjoying a robber meal which Hotzenplotz prepared and talk about Hotzenplotz’s future. Hotzenplotz does not know what he wants to do, because he did not learn anything besides robbery.
Kasperl and Seppel start their way home, when the night begins. Hotzenplotz accompanies them until the city outskirt. There, they find a “Wanted” poster of Hotzenplotz with a current date. Hotzenplotz is accused to have damaged a window from the widow Schlotterbeck’s house and to have stolen the crystal ball from her. Thereupon, Kasperl and Seppel hide Hotzenplotz at Grandmother’s house until they can proof that Hotzenplotz is innocent. The next day, they go to the widow Schlotterbeck to solve the case. There, they find out that Dimpfelmoser is looking for them with the help of Wasti, the long-hair dachshund, which was erroneously transformed into a crocodile by the widow Schlotterbeck.
Finally Kasperl and Seppel find the crystal ball in Wasti’s dog house. Obviously, Wasti thought it was a pumpkin. In this connection, they realize why two pumpkins from Grandmother’s garden are also missing. They were not stolen by Hotzenplotz, but Kasperl and Seppel gave them to Wasti. They did not know that her Grandmother counts them regularly as they are special pumpkins, which only grow with a special treatment. When Kasperl and Seppel return to Grandmother’s house to release Hotzenplotz, and to proof that he is innocent, they only find a letter from Hotzenplotz, saying that he wants to go to the United States of America.
Kasperl and Seppel want to find Hotzenplotz, but they need Wasti’s help, so that they have to look for Dimpfelmoser first. In the meantime, Dimpfelmoser was led by Wasti to the moor, where Kasperl and Seppel buried Hotzenplotz’s weapons. There Dimpfelmoser is about to sink. Fortunately, Kasperl and Seppel just arrive in the perfect time to save Dimpfelmoser. They tell him that they found out that Wasti took the crystal ball and that Hotzenplotz is innocent. After the explanation, Kasperl and Seppel send Dimpfelmoser home and start to search for Hotzenplotz with Wasti. Finally, they find Hotzenplotz in the high heath, where the fairy herb grows. They convince Hotzenplotz to stay. During their talk, Wasti takes a smell at the fairy herb and with the help of the fairy herb, it transforms to his previous body, the long-hair dachshund. Thereupon, the widow Schlotterbeck invites all to a celebration and takes a look into the crystal ball for Hotzenplotz. She foresees that he will open a tavern which is called “To the den of robbers”.
It is remarkable that in Hotzenplotz 3, Preußler turns around the pattern of the classical robber tale and introduces a subversive profile with the innocent suspect, who has to hide from the police.
In 1967 the Augsburger Puppet Show presented the tale on stage in TV. In 1974 the movie The Robber Hotzenplotz was shown, directed by Gustav Ehmck and with Gert Fröbe as the protagonist. In 1979 the second part was shown as a movie (News from Hotzenplotz) with a complete new crew. In 1989 the movie The Robber Hotzenplotz was shown in China, directed by Fang Run Nan in the Shanghai Film Studio. This Chinese version of the puppet movie, was released with the name “The big robber” (chin. 大盗贼). In 2006 another movie of Hotzenplotz (“The Robber Hotzenplotz”, directed by Gernot Roll) was shown in the theaters.
Puppet show productions (selection)
- De Poppenspeeler (Bühne Kurt Seiler, Hannover)
- Augsburger Puppenkiste (Bühne Walter Oehmichen, Augsburg)
- Die Hohnsteiner (Bühne Harald Schwarz, Essen)
- Figurentheater Köln (Bühne Andreas Blaschke, Köln)
- Kammerpuppenspiele (Bühne Stefan Kühnel, Bielefeld)
- Puppentheater Luna (Bühne Rudi Piesk, Hörlitz)
- The theater group Wuppertal/Wuppertaler Bühnen shows Der Räuber Hotzenplotz as a family spectacle in 2017/18 in the version of the director Jean Renshaw and Peter Wallgram.
- The composer Andreas Tarkmann arranged a child opera, which premiere was in 2009, under the responsibility of Michael Schmitz-Aufterbeck in the Theater of Aachen.
- The group Showcase Beat Le Mot invented a performance from the tale for children from 6 years. The première was in March 2007 in the Berlin Theater in Parkaue.
All books in German were published by Thienemann publishing.
- Der Räuber Hotzenplotz, ISBN 3-522-10590-7, 1962.
- Neues vom Räuber Hotzenplotz, ISBN 3-522-11520-1, 1969.
- Hotzenplotz 3, ISBN 3-522-11980-0, 1973.
- Räuber Hotzenplotz feiert Geburtstag: 50 Jahre und kein graues Haar, stern.de, July 17, 2012
- Wuppertaler Bühnen und Sinfonieorchester GmbH. "DER RÄUBER HOTZENPLOTZ" (in German). Retrieved 2017-11-06.