Children’s Television in Germany

The Maus That Roared.

For many of us, some of our earliest and fondest childhood memories come from television. Depending on your age (and I include myself in this), it is likely that this was a kids cartoon of some description. Likewise many German adults who grew up in the 1970s fondly remember Die Sendung mit der Maus (The Program with the Mouse), and whose own children are now viewers.

The basic concept is relatively simple. The program is delivered in a magazine format with several segments, some humorous, others educational and presented in a simple, straightforward manner. Between the show’s segments are “mouse spots”, hand-drawn cartoons of 30 to 100 seconds that feature the orange mouse and its friends, a small blue elephant and a yellow duck.

In the four decades since Die Maus first appeared, the cartoon character has grown to become a German cultural icon.  The Mouse was part of the German pavilion at the Expo 2000 as well as an ambassador for the ‘Year of Germany in Japan’ in 2005. The Goethe Institute uses the character in some of its cultural work, while both the Mouse and Elephant have appeared on postage stamps.

german childrens television

German Children’s TV Stars on Location: “Der Maus” and “Der Elefant” in Erfurt.

Many people attribute the success of the program to its presenter and founder, Amin Maiwald, one of the most recognisable voices on German television. In contrast to some children’s programs in Germany at the time, Amin had the unique ability to explain the most complex topics to a very young audience, without ever being patronizing.

Since 2009, the Odyseumm in Cologne has included “Das Museum mit der Maus” (Museum with the Mouse) as a key attraction for children and families. The Museum contains many interactive exhibits with a focus on education and learning, and is a must-go place for anyone visiting Cologne with children in tow.

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