When searching for German language learning resources online, I discovered this wonderful website: Sachgeschichten aus der Sendung mit der Maus. Sachgeschichten means “non-fictional stories”, and Die Sendung mit der Maus is, I’d say, Germany’s most famous TV program after the crime television series Tatort (english title: Crime Scene), so I am dedicating a whole article to it.
Die Sendung mit der Maus started out on German national TV in 1971 under the title Lach- und Sachgeschichten für Fernsehanfänger (stories to laugh at and to learn from for TV beginners), being renamed to Die Sendung mit der Maus one year later, and is still ritually being watched by families once a week. The show, which only lasts for about half an hour, always starts with a quick presentation of its topics, which then repeats in another language or dialect.
Then there are the Sachgeschichten, which explain everyday objects and processes in a very comprehensible language, often showing slow-motion shots of what happens in a factory line or using metaphorical images to explain things that can’t be seen. Things that “the mouse” has explained so far, include how the holes get into Swiss cheese, Archimedes’ principle, and how the Internet works.
Between the amusing and the educational stories, there are short cartoons featuring the mouse and/or her friends the elephant and the duck. Watch the mouse and the elephant play memory!
The Lachgeschichten, the amusing stories, can be anything from a cartoon of Zdeněk Miler’s Little Mole to songs to a puppetoon of Walter Moers’ Käpt’n Blaubär, telling a cock-and-bull story to his grandchildren.
Although the program was primarily aimed at young children, it is very popular with people of all ages. As Christoph Biemann, one of the moderators of the show, points out in an interview: Children like watching the show until they’re 10 or 12, then feel they are “too old” for it, then start watching it again when they’re 18.
The Sachgeschichten are especially full of charm. I know of no other show that explains things, most of which even we grown-ups don’t really understand, so well and in such an entertaining fashion. Go and have a look for yourself!
- Die Sendung mit der Maus: Sachgeschichten (flash player required)
- Die Sendung mit der Maus: Lachgeschichten (flash player required)
- Diverse snippets from the Maus (flash player required)
- The same diverse snippets in MP4-format
When asked about the huge success “the mouse” is having in countries other than Germany, Christoph Biemann explains this by the German honesty and straightforwardness it displays, and also by the diligence and love he and his colleagues put into the production. Have you watched Die Sendung mit der Maus before? How do you like it? Was it easy to understand?