The story is called “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” and it is the tale of a pied piper who is asked to rid the city of Hamelin of an invasion of rats. He sings from his magic pipe, lures the rats out of the city and drowns them in the River Wesser. But when he asks for his payment, the local council not only refuses to comply, but even mocks the piper for his methods. The piper is furious and leaves the city threatening that he will take his revenge. He comes back on the holiday of St. Peter and Paul, when everybody is in church and the pied piper sounds his pipe once again, this time luring 130 of the village children.
The tale says that he then leads them into a cave, whence they never come back. Only three children manage to escape, one of them blind and unable to tell where he had been and another halt, who got left behind. The third one was deaf, but was able to tell a little about the things he had seen. Still, what he relayed did not help the parents find their children, and they remained lost forever. Until this point, the story matches the legend of Hamelin, but the brothers Grimm combined it with the story of the Saxons who immigrated to Transylvania and so, in “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”, the children dig their way to Transylvania. They surface in Braşov and remain there.
German intellectuals, among whom, the brothers Grimm, were fascinated with the topic of the Saxons who immigrated to Transylvania. Wilhelm Grimm exchanged letters on this topic with Josef Haltrich, a Saxon from Transylvania. Learning about the Saxon legends, the brothers Grimm gave the story of Hameln a happier ending. Their story was published in 1816 and became very popular in Germany.
It is so popular, in fact, that last year, when the 725th year of the fairy tale was celebrated, there was a big parade with costumes and a Jethro Tull concert. But in Romania, few people know about this fairy tale and about the fact that it ends in Brasov.
Is there any truth to this legend? There is some historic proof that something did indeed happen to 130 children from Hamelin in 1284. Some specialists speculate that it might have been an epidemic that took the children. Others say that the children might have left to join a military campaign. The truth, however, remains a mystery. There is also evidence that supports the second part of the tale and it is the fact that the first Saxons who came to Transylvania were from the area of Hamelin.