A little fiction of the truth: the teacher writes Munich stories

Munich Surfing comes from Munich, squirrels bring good luck and the dachshund almost became the common animal of the Bavarian capital. right? of course not. But it could be true! Bastian Mahler always leaves you with that feeling when you read his latest novels in Munich. A conversation in the Neuhauser Friedhof about fake news, primal fears in the woods, and trained wild boars.

AZ: Herr Mahler, do you have Baron von Munchausen syndrome?
Bastian Mahler: (laughing out loud) You mean that in the sense of: compulsive lying?

Maybe a little. I can live with that. But with a very big difference for the False Baron.

he is called?
I will say from the beginning: what I tell you is not true – also in my book. It was different with Baron von Munchausen.

Did you make up a lot of stories as a kid to get yourself out of embarrassing situations because you messed up?
No. I don’t know. As far as I know, I was relatively low maintenance.

If we ask your mother now…
…she would say that too, sure.

So where does your penchant for inventing stories come from?
Because I want to entertain people. Because there are stories like this that don’t exist.

what do you mean by that?
Let’s take Rotkreuzplatz, the two-stone-shaped fountain. The truth is: he let the artist realize himself here, that’s all we know about the two. Unfortunately, it would be nicer to have a story on how I came up with it. As you walk, remember this.

What is your story about her?
This reminds us of two people at the market from Rotkreuzplatz who were particularly grumpy and unfriendly. They dumped trash under competitors’ booths hours later, creating an unpleasant odor—and getting infected by rats. In the end, they were punished for their behavior. This is the second epic in my book.

The fountain at Rotkreuzplatz.  (archive photo)
The fountain at Rotkreuzplatz. (archive photo)
© AZ
The fountain at Rotkreuzplatz. (archive photo)

from AZ


How did you think of that?
I used to live near here. I used to do gymnastics on these characters when I was a kid. And there was really one booth worker who was always not particularly friendly. Fruit sold. So I continued. It was great fun.

So there is an iota of truth in your made-up story.
So it is.

“Surfing was invented in Munich? People don’t trust us!”

You refer in the title of your book to the first myth in the book: How Isar rafters invented surfing.
Yes, you trust the people of Munich do. Finally, there’s urban surfing on Eisbach. And here I include the invention of surfing in a story about how the rafters Izar wanted to throw one of their colleagues into the water. in Thalkirchen. But he stopped, on a loose wooden plank. He was balancing on a standing wave. Surfing was born – and the Americans copied it here.

Mahler's book is published by Volk Verlag (16 euros).
Mahler’s book is published by Volk Verlag (16 euros).
© People
Mahler’s book is published by Volk Verlag (16 euros).

of people


But aren’t you afraid that in times of fake news and fake information, it will cause more confusion?
not at all. Myths are always a mixture of fantasy and a grain of truth. As I said: Whoever reads my book knows from the start that the essence of stories is made up. When it comes to fairy tales, no one asks about it. As you know, it is very important to invent stories or develop misinformation.

I’m curious about the explanation now.
I once gave a history seminar at school. It was called falsification of history. Students should make an exhibition for the 20th anniversary of the school. But they must categorically state that the school is already a hundred years old.

Look sexy. How did the students do that?
One learned Sütterlin, this ancient text, to falsify the sources, as in the movie Schtonk! Next he organized old history books and introduced the school seal. The old photos were acquired and encapsulated so that everything looks cohesive. The students wrote a wrong Wikipedia article that stayed online for two days. It was only deleted because we invented a Nobel Prize winner who was said to have been a former high school student. And do you know what the students said after that? They are now better at identifying misinformation on the Internet.

False news must be consistent so that it is not exposed as false. But of course they have their loopholes. And when you try to invent complete misinformation on your own, you realize what could be wrong with the story.

Does that mean that many of the prerequisites in your book’s stories must be appropriate for a false myth to appear coherent?
definitely. Example: I had to do some research on the legend of the boar at the Hunting Museum. It is about a wild boar not for sale at the cattle market that has been trained as a dog. That is why a wealthy man from Munich wants to buy it and offers a lot of money. And this semi-recumbent boar – this world-famous animal statue in Munich – is based on this trained wild boar, according to my false legend.

Boar from the Hunting Museum - with the evening newspaper between the fangs.
Boar from the Hunting Museum – with the evening newspaper between the fangs.
© Djorge Matkovic
Boar from the Hunting Museum – with the evening newspaper between the fangs.

by Djurji Matkovic


“Sometimes you don’t believe the truth”

Did the Munich Livestock Market in the City Center Really Exist?
yes. It does no good for people to say from the beginning: Oh, what nonsense, this cattle market did not exist, it is completely fictitious. Nobody reads it anymore. In the end, even the most famous of fairy tales makes you feel like it could all be true. Also, a trained pig isn’t exactly fancy.

Have you ever seen a trained wild boar?
As a student I was in Texas for the exchange. The family I was allowed to stay with had a real problem of wild boars. But they did not shoot the animals, but rather caught and sold them. When my guest grandfather again brought some pigs for sale, his dog was with him. He said to him: Sit! – And one of the pigs sat down, too. He thought it must be a coincidence. He said again: “Sit down!” The pig sat down again. He found it so cool that he kept the only pig. Then he died of old age.

Does it happen that people no longer buy you a true story within the epics?
definitely. Sometimes the truth is seriously questioned because it’s hard to believe – and declared incorrect. A colleague I spoke with for my book says: You really exaggerated it with Sarcletti at Rotkreuzplatz. This ice cream parlor hasn’t been around for a hundred years. But in fact it is. The Sarcletti family has been around here for about 100 years.

“I had to find out first if there were potatoes in the seventeenth century”

How did you go about the legend of the mountain wolf?
The forgotten hero of Sendlinger’s Christmas murder. Around this story the founding legend of the mountain wolf was invented. I thought to myself, how can I include curry and fries in there now? I need potatoes for that. Does this already exist? Indeed, potatoes were already widespread in Austria in the 17th century. Especially in churches and monasteries. Thus she was able to establish a connection with the Sendlinger Church and codify the made-up legend.

Mountain wolf in Munich.  (archive photo)
Mountain wolf in Munich. (archive photo)
© Imago / HR Schulz
Mountain wolf in Munich. (archive photo)

by imago / HRSchulz


I suppose fairy tales played an important role in your childhood.
Not only. Also the legends about the Swabian town where I grew up.

Where did you grow up?
in Hechingen near Tübingen.

What haunted stories are there?
Like Hagman in the woods, for example.

Is this one of the first myths in your life?
At least one I remember well. I was scared. We used to live in the woods.

There are many legends surrounding Munich - some of which are explored in a new book about the Bavarian state capital.

Munich legends: misconceptions and other facts about the city


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“Fear makes you run fast through the woods in the dark”

Who or what was or was attacked?
It was said that Hagman chased after the forest and made the people disappear. Everyone knows that this was a fairy tale. But in the back of their minds, children in particular thought: Who knows, maybe something is up at the end. You walk a little faster through the woods in the dark.

What do stories like this do for people besides creating fear?
They allow you to stop and think about something other than everyday life, no matter how silly all that is.

silly? I said earlier, every myth has to be coherent.
Sure, but don’t overdo it. The myth does not exist instead of the truth. It’s pure fantasy. I also don’t understand when people say: Those vampires in the Twilight series, they can’t walk around in broad daylight. But everyone knows: there are no specific rules for vampires. Why do you bother with this?

Fact and fiction – you are the teacher of German and history. Does all of this have to do with your work?
Naturally. Let’s take the fist. This is a fully built story. Fantasy reality. Whether or not Faust actually existed is irrelevant to the drama. History as science: reconstructed from sources of information and facts. There are also loopholes that need to be filled. After all, many dictators try to reinterpret history by filling in the gaps differently. You have to learn to work with the right sources so that fake news doesn’t eventually prevail.

What is actually your favorite story in the book?
Title, Tawaf Isar. But I also think the history of Rotkreuzplatz is beautiful. I find the best thing when readers call me and tell me what their favorite story from the book is. And why?

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