The Münchner Kindl or “Munich Child” is the figure on the official crest of the Bavarian State capital, the official coat of arms of Munich. In the silver coat of arms is a heraldic monk looking to the right with a gold-rimmed black cowl and red shoes, holding a red oath book in the left hand, the right hand vowed. Possibly the oath book was originally the city law book or a gospel book and the oath hand was a blessing hand. The symbol dates back to Munich’s first inhabitants and pays homage to an order of monks who lived around St Peter’s Church in the centre of Munich. The German word for monk is München, so the city’s name and the monk is pretty self-explanatory.
The Münchner Kindl sure has evolved since it first appeared on Munich’s coat-of-arms over 800 years ago. First a monk, then a boy, then a gender-neutral child, a girl, and finally a young woman on a horse leading the way to Oktoberfest.
The first written proof of Munich as a small settlement of monks dates from 1158 A.D. With the increase of the population, the town administration developed a constitution of the council. Soon a seal was used to prove the authenticity of town-council documents. The oldest seal of Munich, of which only fragments are left, with the presumable inscription “Sigillum Civitatis Monacensis” and the picture of a monk wearing an open hood, appears on a document of May 28, 1239.
In the course of the following centuries a number of slightly varying representations of the seal were used. But all of them show the monk with the book (of city laws) in his left hand, while his right hand with three outstretched fingers is held up. Next to most of these seals is shown a town gate and an eagle, which, in the fourteenth century, is replaced by a lion (of the coat-of-arms of the reigning dynasty of the Wittelsbachs). For some time the monk was represented in profile, later full-face and bare-headed.
Some representations of the fifteenth century already show the child figure instead of the monk. The metamorphosis was not brought about by some order of the sovereign, but instead by artists, by the seal and copper engravers, by the sculptors and painters who transformed the old bearded town-monk into a curly haired child resembling the Christ child who appears with blessing hands on the altars at Christmas. A medallion which the town gave in 1577 to the Brotherhood of crossbow marksmen, as well as painted “cartoons” of 1579, show the “Munich Child”.
The most charming impression is given by a miniature, dating to 1686, in the town law book showing the “Munich Child” with a red halo. These old representations of a child instead of a monk are among the possessions of the Historical Museum of the City of Munich and the City Archives.
The present form of the official coat-of-arms with a monk in black cowl, (law) book and blessing in right hand, was given to Munich by the reigning king, Louis I, on September 16, 1834. At the request of the Magistrate of the city, King Louis II (he was the king who, in 1886 was drowned in the lake of Starnberg) granted minor changes in the coat-of-arms on June 11, 1865, from his castle at Berg (the book and shoes of the monk were given a red color). Since that time no further significant changes have been made.
The good humor and inexhaustible fancy of Munich artists of the second half of the nineteenth century added various supplements to the image of the child: a laurel wreath, a foaming beer stein, radishes and pretzels. These humorous additions made the Münchner Kindl the well-known symbol and guardian spirit of the city and its festive events.
For a long time the “Munich Child” was a boy who did not deny his artistic descent from the town monk. Around 1890, Munich artists, in the fashion of the fin de siecle, began to represent the child as a girl.
This article was based on information from Prosit, the official journal of Stein Collectors International, in September, 1968, and https://www.festring.de
The first real live Münchner Kindl was Ellis Kaut in 1938, author of the German children’s series, Pumuckl — although she was born in Stuttgart! — Since then, traditionally a young woman (between 20 and 29 years old) who must have been born in Munich, with parents and grandparents also born in Munich has been selected by the Festring München e. V., mostly from the circles of breweries, showmen or Oktoberfest innkeepers, to be the Münchner Kindl.
The Münchner Kindl traditionally dons the robes and has represented the Bavarian capital as a kind of ambassador (once in 1938 and 1965) regularly in its current form since 1972, has played the very important role of the Kindl at two special events at Oktoberfest. Apart from these traditional roles, the Münchner Kindl serves at state functions as the emblem of the offices and institutes of Munich.
Sitting on a horse, dressed in black and yellow Franciscan cowl and holding a beer mug, the Munich Kindl leads the Einzug der Festwirte (Grand entry of the Oktoberfest Landlords and Breweries) — at the opening of the Oktoberfest on the first day. According to tradition, the parade is headed by the Münchner Kindl, followed by the horse cart with the mayor of Munich, and after them, tent proprietors and breweries follow in their wagons. The tent owners and breweries parade is held on the first Saturday of the festival, one hour before the official tapping of the keg and serves as the official prelude to the Oktoberfest celebration. It showcases the splendidly decorated horse wagons and the big brass bands that play in the festival tents.
The Oktoberfest officially starts when the mayor of Munich—with the Kindl alongside—kicks off the celebration at noon by officially tapping the first beer barrel and declaring to the crowd ‘O’zapft is!’ meaning, ‘It is tapped!’. From that moment on, the festival has officially begun. A gun salute is fired in the air and is a sign for the landlords, who are the tent owners, that they can now begin to sell their beer. The official tapping of the keg is a tradition that has been done by the mayor of Munich since 1950, and is held at the Schottenhamel tent.
The final official Oktoberfest event for the Kindl is leading the Trachten – und Schützenumzug (The Costume und Riflemen’s Parade.) This event is held on the first Sunday of the festival, and is one of the cultural highlights of the festival. The parade includes marching groups dressed in traditional Bavarian costumes and also other historical costumes from different parts of Germany and Europe, riflemen, marching bands and floats. In keeping with the past traditions of the Bavarian agriculture society, the parade also includes thoroughbred horses, cows and goats.
Elisabeth Kaut, born 1920 in Stuttgart, the daughter of a Munich bank manager and a farmer’s daughter from Swabia. 1922 arriving in Munich with her parents, she studied drama. In 1938, the 17-year-old became the first Munich Kindl. Between 1940-1944 she studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. After WWII she achieved success with the “Stories of the Cat Musch”, a talking cat. After writing radio plays, and short stories for Radio Munich (today Bayerischer Rundfunk, BR) , she became famous as a children’s book author writing stories about little Kobold Pumuckl.
Christine “Christl” Mory, who was the Munich Wiesn-Kindl 1972-1978, has been the managing director of the family craft business currently operating as Ludwig Mory GmbH since 1982. For almost 180 years, the family owned Ludwig Mory tin foundry who received the license to practice in Munich on November 18, 1827, has helped preserve this traditional craft in the city of Munich. Christl Mory is the fourth generation to manage the business. The Mory company manufactures and trades in pewter goods as well as base metal, antiques, works of art and handicraft products.
Hannelore Fischer, born April 22, 1955 in Munich is known as a German journalist and television presenter. After graduating from high school, Hannelore completed an internship with a daily newspaper in Munich. She then studied behavioral research, politics and history before working at tz as an editor for local affairs, politics and current affairs. She hosted children’s and youth programs on ZDF , then a talk show on Sat.1. From 1985 she co-hosted the B3 radio show at Bayerischer Rundfunk every week. From 1989 to 2017 she was the main moderator of the ARD noon magazine.
Helene Münchhalfen (née Ostler), formerly from Munich in Bavaria, attended Maria Ward Girls’ secondary school from 1972 to 1976. Between 1981 and 1983 Helene held the position of the Munich Wiesn-Kindl. Decades later, her niece, Viktoria Ostler, became the Munich Kindl starting in to 2016.
Stephanie “Steffi” Hagn (Spendler) was the Munich Kindl between 1984 and 1986. Steffi was familiar with the Oktoberfest helping in the family business. From 1953, her family were hosts in the Schützenfestzelt—shooting range. When his father died in 1956, Ludwig “Wiggerl” Hagn helped his mother in the tent before becoming the host in 1961. 18 years later, in 1979, the family was awarded the Löwenbräuzelt tent. In 1999 Wiggerl and Christa Hagn’s daughter Steffi also joined as a landlady. Her husband Michael is also part of the Wiesn team. Steffi is now the host of the Löwenbräu tent.
Manuela Weitner performed the role as the Munich Kindl from 1987 to 1994, and during that time Manuela was already the mother of a daughter (Stefanie) and married to her then husband (Wolfgang). Manuela had connections to the Oktoberfest through the family sausage roasting shop that even as a child she attended the festival. Weitner’s grandfather Michael Sterner opened the first snack bar in a sausage roaster in Munich in 1948, before also running a pretzel stand at the Oktoberfest. In 1964 the snack bar stand became known as the Wurst Michl and is now in its 4th generation.
Silja Schrank-Steinberg the daughter of the Steinberg host family (Hofbräuzelt, Hofbräukeller) was a Munich Kindl from 1995 to 1998. When she was allowed to represent Munich as an ambassador for the first time at the age of 23, she “had goosebumps and cried tears of emotion”. It has become more and more routine from year to year, but the respect and awe of this task remains. “Because I am allergic to horses, I was always afraid that I would have a sneezing fit. But the pure adrenaline in my body always saved me from that.
Daniela Heide, the daughter of Georg and Renate Heide, knows the Oktoberfest from childhood. Even as a child, she sat on the heavy, good-natured brewery horses that pull the beer carriages. In 2001 and 2002 she assumed the role of the Munich Kindl. She also conducted at the stand concert below Bavaria. After school, Daniela continued the family’s gastronomic tradition completing a cooking apprenticeship. This was followed by management training and a job in marketing at Hacker-Pschorr. Today she is part of the family business, both in the Planegger restaurant Heide-Volm and in the Bräurosl on the Wiesn.
Julia Elisabeth Krätz aged 15 became the Munich Kindl in 2003. Julia, born in 1988 in Gräfelfing near Munich, was living in Pullach in the Isar Valley, and is the daughter of restaurateurs Josef and Gabriele Krätz (Großhesselohe Forestry, Andechser am Dom, and the Oktoberfest tent Hippodrome) and therefore Oktoberfest is very familiar to her. Julia at the age of 25, took over the management of the Schnitzel stand in front of the Hippodrom tent. Julia and sister Stefanie La Rocca manage the family business Der Andechser am Dom (Gaststättenbetriebs GmbH). Julia’s sister Stefanie became the Munich Kindl a year after Julia left.
The 22-year-old Nadine Schröder was voted Munich Kindl for the second time. Nadine lives in the Williamsville district of Erding for seven years and is employed at the State Hofbräuhaus working as an industrial clerk, currently in logistics. She appeared as the Kindl on brewery day in April 2004 at Viktualienmarkt and Marienplatz, and also represented the Munich trademark at the Hofbräuhausfest 2004 and 2005. Riding is no problem for Nadine she has been practicing this sport since she was three years old and visits her horse “Seventh Iron,” who is located in Lausbach near Ottenhofen, almost every day.
From 2006 to 2009, Stefanie Krätz (a 19-year old) followed in the footsteps of her sister Julia as “Münchner Kindl. Stef is the daughter of the restaurateurs Josef and Gabriele Krätz (Großhesselohe Forestry, Andechser am Dom, Hippodrome at the Oktoberfest). Stefanie Krätz moved to her father’s Oktoberfest office in May, right after graduating from the International School in Starnberg. And before she starts studying at a hotel school after the Oktoberfest, she will take care of the organization and logistics for the first time at the Wiesn in her father’s marquee.
Maria Newrzella has had the honor of leading the entry of the Oktoberfest hosts on horseback since the 2010 festival celebrated its 200th anniversary – when the then 16-year-old was allowed to step into the coveted black and yellow monk’s cowl for the first time. Maria, is the daughter of Manfred Newrzella, managing director of the Munich Breweries Association and the festival ring. Maria took riding lessons for her grand appearance at the head of the parade. Maria is Munich-born and her hobbies are listed as dancing, sailing, skiing, swimming and drawing.
Born in 1994, Laila Noeth a native of Munich attended Nymphenburg private high school, before moving to Hurtwood House, an A-level boarding school in Dorking, Surrey near London, and is currently attending the Westminster University in London. Her mother, a genuine Munich native, and her father Wolfgang Noeth, who helped shape Munich’s cultural life with his projects such as Kunstpark Ost, Kulturhalle Zenith and Kesselhaus, support her daughter in the exercising of her office as a Munich child, a dream Laila has since childhood. Her hobbies include singing, songwriting, dancing, painting and kickboxing.
Viktoria Ostler was 23 years old when she became Munich Kindl, and had been studying law for 4 years, the first 3 years in Wiesbaden in combination with business administration and for a year at the LMU in Munich. Viktoria is related to beer and Oktoberfest through the family business, the Hausladen Agrarhandel and Mälzerei GmbH, which are well-known Breweries in and around Munich. Viktoria follows in the footsteps of her aunt Helene Münchhalfen (née Ostler), who was the Münchner Kindl from 1981-1983. Her hobbies include enjoying nature, horse riding, and hunting.