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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture File: Germany series at GermanPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring essential information about Germany, German culture and German people. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 24 - German Garden Gnomes.
You know about Snow White or in German Schneewittchen, and the seven dwarves, right? If you walk past German gardens, you might think Snow White has been there and forgotten several of her dwarves. Though they look similar, these aren’t her dwarves; they're garden gnomes! Garden gnomes, or Gartenzwerge, are small gnome figures with white beards, pointy hats, and garden tools in their hands, which many Germans place in their gardens. Roughly 25 million gnomes can be found in gardens throughout Germany.
There's even an association, or Vereinigung, that is centered on protecting garden gnomes. According to this association, a "true" garden gnome is at most 69 centimeters tall, is male, and has a beard and a pointy hat, or Zipfelmütze.
Garden gnomes were already being placed in gardens in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but no one really knows exactly why. As time passed, garden gnomes became a symbol of the bourgeois. In the 60s, they were seen as kitschy, and disappeared from most German gardens. But since then, Germans have again come to love the little gnomes and so today there are many different varieties.
Not everyone follows the official guidelines for "real" garden gnomes, and there are always unusual variants. For example, there are garden gnomes that look like politicians. And garden gnome haters are fond of gnomes with knives, or Messer, in their backs. If a garden gnome should disappear, it was certainly not Snow White in search of her dwarves, but rather the "Front for the Liberation of Garden Gnomes" or in German Die Front zur Befreiung der Gartenzwerge. This group has made it its mission to liberate garden gnomes. They steal them out of gardens and put them out in the forests. According to them, this is the natural habitat of garden gnomes...
Whether kitsch or cult, free or captive, garden gnomes somehow belong in German gardens.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
If you could design your own garden gnome, what would it look like?
Leave a comment telling us at GermanPod101.com! Until next time!