Free German Short Stories to Accelerate Your Learning
The German language can be difficult for English speakers to learn. For instance, did you know that between gender, case and plural, there are sixteen different ways to spell the article “the”?
This is why it’s important to develop a foundation of the language, as these differences will become easier to understand. Developing this foundation can be difficult, since it takes time to acquire enough words to be able to truly understand. This is why reading stories on LingQ is especially effective– as it allows you to read, translate, and listen to the words spoken aloud all in one easy-to-use platform.
For those who are new to the German language and are wanting to get into German literature, an entire novel may be a bit too much to take on at the outset. The good news is that there are many great German short story options available, and many online resources for where to find them.
Classic German Short Stories
Learnoutlive is an online platform which aims to help beginners learn German through the power of storytelling. It includes a free online library of German reading materials, many of which are short stories. Their blog states the importance of finding stories that are simple, but not boring. It explains that while people may instinctively lean towards children’s stories, they don’t necessarily need to, as there are plenty of simple but interesting short stories out there that adults are more likely to enjoy.
You can download all three of the following German short stories for beginners here.
Die Küchenuhr (The Kitchen Clock) by Wolfgang Borchert
This heart-wrenching short story is about a young man who has lost his home and his family to a bombing during WWII, and all he has left of his pre-war life is his family’s kitchen clock. This story depicts the fallout from the war and all that was lost, as the clock causes the man to reflect back on happier times with his family before it was all ripped away.
Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral (Anecdote on Lowering the Work Ethic) by Heinrich Böll
This thought-provoking but light-hearted short story presents a brief scene in a harbour, where an enterprising tourist comes across a local fisherman napping in his boat. The simple but poignant interaction that follows raises the question of what is truly important in life. This story has gained popularity in academic circles, and is often referenced in texts that examine the relationship between money and happiness. The story was written in 1963 during the economic boom, but is still just as relevant as ever and is well-worth the read.
Skorpion (Scorpion) by Christa Reinig
This short story is about a man who feels excluded from society because of his appearance. It follows his experience walking through a city, as he tries to get people to accept him. The story itself is a parable, as it seeks to illustrate a lesson about basing judgements on physical appearance. It is also notable since it is one of few classic German short stories written by a woman.
Import German Stories into LingQ to Accelerate Your Learning
Now that you’ve discovered the stories you’d like to read, the next step is importing them into LingQ in order to study them more effectively.
Once you’ve logged into LingQ, click the import button at the top right corner of your screen and select “import a lesson”.
Create a title, and then either copy and paste the transcript of the story or upload the file directly onto the website and then hit “save and generate lesson” at the top right.
Now you’re able to view your story as a lesson on LingQ! Here you can read, listen and review the story word-by-word all on one platform.
Don’t forget you can also access this lesson by logging into your account on our mobile app! This is an incredibly useful tool as it allows you to take your stories on the go and study them on your phone.
Classic German Fairytales
It would be impossible while discussing German short stories, not to mention any fairytales. Any discussion of German literature in general would have to include some mention of them, as many of the most well-known fairytales in the world were of German origins. Most notably, the works of the Grimm brothers, which included Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, and The LIttle Red Riding Hood.
However, although these are short stories, the traditional versions of them by the Grimm brothers are written in a more archaic German that would be incredibly difficult for German language learners to understand. Luckily, the public radio and television broadcaster, NDR, has a number of German fairytales rewritten in simple language on their website. NDR provides these stories in a more simplified language, and it also allows the reader to listen to a recording of it spoken aloud at the same time. Here are some classics.
Schneewittchen und die 7 Zwerge (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
There are countless adaptations of this iconic tale, both in literature and on the big screen. Here we have the story of the beautiful princess Snow White, who finds refuge with seven dwarfs while hiding from her jealous stepmother, the Evil Queen. After disguising herself as an old hag, the Queen slips Snow White a poisoned apple, causing her to fall into a deep sleep which can only be broken by a kiss from the prince. Although this story is likely already familiar to you, it’s still worth reading it in German. You can find Schneewittchen und die 7 Zwerge here.
Hänsel und Gretel (Hansel and Gretel)
Here we have another classic story about a young brother and sister who are left alone in the woods. They come across a house made entirely of candy. The house is home to an evil witch, who uses it to lure children in so she can eat them. Fortunately, Gretel manages to push the witch into her own oven, allowing her and Hansel to get away. Get the German audio and text of Hänsel und Gretel here.