Worm’s doesn’t squirm

Story by Petra Day
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***In the town of Worms, on the left bank of the Rhine River, between Ludwighafern and Mainz, there is story, nay, a medieval legend of betrayal and revenge. And from now to Aug. 5, the city of Worms, in front of its Cathedral, puts on a production of this fabulous fable. And, it goes something like this . . . 

Some 1,500 years ago, Worms was the center of the kingdom of Burgundy, ruled by three brothers, Gunther, Gernot and Giselher and their virginal sister Kriemhild. One day, Siegfried the dragonslayer and crown prince of Xanten, arrived in Worms with the hopes of wooing Kriemhild. 

Siegfried’s youthful exploits involved winning a treasure (the hoard) and lands from a pair of brothers he killed and the slaying of a dragon. After killing the dragon, he bathed in its blood rendering him invulnerable. But, while bathing, a leaf fell on his back blocking a small patch of skin from the dragon’s blood and leaving him with one vulnerable spot.

The Burgundians welcomed the flashy and rich hero and allowed him to marry Kriemhild after he helped Gunther defeat Brünhild, the queen of Iceland, with strength and the aid of a cloak that let him become invisible.

***image2***From there the tale unfolds into trickery, deception and arguments that lead to death. Enter the cruel Hagen von Trontje, the dark and faithful vassal of Gunther who desires to kill Siegfried. He persuades Kriemhild to mark Siegfried’s vulnerable spot with a cross “to protect him in battle.” Hagen uses the cross as a target and kills Siegfried. He stole the golden hoard from Kriemhild and threw it into the Rhine River to prevent Kriemhild from using it to establish an army of her own.

Kriemhild swears revenge and the rest of tragedy transpires. Kriemhild comes before Hagen, reproaches him for her husband Siegfried’s death, and demands the return of her treasure. Hagen told her he sank the treasure into the Rhine. A fight breaks out and soon there is mayhem.

***image4***Kriemhild’s child is decapitated before her eyes. All of the Burgundians are killed except for Hagen and Gunther, who are bound and held prisoner. Kriemhild has the men brought before her and orders her brother Gunther to be killed. Even after seeing Gunther’s head, Hagen refuses to tell the queen what he did with the treasure. Furious, Kriemhild  cuts off Hagen’s head. Lord Dietrich of Bern is infuriated by the shameful deaths of the Burgundian guest and he cuts Kriemhild to pieces with his sword. Here the story ends.

The tragic tale is told in a three-hour show that begins at 9 p.m. For tickets or more information call 01805-337171.