Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Kasper Theatre

The character of Kasper is a central figure in the puppet theatre. It embodies a play principle that evolves with social changes rather than being static. The tradition of hand puppets dates back to the 14th century. The characters were called Meister Hämmerlein, Hanswurst, Putschenelle and Kasper.

Illustration Immaterielles Kulturerbe


  • Crucial date: Troughout the year
  • Inscription: 2021
  • Domain: Performing arts
  • Where to find: Nationwide (and abroad)

They embody characters that are everywhere - always funny, naïve, daring, quick-witted, eloquent and also a bit silly. The Kasper character became a feared critical voice in puppet theatre in the markets and streets of the 19th century, standing up to authority and evil mythical creatures. The character is on the side of the audience, takes their ideals and defends them until the last antagonist is on stage.

At the beginning of the 20th century, reform pedagogy changed the play principle of the Kasper character. The character becomes more refined, helpful and clever, exudes joie de vivre and knows how to hold its own with wit. After 1933 the character was subordinated to the National Socialist cultural policy. The middle of the 20th century saw the emergence of the Verkehrskasper (traffic Kasper), Gesundheitskasper (health Kasper) and later the Umweltkasper (environmental Kasper). In the course of the professionalisation of puppet theatre in the FRG and the GDR, however, the figure regained its critical features. Puppeteers in the GDR rediscovered Kasper in the 1980s as a voice that critically addressed social conditions.


Mitteldeutsches Marionettentheatermuseum
Ralf Uschner

Kulturamt des Landkreises Elbe-Elster
Andreas Pöschl

Over 350 puppet theatres in Germany

Today, various incarnations of the Kasper puppet show are part of the repertoire of more than 350 puppet theatres across Germany. Elbe-Elster Land in Brandenburg is a lively puppet theatre centre. Here, the Central German Puppet Theatre Museum and the International Puppet Theatre Festival are dedicated to the tradition of the Kasper character in the region and his relatives around the world.


Wissen. Können. Weitergeben..
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2019

Additional article

Paper Theatre

Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Paper Theatre

A paper theatre features a paper stage with characters and scenes made of paper. The stage is no bigger than a TV.
read more
The Culture of Nativity Sets in Marktredwitz

Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Culture of Nativity Sets in Marktredwitz

Christmas time is traditionally Nativity time in Marktredwitz. Stones, roots, moss and berries are used to create an artistic mountain landscape in miniature, in which hundreds of small clay figures recreate everyday scenes from the mountains. At the centre of the Nativity scenes in Marktredwitz is the understanding of the meaning and history of the figures and scenes.
read more