The History of the "Buxtehude Bull"

Winfried ZiemannWinfried Ziemann

This is how it all began:

After running my bookstore in Buxtehude for a few months in 1970

- coming from Berlin - I decided to create a youth book award, in which an equal number of young and adult readers would decide who should receive the annual prize. Anyone who was willing to spend time with new publications on the youth book market could have a chance to participate in this jury.

The only thing needed was a little luck for the drawing, in case there were more applications than places on the jury. This solved half of the problem. The other half was finding a name, respectively a symbolic figure for this youth book award. It was clear to me that Buxtehude, as my new hometown, should be included in the name of the award.

I decided to find a solution with help of alliteration. During this search I came across a picture book I have known and loved for many years by the American writer Munro Leaf called "The Story of Ferdinand". It was first published in 1937 and the German translation is still available under the name "Ferdinand". 

This is the story of a young bull that refuses to act as a bull in the bull fights in the arena of Madrid even though he is the strongest of his age group, and is brought back to his green meadow by the picadors.

This bull Ferdinand, strong and peaceful, seemed to be a good symbolic figure for a youth book award that wanted to go down a different path than awards have previously gone, and so the award was named "Buxtehude Bull".

There have been several  comical mix-ups in the course twenty years of the "Bull's" history. One media report ran a story about the "Golden Buxtehude Bull"award. But all this could not prevent the "Bull" being known and accepted as a symbolic figure today.

I was fortunate when procuring a statue as award for the winner of the "Bull" to meet a young sculptor, Reinhard Güthling, whose work I had seen in an exhibition, and whom I asked whether he would be willing to make a series of at first 10 statues - showing a peaceful bull.

He offered me two solutions. One very realistic, of which I still have one in my possession yet today, and one more abstract version which I chose in the end, which he then produced 10 fold.

In the meantime I had 7 further statues made. Reinhard Güthling, married to a woman from Chile, had emigrated to Chile, but returned to Germany some time later due to the political development there.

I met him by coincidence, and because the "Bulls" were running low, I asked him whether he would be able to produce yet another bull series. He said yes, provided that he would be able to find the steel somewhere on the scrap market that he used to make the body of the "Bull". Originally, these parts were used as frames for shop windows.

A few days later he called me saying that he had been able to find another piece of this type, and thus would be able to produce further "Bulls".

I gave him the order and therefore we are today after many years still able to award every author an original Buxtehude Bull as a prize.

 

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