Plisch und Plum

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Paul and Peter jump to rescue the dogs
Left to right: Plisch, Paul, Peter and Plum
Herr Bokelmann's method

Plisch und Plum as a YouTube video (in German)

Plisch und Plum (in English, Plish and Plum) is a rhymed picture story in eight chapters by Wilhelm Busch, first published in 1882.


Spoiler warning

The story is set in the German countryside in the 19th century. Two brothers, Paul and Peter Fittig, rescue two dogs from being drowned by their neighbour Herr Schlich, who is a heavy pipe smoker. They call the dogs Plisch and Plum, which are onomatopoeia of the sounds they made when they were thrown into the water. The boys take the dogs home and are permitted to keep them — one dog for each boy.

In chapters two to five, the dogs misbehave and cause various kind of damage, which the neighbour Schlich sees with schadenfreude.

In chapter six, the dogs get into a fight and once again cause damage. Then Paul and Peter start fighting with their whips, cause even more damage, and end up getting almost caned by their father (their mother stops him).

In chapter seven, Paul and Peter are being sent to a private teacher, Herr Bokelmann. He welcomes the boys and explains how he intends to teach them. He then asks whether they agree to follow his rules, but Paul and Peter give no reply and just giggle. Bokelmann calmly explains he will change their attitude:

"Since, then, you've resolved to be
Hardened reprobates," said he,
"I am resolved, face down, to lay
You both across my desk straightway,
Applying the stick to your hinder parts
In hopes of softening your hard hearts."

He produces a supple hazel switch from inside his jacket, pulls the boys over his lectern (side by side) and applies the instrument of correction to their bottoms (M/mm) "bis es ihm genügend scheint" ("till he deemed the work was done"). The boys submit to Bokelmann's teaching and soon show good manners. They also, in turn, apply the same method of erziehung to their dogs Plisch and Plum, with equally quick positive results.

In the final chapter, a rich English gentleman, Mister Pief, loses his hat and telescope in a pond as the family happens to walk by. Plisch and Plum fetch the lost objects on command. Mister Pief is so impressed that he offers to buy Plisch and Plum for a hundred Marks (a very high price in those days). The deal is made, the father happily counts the money and the boys part from their dogs. The evil neighbour, Schlich, watched what happened and becomes so mad with envy that it kills him. Only his pipe remains, and its smoke forms the poem's last word, aus ("end").



  • The boys and their respective dogs look alike: Paul and Plisch are slim, Peter and Plum are chubby.
  • The name Bokelmann, an existing German surname, may remind the reader of the word Bakel, from Latin baculum, which means stick or rod.
  • In the English translation, Plisch is spelled "Plish", Schlich is named "Sly", Herr Bokelmann is named "Herr Buckleman", and Mister Pief is named "Mister Peep".