The story of Little Sandman (Sandmännchen in German) began in 1959. The series made its debut on the East German TV on 22 November 1959.
To create a cartoon character the author was looking for inspiration in the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and E.T.A Hoffmann. The creator of the scenario and the director was Gerhardt Behrendt and Harald Serowski made the designs of fairy-tale vehicles.
The character of Little Sandman, a good-natured dwarf wearing a cape and a hat, with a sack of gold dust in his hand deeply sank into the minds of many viewers.
The magic sand, with which the main character made children fall asleep is a matter of desire for many parents trying to lull their naughty kids.
season 113 "Warschau/Rallye-Wagen" ("Polski-Fiat"), 1970
season 178 "Tatra IV/Pferdeschlitten", 1978
season 214 "Krakau - Winter/Goralenschlitten", 1979
Little Sandman has been traveling and visiting children around the world for many years, bringing them unusual bedtime stories.
Little Sandman uses various means of transportation - he arrives, for example, by helicopter to tell the children a fairy tale for good night. The song from the bedtime cartoon composed by Wolfgang Richter to the lyrics of Walter Krumbach gently rocks children to sleep:
Opening verse (on the Sandman's arrival):
Sandman, dear Sandman, it's not yet time!
First we'll watch the evening's greeting before every child must go to bed.
Surely, you have time for that.)
Closing verse (when he leaves):
Children, dear children, that was fun.
Now, quick, to bed and sleep tight.
Then I will also go and rest. I wish you a good night.)
The film was originally made in two versions, the East and the West German. There is an interesting story related to that. The films were made almost at the same time, but with the discrete "care" of STASI( the secret police), the East German series had an earlier premiere, and it stole the show.
Little Sandman was not only entertaining children before they went to sleep.
When the fairy tale ended, a clock appeared on the screen which was the sign of the immediately coming news. The next day at school the teacher asked the children if they watched the Sandman.
If so -they had to draw that clock. Some of the children drew the one shown on the prohibited West German television which looked a little bit different. So, because of the Little Sandman many people had serious problems.
Over 300 films with Little Sandman were produced, and some of them were set in Poland. The Polish television broadcast 17 episodes of that series which is the longest bedtime cartoon.
Little Sandman also loved interplanetary travel but he used to visit space not only in movies. In 1979, he really flew into space with the first German astronaut Sigmund Jahn. This cosmic space episode was later recalled in Wolfgang Becker's film Good Bye, Lenin!.
A documentary film from 2005 Little Sandman - the story of a socialist Superman presents Little Sandman in relation to the East Germany its history, culture and ideology of socialism. Little Sandman history reflects the history of Germany in many places. The film follows history in chronological order. We can follow the development of Little Sandman from 1959 until today as a reflection of the rise and fall of East Germany. We can also see the opening to western values and capitalism, connected with the unification of Germany.
Sandman is still watched not only on public television, but also in many private networks. Out of the programs which are broadcast on TV for the longest period of time it is ranked second after the news.