Gérhard Leser

*1951, Munster

Gérard Leser is an historian, folklorist, story teller and also a poet in Alsatian dialect.
As a specialist in rituals, traditions and legends of Alsace and President of the « Société d’histoire du Val et de la ville de Munster » (Munster town and valley historical society), Gérard Leser is deeply involved in community life. He published a great number of works about Alsatian cultural heritage and 4 books of poems in Alsatian dialect. His works and commitments earned him many distinctions on both sides of the Rhine.

Cleaning the words

Let’s clean
the words
to give them new strength
and new juice

Let’s spice
the words
with oil and vinegar
salt and pepper
so that they can tell our anger
and our love

Let’s fondle
the words
and rock them
so that our children
discover them
and learn them

Let’s listen to
the words
so that we can talk again
and have things to say


Gérard Leser is an historian and folklorist. His research field concerns the junction point between history and folklore. He studies rituals, beliefs and traditions linked to the calendar year, as well as the wonder world of Alsatian legends. He is interested in the different cultural expressions, beliefs and imaginery of society, in Alsace as well as in other cultures and countries.

He created in 1971 with Eugène MAEGEY the duet “d' Luschtiga Malker“, specialized in songs from farmers of the Munster valley. They performed till 1988.

The former Culture Delegate of Alsatian Folk Highschools is a writer, lecturer, story teller, author of videos about ancient crafts and testimonies of people about World War I.

Native of Munster, Gérard Leser is the author or co-author of more than 30 books about Alsatian cultural heritage.

In December 2003 he animated story telling evenings in 7 different places in the North of Alsace about “Traditions and Christmas legends in Alsace“, then in 2004 about “The wonderful world of legends in Alsace“. He was a co-founder with Marie TOUSSAINT of the puppet show “Goblins and other tricks in Alsace“.

In 2003 he took part to the 14th book exhibition of Colmar with “Legends of Alsamer and other stories“. In 2004 and 2005 he animated Alsatian workshops and collected the memories of the residents of the senior home „Saint Jacques“ in Rouffach.

He also is at the origin of the project “Sàmmle“ (collect), with the “„Conseil Régional d'Alsace“ (regional Council of Alsace) and OLCA (Office for Alsatian language and culture) as partners. This project aims to record as many details as possible about handcraft knowledge and oral cultural heritage in Alsace. (www.sammle.org)

Gérard Leser is also a poet, as show the 4 books of poems in Alsatian dialect he published.

Gérard Leser has been deeply involved in community life. He is the President of the “Société d’histoire du Val et de la ville de Munster“ (Munster town and valley historical society), of “Rencontres Transvosgiennes“ (Transvosgian Meetings), of “Projets pour la vallée“ (Projects for the Valley) which supports the Story Teller Festival of Munster and its valley. He is a member of the “Société des écrivains d’Alsace et de Lorraine“ (Writers' Society of Alsace and Lorraine), vice-president of l'“Académie des Sciences, Lettres et Arts d’Alsace“ (Academy of sciences, humanities and arts in Alsace), honorary member of the “Comité de l’Institut des Arts et Traditions Populaires d’Alsace“ (Institute for Popular Arts and Traditions of Alsace), former member of the jury of “Rollwagenpreis“.

He was a town councillor responsible for cultural heritage in Munster from 1989 to 1995 and co-founder of the festival “La vallée des contes“  (the valley of legends) of Munster and surroundings which started  in automn 1999.

He has been a very active co-founder of  “Rencontres d'Histoire des Hautes Vosges“ ( historical meetings of High Vosges ) since 1990. He was also a co-founder of the “Sentier des poètes bilingue – Elsassischer Dìchterwaj“ ( bilingual poet path ) of Munster.


Books  of poems in Alsatian dialect

Lawesdropfe, ICAM, Strasbourg, 1975.        

Starnefade, ICAM, Strasbourg, 1979.         

Buewespreng, ICAM, Strasbourg, 1981.      

Knoschpa – Bourgeons, Jérôme Do Bentzinger, Colmar, 2006.      


Contes et légendes de la vallée de Munster, Strasbourg, 1979

Jeux d’enfants et comptines d’Alsace, Strasbourg, 1986

Repères pour une histoire du Val et de la Ville de Munster, Munster, 1988, 2010,

La vallée de Munster, des paysages, des légendes et des hommes, Strasbourg, 1988, réédition Colmar 2010.

Noël-Wihnachte en Alsace, rites, coutumes, croyances, Mulhouse, 1989, réédition, Strasbourg, 2006.

La vallée de Munster dessinée par Jean-Nicolas Karth, Jérôme Do Bentzinger, Colmar, 1994.

L’Alsace touristique, SAEP, Ingersheim, 1996.

Hans Matter, poète et dessinateur de la vallée de Munster, Jérôme Do Bentzinger, Colmar, 997.

Le monde merveilleux et inquiétant des gnomes, nains et lutins en Alsace, Éditions du Bastberg, Paris, 2001.

Le monde paysan des alentours de Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, 1840, dessiné par Jean Frédéric Albert WACHSMUTH, Jérôme Do Bentzinger, Colmar, 2001.

Entre Vosges et Rhin, l’Alsace, SAEP, 2004.

Les légendes du diable en Alsace, Les éditions du Bastberg, Paris 2004.

Les légendes des sorcières en Alsace, Les éditions du Bastberg, Paris, 2005.

En Alsace, traditions, souvenirs et récits de vie, (Maison saint Jacques, Rouffach), Jérôme Do Bentzinger, Colmar, 2006.

Dictons, proverbes, comptines et autres sagesses d’Alsace, De Borée et éditions du Donon, 2008.

La route du Vin d’Alsace de Marlenheim à Thann, SAEP, Ingersheim, 2010.

L’Alsace heureuse, introduction et commentaires aquarelles de Georges Ratkoff, Nancy, 2011.

Le monde merveilleux et inquiétant des gnomes, nains, lutins et géants en Alsace, Strasbourg, 2012.

Pâques/Oschtera en Alsace, rites  coutumes, croyances, éditions du Donon, Strasbourg, 2013.

Fantômes et revenants en Alsace, le trésor des légendes. Editions du Belvédère, 2015.

Mythes et symboles d’Alsace, éditions Jean Paul Gisserot, Paris, 2015.


Bretzel d’or de la chanson alsacienne, 1977, avec Eugène MAEGEY, « D luschtiga Malker. »

Bretzel d’or de l’animation culturelle, 1983. 

Médaille d’or des Arts et Traditions Populaires de l’Association Départementale des Arts et Traditions Populaires du Haut Rhin, 2007. 

Premier prix 1998 d’érudition du salon de l’Alsatique de Marlenheim, avec Bernard STOEHR, pour le l’ouvrage Plantes, croyances et traditions en Alsace, Editions du Rhin, 1997

Hebeldank, 2003, Lörrach.

Hebelschoppen, 2009, Hertingen.

Compagnon de Saint Uguzon, guilde internationale des fromagers, Confrérie de Saint Uguzon, 2013