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A giant guy. (...) For a hundred years he has been haunting the forest, and is said to have helped many in becoming rich at the cost of their souls of course: more I will not say.
~ An old man telling the story of the Dutch Michel.

The Dutch Michel is the main antagonist of the German fairy tale "The Cold Heart" by Wilhelm Hauff. He was a lumberjack in the Schwarzwald, who tricksted his chief's, sold the woods for the fourfold price and gambeld his money away. When that turned out, Michel had disappeared.

In the fairy tale

The story is about a poor boy called Peter Munk, who takes the three richest, but crulest men as role models.

Because Peter is born on a Sunday, he wants three wishes from the friendly ghost called Glass-mannikin: having as much money as the Fat Hezekiel and having the greatest house. It turned badly when Peter and Hezekiel gambled against each other and Peter won, so no one of them had money and his house was sold. Because his two first wishes were stupid, the ghost refuses the third wish. Peter makes a deal with the Dutch Michel, an evil ghost who helped many people to get rich. He makes the same deal with Peter like he did with the others: replacing the heart with a stone. This is why for example the Fat Hezekiel, the Long Schlurker and the King of the Ballroom]] became rich. With the stone his breast, Peter becomes emotionless and cruel. Without happiness, goodness or sadness, Peter becomes the richest man in the Schwarzwald. When he kills his wife Lisbeth because she wanted to give a piece of bread to the disguised Glass-mannikin, the ghost tells Peter to refuse the stone. When Peter and Ezechiel are gambling again, Peter tells Ezechiel about his own deal with Michel and asks Hezekiel what will happen with the heart after death, Hezekiel answers that they'll be weighed to see their sins and their "hearts" will be very heavy. On the next day Peter goes to the Glass-mannikin to ask for his real heart, but the Glass-mannikin didn't make the deal with him. To help him, he gives Peter a glasses cross. Peter then vistits Michel, saying that he lied to him and Peter would still have his own heart, Michel wants to prove that Peter truely has a stone and switches the heart again. Then, Peter takes the cross and begins to pray. Michel falls down and Peter runs away (in some medias, Michel dies). When he comes back to the Glass-mannikin, he's regreting everything. Suddenly Lisbeth and Peter's mother who was send away by her son, come and forgive him.

Appearances in other media

  • Michel also appears in a Czech movie version of the fairy tale. He's played by Erwin Geschonneck.
  • He appears in the German movie version of the fairy tale in 2016, being played by Moritz Bleibtreu.


  • Michel shares a similarity to Mephistopheles. They both offer the main protagonist a better life.
  • Michel shares a similarity to Rumpelstiltskin. They both can make people rich.
  • Michel seems to be the inspiration for Count Aldobrandini. They both collect hearts. However, while Aldobrandini collects hearts because he needs the blood for an elixir that keeps him immortal, there is no explaination why Michel does.