I'm trying to figure out how to translate the idiomatic expression "Bless his (little) heart" into German. The general sense is: "He meant well, but, wow, was that ever dumb!" I don't think the literal translation segne sein Herz will work here.
"Er war stets bemüht".
This is taken from how reference letters are sometimes worded (they are required to be "benevolent"). The phrase implies that, while he did indeed try to do his best, the results were bad. (if they had been good, that would have been mentioned instead).
[Source: I am a native German speaker and I use this in practice.]
I have a large group of Germans in town and I hear them say "Armer dummer Dummkopf" but some have started with the literal "Segnen Sie Ihr Herz" . I get the feeling that Germans don't have an equivalent term. In fact I think only Southerners have this expression. I was a Yankee in Florida about 5 years before I realized they were not as nice as I thought they were. 30 years later I would rather have someone tell me "bless your heart" than spend a minute in New York.
For those of you who may not know, bless his heart implies that someone is really really dumb. That guy who always has an answer but rarely is it correct, "bless his heart." The neighbor who involves himself in your projects but has never finished one of his own, "bless his heart." The fancy City girl who refuses help to make a pie and makes a miserable mess, "bless her heart."
I know Germans who have been spending Winters here in Florida for decades, and they always use either, "he is dumb" or iterally "bless your heart". I've never asked but I don't think there is a common expression in Germany.