Monday, April 18, 2022

Karl May: The Boy Who Cried Winnetou

 If you grow up in Germany, you absorb the stories of Karl May, if not from his vast catalog of literary works then from the film adaptations of the 1960s. (Chances are good your parents had the soundtrack LP in the family record collection). May’s numerous volumes are such a staple of German culture that endless critical debates have raged over the generations, not as to whether or not his books are any good, but how exactly they uphold the ideals of one political faction over another. Everyone wants to adopt May as their own. Hitler was a fan, so rather than banning the books for their anti-nationalist leanings during the Nazi era, the stories were simply edited to promote wholesome German ideals rather than those of the decidedly non-white characters that May admired.