Comment: Czech media fall victim to hoax about Germany banning literature
Pierre Brice (left) and Lex Barker (right) as Winnetou and Old Shatterhand in a 1960s film.
I must comment on the hoax circulating in the Czech media alleging that Germany wants to “ban” the novel Winnetou. What is really happening is that the German-based publishers have decided not to publish new stories continuing the adventures of this character because they were written in the 19th century style of the author of the original work. , Karl May.
In response to the public debate that erupted in Germany around this decision, several German television stations announced that they would no longer rebroadcast 1960s feature films on Winnetou’s character. Why is this happening now?
Let’s try to summarize the arguments. The books May wrote and the films that followed, which were West German-Yugoslavian co-productions, have nothing to do with America, the lives of its native inhabitants, or reality.
May himself never visited America (or rather, he only did in his old age after writing his books), so what he depicts in these works are his own prejudices, fantasies and ideas. , not American life. His books have nothing to do with reality.
In these books, colonial and racist vocabulary is used. This includes the very term “Indians”, which the colonizers and perpetrators of the genocide against the native inhabitants invented and started using them to label them.
to believe wrongly they had arrived in India, that was the term used by the colonizers. The persons thus designated, however, had nothing to do with India.
It’s kind of like May writing about people in the Czech Republic and calling them all “dumplings” or something stupid. As for the films, the indigenous inhabitants of America are interpreted there by actors of black face – they are white Europeans in make-up (and their poor performances border on racist and very unrealistic caricatures).
Naturally, these actors are also dressed up as carnival representations of these people who have absolutely nothing to do with reality. Imagine, for example, what it would be like if someone made a film about the Czech Republic where those of us who live here are played by black people with white faces and similar cartoonish costumes.
The native inhabitants of America are portrayed in the movies (and a few in the books too) as dumb, low-witted idiots incapable of more complex expressions or sentences. In his other books, May is even more racist when he describes Hispanics and Middle Easterners as supposedly “lazy and dirty.”
The most essential aspect is that the Winnetou novels take place at the time when the the colonizers were committing genocide against the Apaches. US Army units attacked their pueblos, settlements, and villages, ruthlessly burned them down, and murdered everyone, including children and women.
May’s books don’t mention it at all – anyone who kills a native inhabitant in her novels is always portrayed as an individual villain who is usually rightfully punished for their crimes a few pages later. It’s a bit like writing a novel set in Poland in 1943 where a Jewish protagonist becomes “blood brothers” with an Aryan who has come to build a railway there.
Such a fantasy would see the characters riding horses, visiting other Jewish communities, having the widest possible range of adventures, etc., without ever bringing up the Holocaust, which was then in full swing. etc., etc., etc.
No one, of course, “forbids” the publication of Winnetou in Germany. All that happens is they won’t release these movies so frequently on the boob tube and a publisher has decided not to release a sequel to these books which are so full of nonsense, bullshit, racism and untruths.