Cold War Rivalry and the Perception of the American West by Pawel Goral (auth.)

By Pawel Goral (auth.)

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Not only was it anti-American, but it was another transnational production with an American actor, Dean Reed, writing the script and costarring next to Gojko Mitic. Thus, East Germans also found their own American star. In contrast to Lex Barker, Reed approved of burning the American flag, killing American soldiers, and showing them as cruel rapists and dispossessors. It represented the Socialist antithesis of the myth of Manifest Destiny. 1 In the opening scene, a group of Anglo-Americans are playing cards and drinking in a saloon.

At the same time, socialists such as August Bebel and Karl Liebknecht enjoyed reading Karl May’s novels, which, perhaps, points to the perception of Old Shatterhand as a true German hero and to Winnetou as the symbol of the understanding of the role of nations. Indeed, one can talk about the blood-brotherhood of all readers of Karl May novels, regardless of their political affiliations and philosophies, age, and gender. 31 Karl May inspired Hitler throughout his life. Some historians even assert that Hitler was an ardent fan of May.

The last entry comes from June 13, 1943. Accordingly, Hitler said that the greatest Romanticist writer North America had was an Indian romantic, who, interestingly, happened to be German. 37 Interestingly, some of May’s critics pointed to the similarities between the “insane game of cowboys and Indians by Germanic Karl May readers” and the social life of Nazi society. Indeed, Erich Kästner, a German writer highly critical of May, commented following his first arrest by the Gestapo in 1934 that the Germans were an “infantile Indian lust of the people” who behaved as though “they were sitting not at office desks on Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse but at campfires in the steppes .

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