‘The Young Chief Winnetou’: Ravensburger has stopped selling books – SWR3

Another argument about “cultural appropriation” and racism. This time it is about the family of Chief Winito. Needless to say, boiling boils.

“Young Leader Winito” The story is based on the books of Karl May. Winito’s son must have adventures with his white friend Tom. The film has been shown in cinemas since the beginning of August.

But whoever wants to buy the book will get nothing: because of the accusation of it “Blooming Civilization” and racial prejudices, Ravensburger Verlag pulled the book about two weeks ago. A book is no longer sold to beginner readers either.

RavensburgerBVL Verlag has removed #children’s book “The Young Chief #Winnetou” from the programme. Ravensberger was responding to allegations that the books were meant to reflect racial stereotypes about Native Americans. https://t.co/9lXH86twti

Ravensburger: “I’ve hurt other people’s feelings with Winnetou’s nicknames”

The decision may have been preceded by protests on social media. It was about allegations of ancient representation of indigenous culture even “Romantic Genocide”.

On August 11, Ravensburger had had enough and pulled out the books. Publisher’s reasoning: “Your feedback has made it clear to us that we hurt people’s feelings with our Winnetou nicknames. This was never our intention nor is it consistent with our Ravensburger values. We sincerely apologize for this.”

At the request of SWR3, the publisher explained the reason for stopping sales:

Typical reaction to Ravensburger’s decision: ‘Absolutely crazy’

Reactions are to be expected: Since Ravensburger pulled out, many have attacked the publisher and its “awake” critics, especially on Twitter.

“totally crazy”According to press law attorney Carsten Brennick:

Totally insane: #Ravensburger drops a 7-year-old’s #Winnetou book in which a (New German) “Native American” has a true friendship with a white boy. Criticism: includes “the romanticization of genocide and the reproduction of …

Media attorney Ralph Hooker emphatically called for a Ravensburger boycott:

If RavensburgerBVL cancels #Winnetou, I will cancel Ravensburger. I have three young children. The publisher will deal with the loss of sales. But if too much gets involved, they’ll realize they’ve gone completely crazy. https://t.co/mPgs8A5axY

ZDF’s US correspondent, Elmar Theveßen, points out:

Dear #Ravensburger publisher, I can’t judge the content of the Winnetou game, but regarding the term “Indians”: Most tribes in the United States find the terms “Indian American” or “Indigenous American” better than any other designation,…

But there are also people on social networks who are fundamentally rethinking the claims. So Elem Grak in this tweet about Karl May in general:

RABrenneckeAlexSchaumburg May speaks in his novels of “noble savages”, which I would personally describe as “the romanticization of racism”. He’s an enlightened illustration bear who doesn’t want to kill anyone, but has no problem immobilizing enemy “Indians”. 2/

Expert on Winnetou’s Decision: ‘Fear the Marketing Department’

Andreas Breen, an art teacher in Potsdam and expert Karl May, criticized Ravensburger Publishing for its decision: “I don’t think it is right to take a book like this out of circulation just because of a whirlwind of bullshit.”I burned it The new Osnabrück newspaper, Beside SWR3 He said.

Karl May expert Andreas Brin in a SWR3 interview (SWR3 Sommerradio, August 22, 2022, 4 p.m.) about the book and film:


“Carl Mi is someone who puts his finger on a wound”


Before taking this step, the publisher had to seek expert advice on the work of Karl May and the type of children’s and young adult books. Perhaps it was the fear of the publishing house’s marketing department that the house might fall into disrepute that dictated the course of action.

According to Breen, the book is harmless because it was made clear on a preliminary note that it should be understood as a fiction rather than an adequate representation of indigenous life.

SWR3 editor Klaus Storm also suffers from Ravensburger’s decision. His opinion: one can look at him quite comfortably, because Winito is just a fantasy:

On the other hand, linguist Hedron Kamber of the Mannheim German Institute considers accusations of racism to be justified. She says these books need to be categorized and commented on. It must be clarified where the problem lies.

Andreas Hurler, presenter of SWR Aktuell, spoke to Heidrun Kämper:

Linguist Prof.  Heidrun Kämper (Photo: dpa Bildfunk, Leibniz Institute for German Language)

Linguistically “racial stereotypes are unacceptable”


You can read the full interview with the linguist here

Genocide ‘central motive for Karl May’

Scientist and Karl May expert Andreas Breen warns against unthinkingly generalizing the accusation of cultural appropriation. “Even disguising as an Indian is considered racist.”Breen, who at the same time defended Karl May (1842-1912) himself against accusations of racism and colonialism.

The accusation that the classics of Wild West literature have ignored the genocide of the indigenous peoples of North America is wrong. This was described in the Winnetou novels published in 1893. This is a central idea with Karl May.selected Brin, who is organizing a conference on Karl May and cultural appropriation at the University of Potsdam in March 2023.

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