Karl May service in Engelrod

Thorsten Backwinkel-Pohl with various versions of the work “Winnetous Erben”. Pictured: Frank Schaefer

Engelrod – In fact, the current feature film “The Young Chief Winnetou” was not written by Karl May. But when Ravensburger Publishing pulled the publication of his book on the film over allegations of racism, a debate erupted: Should he still be allowed to read Karl May and Karl May fest, and should Winito finally die with his blood brother Old Shatterhand? Reverend Thorsten Buckwinkel-Poole of Engelrod Anglican Parish is now also involved in this discussion. The clergyman, who has read countless of Karl May’s works since childhood and believes he is a “peaceful Christian poet,” wants to hold a prayer with texts for Karl May in Engelrod next Sunday, September 4, at 7 p.m. Then there will be something to be heard about Winnetou and Hadschi Halef as well as about divine love and the quest for the realm of nobility. Our newspaper spoke to Thorsten Backwinkel-Pohl in advance, who came to the conclusion: “Karl May is clearly not a bad racist – but you should read him critically.”

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This critical reading begins by questioning the year in which the relevant volumes were published. Because some of the author’s works have been rewritten to reflect the relevant ideological zeitgeist. For example, Reverend Engelroder brought three copies of the work “Winnetous Erben”: the original from 1909, the edition from 1935 and the edition from 1960. Commenting on a fictional essay by a professor, Karl May wrote in the original: “It appears that (( Professor) seeks the chief task of the human race in the development of national and individual peculiarity, but not in the most widespread knowledge that all tribes, peoples, nations and races have gradually come to unite and unite together to form the only human, great, noble, above all animal. ”

noble birth

During the Nazi period, this passage was “adapted” in 1935 by the publishing house to the national ideology of the time: “There are also differences in race, the south is the south and the north is the north, and each develops its own characteristics. Dies a race, whose limbs were temporarily condemned to sleep in public …. And in the end – this I understand – every race must strive to generate within itself the most perfect, noble man.” From the original idea that peoples unite to form a noble, race competition develops among themselves, and only one succeeds in becoming a noble. Thorsten Backwinkel-Pohl finds it surprising that this NS version was printed and published until 1960. “It wasn’t until 1960 that they were able to change this racist text again.” The 1960 version is almost the same as the original. Both versions of 1909 and 1960 conclude with the vision: “Only when mankind is born from within, that is, from itself, into this harmonious personality desired by God, will the creation of the true ‘man’ be completed and heaven will open anew we who were hitherto mortals.”

Characters who go the good way

This volume, “Winnetous Erben”, was the last travel novel published during Karl May’s lifetime (1842 – 1912). According to Reverend Engelröder, the basic idea is that each of the angels – or in the words of Karl May: “Winnetou” – must belong to someone else. “This goes through the entire backlog.” There are always characters who go the right way. Most of the crimes in Mayo’s novels are due to greed. And Christmas, the ideal world of Christmas, was also an important theme for Karl May. Since 1900, at the time of his journey to the East, the author again experienced psychological problems, among other things, when the “old Strand legend” was blown up, that is, when it became known that the author never made the mentioned excursions, but it was all fiction. Karl May also hit hard by publicly declaring the “sins of youth” at the time. As a young man, Karl May was sentenced to eight years in prison for various crimes, including petty theft.

memory of real events

Thorsten Backwinkel-Pohl recalls many true facts from Karl May’s life. In Wilhelmine Germany, for example, after the “Boxer Rebellion” he was asked to write a patriotic act against China. Instead, he wrote a novel opposing military operations and colonialism, which caused him some problems. Although Karl May used racist clichés on occasion and because of time, he clearly distanced himself from these stereotypes in his later work. In the late nineteenth century, the tribes of North American Indians were known in Germany: the Sioux and the Apache. The Apaches were portrayed as bloodthirsty monsters. In Karl May, on the other hand, Apache chief Winnetou appears as a positive hero from the first stories, who is then modeled as a true and noble Christian in his later works. “Karl May was one of those people who moved further and further away from racist thinking,” said Buckwinkel-Pohl.

I got a lot of positive thoughts from the author

As a second grader, the first volume of Karl May that fell into his hands was The Legacy of the Incas. He read almost all of the other works published to date, including the full historical-critical edition, which was not yet completed because Karl May was a prolific writer. Received many positive thoughts from this author. For example, one should not think in terms of “people” and “nations” and that all religions should be respected.

At Mass next Sunday, the pastor will read some of the author’s texts from Carl May’s travel story “Und Friede auf Erden”, which calls for peace and love, and will also recite from May’s poems “Heavenly Thoughts”. From this volume, Thorsten Backwinkel-Pohl finds the poem “I Love” from 1900, among other things, fascinating. She says, “The earth has lived from the beginning / by what heaven gave it; / but he lives and gives himself / because he lives means he loves.”

In the case of Karl May, Reverend Engelroder summed it up by saying that the current “moral oversight” is wholly inappropriate. In general, Backwinkel-Pohl says: “If someone starts talking about morals, I will hide!”

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