Winnetou, Apache Knight

A while back, Jenny and I saw Winnetou on the train.

Jenny was fascinated and amused by this live-action version of Winnetou.

I, on the other hand, had no idea what she was talking about.

J: That man looks like Winnetou
S: Like who?
J: Winnetou
S: Spell it?
J: WINNETOU
S: Spell it again?
J: W I N N E T O U!!!!
S: Never heard of him.

Winnetou is a fictional Native American hero who is well known in Germany.  He was created by Karl May, one of the bestselling German authors of all time.  Winnetou is the fictional chief of the Mescalero tribe of the Apache.    There have been books and children’s stories, all written between 1875 and 1910.  There was a series of eleven films between 1962 and 1968, filmed in what is now Croatia.  There are even two television miniseries, from 1980 and 1998 respectively.

I bought an English translation of the first novel and read it on my Kindle.  I am utterly fascinated by a Native American hero created by a German author.  I am even more fascinated by the fact that Karl May never actually visited the places he wrote about until late in his life, long after he wrote these stories of the old West.  The Winnetou stories are immensely popular here.

In subsequent conversations about Winnetou, I have come to realize that while most Americans have never heard of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, most Germans have never heard of the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

That seems fair, I guess.

5 thoughts on “Winnetou, Apache Knight

  1. Oh wow! At least you actually saw a dude that might clue you in to what Winnetou was. I had that exact conversation in my German classes at the VHS without the context.

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