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Sawpatin

German view of Native-Americans during WW1?

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Sawpatin

Hello all,

I'm curious, what sort of image did WW1 German society have of Native-Americans? Some Germans back then would have surely seen the Wild West Shows that toured Europe before the war, and I know that Karl May's fantasy depictions of Native-Americans have had some influence on the German view of those cultures, even to the present day...

 

I've heard stories that during the 1930s, Nazi Germany had some interest in getting Native-Americans on their side, sending "anthropologists" to study indigenous languages on reservations, and throwing out propaganda about swastika connections between certain tribes and the Nazis. Were there any attempts during WW1 by German agents to win over Native-Americans? Or any German wartime propaganda aimed specifically at Native-Americans?

Edited by Sawpatin

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Moonraker

Welcome to the Forum.

 

This doesn't directly answer your questions but ...   At first the Canadian Government adopted a policy of not allowing 'Indians' to serve overseas, believing that the Germans considered them savages and fearing that this would result in their inhumane treatment if taken prisoner. However the policy was not strictly enforced (there were several aboriginals in the First Canadian Contingent that came to Salisbury Plain in October 1914) and was cancelled in late 1915. At least 3,500 Canadian Indians enlisted. Race and ethnicity were not recorded in the attestation papers, so an accurate total is impossible to assess.

 

Moonraker

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Sawpatin

Thanks for the reply. Don't want to go too off topic, but were First Nations people considered Canadian citizens at that time? In the USA, Native-Americans didn't have citizenship until 1924, which as far as I know meant they were exempt from the WW1 draft (although, like in Canada, plenty enlisted...)

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BullerTurner

The stories by Karl May about Winnetou and his white sidekick, Old Shatterhand, would have been very, very familiar to Germans of military age.  May is still one of, if not the, best selling German authors of all time.  Having said that, the stories did perpetuate the myth of the noble redskin, or noble savage.  They also projected German-Christian values on to Mescalero Apaches...so the quantity of awareness may have outstried the quality?

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Mark Hone

Allegedly, May was the favourite author of Corporal A. Hitler. 

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BullerTurner

And of many, many thousands of German and Austrian lads!  

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MikB
On 25/02/2019 at 06:58, Mark Hone said:

Allegedly, May was the favourite author of Corporal A. Hitler. 

 

... and many strongly anti-Nazi Germans too.

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Mark Hone

I have vague memories of seeing on tv aeons ago at least one of the 'Old Shatterhand' films made in the 50s and 60s starring former Tarzan Lex Barker. I gather that Karl May is still popular in Germany, or at least was about 10 years ago when the BBC did a radio documentary about him and his cultural influence. 

Edited by Mark Hone

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GreyC

Both the GDR and FRG had their own Western-movies (although in the GDR they weren´t called that) . For the GDR it was the Serb Gojko Mitic who had previously had small parts in movies based on the novels of Karl May in the FRG, in which Pierre Briece starred as Winnetou. Mitic never played Winnetou on screen in either FRG or GDR but was nicknamed "DEFA-Indian" none the less, as he played most leading roles (as indian chief) in movies of the state owned film-production company DEFA of the GDR. Later he embodied Winnetou in open air renditions of Karl May stories.

GreyC

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