No matter which of the above names are used, they all describe a Native American chieftain who has become a symbol of nobility. In fact, the German Supreme Court was of the following opinion;
Bei Winnetou handelt es sich nunmehr um einen Begriff, der sich einer ungemeinen Bekanntheit in Deutschland erfreut. Viele Leser aus allen Generationen verbinden mit dem Namen einen bestimmten Typus eines edlen Menschen, eines Indianerhäuptlings ohne Fehl und Tadel.
With regards to the name Winnetou, it is a concept that enjoys enormous fame in Germany. Many readers from all generations connect this name with a certain noble human being, an Indian chief beyond reproach.
But is Winnetou truly an Native American chieftain or a German archetype?
For that matter, is the land that Karl May describes really the North American continent or does it have another meaning? One must remember that Karl May wrote in his “Confession”;
A certain clique emerged from the Münchmeyer trial, which gave itself the task to deny any deeper meaning contained in my books so that they might accuse me of lies and swindle. Because of some lofty connections it was possible to deceive even those with moral sensibilities. And then there is the milieu that is covered by the content of my books. Whilst I lead my readers through the realm of the mankind’s soul, I give to its regions known geographical names. This makes comprehension much easier, however it provides the malicious cause to malign me. When I, for example, locate the realm of art to India for the sake of illustration, and the realm of religious intolerance to Belutschistan, without delay these unimaginative people deem that I truly visited India and Belutschistan. If not, than I am a literary liar and swindler. Accordingly Dante would have been the biggest swindler of all, since he claimed to not only have visited purgatory and hell, but also heaven!
So who is Winnetou and what realm is identified by America?
Please support the new Feature Film “Winnetou – The Beginning” that will do justice to Karl May’s work.