In this continuation of the Silver Lion narrative, Kara Ben Nemsi and Halef set out to revisit ancient monuments that had been the sites of several of their previous adventures. On their way to the ruins of Babylon, they encounter two men wearing rings identifying them as members of the “Shadows,” an arcane cult involved in smuggling in the region. Using a ruse, our heroes are able to ascertain that these criminals are planning to ambush the caravan of a Persian chamberlain. During their quest to prevent the crime, Kara and Halef encounter some old foes, make new friends, and are locked up in a prison inside the Tower of Babel. Kara Ben Nemsi is able to escape, but will he be able to rescue his friend and secure the smugglers’ hidden treasures?
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Nemsi Books would like to thank all the people who signed the petition to cancel the Winnetou trademark. Your support has been and continues to be invaluable to us.
Federal Civil Court of California Accepts Karl May USA’s Voluntary Dismissal.
Nemsi Books accepted Karl May USA, Inc.’s Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal of all claims asserted in the lawsuit filed on March 31st, 2011 by Karl May USA, Inc.
On March 9th, 2012, the Honorable Dean D. Pregersen signed the order that Karl May USA, Inc. be dismissed with prejudice, that it file an express withdrawal of its clothing trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office within ten (10) days of this order, update the pending cancellation proceedings in connection with the trademark, and abandon the mark and all reference to the mark on all web sites owned and controlled by Karl May USA Inc. (see: Document 28)
Despite repeated requests to adhere to the above court order, Karl May USA, Inc. has to date not taken the proper steps to cancel the trademark.
In its order dated December 5th, 2002, the German Supreme Court confirmed that the name Winnetou had, due to its fame, become a synonym for a noble Indian Chief and was therefore not suitable to serve as a trademark for the publication of books, magazines or film productions that dealt with this fictional character. (see: BGH Ruling I ZB 19/00)
In 1963, fifty (50) years after Karl May’s death , his works and the fictional characters he created entered the public domain. In this 100th anniversary year of Karl May’s death it is fitting that his iconic characters enjoy the total freedom they deserve.
Stop the exploitation! Join the movement and help us free Karl May’s iconic characters.
How nice to welcome Old Shatterhand in America again! The article by Rivka Galchen called “Wild West Germany” brought after some time again the famous German writer Karl May (1842-1912) to the attention of the ‘The New Yorker’ [Apr. 09, 2012 edition] readers. Exactly at the place where Karl May landed in 1908. Rivka Galchen described nicely what is happening today at May’s birthplace and even touched the fact that generations of Europeans are still fascinated by his writings as were people a century ago. She left out two halves of May’s other literary output, the Oriental stories and the philosophical books of his later years. However Rivka Galchen is writing as an American and for Americans and did this very well. Thanks to the article letters could be sent again from America to the so famous laconic address – as in the past did the famous Frontier men and the Indian chiefs: May – Radebeul – Germany. And as far as we know such letters did arrive safely indeed!
Somehow less informative are Rivka Galchen’s notes on Karl May’s life story. As fresh and colourful are her observations from today on May’s legacy, so somehow out of touch and biased is her version of what Karl May experienced whilst alive. I detect in the article a continuation of the old accusation by May’s enemies of him being a thief, a liar and a “Hochstapler” [trickster] when she says “a typically May-like ring of both truth and falsehood.” Karl May was a creative writer combining freely fiction with facts. This is not a crime! May also did not claim he was “mysteriously cured” from his vision impairment as a child. He suffered from Xerophthalmia and after coming into the hands of good doctors and being prescribed vitamin D and diet rich in vitamin A, his vision returned. Karl May did not claim to have been “mysteriously cured” but realistically described what happened to him in his biography.
The Rivka Galchen’s statement that Karl May “was later fired from a teaching job for stealing a pocket watch” is today not considered correct. Rivka could have gone to contemporary research on Karl May before repeating this slander of yesteryears. Also the “rumors [sic!] of an affair with a married woman” are fantasies created lately in another attack on Karl May’s integrity.
What attracted my attention and astonishment is Rivka Galchen’s statement “May ran the prison library, where he read a lot of Baedeker.” The idea of a prison library stuck up in those days with travel guides seems ludicrous. May never ever in his description of what books were available there mentioned any travel guides.
Karl May would not have been sentenced to prison terms nowadays. This has also been described lately and Rivka Galchen could have made the effort to peruse latest literature on Karl May instead of using old outdated sources. Rivka wrote “In the first volume of the Winnetou series, ‘Winnetou, the Apache Knight’”? This seems rather confusing to her. Book under this title appeared in the US in 1898 as a pirated version not mentioning Karl May’s name as the author. Instead it was published by Benziger Brothers under the name of the author who pirated it and bowdlerized the text as: “Taggart, M.A.: Winnetou, the Apache Knight.” Taggart also bowdlerized Karl May’s Winnetou I and II: “Taggart, M.A.: The Treasure of Nugget Mountain.” Benziger Brothers, USA 1898. Was Karl May right in complaining that his writings had been printed without his consent and he never received a penny as an author?
Rivka Galchen erroneously quotes the following sentences as written by Karl May, when in fact it comes from the pirated translated version by M.A. Taggart: “back home in Germany, Old Shatterhand was Jack Hildreth, a fourth child, and, by his own confession, a “dull kind of person, especially on a rainy day when I have to sit in the house alone with him.” And she continued with another fabrication by M.A. Taggart presenting it as an original Karl May’s sentence: “And so I found myself in a new and strange life, and beginning it with a new name, which became as familiar as dear to me as my own.”
There are more inaccuracies in the article: “A tale of a split soul, given to him by a good priest while he was in prison” writes Rivka Galchen. This historically documented person was not a priest, but a simple Catholic catechist Johannes Kochta. The description of the “split soul” from Karl May’s pen is clear nowadays to anyone who studied psychology. It is a very important piece to understand Karl May.
What is completely left out from the article is Karl May’s message in all his writings: peaceful solution of conflicts, equality of races, racial tolerance and motivation to become a better person. All this shortly before the WWI, which became a perversion of all what Karl May stood for in his books. The first female Nobel Prize winner for peace, Bertha von Suttner, appreciated Karl May’s work, as also did Albert Einstein. It is regrettable that the article does not mention this aspect of Karl May’s work worth preserving to posterity.
Dr. William E. Thomas, M.D.
Victor Epp reads …
Victor Epp, the English voice of Karl May reads Winnetou I …
People studying English as a second language can now listen to the pronounciation whilst following the words on the screen. Read along with Victor as he intones Karl May’s Winnetou I. Listen to the Introduction penned by Karl May more than a century ago …
Shed a tear for the Native American people …
Come and celebrate our ten (10) year anniversary! Storewide discounts abound on our books, audio books and DVD’s.
Download the FREE German eBooks of the original Karl May adventure tales!
Thank you dear readers, patrons, translators, authors, colleagues and supporters for an amazing decade!
The best is yet to come!
My speculation on how these letters eventually came into my hands is a bit of romantic daydreaming. I like to think that Yuri must have had a hand in binding them into the heavy leather cover. He would have the means to do that. I want very much to think that he and Trintje actually traveled to Gerhard’s original home and got to meet and embrace Katarina. What a lovely meeting that would have been. At least, that is my fantasy. I like to think she had an audience with a prince and his wife. That would be something that no Mennonite would ever pass up, and then receiving official documents from them; that would carry some considerable weight. It would be all over town in the blink of an eye. Katarina could then have confronted her father-in-law who, after reading the letters became contrite and penitent, and thus passing them on to another of his sons and so on down the line. Unfortunately that could not have happened because David the father died on September 25th of 1802, about the time of Gerhard’s last letter.
But I cling to the notion that such a meeting took place and by it, Katarina’s life was thus fulfilled and Gerhard’s letters were not in vain. I fantasize that she kept the letters close to her until her demise. Perhaps a brother of Gerhard’s received them to pass them on to the next generation. I’ll not waver from that thought. The time is getting shorter in my own life until I may have the opportunity to join him where he now is. I’ll ask him about it.
Available in Softcover
The original works of Karl May entered the public domain in 1963, fifty years after the death of their creator. But the freedom that this status should have granted to the works of Karl May was short-lived.
One only needs to consult the German Trademark Register and search for the term “Winnetou” to see how a famous name has been and still is exploited by those who have not yet understood the message that Karl May embedded in his “Traveler’s Tales”.
Winnetou, the fictional noble Indian Chief, who was born behind the dark prison walls during Karl May’s captivity was to be the focus of a quest for the lost human soul. Now, however, this fictional character and his fictional blood brother ‘Old Shatterhand’ are the objects of the very greed and avarice that Karl May spoke against in his many novels. Karl May wrote in his autobiography
I want to tell parables and fables, with the truth being hidden deeply inside, the truth which by other means cannot be perceived, yet. I want to derive light from the darkness of my prison life. I want to convert the punishment, which has come upon me, into freedom for others …. I want my readers to stop regarding life as a merely material existence. This view is a prison for them, beyond the walls of which they are unable to see, to behold the sunny, free, wide land.
And yet, greed, avarice, legal wrangling and the drive to bind a fictional noble Indian Chief and his companion to one person and to one company continues unabated. Karl May wrote in his autobiography
For whom were my books written? Quite naturally for the people, for all the people, …
What better homage can we show for Karl May’s work than to cease all this squabbling and make his books available to all the people of this world without wanting to own the names of the famous characters he created.
Have we learned nothing from Karl May’s writings?
Karl May admonished his readers in his autobiography
Since my books contain nothing but parables and fables, it goes without saying that the reader is supposed to think about them thoroughly and thus my books only belong in the hands of people, who are not only able to think, but also willing to bestow thought upon them.
Apparently this warning went unheeded.
Why do we oppose the trademark?
We do so because, had the truth been known, the names of Karl May’s famous fictional characters should have been rejected by the trademark office upon application.
The German courts have repeatedly held that famous characters from actual or literary history cannot be registered for goods (such as books or films) that may directly deal with classic characters.
Similarly, the Lanham Act states that, a mark must be able to identify and distinguish goods or services from those goods or services provided by others. (See 15 U.S.C. § 1127) and since fictional characters are often simultaneously associated with a number of different sources, including authors, producers, sponsors and even themselves, a fictional character’s name is unable to identify a single source and is therefore unable to serve the goals of trademark law.
We also believe that Karl May’s intent is better served if his fictional characters can be explored and not exploited. Karl May wrote in his autobiography
In my entire work, not including the humorous short stories and village-tales from the Ore Mountains, there is not a single character that is fully developed and perfected by me, not even Winnetou and Hajji Halef Omar about whom I have written more than any others. After all, I am not finished with my own development yet. I am still changing. Everything within me is still forging ahead and so are my characters and all of my topics.
His fictional characters must therefore remain unfettered so that they can freely develop and grow within each of us.
As Karl May stated
The welfare of mankind demands that there shall be peace between the two, no more exploitation and bloodshed. I was resolved to constantly emphasize this in my books and to kindle in my readers the love for the red race and for the inhabitants of the Orient, which we owe them as fellow human beings.
Let us hope that this message will soon be understood by all.
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I took the trouble to read Rob Schmidt’s article in the Newspaper Rock under the title “Rob questions Winnetou movie”. Let me just say that I was more than disappointed by the presentation of the writer Karl May [1842-1912]. The whole approach of Mr. Schmidt and that of the participants in the discussion suffer from one unforgivable flaw – that is to judge events which happened one hundred and thirty one years ago from the present day point of view. This is a common mistake not tolerated of course in any serious study of past events by critical scholars.
Rob Schmidt’s contribution to the discussion – given just one example out of many similar – states: “Winnetou’s Apaches are phony” does not resemble the true situation at the time of Karl May writing his book. Mr. Schmidt has no doubt read and heard of the Western Apache in Arizona, a legendary place in the Little Colorado Valley, north of their historic range, where they claim to have once lived in company with the Navajo and Pueblo peoples. This has been clearly described in the book by Thomas E. Mails: “The People Called Apache” [A Rutledge Book Prentice-Hall, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 1974] in many pages in there. I trust Mr. Schmidt is familiar with this study. There were Pueblo dwelling Apache!
After much amusement, I could not resist the urge to set the record straight.
Rob Schmidt wrote:
In the introduction of the original “winnetou – the red gentlemen” from 1800 the author has a long prologue that the Native Culture is much better than the white conquerors. he describe the native culture as culture of honour and love to nature, and that he will inform all the people that this culture is much higher than our culture because they only take from nature what they need to survive – full of respect to mother nature! The bad guys in the story are mostly greedy white guys. And that opinion of an european is for my really surprising at that time.
Yes, the prologue is indeed long, but the above summation is far from accurate for Karl May wrote:
… If it is true that all living beings have a right to life, and this right is granted equally to the masses as well as to the individual, then the red man has that right no less than the white man. He may well speak out with authority about his social development in the context of his culture and according to his individuality. But it is openly stated that the Indian doesn’t possess the necessary qualities. Is that true? I say no! I don’t want to offer any proofs, since it is not my intent to write an all-encompassing dissertation on the subject. The white man has found time to evolve naturally. He went from hunter to herdsman, from herdsman to farmer and industrialist. But the red man did not find this time because it was not granted to him. Now he must make the giant leap from the lowest rung; that is, from hunter to the very top. And in making this demand on him, one has not considered that he could stumble and suffer life-threatening injuries. …