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Winnetou on a postage stamp (1987) of the Deutsche Bundespost . The illustration corresponds to the current representation on the book Winnetou I ( Karl May's Gesammelte Werke , Volume 7)

Winnetou is a character from the novel of the same name and other works by the German author Karl May (1842–1912), which are set in the Wild West . He is a fictional chief of the Mescalero - Apaches . Winnetou embodies the noble , good Indian and fights with his rifle "silver rifle" on his horse Iltschi for justice and peace. He is mostly accompanied by his white friend and blood brother Old Shatterhand , from whose point of view, as a first-person narrator, the stories about Winnetou are often written. "His name is pronounced Winneto-u, the ou as a diphthong in quick succession ."


Winnetou (left) and Ribanna in the first Winnetou depiction from 1879. Illustration for the story In the far west .

Winnetou went through a great change from the first appearances to the later work. While at the beginning he was an older savage who scalped his enemies and sometimes ate a cigar butt, he became more and more idealized until he finally became the symbol of the “noble savage” who is morally superior to all whites.

Winnetou is fundamentally brave, honest and fair, quite silent compared to Old Shatterhand. However, he took over the extensive renunciation of both revenge and killing enemies from Klekih-petra and Old Shatterhand. In general, Winnetou tends to collective accusations and prejudices (attack on the surveying camp including a duel with Old Shatterhand; "Wrong men of the south", meaning Mexicans; etc.).

Winnetou is a perfect rider and marksman. He is also very well trained in all other Indian weapons and fighting techniques. In addition to Apache, he also speaks several other Indian languages ​​as well as English and often confirms his short sentences with a short " Howgh ". He visited Old Shatterhand in Dresden and accompanied him to North Africa ("Satan and Ischariot" trilogy).

Winnetou likes to call companions of Old Shatterhand or other good western men "brother", but separates himself from them in the group and occasionally lets his or Old Shatterhand's superiority over them show through. Old Shatterhand is the mediator between his white companions and Winnetou. Winnetou is never longer without Old Shatterhand with other “second rank” white Westmen. But with Old Firehand and Old Surehand, which clearly belong to the "first category". The intimate relationship has also been described as latently homosexual, as in Arno Schmidt's study Sitara and the path to it , which also had an influence on some film adaptations.


Book cover of the classic editions (from 1893) from Winnetou I to III
Book cover of the classic editions (from 1898) from Winnetou I to III
Silver rifle, bear killer and Henrystutzen (from left) in the Karl May Museum in Radebeul

Description of Winnetous when it was first mentioned by Karl May:

“It seemed to be in the early fifties; his figure, not too tall, was unusually sturdy and compact, and his chest in particular showed a breadth which could set a tall and long-necked Yankee in the most respectful admiration. His stay in the civilized east had compelled him to put on clothes that were less conspicuous there, but his thick, dark hair hung in long, simple strands down far over his shoulders, in his belt he wore a Bowie knife with a ball and powder bag, and out the rain cloth, which he had wrapped picturesquely around his armpit, saw the rusted barrel of a rifle which perhaps had already given many a "Western man" the last valet. "

- Karl May : Winnetou, 1878

When it first appeared - within the May chronology - Winnetou is described as follows:

“… Was dressed exactly like his father, only that his suit was made more delicate. His moccasins were adorned with porcupine bristles and the seams of his leggings and hunting skirt with fine, red seams. He too carried the medicine bag on his neck and the calumet with it. Like his father, his armament consisted of a knife and a double rifle. He too wore his head uncovered and had his hair curled up in a tuft, but without adorning it with a feather. It was so long that it fell rich and heavy on its back. Certainly many a lady would have envied him this wonderful, shimmering blue hair. His face was almost more noble than his father's, and its color was a dull light brown with a slight hint of bronze. As I now guessed and later found out, he was the same age as me and made a deep impression on me today, when I saw him for the first time. I felt that he was a good person and that he must have extraordinary gifts. We looked at each other with a long, searching look, and then I thought I noticed that in his serious, dark eye, which had a velvety luster, a friendly light shone for a brief moment, like a greeting which the sun shines through Sends cloud opening to earth. "

- Karl May : Winnetou I

In "Christmas!" The description was much more romanticized:

“Like I always did when I was in the West, he wore a hunting suit made of elk leather with an Indian cut, light moccasins on his feet, which were adorned with porcupine bristles and seldom shaped nuggets. There was no headgear on him. His rich, thick, bluish-black hair was arranged on his head in a high, helmet-like head, and from there, when he was in the saddle, fell like a mane or a thick veil almost down to the horse's back. No eagle feather adorned this Indian hairstyle. He never wore that chief's badge; it was obvious at first sight that he was no ordinary warrior. I saw him among chiefs who were all adorned with the feathers of the war eagle and otherwise hung with all kinds of trophies; his regal demeanor, his free, relaxed, elastic and yet so proud gait distinguished him as the noblest of all. Anyone who glanced at him saw at once that he was dealing with an important man. Around his neck he wore the valuable peace pipe, the medicine bag and a triple chain of claws from the grizzly bears, which he had killed himself at risk of death. The cut of his serious, manly handsome face, the cheekbones of which protruded barely noticeably, could almost be called Roman, and the color of his skin was a dull light brown, doused with a slight hint of bronze. "

“He didn't have a beard; in this respect he was entirely Indian. That is why the gentle, lovingly mild and yet so energetic curve of his lips could always be seen, those half-full, I should like to say, kissable lips, which were capable of the sweetest flattering tones as well as the most terrifying thunderous sounds, the most refreshing recognition as well as the most cutting irony. When he spoke in a friendly manner, his voice possessed an incomparably appealing, alluring guttural timbre, which I have not found in any other person and which only compared to the loving, quiet chuckle of tenderness of a hen who has gathered her chicks among herself can be; in anger she had the power of a hammer, which smashes iron, and, if he wanted, a sharpness which acted like corrosive acid on the firmest opponent. When he gave a speech, which happened very seldom and only on very important or solemn occasions, all possible means of rhetoric were at his disposal. "

“I have never heard a better, more persuasive, more captivating speaker than him, and I have never heard of a single case in which it was possible for a person to withstand the eloquence of the great, incomparable Apatschen. The easily movable wings of his gently curved, powerful, but by no means Indian nose, were eloquent, because every movement of his soul was expressed in their vibrations. The most beautiful thing about him, however, were his eyes, those dark, velvety eyes, in which, depending on the occasion, could lie a whole world of love, kindness, gratitude, pity, concern, but also contempt. Such honest, loyal, pure eyes, in which holy flames blazed with anger or from which displeasure hurled destructive lightning, could only have a person who has such a purity of soul, sincerity of heart, immutability of character, and constant truth of the Like Winnetou. There was a power in these eyes of his which made the friend happy, filled the enemy with fear and fear, turned the unworthy into nothing and forced the stubborn to obedience. When he spoke of God, his great, good Manitou , his eyes were pious Madonnas - when he spoke kindly, loving women - but when he was angry, threatening Odin's eyes. "

"This splendid man was now, on horseback, here in the room, and all eyes hung with astonishment and admiration on his imperious face and his impeccable figure, which rested in an elegant posture half on the saddle and half in the stirrups decorated with rattlesnake teeth . His lasso, made by his beautiful sister Nscho-chi, like mine, hung from his broad, strong shoulders in loops over his chest and back down to his hips, where he had a shawl of a brightly colored santilla blanket wound around his narrow, elastic waist Contained knives, revolvers, and all the objects that the Western man wore in or on his belt. On his back hung a double-barreled rifle studded with silver nails on the wooden parts. That was the famous silver rifle whose bullets never missed their target. "

- Karl May : "Christmas!"

Historical role models

For Karl Mays Winnetou there were some literary and perhaps also historical models.

Karl May himself did not comment on any role models for Winnetou. Until around 1899 he claimed that Winnetou actually lived (and as a historical personality of course had no literary role models), after that May Winnetou wanted to be understood as an allegory of the “red man in himself” - planned as such from the beginning .

Text with Winnetou

In addition to the original titles, the following tables contain the current numbers of the volume and the story from Karl May's Gesammelte Werken (titles may differ here), the title of the corresponding reprint of the Karl May Society and the department and volume number of the historical-critical edition of Karl May Works (if already published) indicated.

Travel stories

title year Remarks Karl May’s
Collected Works
Reprints of the
Karl May Society
Old Firehand 1875 71 , 02 Old Firehand I.8
Winnetou 1878 Revision of Inn-nu-wo, the Indian chief (1875) 80 , 03 The Krumir I.8
In the far west 1879 Editing from Old Firehand , later edited in Winnetou II 89 , 01 (I.8 per list of variants)
Deadly dust 1880 later edited in Winnetou III 88 , 01 The Scout - Deadly Dust -
Ave Maria
The Both Shatters 1881 complements Winnetou's role biography, he himself does not appear as an acting character 71.05 Old Firehand I.9
In the "wild west" of North America 1882/83 later edited in Winnetou III 88.02 ( The Scout - Deadly Dust -
Ave Maria
An oil brandy 1882/83 80.04 Yearbook of the Karl May Society 1970 IV.27
The scout 1888/89 later edited in Winnetou II The Scout - Deadly Dust -
Ave Maria
Winnetou I 1893 at times also
Winnetou the Red Gentleman I.
7th IV.12
Winnetou II 1893 Temporarily also
Winnetou the Red Gentleman II
8th IV.13
Winnetou III 1893 at times also
Winnetou the Red Gentleman III
9 IV.14
Old Surehand I. 1894 14th
Old Surehand II 1895 19 and 15 , chapter 1
Old Surehand III 1896 15, chapters 2-10
Satan and Iscariot I. 1896 20th The rock castle
Satan and Iscariot II 1897 21st Krüger Bei -
The hunt for the millionaire
Satan and Iscariot III 1897 22nd Krüger Bei -
The hunt for the millionaire
On foreign paths 1897
  •   God is not mocked original title Old Cursing-Dry 23 , 07 Christ or Muhammad
  •   A blizzard original title
An American double duel
23.08 Christ or Muhammad
Motherly love 1897/98 48 , 06 Christ or Muhammad IV.27
"Christmas!" 1897 24 IV.21
Winnetou IV 1910 33 Winnetou Volume IV

Youth stories

title year Remarks Karl May’s
Collected Works
Reprints of the
Karl May Society
In the far west 1879 Editing from Old Firehand , later edited in Winnetou II 89.01 (I.8 per list of variants)
Under the wind pants 1886 later edited in Old Surehand II The Krumir IV.27
The bear hunter's son 1887 35 , 01 and 84 , 07 The bear hunter's son -
The spirit of the Llano estakata
The spirit of the llano estacado 1888 original, incorrect title
The spirit of the Llano estakata
35.02 The bear hunter's son -
The spirit of the Llano estakata
The treasure in Silbersee 1890/91 36 The treasure in Silbersee III.4
The oilprince 1893/94 Book editions from 1905 under the title Der Ölprinz 37 The oilprince III.6
The black mustang 1896/97 38 , 01 The black mustang III.7

Delivery novel

title year Remarks Karl May’s
Collected Works
Reprints of the
Karl May Society
Caught at sea 1877/78 Alternative title spelling
Caught on the high seas
80 , 01 Happy hours I.9

Winnetou appears in another volume as part of the Collected Works : In the Valley of Death (1934). In this adaptation of the Kolporta novel German Hearts - German Heroes (1885–87), not only the Apache chief appearing there was renamed, but also other people in order to establish a connection to the other volumes in the series.

The Winnetou trilogy

The three volumes of Winnetou the Red Gentleman , published in 1893, are the first to play in the context of the book series of collected travel stories in the Wild West, which was then redesigned together with the publisher Friedrich Ernst Fehsenfeld . While volume I was completely rewritten by Karl May , he used four older stories for volumes II and III, which he inserted into a newly created framework (persecution and death of the murderer of Winnetou's father and sister). He also had to adapt the plot and the characters in these stories to his new concept, which he did not always succeed in completely.

For Volume II he used the story Der Scout , published in 1888/89, and the In the Far West , published in 1879 ; for Volume III the story Deadly Dust published in 1880 and the In Wild West North America published in 1882/83 (later also published under the title Ave Maria ).

Winnetou I

Sascha Schneider edition (1904) by Winnetou I

The first-person narrator Karl (compare: Karl May), later called Old Shatterhand, works as a surveyor, i. H. Surveyor, for the Atlantic and Pacific Company, surveying one of the great transcontinental railways to the western United States of America. The railway line is to run from St. Louis through Indian Territory, New Mexico, Arizona and California to the Pacific coast. The section (section) that he and the three other surveyors Riggs , Marcy and Wheeler under the direction of chief engineer Bancroft for exploration and surveying, lies between the headwaters of the Rio Pecos and the southern Canadian . There they are expected by a twelve-man protection force and their leader Rattler . Since his colleagues are very lazy and addicted to alcohol and their specialist knowledge is not far off, he has to do everything by himself. Fortunately, the western men Sam Hawkens , Dick Stone and Will Parker are at his side, and so the connection to the next western section could still be achieved in a week. Their chief engineer White , who has finished his work, warns against the red ones, because the railway company is planning, as the Indians are of course clear from the survey, a track construction through the middle of the Apache area. Karl May does not write anything about it, but on both sides of such lines there are always huge land allocations from the state to the railway companies to finance the railways. Intschu tschuna (Good Sun), the chief of all Apaches, his son Winnetou (according to Karl May: Burning Water) and Klekih-petra (White Father) from Germany come to peacefully point out to the railway surveyors that this is their country and Intschu tschuna forbids the railroad workers to continue measuring the “path for the fire horse” here.

Klekih-petra is shot by Rattler when he throws himself into a shot that should hit Winnetou, whereupon Winnetou rides home with his father and the corpse to fetch warriors and wipe out the pale faces. The latter team up with the Kiowas because they want to finish the survey before the Apaches arrive , but Old Shatterhand, Sam, Dick and Will keep it secretly with the Apaches. When the Apaches first attacked, a trick by Sam Hawkens succeeded in capturing all the Apaches. Old Shatterhand secretly frees Winnetou and Intschu tschuna, and no Kiowa learns that Old Shatterhand was the liberator. Tangua , the chief of the Kiowas, wants to kill the other captured Apaches, whereupon Old Shatterhand and his friends take him hostage. Tangua offers that Old Shatterhand will fight Metan-akva ( lightning knife ) for the life of the Apaches. Shortly after Shatterhand wins, more Apaches attack again, with many more warriors than before. Old Shatterhand and the "Kleeblatt" (Sam, Dick and Will) actually want to surrender, but involuntarily get involved in the fight. Old Shatterhand first knocks Intschu tschuna unconscious, then is attacked by Winnetou and critically wounded. Except for Rattler, the twelve protection troops are dead.

The survivors are taken as prisoners to the Apache camp and nursed to health there for their torture. Old Shatterhand is looked after by Winnetou's sister Nscho-tschi (Beautiful Day). Old Shatterhand recovers relatively quickly and trains his strength with a stone that he has asked for as a seat. During this time he kept asking to speak to Winnetou because he was his friend and could prove this. But Winnetou does not come, but first demands the evidence, which in turn Old Shatterhand does not want. The fight with lightning knife for the freedom of the Apaches previously captured by the Kiowas was fought by the Kiowas, and Tangua turned the matter upside down until the Apaches believed him.

On the day they are to be martyred, the whites learn that Old Shatterhand is to fight for their lives. He has to swim for his life with Intschu tschuna. By a trick (he poses as an over-anxious non-swimmer) Old Shatterhand wins the fight and the whites are free except for Rattler. Old Shatterhand shows Winnetou the strand of hair he cut off when he freed him from the Kiowas' camp. Old Shatterhand then challenges Tangua to a duel, in which Tangua can choose the weapons. Tangua is now there as a liar, has previously insulted Old Shatterhand several times and can now no longer avoid the duel without loss of honor. Since Tangua has seen that Old Shatterhand is a master with both fist and knife, he chooses rifles and take turns shooting at 200 paces. He also demands that he be allowed to shoot first, which is granted to him. He doesn't hit Old Shatterhand though. He announced that he would not kill Tangua, but would only shoot him in the right knee. Since Tangua does not think this is possible, he stands sideways, with the result that both knees are smashed and Tangua becomes Old Shatterhand's mortal enemy. Rattler is shot because he does not show himself brave on the torture stake.

Old Shatterhand and Winnetou (seated), illustration by A. Hrdlicka for the story Mutterliebe (1898)

Then it comes to the blood brotherhood between Old Shatterhand and Winnetou. Winnetou now teaches Old Shatterhand everything that he does not yet know, but needs as a Westman. Nscho-chi fell in love with Old Shatterhand. Asked by Intschu tschuna whether a marriage between a white woman and an Indian is possible, Old Shatterhand replies that this is possible if the Indian is a Christian and the marriage is concluded by a priest. Intschu tschuna then decided that his daughter could go east to St. Louis to become like a white squaw. Because he does not want to accept gold, Old Shatterhand receives generous permission from Intschu tschuna to finish the interrupted surveying of the railway line on the way in order to be able to claim his wages. At the point where the measuring work was interrupted by the attack, the measuring piles of the marked “iron path” are still standing. Since the Indians are helping him, the work is completed in four days.

In order to get the necessary money for Nscho-chi's stay, the Apaches then ride to Nugget Tsil, as they know a spot with gold dust there. On the way to the site, they are ambushed by the bandit Santer, whom Sam carelessly revealed where the journey was going, along with his friends. Intschu chuna and Nscho-chi are killed. Because Santer cannot be caught - only his assistants are shot by Old Shatterhand - and Old Shatterhand first has to free the Sam captured by the Kiowas, Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, who is from now on called by Winnetou Scharlih , separate. While Winnetou chases after the killer, Old Shatterhand frees Sam.

Winnetou II

Sascha Schneider edition (1905) by Winnetou II

In this volume, which can be regarded as a true travel story, the first-person narrator Old Shatterhand criss-crosses the United States. He first rides to St. Louis, where he gives the saved drawings to the Surveying Office. Even if Sam demands extra ratification for him as the only survivor, he will only be paid the agreed amount. Winnetou continues to pursue the killer Santer. Old Shatterhand gives the bear slayer Mr. Henry received before his departure for safekeeping. Because he wants to travel to Winnetou in a hurry, and the heavy rifle would be a hindrance to him. He missed Winnetou in New Orleans and now wants to sail back to Europe from there.

But since he got caught in a hurricane shortly after leaving the port and lost all of his possessions, he first ended up in New York, where - in order to earn the money for the crossing - he took a job as a detective. (In the story The Scout , the first-person narrator comes from Germany to the USA as an immigrant and finds - although inexperienced - a job as a detective.) After several successfully resolved cases, about which one does not find out more, he is assigned to investigate a mentally deranged The son of a banker who fell into the hands of a fraudster to be brought back to his father.

In pursuit of the two, he again arrives in New Orleans, where he meets the western man Old Death . Without knowing the narrator's identity, the latter immediately guesses why he is in New Orleans, but, like his old friend Sam Hawkens in the past, considers him to be a greenhorn. They soon part ways and Old Shatterhand and the impostor meet. But he recognizes Old Shatterhand and can still move away in time towards Rio Colorado.

On the way there, Old Death and Old Shatterhand meet again, and Old Death now wins his trust and offers his help. During the pursuit, there is a brief reunion with Winnetou. He has previously returned to the Apaches as the new chief with his father's silver rifle, but acts towards Old Death, to whom he is known, as if he does not know Old Shatterhand. The blood brothers then meet unobserved in the forest. Winnetou recalls how they measured the path of the fire horse and reports that Santer escaped again. Then they say goodbye to each other because they have different duties to perform. After a conflict with members of the Ku Klux Klan , which the two olds resolve almost single -handedly , they learn that the two wanted people are on their way to Mexico. During the pursuit, they discover them in a troop of Comanches, who in turn have been lured into a trap by the Apaches and Winnetou. Old Death, who is friends with both the Apaches and the Comanches, tries to persuade the Comanches to give up, but fails, so that the two Olds move away to the Apaches with other whites who have joined them in the meantime. Unfortunately, Winnetou and his Apaches let go of the persecuted who had already switched to them, so that the two olds are again compelled to leave the Apaches. Finally they manage to catch the two, but Old Death is accidentally shot. This ends the inserted story The Scout .

The first-person narrator then reports how he travels back to St. Louis, receives the famous Henry Stutzen there and then travels to Africa to hunt the gum with Sir Emery Bothwell (Volume 10: Oranges and Dates - Sands of Perdition ) . On his return he goes in search of Winnetou, soon finds him, but then separates to accompany a gold transport. Then the second inserted story begins in the Far West and the first-person narrator gets to know the boy Harry, whom he rescues a little later - against his will - from the inferno of a burning oil well. On his further way he meets Winnetou and the famous Westman Old Firehand.

They prevent an attack by the Poncas under their chief Parranoh (alias Tim Finnetey) on a railway line. On this occasion, Old Shatterhand defeats Parranoh, against whom both Winnetou and Old Firehand have an old score. Aware of the supposed death of Parranoh and after Firehand's injury has healed, they then arrive at his trapper fortress, where Old Shatterhand also meets Harry again, who turns out to be the son of Old Firehands and Ribanna , who was also loved by Winnetou (the only parallel to Film version), but who renounced it in favor of his friend Old Firehand (this and Ribanna's death, however, take place before the stories told in volumes 1 and 2). After fending off an attack by the Poncas, albeit with heavy losses, Old Shatterhand and Winnetou set out to look for a dealer to offer him the skins captured by the trappers. In doing so, they are temporarily captured by their old enemy Santer, who lets them go again because he is after the skins. Santer escapes a trap caused by a stupidity by Sam Hawken, so that in the end the ways of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand part again.

In the original story, The Scout , the first-person narrator is still a real greenhorn and Winnetou is considerably more violent.

Winnetou III

Draft of the Sascha Schneider edition (1904) by Winnetou III

The first part (after the story Deadly Dust ) tells the story of the pursuit of the two bandits Fred and Patrick Morgan, the second part (after the story In the Wild West of North America ) describes the fight against the Railtroublers (a gang of train robbers) and the Sioux-Ogelallah allied with them, where Winnetou is killed. Finally, the end of the criminal Santer is described.

Old Shatterhand meets the famous Westman Sans-Ear in the savannah. After Sans-Ear has defeated four enemy Komantschen, both ride on together and prevent a train attack. A white man who is identified by Sans-Ear as the murderer of his family takes part in this attack: Fred Morgan. Fortunately, they are able to discover the trail of the criminal and follow him through the Llano Estacado , where they have to assert themselves again against the Comaniac, in the meantime accompanied by Winnetou and Bernard Marshall, who is also after Fred Morgan. They finally catch both Morgans near the San Francisco gold fields.

It is possible that Karl May was working under time pressure here because he did not succeed in incorporating all of Winnetou's new properties; and so Winnetou kills an unarmed criminal before he can escape.

In the second part, Old Shatterhand meets Fred Walker, called Spürauge, a detective who is after the Railtroublers on a train ride. Old Shatterhand and later Winnetou team up with Tracker and prevent an attack on Echo Canyon, a large train station. While fleeing, the Sioux, allied with the train robbers, attacked a settlement of German emigrants and kidnapped all residents. During the rescue operation on Mount Hancock, Winnetou is shot by a Sioux. As he dies, he professes Christianity. Old Shatterhand rides to the Apaches to tell them about the death of their chief, and finds out about Santer, but is temporarily captured by the Kiowas. Santer steals Winnetou's will, but dies on the Dark Water while stealing the gold. The gold Santer always wanted buries the murderer of Winnetou's father and sister.

In the editing of the Karl-May-Verlag there are minor deviations in the plot. For example, in Volume 2, the raid on the railway line was replaced by a raid on a Niobrara fort. Some people have also been renamed (e.g. Fred Walker in Stephen Moody).

Winnetou IV

Sascha Schneider edition of Winnetou IV from 1910

With volume XXXIII of Karl May's Winnetou 4th volume collected travel stories , the Winnetou trilogy became a tetralogy . For more see Winnetou's heirs .

Winnetou in film and on stage

First attempts at filming

There have been attempts to film the Winnetou fabric since the 1920s. The first project comes from the “Ustad-Film Dr. Droop & Co. ”in Berlin in 1920, for which Erwin Bàron submitted an exposé. According to a newspaper report at the time, the next approach took place in 1927 by an unspecified "Berliner Filmgesellschaft".

In 1936, Wien-Film AG planned an implementation of the Winnetou material under the title Die Ewigen Jagdböden , for which the director Helmut Käutner was intended. A draft of the script was not ready until 1942. For the main role of the film, which should have cost over five million Reichsmarks , Hans Albers was planned. The project was personally stopped in 1944 by Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels .

Almost at the same time, “ Bavaria Filmkunst GmbH ” dealt with a film adaptation in 1939 in which Luis Trenker was to work as a director and for which Herbert Dirmoser from the Felsenbühne Rathen was in discussion as the main actor .

In 1939 “ Tobis Filmkunst GmbH ” started another attempt in Berlin , in which the sensational actor Harry Piel was to be involved. In 1949 Willy Zeyn -Film GmbH from Berlin had plans to produce a film, again with Hans Albers as the main actor.


Early dramatization

Winnetou was the title of an early dramatization of the Winnetou trilogy that was revised several times.

Variant A (Dimmler)

Hermann Dimmler wrote a play on the "Winnetou" material in 1919, which was performed several times, but not until 1928 under the title Winnetou. Travel story by Karl May. Designed for the stage by Dr. H. Dimmler was published.

The earliest known production was on November 8, 1919 in Munich at the Deutsches Theater . At that time it was directed by Alfred Lommatzsch. He implemented the piece in "9 pictures".

Variant B (Dimmler / Körner)

In 1928, Ludwig Körner took the Dimmler version as the basis for his play Winnetou, the red gentleman: Drama in 6 images based on Karl May's travel story .

This new version was first played on the Renaissance stage in Vienna in 1928 .

  • Winnetou (Berlin 1931)
  • Winnetou (Berlin 1938)
  • Winnetou (Hamburg 1940)
  • Winnetou (Vienna 1975)

Ludwig Körner himself played the Old Shatterhand in several performances.

Körner's adaptation was re-enacted by numerous other theaters until the 1970s.

Variant C (Körner / Schmid)

In 1950 , Ludwig Körner himself (together with Roland Schmid ) reworked his play for open-air stages (especially Bad Segeberg ): Winnetou, the red gentleman . In 1958 there was even a second edition of this textbook version.

This version was the basis for all Winnetou productions until well into the 1970s:

  • Winnetou (Nuremberg 1954)
  • Winnetou (Bad Segeberg 1957)
  • Winnetou (Elspe 1958)
  • Winnetou (Elspe 1967)
  • Winnetou (Bad Segeberg 1971)

Another dramatization (Bludau)

In the years 1978–1980 Jochen Bludau wrote new dramatizations of the Winnetou material , which have since been performed regularly in Elspe :

  • Winnetou I : 1978, 1984, 1993, 2000, 2006, 2012, 2017
  • Winnetou II: 1979, 1985, 2018
  • Winnetou III: 1980, 1986, 1997, 2019 (planned)

The Winnetou films of the 1960s

In the 1960s, many films were made “after May”, in which the character of “Winnetou” was portrayed exclusively by Pierre Brice and in some cases clearly different from the novels. These cinema screenings were extremely successful and a real cult arose around the film series with accompanying merchandising. The movie “ Winnetou ” with music by Martin Böttcher was after “ The Treasure in Silbersee ” in 1962 the most successful of the Karl May films of the 1960s. The films were later repeated on television countless times.

Marie Versini (Nscho-tschi) and Pierre Brice (Winnetou) in Lucerne in 2005
title year Director annotation
The treasure in Silbersee 1962 Harald Reinl
Winnetou 1st part 1963 Harald Reinl
Old Shatterhand 1964 Hugo Fregonese
Winnetou part 2 1964 Harald Reinl
Among vultures 1964 Alfred Vohrer
The oilprince 1965 Harald Philipp
Winnetou 3rd part 1965 Harald Reinl
Old Surehand 1st part 1965 Alfred Vohrer
Winnetou and the half-breed Apanatschi 1966 Harald Philipp
Winnetou and his friend Old Firehand 1966 Alfred Vohrer
Winnetou and Shatterhand in the Valley of the Dead 1968 Harald Reinl

Further films

radio play

In 1955, the NWDR Cologne produced a ten-part radio play under the title Winnetou under director Kurt Meister , which was first broadcast by WDR between January 7 and March 10, 1956 . The main characters spoke:

Other speakers included Gustav Knuth , Alf Marholm , Herbert Hennies and Richard Münch .


Winnetou actors (selection)

The most famous speaker of the role was Konrad Halver , who spoke the Winnetou in the radio play series of the same name from Europe from the 1960s.


  • The German poet Carl Zuckmayer ( As if it's a piece of mine ) was so fascinated by the figure of the Apache chief that he named his daughter Maria Winnetou, born in 1926. However, she was not happy with this name. Winnetou is a recognized first name for men in Germany. In the 1980s, around 95 Germans still wore it.

See also


  • Ekkehard Bartsch: Karl Mays Winnetou - The development of a literary figure . In: Lothar Schmid , Bernhard Schmid (eds.): Caught on the sea and other stories (= Karl May's Collected Works , Vol. 80). Karl-May-Verlag, Bamberg and Radebeul 1998, ISBN 3-7802-0080-5 , pp. 441-503.
  • Nicole Perry: Karl May's "Winnetou": The Image of the German Indian. The Representation of North American First Nations from an Orientalist Perspective . Master's thesis, McGill University, Montreal 2006 ( online ).
  • Karl May: The narrative work . In: Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Hrsg.): Kindlers Literatur Lexikon . 3rd, completely revised edition. Metzler, Stuttgart and Weimar 2009, ISBN 978-3-476-04000-8 , Vol. 11, pp. 61-64.
  • Helmut Schmiedt : The Winnetou Trilogy. About Karl May's most famous novel , Bamberg / Radebeul 2018.

Web links

Commons : Winnetou  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Karl May: Letter to a young reader in Montabaur , November 2, 1894, in: Karl May. Life and work of Heinrich Pleticha and Siegfried Augustin , unabridged licensed edition for Bertelsmann Club GmbH, Gütersloh ..., Copyright 1992 Edition Stuttgart, Book no. 032/087478, p. 39
  2. Ave Maria is a slightly different reprint from In the "Wild West" of North America .
  18. Winnetou and the Marikopas Treasure on the Internet Movie Database
  19. Winnetou and the mystery of the ghost canyon on the Internet Movie Database
  20. Michael Petzel and Jürgen Wehnert: The new lexicon around Karl May. Lexicon Imprint Verlag, Berlin 2002.