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East German Westerns


In the comments to yesterday’s post on German Civil War reenactors, people mentioned Germans’ love of westerns. This reminded of the remarkable box set released by First Run Features a few years of East German westerns from the 1960s.

While I’d be hard pressed to call them good, they are pretty interesting. They are pure Noble Savage, which seems to dominate German ideas of the American West for at least the last century, if not two. Moreover, they are intended as a sort of low-level propaganda, with evil white Americans looking to rape and kill Indians and steal their land. There’s Chingachook, a retelling of The Deerslayer. Apaches and The Sons of Great Bear both revolve around mining claims.

Of course, if the East Germans wanted to show some powerful films about the evils of the American military and white American settlers, they should have just waited a few years to show the far superior American film Little Big Man. Whether the East German propaganda agencies were aware of Americans’ own critique of their history developing in the 1960s and 70s is not something I have any clue about, but these films are more useful to think about how they attempted to paint anti-American images rather than a real critique of American settlement.

Plus the Indians are mostly played by Serbs, which is awesome.

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