Sozialistische Cowboys

East Germany's Wild West, 2008

Friedrich von Borries, Jens-Uwe Fischer
Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 2008
201 pages, paperback, 17,6 x 11 cm
ISBN: 978-3-518-12528-1 / German


Karl May didn’t even have to leave Radebeul to imagine a space onto which the longing for freedom was still being projected in his time. His successors, however, weren’t so lucky; in order to imagine such a space, they decided to import the American Wild West into the GDR. In 1956, the Indianism club Old Manitou was founded and soon followed by a multitude of others. The authors of the book tell little-known stories about daily life on the “GDR Reservation” – stories about Defa-Western and Dean Reed, socialist cowboys who had to present themselves as “agricultural proletarians” in order to survive, about the chieftain of Hoyerswerda and the Stasi “Tomahawk” file. The historical reportage follows the protagonists right up to the present day, in which American history has taken on a whole new meaning: re-enactment. Today, the GDR cowboys stage American Civil War battles, eagerly playing the role of Confederate soldiers and thereby identifying with the pride of the conquered.

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2016 also translated into Portuguese and released at Nau Editora in Rio de Janeiro, titeled "Container-Pátria: a história das casas da cobre, da Alemanha a Israel" .