Germany’s obsession with the Wild West – 
Harmless hobbyism or the romanticization of a brutal history

Germany’s obsession with the Wild West

A while back I stumbled upon the enduring German obsession with the Wild West through a friend. I learned that on a weekly basis, adults and children would dress, gather and cheerily celebrate a hobby that seems both anachronistic and inappropriate. Yet, this hobby has not only prevailed for over a century but is more celebrated and widespread than ever. The German fascination and romanticization of the Wild West as a distant dreamscape of freedom, wilderness, and a playground for “the strong and brave”, as one hobbyist puts it, has long been fuelled by the imaginary stories of Karl May. But why does it remain relevant today and how do the hobbyists answer questions of ethnocide, cultural appropriation, and the centuries of pain and unimaginable injustice that Native Americans still face today? How much of it is harmless role-play and how much of it is, as Tyrone White (A Lakota Native living in Germany) described „the endless cycle of well-meant racism“.

We went to find out for Y-Kollektiv. You can see the full video here (German only):
Blutige Geschichte als unschuldiges Hobby?

All images copyright
of Guannan Li