The Children's Book Series That Inspired Hitler's Military Tactics

Who would've thought that a children's book series would be behind the most infamous invasions by the Nazi army?

One bullet can end all the world's problems.

Weapons are the best companions to each of Quentin Tarantino's characters. There's no doubt that the figure of the unscrupulous and skillful gunfighter is the one audiences love the most. Beyond the violent and gory scenes, Tarantino's Westerns feature unique anti-heroes that are not afraid of breaking the rules. Django, for instance, shows us that love can be our main source of strength, as well as how it can  lead us to change our reality and pursue our goals. In order to rescue his wife, he becomes a fearsome man whose sole presence provokes a mixture of emotions, ranging from confusion to fear.

In Westerns, gunslingers have earned the love of the audience through their intensity, bravery, and charisma. Tarantino continues to use this genre to show how deep these stories can connect with audiences. This also proves their ability to influence everyday life.


We all have heard of famous outlaws like Billy the Kid or Indian warriors such as Geronimo or Sitting Bull.  Our love for these characters comes from childhood memories, of watching these tales unfold on the screen. However, these seemingly innocent stories belong to a highly politicized and controversial genre. Karl May, a famous German novelist, wrote a series of stories set in the Wild West. Little did he know that this series would inspire one of the most twisted minds in the history of humanity: Adolf Hitler.

The Führer's passion for children's stories, especially those produced by Disney, was well known. Nevertheless, many didn't notice that most of his political vision and ideas were based on them.


May's series features Old Shatterhand, a cowboy, and Winnetou, an Apache man, as the main characters. It was this latter character, for whom the series was named after, who caused the greatest impact in Hitler's mind. He was portrayed as being a skilled strategist, particularly for ambushes. In fact, many of the dictator's tactics are similar to those made by Winnetou.

"Hitler was wont to say that he had always been deeply impressed by the tactical finesse and circumspection that Karl May conferred upon his character Winnetou."
Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich

Besides the background and personality of these characters, Hitler loved to compare his invasion ideas with those that took place in Western stories. In his mind, the German people were the embodiment of civilization, while Eastern European countries were seen as "red skins." The Führer became so obsessed with these tales that he did his research on the genre. He avidly read and interpreted Frederick Jackson Turner's "Frontier Thesis," which encourages the idea of using Manifest Destiny to colonize and annihilate native tribes in the name of God. In the same way, the Nazi army invaded territories and assassinated millions in the name of Germany and their leader, without showing any regret.

Despite the passing of time, the wicked mind of the dictator is still interesting to analize. If you're interested in the odd practices and ideas of Hitler and the Nazi party, take a look at these:
The Musical Soundtrack of The Nazi Concentration Camps
Hitler, Cocaine, And Meth: The Nazi Euphoria At Its Peak

The Daily Beast
The New York Times

Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards

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