…says Ronald Zehrfeld, referring to Klaus Stortebeker, the legendary 14th century German pirate…
Not only is a film being made about Stortebeker, but there’s also a Stortebeker Festspiele, last year drawing some 378,000 people and including “the staging of maritime ship battles, swordfights on horseback and fireworks.”
So, what is it about this centuries-old pirate that makes him so heroic in a country that’s been suspicious of “heroes” ever since World War II?
It’s that his victims were “the early capitalists of the Hanseatic League, the organization of German merchant towns whose ships Mr. Stortebeker reputedly preyed upon.”
The legend is that he divided “the plunder equally among his mates” and also shared the bounty with the poor.
Yes, there is a Stortebeker beer, whose slogan is “the beer of the righteous.” Stortebeker is also honored with “rock songs, adventure novels and even a baroque opera.”
“Ironically, the truth about Stortebeker is that he was a businessman as well as a pirate, and given his cutthroat style of competition, probably not a very nice one.”