Colonists ignored

One of the books that came out of Ross’s first trip around the world did not address the issue of future German colonists and/or settlers in America. Instead it mentioned the older immigrant generation—in contrast to both his San Francisco lecture and his article in the Berliner Börsen-Courier.

Unlike Ross’s other travelogues, Mit dem Kurbelkasten um die Erde was not a collection of partly re-edited articles written while en route and published in German language dailies, but a special format book. As its subtitle, Ein Film-Bild-Buch (a film-image book), and Ross’s preface suggested the author experimented with a new form of travelogue by combining photographs, film stills, captions, and comments in a manner resembling the comics. While its first chapter, on America, reflected both the filmic and the journalistic accounts of the journey, programmatic statements regarding future colonial activities in California and the “Germans’ good reputation” are missing.

The reason for omitting this aspect, which was of central importance during Ross’s earlier and later trips, is that the book is an album rather than a classic travelogue, let alone a (geo)political account. On the other hand, neither the film Mit dem Kurbelkasten um die Erde nor the  majority of the articles dealt with the question of German (colonial) settlements and the Auslandsdeutsche (Germans abroad). In sum, the trip and its outcomes seem to indicate a transitional period in Ross’s political orientation. Rather than focusing on Germany’s position in the world order he attempts to present global economic developments in a new, popular type of travelogue.

Katalin Teller

[Excerpt from] America. In: Mit dem Kurbelkasten um die Erde: Ein Film-Bild-Buch. 1. Aufl. Berlin: Bild und Buch Verlag; 1926; 13-23.

Topic: Colonialism
Case: Speaking engagements


1 See Nico de Klerk’s unpublished article ‘Coming to a halt’ based on his paper presented at our project workshop in January 2016, Nico de Klerk. Coming to a halt. Text and image in the travel books of Colin Ross. Forthcoming 2018.Colin Ross.

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