Informing the Chilean Auslandsdeutsche (Germans abroad)

Ross’s Santiago de Chile lecture, delivered to an audience of c. 200 persons at the association Frohsinn (Cheerfulness), provided an excuse for his later arrest in the town of Temuco on the charge of Bolshevist propaganda.

Instead of his original plan to give a talk about German immigrants to South America, Ross, at the community’s request, decided to inform his audience about the antecedents and circumstances of the German revolution of 1918/1919 and its consequences. The author of the unusually detailed synopsis, Dr. Paul Oestreich, the editor of the right-wing, monarchist Deutsche Zeitung für Chile, wrote a summary of Ross’s talk.

After depicting the heroism of the army and the last, disappointing battles of the Great War as well as the revolutionary riots, Ross reflected on the political options Germany was facing. In a somewhat offending manner, Ross—who introduced himself a social democrat—accused a segment of the Chilean Auslandsdeutsche community of an isolationist, retrograde, and nostalgic, pro-imperial attitude, the result of being misled by the “propaganda of the Entente”. In criticizing the violent alternative advocated by monarchist circles in Germany (exemplified by the Kapp Putsch) and the harsh but irreversible developments resulting from the Versailles Treaty, Ross made the case for a rapprochement to the Soviet Union. He softened the use of violent Bolshevist (or, in contemporaneous jargon, “maximalist”) acts by referring to the French Revolution and the power of Bolshevist ideas, while leaving in abeyance whether Germany would benefit from a Soviet-friendly foreign policy.

The charge of Bolshevist propaganda may well have been an exaggeration and should rather be seen in the context of personal conflicts and interests. Even though Oestreich describes the welcoming reaction of a group of leftist listeners, his subsequent comments clearly reflect the dominance of monarchist sympathies in Chile’s community of Auslandsdeutsche (see The stab-in-the-back myth as identification for Auslandsdeutsche (Germans abroad)) .

Katalin Teller

[Dr. Paul Oestreich]. Colin Ross. Deutsche Zeitung für Chile. 1920 Apr 14; 11 (2680): 1-2. Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart. Aus Bestand Q ½ (Nachlass Dr. Conrad Haußmann), Sign. Q 1/2 Bü 8

Topic: Auslandsdeutsche
Case: Speaking engagements

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