Preferring the spoken word
The referenced recording attests both to Ross’s well-developed self-marketing strategy and to his image in popular media.
The radio conversation1 took place on the occasion of Ross’s lecture visit to Stuttgart, the city of Auslandsdeutsche (Germans abroad), as the anonymous interviewer put it (this epithet referred to its being officially awarded the title “Stadt der Auslandsdeutschen” by Hitler in August 1936, as Stuttgart was the seat of the Deutsches Auslands-Institut [German Foreign Institute] since 1917).2 Ross is introduced as a public figure and promoter of Deutschtum among Germans abroad as well as a fearless, “hard-boiled” traveler. Ross’s recent eyewitness reports of the Spanish Civil War, the interviewer suggests, might tempt him to expand on the scheduled lecture—in a “hopefully packed” hall—and talk about currents events in Spain. Furthermore, the interviewer mentions Ross’s numerous lead articles in the Stuttgarter NS-Kurier, one of the official organs of the NSDAP that regularly published Ross’s pro-Francoist reports from the Spanish war theater. So the basic features of the popular reporter are captured in a nutshell: he is the courageous, experienced journalist, an “Odysseus” whose knowledge is extensive and extremely up-to-date.
Another element of Ross’s personal branding comes up during the interview, viz. the importance he attaches to the spoken word during his live appearances.3 So, when the interviewer asks whether Ross had felt fear during his stay in Spain, Ross’s answers that precisely the spoken word can convey the gruesomeness that he experienced there, yet at the same time he can also express the great and captivating spirit of Franco and his supporters. In other words, only in talk can one express the things that remain hidden ‘behind’ a written text.
Thus, Ross, as so often, reinforces his already canonical image of the bold, well-informed, and ideologically committed traveler and journalist.
Gespräch mit dem Reiseschriftsteller Colin Ross über seine Eindrücke vom Spanischen Bürgerkrieg. Around Nov 20 1936. Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv 2580018/ K000729186.
Case: Speaking engagements
1 We have no evidence whether and when the recording was broadcast. The date of the interview can be identified according to the reporter’s mentioning the acknowledgement of Spain by Hitler on November 18, 1936.
2 See Roland Müller. Stuttgart zur Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Stuttgart: Theiss; 1988; 223-234.
3 For example, in an accompanying booklet to his 1927 film Die erwachende Sphinx he wrote that the open exchanges between him and a live audience guaranteed, besides the most direct mediation of his eyewitness reports, the most productive feedback. See Colin Ross. Ein persönliches Bekenntnis zu meinen Reisen, Büchern und Filmen. In: Die erwachende Sphinx. Vom Kap nach Kairo. Zum Ufafilm und Brockhausbuch. Leipzig: Brockhaus; ; 1-2. See Library.