Racial tensions as an argument for new global politics

The report of the liberal Hamburger Nachrichten on the Hamburg premiere of Die erwachende Sphinx stresses the necessity of rethinking global politics in view of the awakening of Africa’s black population.

The modestly enthusiastic reviewer of the premiere screening, which hosted local celebrities,1 adapts the term weltpolitischer Film (global political film) of production company Ufa’s press release, a term apparently used for the first time.2 For the author, Die erwachende Sphinx is an excellent example of a film focused on a central question, viz. the racial tensions spreading over Africa as a result of the advances of the black population in education, in technical know-how, and in social standing. However, the notion of “global”, it said, needed to be reconsidered, as it was explicitly limited to Germany’s future policies, which in this context primarily meant the reconsideration of its colonial strategy. In this metonymical understanding of Germany’s activities on the global stage one can detect the core idea of the geopolitical school with which Ross cultivated close contacts through his numerous publications in Zeitschrift für Geopolitik, particularly after his return from Africa.

One more aspect of this lecture’s media design deserves the reader’s attention: the journalist of the Hamburger Nachrichten, like a number of his colleagues who wrote about the film’s premiere elsewhere in Germany, stressed the coherence of the film and its accompanying lecture. At the time this desired balance between vivid images and verbal explanations was intensely discussed with regard to the genre of the Kulturfilm (education film).3 In this case Ross apparently had met their expectations.

Katalin Teller

Ku. Die erwachende Sphinx. Hamburger Nachrichten: 1927 Aug 12; 136 (375) Morgen-Ausgabe; [16].

Topic: Race
Case: Speaking engagements


1 See the correspondence on admission tickets in Konvolut Bstd. 135-1I-IV-/5012 (Staatliche Pressestelle), Staatsarchiv Hamburg.

2 See for instance Anonymous. Ein weltpolitischer Film. Hamburger Anzeiger: 1927 Jul 26; 40, (172); [8]. See Library. It became the subtitle of Ross’s 1940 film Das neue Asien.

3 See especially for Die erwachende Sphinx P. H. Die erwachende Sphinx. Der Bildwart. Blätter für die Volksbildung: 1928 Jan; 6 (H. 1); 56-57.

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