Ross’s Austrian strongpoint

The report on Ross’s 1943 lecture at the Gauschulungsamt (Education Office of the Gau [Salzburg]) is less worth mentioning for its propagandistic contents than for Karl Springenschmid’s lengthy introduction and his cooperation with Ross. Springenschmid welcomed Ross as an experienced traveler with the appropriate Weltanschauung (world view).

Karl Springenschmid (1897-1981) was an important Austrian propagator of the geopolitical ideas published in the Zeitschrift für Geopolitik. As well, in his belief that the Great War was responsible for the ongoing crises in Europe he was close to Ross. To a great extent his books followed the theses of the geopolitical school and tried to strengthen a revisionist view on Austria’s standing after the First World War.1 His career in the Austrian Nazi circles was well-prepared by his preceding activity in fascist underground organizations. Together with writers known and unknown he had contributed to the infamous Bekenntnisbuch österreichischer Dichter (Confession book of Austrian writers), a publication that warmly welcomed the Anschluss.2 Like Ross, the majority of its authors used to be tightly engaged in the events of the First World War, either as propagandists at the Kriegspressequartier (War Press Office) or as soldiers and officers. Although Springenschmid was not a globetrotter, he was, at least since 1935, well-acquainted with the Austrian travel and film star Luis Trenker, for whom he worked as a ghostwriter.3

After 1938, partly because of his friendship with Baldur von Schirach,4 Ross’s appearances increased in Austria, where he could definitely count on Springenschmid’s loyalty.

Katalin Teller

S. Lieber sterben als unterliegen! Salzburger Zeitung: 1943 Feb 23; 4.

Topic: The Great War
Case: Speaking engagements


1 See the inner cover of Karl Springenschmid. Der Donauraum. Österreich im Kraftfeld der Großmächte. Geopolitische Bildreihe. Leipzig: Ernst Wunderlich; 1935, unambiguously stating the aim of the publication: “This geopolitical series of images is a charge brought against the treaty of Saint Germain.” Karl Haushofer wrote forewords to two books by Haushofer.

2 Bund Deutscher Schriftsteller ed. Bekenntnisbuch österreichischer Dichter. Wien: Krystall-Verlag;1938. See Klaus Amann: Literaturbetrieb in der ‘Ostmark‘ (1938–1945). Vermessungen eines unerforschten Gebietes. In: Die Dichter und die Politik. Essays zur österreichischen Literatur nach 1918. Wien: Ed. Falter/Deuticke; 1992; 113-128, 115-116. On Springenschmid’s fidelity to his national socialist views after 1945 in his fiction see Andrea Reiterer. Karl Springenschmid: Der Waldgänger. Rechtfertigungsprosa im Biedermeierstil? In: Uwe Baur ed. Macht Literatur Krieg. Österreichische Literatur im Nationalsozialismus. Wien et al.: Böhlau; 1998; 307–319 (Fazit 2).

3 See Martin Hanny. Der Geschichtenerzähler. In: ff. 2007; 2; 38-41, 40; [accessed March 3, 2017].

4 Bodo-Michael Baumunk. Colin Ross. Ein deutscher Revolutionär und Reisender 1885-1945. [unpublished ms.] rev. edn. Berlin; 2015 [1999]; 96, 99-101. See Library. See also the announcement of the referenced lecture Anonymous. Aus der Arbeit des Gauschulungsamtes. Neuigkeits-Welt-Blatt: 1943 Jan 3; 7 (2); 5. See Library.

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