Ross’s defense of Nazi antisemitism

After meeting with Adolf Hitler, Ross comes to embrace Nazi antisemitism.

For the first half of his career, Jews do not appear as a subject in Colin Ross’s writings. This is true even in those discursive contexts where antisemitic tropes were commonplace at the time: in his discussions of the decline of the West (and the degeneracy of European culture), in his repeated warnings of the possibility of non-white races encroaching upon white European space, in his many discussions regarding racial differences and attributes, and even in his description of his early travels through Eastern Europe.

In the spring of 1934, Ross met with Hitler for the first time, and traveled throughout Germany to bear witness to the changes undergone in the country since this leader’s rise to power. Despite the fact that anti-Jewish measures were already being put into place, Ross remains silent on the issue (while greatly praising the new sense of German “Volksgemeinschaft” he finds everywhere in evidence).  

By the late 1930s, however, Ross has come to support Hitler’s antisemitism and anti-Jewish policies, and writes openly about his changed views. In this 1938 piece, a ten-page open letter first published in German in Wille and Macht and later translated into English for distribution in the US, Ross presents a set of anti-Jewish views that he would espouse for the remainder of his life. It had not been easy for him to understand Hitler’s views on the Jews at first, Ross writes, but developments in Germany and the US had led him to see things in a new light. He now thoroughly supports Hitler’s measures, despite the fact that “this uncompromising antisemitism has cost National Socialism the sympathies of the world and earned us irreconcilable hatred” (22). Why?

Very early in his career, Ross had been drawn to popularizations of Einstein’s theory of relativity as applied to the social sciences, which led him to reject notions of universality. There were no universal truths, values, or ethics, but instead only truths, values, and ethics as they applied to members of one’s own community (which Ross alternately identified as the “German nation” or the “white European race”) and as outlined in that community’s Weltanschauung. Ross celebrated the rise of Hitler, and of German fascism, as the manifestation of just such a regionally/racially specific truth, one which could not, and should not, hold for other populations.

As was typical of many antisemitic discourses, Ross’s ascribed to the Jews the inability (or unwillingness) to meld with the ethnic populations among which they resided. In his case, this meant insisting that they had not integrated into a shared Weltanschauung with their “host peoples” (Ross doesn’t explain why he thinks that the Jews could have remained exempt from the geodeterministic pressures affecting all other “races”.). Therefore, and this is the crux of the matter for Ross, the Jews have everything to lose by a new, regionally organized, world order. It is understandable, he argues, that the Jews would use all means at their disposal to oppose national socialism, because it threatens the universalism, the “humanism” that had allowed the Jews to exist and spread out all over the world. The new era ushered in by Hitler, so Ross, is one that breaks from the “unfocused humanism” of a universalism most likely brought by Jews to Europe in the first place. Hitler’s antisemitic measures are thus necessary, because the new regionally organized world order can only be established by opposing this “fundamentally universalist-thinking race”.

Kristin Kopp

Colin Ross. Das "Kreuz im Kreis" und das Hakenkreuz: Offener Brief an den Gründer der American National Progressive Party, Gouverneur Philip la Follette von Wisconsin. In: Wille und Macht. 1938; 6 (13): 13-23.

Topic: Race
Case: Geopolitics

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