Ross’s keywords for ex-colonists

This review by Hans Reepen, a critic “of the elitist colonial movement” (Michael Schubert), gives an idea of why Ross was barred from the ‘official’ circles of German colonial policy.

One of the very few occasions when Ross was publicly acknowledged in these circles was when he received an invitation from the relatively young Gesellschaft für koloniale Erneuerung (Association for Colonial Renewal), which was founded in 1926 and consisted mainly of former members of the colonial administration).1 According to the referenced review Ross reported on his African journey, prognosticated about global political developments, and made suggestions for future German colonial policies. Reviewer Reepen, although welcoming the openness of the association to an ‘outsider’,2 objected to two major points in Ross’s presentation. Firstly, he found Ross’s vaguely argued scenario of the emergence of an educated class among Africa’s black population hardly convincing. Secondly, Reepen reproached Ross for not being aware of basic demographic data on Asia, which led him to dismiss the alleged ‘threat’ that Asia posed to Europe and its plans to re-colonize Africa. Furthermore, he took the opportunity to outline his own position, viz. that the Soviet Union could be a cooperative partner in Germany’s colonial strivings  as long as the ‘West’ would stick to the conditions of the Versailles Treaty. Only eight years before Ross would probably have agreed on this option (see Informing the Chilean Auslandsdeutsche (Germans abroad)). But here, as in his book, he confined himself to loose formulas about Germany’s expedient foreign policy.

Inviting the ‘non-professional’ Ross to deliver this lecture might have been linked to Ross’s revolutionary past.3 But it may also have been an attempt by the Association to improve its public image with a popular figure as Ross, whose African reports and, in particular, his 1927 film Die erwachende Sphinx, were widely discussed.

Katalin Teller

Hans Reepen. Kritik an Colin Ross. Afrika-Nachrichten (Leipzig). 1928 Feb 1; (Nr. 3): [n.d.].

Topic: Colonialism
Case: Speaking engagements


1 See Dirk van Laak. Über alles in der Welt. Deutscher Imperialismus im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. München: Beck; 2005, 109. For a short introduction regarding the “traditional” colonial organizations in Germany see Die Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft, [accessed Feb 14, 2017].

2 For the ideological and organizational changes pertaining to the Gesellschaft für koloniale Erneuerung in the late 1920s see Michael Schubert. Der schwarze Fremde: das Bild des Schwarzafrikaners in der parlamentarischen und publizistischen Kolonialdiskussion in Deutschland von den 1870er bis in die 1930er Jahre. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner; 2003; 350-351.

3 See Bodo-Michael Baumunk. Colin Ross. Ein deutscher Revolutionär und Reisender 1885-1945. Rev. edn. Berlin; 2015; 31-42. See Library.

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