Serving Vienna’s workers instead of the Auslandsdeutsche (Germans abroad)

This detailed report on Ross’s lecture on South America and emigration, delivered at one of the biggest district branch establishments of the Volkshochschulen (popular high schools) in Ottakring, Vienna, attests to Ross’s ability to adapt himself to the interests of his audience. In this case, it is a shift from becoming a new Auslandsdeutscher to finding one’s way on the foreign job market.

Besides hosting regular evening courses in various disciplines, the Ottakringer Volkshochschule also programmed stand-alone lectures that addressed topical political and economic issues as well as scientific and cultural phenomena.1 The educational network the Ottakringer branch was part of was primarily a site for Viennese workers  who wanted to gain expertise in various professional fields or simply attend a lecture.

Ross’s second lecture on his South American journey focused on the social and economic conditions an emigrant worker would face in some of the continent’s countries. Judging from the review in the Arbeiter-Zeitung, the official daily of Austria’s social democrats, the central statements of the lecture were analogous to those published in Ross’s guidebook2 and stressed the more practical aspects of emigration (see “Rather contra than pro”). But, in view of the abovementioned interests of his audience, the social aspects of immigration and the political instability in South America were stressed considerably more, while the continent’s history, the target countries’  current living conditions, and the fate of the Auslandsdeutschtum (Germandom abroad) were not mentioned at all. What is more, unlike the Urania lecture (see Marketing emigration in Austria) the partly colored slides Ross projected were apparently meant to inform about the environment potential immigrants would experience rather than offer ethnographically interesting images of indigenous populations.

Katalin Teller

Anonymous. Der Eröffnungssontag unserer Volkshochschulen. Arbeiter-Zeitung. 1921 Sep 27; XXXIII (265): 4-5

Topic: Auslandsdeutsche
Case: Speaking engagements


1 See Christian F. Stifter. Die Wiener Volkshochschulbewegung in den Jahren 1887–1938: Anspruch und Wirklichkeit. In: Wissenschaft, Politik und Öffentlichkeit. Von der Wiener Moderne bis zur Gegenwart. Ed. Christian F. Stifter; Mitchell G. Ash. Wien: WUV; 2002; 95-116.

2 Colin Ross. Südamerikanische Auswanderer-ABC. Praktische Winke und Ratschläge auf Grund von Reisen und Studien in Argentinien, Brasilien, Chile, Uruguay und Bolivien in den Jahren 1919-1921. Stuttgart: Verlag Ausland und Heimat; 1921. See Library.

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