South America—the ascending world

After his extensive tour of South America, Ross is ambivalent about its suitability for German immigration. Meanwhile, he has grown certain that the continent will grow in power and may one day threaten Europe.

From 1919 to 1921 (the exact dates remain unclear), Ross undertook a journey to South America in order to determine whether Germans displaced by the war should consider emigrating there. He encountered Germans who had succeeded in accumulating large amounts of wealth, but also Germans who had fallen into states of real misery (See German Colonial Failure and German Poverty in South America). The established German colonists were not a resource that future immigrants could count on, because they tended to be suspicious of newly arriving Europeans (they might be socialists!), and didn’t maintain an active allegiance to Germany; and good land, while in great supply, was extremely difficult to acquire (See The Land Question in Argentina). In summation, Ross determines that the heyday of German settlement in South America had already passed generations ago, but that, if one were lucky, tenacious, and very hard-working, one could still meet with success.

He finishes the original 1922 edition of the book with a warning for the future—one that is removed post-1933 editions of the text. Ross doesn’t adhere consistently to any model of racial or national belonging; sometimes being ‘German’ is a product of language and culture, sometimes it is genetic, and sometimes it is based on Lamarckian models of environmental adaptation (See Determinations of German Identity Under Question ), but Ross does see the ascendancy of a new ‘race’ that originates from the mixture of European and ‘Indian’ blood. And, just as ships of conquistadors once set sail to topple the “empires of the Aztecs and the Incas that had grown decadent in their timeless cultures”, so too might history one day move in the opposite direction, should Europe not consolidate its strength. The threat Ross indicates is one of reverse colonization, the notion that Europe’s civilization is in decline and might one day be powerless to stave off an influx of South Americans (or Africans, or Asians) that would subject their continent to the same colonization and enslavement (if not genocidal decimation) to which Europe has subjected the colonized world.

After the rise of Hitler, this discourse of reverse colonial threat became less politic (and, in Ross’s mind, less likely due to Hitler’s move to consolidate Europe), and this warning was removed.

Kristin Kopp








Colin Ross. Südamerika. Die aufsteigende Welt. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1922


Topic: Clash of Continents
Case: Geopolitics




Scroll to page top