The homesickness of the emigré

An acquaintance in Wellington shares his nostalgia for Germany with Ross.

This chapter allows a peek behind the curtain of Ross’s network of contacts on his trips. Some of them were established via letters of recommendation that German relations wrote on Ross’s behalf. While often those contacts are bothersome obligations, some of them yield friendships (and useful material for writing or filmmaking, one might add).

One such case is Dr. Herbert Barbey, a German physician in Wellington. Ross notes that “Dr. Barbey’s fate was typical for successful Auslandsdeutschen. He had emigrated oversea at a young age, had acquired fortune and renown and now had a sickly longing for his homeland.” [p. 47] But the homeland that such emigrés long for, notes Ross, is the one of their memories, unchanged by time and thus unobtainable.

Against nationalist bias, Ross is full of praise for the Anglo-Australian wives of German men like Dr. Barbey; the majority of them stood by their husbands during the anti-German resentment of World War I. The details of Dr. Barbey’s  detention and the eventual recovery of his reputation is very similar to a story Ross told before in his Australia book Der unvollendete Kontinent (1930; see: German competence overcomes obstacles).

Joachim Schätz

Colin Ross. [Excerpt from] Der Arzt von Wellington. In: Haha Whenua - das Land, das ich gesucht. Mit Kind und Kegel durch die Südsee. 4. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1933; 46–9.

Topic: Auslandsdeutsche
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30

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