The stab-in-the-back myth as identification for Auslandsdeutsche

A central figure of the German community in Chile refutes Ross’s pro-Soviet statements by introducing components of the right-wing inspired Dolchstoßlegende (stab-in-the-back myth) into his comment on Ross’s lecture (see also Informing the Chilean Auslandsdeutsche (Germans abroad).

The fierce patriotism with which the Chilean Auslandsdeutsche supported imperial Germany (“this powerful organization which entered the war uncorruptedly”) is reinforced by what they perceive as the undeserved fate that the “subversive activities” of the socialist and democratic “comrades” of the Spartacus League and their press organs have brought upon the country.1 Oestreich’s claims reiterate the by then extremely popular idea of Germany’s having been “stabbed in the back”, i.e. by the pacifist propaganda of social democrats and communists (the first pleading for parliamentarianism, the latter for a revolution to rebuild the country). Even if putting the blame on Jews was only one of the elements (albeit not required) in this reasoning, Oestreich makes no secret of his anti-Semitic sentiments when he mentions Oskar Cohn, a politician of the USPD (Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany), and his Soviet connections. Meanwhile, Ross appears to him not only as a politically “inept” and/or manipulative mouthpiece of antimonarchist propaganda, who tries to defend the inevitability of the “shameful” Versailles treaties, but also as an unashamed Bolshevist propagandist for a one-sided and fatal foreign policy. For this reason, Oestreich calls for Ross’s prosecution. He also speaks about his own hopes concerning the conflicts among the allied forces. These tensions would support Germany’s resurrection to a global power, which was a common political vision of the right in the early 1920s.2

Katalin Teller

Dr. Paul Oestreich. Eine Erwiderung. Deutsche Zeitung für Chile: 1920 Apr 14; 11 (2680); 2. Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart. Aus Bestand Q ½ (Nachlass Dr. Conrad Haußmann), Sign. Q 1/2 Bü 8

Topic: Auslandsdeutsche
Case: Speaking engagements


1 For a detailed account of the long history of the legend see Boris Barth. Dolchstoßlegenden und politische Desintegration. Das Trauma der deutschen Niederlage im Ersten Weltkrieg 1914–1933. Düsseldorf: Droste; 2003.

2 For an elaborate description of the ideological and historical orientations of the German community in Chile with a note on Ross, see Stefan H. Rinke. "Der letzte freie Kontinent". Deutsche Lateinamerikapolitik im Zeichen transnationaler Beziehungen, 1918-1933. Bd. 1. Stuttgart: Heinz; 1996 (Historamericana 1); 367-412; on Ross see 393-395.

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