The waning Herrenrasse

The vision of the waning supremacy of the white race was one of the central ideas of Ross’s lectures after 1933. It was addressed in his 1937 book Der Balkan Amerikas (The American Balkan), as he called Central America  for its ethnic mixture.

Ross most probably worked on the book during his stay in England, where he prepared a lecture for the pro-Nazi Anglo-German Fellowship (see “The co-existence of white and colored”). In this lecture he argued for the restoration of the weakened economic and political prestige of the whites, especially in the context of the new global claims made by the British Commonwealth.

Ross seems to have been obsessed by the idea that ‘white’ Europe was doomed because of its lost or weakened colonial possessions and/or waning economic and political influence on other continents. The fate of German settlers depicted in Der Balkan Amerikas exemplified this. While their efforts  to cultivate wild or deserted areas were appreciated before the First World War, they were resisted in proportion to the strengthening of national aspirations among the indigenous population: “White skin was no honor and no advantage anymore, on the contrary.” (p. 213) When Ross speaks about the colonizing Herrenrasse in this context, he undoubtedly adopts national socialist convictions and terminology, but makes use of them in a restricted sense—in this particular case capitalizing on the idea of Kulturboden.

That races are featured here, and in a number of Ross’s writings of this time, as (ethnic) groups of people with distinct economic and political interests rather than groups determined by their genetic, external, physical, or habitual qualities, is demonstrated in the closing remarks of the referenced chapter, where Ross, in his usual manner, poses the rhetorical question about the potential failure of the Indians’ opposing the whites with regard to the “construction” works the country needs for its prosperity. Nonetheless, Ross’s arguments suffer from their one-sidedness and singular purpose of prompting nationalistic emotions. This is all the more the case in the concluding chapters of the book, where Ross attempts to predict the political development of the Central American countries as national and geopolitical categories, but fails because of the region’s “true coven of races” (p. 264).

Katalin Teller

Colin Ross. [Excerpt from] Das deutsche Urwalderbe. In: Der Balkan Amerikas: mit Kind und Kegel durch Mexiko zum Panamakanal. 7. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1938 [1937]; 213-215.

Topic: Race
Case: Speaking engagements

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