The war for England

In his 1936 lecture, Ross addressed the tragic consequences of the Great War in a broader perspective than it was common in contemporaneous discourse on Germany’s crisis.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the majority of Germany’s writers and journalists attributed the overall crisis in Germany’s politics, economy, and culture to the First World War and the Versailles Treaty.1 Ross, however, broadened the scope to the fate of England in order to explain current political conflicts on the global stage and to delegitimize the politics of the world powers against Germany. In his view, the tragedy of the Great War is that the strategies of both the victors and the vanquished had failed.

Being the guest of the Anglo-German Fellowship, whose membership prominently included Britain’s pro-Nazi financial elite, Ross’s aim obviously was to avoid antagonism and create a common ground.2 Although he stated that the attenuation of “white global rule” goes back to prewar times (p. 11), the Great War marked the decline of  British colonial rule. Still, Ross dismissed as “untruthful” the new slogan of the peoples’ right of self-determination, as colonial subjects in Africa and India are not deserving of emancipation. The League of Nations’ arbitrary power politics, which  ultimately oppresses the weaker nations, is another failure (p. 13). But, most importantly for Ross, the war was not just a tragedy for the “white race”. It also caused a breakdown in the mindset of the colored races, who “until then, accepted, albeit reluctantly, the superiority of white global thought [weißes Weltdenken]” (p. 15). Europe’s loss of Asia was the greatest backlash in this regard. For Ross, the idea of a new Europe, strengthened by Nazi Germany’s forgiveness and its role as a white and anti-Bolshevist stronghold (p. 16), will restore the hegemony of the white race; and, in a rare biblical reference, he states that Germany is not prepared to fritter away its birthright for a bowl of lentil stew in the shape of concern for colored people. Ross points to the exemplary, responsible conduct of Germany in the Great War for not having mobilized its colonial soldiers against white enemies.

Ross, in sum, used a one-sided, racially  motivated, messy interpretation of the war in order to legitimize the Übermensch-ideology of Nazi Germany while tightening  contacts with  like-minded people in Great Britain.

Katalin Teller

Colin Ross. Vortrag vor der Anglo-German Fellowship (1936); esp. 11-13, 15-17. Bayrisches Hauptstaatsarchiv NL Ross 23.

Topic: The Great War
Case: Speaking engagements


1 For a general overview see Moritz Föllmer; Rüdiger Graf; Per Leo. Die Kultur der Krise in der Weimarer Republik. In: Moritz Föllmer; Rüdiger Graf eds. Die “Krise” der Weimarer Republik. Zur Kritik eines Deutungsmusters. Frankfurt am Main: Campus; 2005; 9-41.

2 See also The Anglo-German Fellowship.

Scroll to page top