War guilt

The first short piece in Ross’s booklet about new Asia provides a new facet in Ross’s interpretation of the Great War and attests to the creation of a volatile  boogeyman within Nazi propaganda.

Throughout Ross’s oeuvre there is little evidence of an attempt to explain the outbreak of the First World War (let alone for Germany’s role in this international conflict). It generally figures as a background event in order to identify or compare past and current crises, or, if it is moved to the center, it is presented as a challenging biographical episode in Ross’s journalistic career. The referenced chapter considerably shifts this image, insofar as Ross names the prime mover.

The starting point for developing his argument is his repeatedly expressed conviction that Europe had weakened itself by its blind belief in being the most powerful continent in the world (see for instance Objecting to “half-colored politics”). Ross adds another aspect to this view by stating that this ideological and political discourse was developed first and foremost by Great Britain, reducing Europeanization to making the entire world British. As this aim had to be realized in an armed conflict, too, Great Britain became the instigator of the Great War; and, for good measure Ross also blames it for the current one (the “first real world war”).1

What is striking is that, compared to Ross’s 1936 lecture for the pro-Nazi Anglo-German Fellowship, in London (see The war for England), and similar writings of that time, how easily and quickly Ross could change his stance in order to fit the prevailing image of an ideologically loyal citizen. In the 1936 lecture, Ross considered both Britain and Germany victims of the global conflagration of 1914-1918. This taught them the importance of defending the hegemony of the ‘white race’. However, in his lectures after the publication of his booklet on “new Asia” Britain, and increasingly America, and their claims to power became the main villains, as they unleashed  a war against peaceful Nazi Germany (see The ultimate demon).

Katalin Teller

Colin Ross. Das Neue Asien und das Neue Europa. In: Vom neuen Asien. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: Brockhaus; 1941: 3-5.

Topic: The Great War
Case: Speaking engagements


1 For a detailed analysis of the afterlife of the question of war guilt see Werner Röhr. Hundert Jahre deutsche Kriegsschulddebatte. Vom Weißbuch 1914 zum heutigen Geschichtsrevisionismus. Hamburg: VSA; 2015.

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