Welcoming a new war

For the interpretation of the Great War in Ross’s lectures the referenced article has a twofold relevance. First of all, the military occupation of Ethiopia by Italy served as an analogy for the Great War’s caesura in world history. Secondly, the League of Nations’ erroneous interpretation of the war was another sign of its obsoleteness.

As in many cases, the prelude to Ross’s article positions its author as an experienced eyewitness of far-reaching political and historical events. In 1914 Ross returned from his first South American journey in the course of which he reported on the Civil War in Mexico. He was just in time to take part in the Great War upon his return in Europe. And now, 21 years later, it is again an early return from the Panama Canal that enables him to witness Italy’s invasion in Africa1 (albeit indirectly, from a secure shelter in Germany). However, he does not merely emphasize his timely arrival at important spots of the world here,2 but implicitly presents himself as a reader of globally significant signs of the times.

The prelude, then, hints at  Ross’s higher ambitions to integrate actual political events into a broader framework of global politics and history. The framework he has in mind is the idea of Volk ohne Raum (people without space). In this particular case it means Italy’s legitimate occupational and arms policy, which is aimed at the elimination of the spatial “limitedness imposed on her” and on her overpopulation. Drawing an analogy with the Mukden Incident of 1931, when  Japan seized Chinese Manchuria,3 Ross sees in both countries’ moves a sign for a “global turnabout”, for which the Great War was merely “foreplay”. The weakness of Europe and her  lack of a united policy, embodied in the League of Nations’ erroneous strategies (see The Blackshirts supporting Germany), will  handicap her in the “race of the continents”. For Ross, Europe needs to prepare  herself to meet the challenges of a “black danger” (see his earlier considerations in this regard in The impending shadow on the wall), the first step of which has now been taken  by Italy. The thought of an indispensable cooperation of European powers in favor of maintaining the superiority of the ‘white race’ would become the core idea in Ross’s lecture prepared for the Anglo-German Fellowship (see The war for England).

Katalin Teller

Colin Ross. Erster Akt der zweiten Völkerwanderung. Preußische Zeitung: 1935 Oct 8; 279;  1-2.

Topic: The Great War
Case: Speaking engagements


1 On the outbreak of the Second Italo-Ethiopian war see the detailed study of Giulia Brogini Künzi. Italien und der Abessinienkrieg 1935/36. Kolonialkrieg oder Totaler Krieg? Paderborn: Schoeningh; 2006; esp. 215-234 (Krieg in der Geschichte; 23), http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0006/bsb00061122/images/index.html?id=00061122&groesser=&fip=eayaewqeayaeayaewqenxdsydxdsydewqfsdrxs&no=3&seite=1 [accessed February 28, 2017].

2 This is, of course, an exaggeration, since Ross’s good fortune was not nearly like he wanted to have it. During the first two years of the Great War, out of which his book Wir draußen (Us out there) emerged, Ross simply didn’t have the opportunity to experience the battles and events that were turning points in the war. He was ordered to another post almost every time before a crucial battle was about to be fought.

3 For another justification of Japan’s violent act see Colin Ross. Vom neuen Asien. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: Brockhaus; 1941; 5-7 and 53-55. See Library.

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