To the Editor:
H. R. Trevor-Roper’s review of Professor Hughes’s Oswald Spengler in the May issue is marred by errors of fact and, it seems to me, questionable interpretations. . . .
Mr. Trevor-Roper links “Arthur Rosenberg” with Spengler as a prophet of Nazism. He certainly must mean Alfred Rosenberg and not the author of The Birth of the German Republic and A History of Bolshevism. But to link even Alfred Rosenberg with Spengler is something like equating Marx with a contemporary editorial writer for Pravda.
The central theme of the review is that “in all essential respects Spengler was a Nazi.” Spengler’s conflict with the Nazis Mr. Trevor-Roper ascribes to an “unfortunate [sic!] misununderstanding.” He belittles the role which the race question played in this conflict. But as the reviewer must certainly realize, it was the concept of race which was the focal point of the whole Nazi ideology. The Spengler who regarded the idea of race purity as grotesque “in view of the fact that for centuries all stocks and types have been mixed,” could hardly be regarded as a Nazi in this most essential respect. Likewise, Spengler was not a Nazi in a second essential respect, for he had nothing to do with the practical political aims of the Nazis.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Trevor-Roper’s review should be so centered around the insoluble question of “precursors” of Nazism. Such a review does justice neither to Professor Hughes’s work nor to Spengler himself. The reviewer’s assertion that The Decline of the West “was at once and finally rejected by the learned world” may, in a limited sense, be justified, but it contributes as little to an understanding of what Spengler was trying to say as does the superficial concentration on the question “Was Spengler a ‘Nazi’?”
George K. Romoser
The University of Chicago