Oswald Spengler : biography
Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936) was a German historian and philosopher of history whose interests included mathematics, science, and art. He is best known for his book The Decline of the West (Der Untergang des Abendlandes), published in 1918 and 1922, covering all of world history. He proposed a new theory, according to which the lifespan of civilizations is limited and ultimately they decay.
He wrote extensively throughout World War I and the interwar period, and supported German hegemony in Europe. His other writings made little impact outside Germany. In 1920 Spengler produced Prussiandom and Socialism (Preußentum und Sozialismus), which argued for an organic, nationalist version of socialism and authoritarianism. Some Nazis (such as Goebbels) held Spengler as an intellectual precursor but he was ostracised by the Nazis after 1933 for his pessimism about Germany’s and Europe’s future, his refusal to support Nazi ideas of racial superiority, and his critical work The Hour of Decision.
Spengler spent his final years in Munich, listening to Beethoven, reading Molière and Shakespeare, buying several thousand books, and collecting ancient Turkish, Persian and Hindu weapons. He made occasional trips to the Harz mountains, and to Italy. In the spring of 1936 (shortly before his death), he prophetically remarked in a letter to Reichsleiter Hans Frank that "the German Reich in ten years will probably no longer exist" ("… da ja wohl in zehn Jahren ein Deutsches Reich nicht mehr existieren wird!").Bronder, Dietrich ♦ Pfeiffer, 1964, p. 25 He died of a heart attack on May 8, 1936 in Munich, three weeks before his 56th birthday and exactly nine years before the fall of the Third Reich.
Oswald Spengler was born in 1880 in Blankenburg (in the Duchy of Brunswick, German Empire) as the second v. 192, issue 93, Georg Stilke, 1923, p. 130 child of Bernhard (1844–1901) and Pauline (1840–1910) Spengler. Oswald’s elder brother was born prematurely (eight months) in 1879, when his mother tried to move a heavy laundry basket, and died three weeks after birth. Oswald was born ten months after his brother’s death.Koktanek, Anton Mirko ♦ Beck, 1968, p. 10 His three younger sisters were Adele (1881–1917), Gertrud (1882–1957), and Hildegard (1885–1942).
Oswald’s patrilineal grandfather Theodor Spengler (1806–76) was a metallurgical inspector (Hütteninspektor) in Altenbrak in Harz.Koktanek, Anton Mirko ♦ Beck, 1968, pp. 3, 517 Oswald’s father, Bernhard Spengler, held the position of a postal secretary (Postsekretär) and was a practical and hard-working man with a marked dislike of intellectualism, who tried to instil the same values and attitudes in his son.
On 26 May 1799, Friedrich Wilhelm Grantzow, a tailor’s apprentice in Berlin, married a Jewess named Bräunchen Moses (whose parents, Abraham and Reile Moses, were both deceased by that time). Shortly before the wedding, Bräunchen Moses (ca. 1769–1849) was baptized as Johanna Elisabeth Anspachin (the surname was chosen after her birthplace—Anspach).Koktanek, Anton Mirko ♦ Beck, 1968, p. 5 The couple gave birth to eight children (three before and five after the wedding),Awerbuch, Marianne; Jersch-Wenzel, Stefi ♦ Colloquium Verlag, 1992, p. 91 one of whom was Gustav Adolf Grantzow (1811–83)—a solo dancer and ballet master from Berlin, which married a solo dancer and ballet master from Munich named Katharina Kirchner (1813–73), with whom he procreated Oswald Spengler’s mother Pauline Grantzow.Spengler, Oswald ♦ Lilienfeld, 2007, p. 126. Like the Grantzows in general, Pauline was of a Bohemian disposition, and, prior to marrying Bernhard Spengler, accompanied her dancer sister on tours.
Oswald had imperfect health, and suffered throughout his life from migraine headaches and from an anxiety complex. At the age of ten, his family moved to the university city of Halle. Here Spengler received a classical education at the local Gymnasium (academically oriented secondary school), studying Greek, Latin, mathematics and sciences. Here, too, he developed his propensity for the arts—especially poetry, drama, and music—and came under the influence of the ideas of Goethe and Nietzsche. He even experimented with a few artistic creations, some of which still survive.