VIEWSrnAlfred RosenbergrnThe Triumph of Tediumrnby George Watsonrnw f t f ^ ‘ l ^ ^ w^rn• ‘ i . ^ ‘ l ^ ^rn^4rnIK, ‘4m’rn*^?Srn…/•/••’•’^”.•a’V:«Jm|Me& sMwifei!”‘::^rnAfew months after the outbreak of war, in January 1940,rnNazi leaders held a merr’ meeting. Fhey had plenty to bernehecrful about. Poland had been erushed in a few weeks, andrnthe new Soviet alHance had been “sealed in blood,” as Stalinrnput it. By a secret agreement in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pactrnof August 1939, the Baltic states as well as eastern Polandrnwould be handed over to Stalin, and German officers were alreadyrnvisiting the Soviet Union to promote trade and militaryrncooperation. This was the honeymoon period of the Hitler-rnStalin pact, and the Soviets were sending Hitler supplies hernwould shortly use to crush Denmark and Norwa’, Beneluxrnand France. The West, it was clear, had blundered; the BritishrnForeign Office, which had greeted the pact with secret delight,rnhad got it wrong. Tlie foreign office had believed that an alliancernof rival dictators could not prosper or prove more than arnbrief marriage of convenience. Now, on the eontrarv, the dictatorsrnwere finding to their joy that they had a lot in common.rnThe stor- of that meeting in the first winter of the war wasrnreported in the diary of Alfred Rosenberg, Hitler’s chief ideologue.rnA Nazi ofhcer had just returned from Odessa, so RudolfrnHess told Hitler, and had noted with approval that therernGeorge Watson is a fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge,rnand the author of Politics & Literature in Modern Britain,rnThe Idea of Liberalism, and British Literature Since 1945rn(Sf. Martin’s).rnseemed to be no Jewish officials left in the Ukraine. An ideologicalrnconergenee between the two states, in fact, looked imminent;rnthe Nazification of the Soviet llnion loomed as arnhappy prospect. This, said I less, is “the sort of thing that a lotrnof people are thinking about nowadays.” Stalin might heed therncall for racial purity. “Is Russia realK preparing to change?” Ifrnit were indeed moving toward such a policy, he said, “it will endrnwith a tremendous Jewish pogrom.”rnHitler was amused at the thought. “In that ease,” he said,rn”Europe in its agony will ask me to take up the cause of humanit}’rnin eastern Europe.” The joke went down well, andrnHitler turned with a grin to Rosenberg. “And then Rosenbergrnwould have to write a report of the meeting I would chair onrnthe humane treatment of the Jews.”rnAfter the war, Rosenberg was hanged b’ the Allies as a warrncriminal at Nuremberg. By then he was the author of a largernpile of books, some of them written before I litler took powerrnin Januar’ 1933, notably I’he h’lyth of the Twentieth Centuryrn(1930), which, by 1942, is said to hae sold a million copies. Anrnauthor well protected by the tedium of his style, he was neverrnwidely read, it seems, even in his lifetime, and another toprnNazi, Von Sehirach, once said that nobody ever sold more unreadrncopies. There is even evidence that few Nazi leadersrnbothered with them. Hitler appointed Rosenberg to significantrnposts but admitted to neglecting his books. His career, inrnfact, ividly illustrates the role of the unread and unreadable inrn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn