25th August 1900 the Death of Friedrich Nietzsche

Elisabeth Nietzsche welcomes Adolf Hitler to the Nietzsche Archives – home of the Nazis’ official philosopher, 1934

Who dares to celebrate the death in an insane asylum of this radical thinker, whose works – admittedly violated, even in places re-written, by his self-serving sister – contributed so much of demerit to the vile Nazi war machine of Adolf Hitler and his criminal cronies? Who but intellectuals with too much time on their hands would dare to attempt to extricate his incendiary thinking from below the mushroom cloud of hate that it helped to create, indeed that even he himself anticipated would be a result of realising such extravagant and remote concepts? Of course Nietzsche is not entirely to blame for Germany’s early-20th century slide into the moral cesspool of anti-Semitism and white supremacism. But his hugely intellectual writings ensured that Nazism’s absurd and medieval Beast-thought was lent, at least temporarily, a valid philosophical footing. Who dares to celebrate the death of this man who admitted “I am not a man, I am dynamite”? But who could dare to ignore it?

[Written by Julian Cope]

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6 Responses to 25th August 1900 – the Death of Friedrich Nietzsche

  1. Sanderton says:

    That is a creepy photograph. Had no idea about his sister.

  2. Gyrus says:

    There’s perhaps more chance of reclaiming Nietzsche from the Nazis than there is of rescuing the swastika—arguably a shame, as the pre-Nazi swastika was easily more unambiguously positive than Nietzsche’s thought.

    Unambiguous celebration of Nietzsche would of course be ill-advised, if only out of respect for the dead. He’d be turning in his grave to be lauded without qualification… Anyway, I reckon recognizing him here, with copious question marks, is still appropriate. If it encourages even one person to re-read Nietzsche, and discover exactly how his complexities got ironed out and co-opted by National Socialism, there would be one more person educated in the ways in which politics can hijack, distort, even unironically invert profound thinkers.

  3. John Doe says:

    One evil sister.

    Elisabeth, Nietzsche’s sister doctored a biography of him citing her as his greatest influence. She hired a philosopher (Rudolf Steiner) to tutor her about her brother’s philosophy but within a few months he resigned in digust, declaring it impossible to teach her anything whatsoever about philosophy.

  4. Tom Chicago says:

    She was a piece of work… close friend of the anti-semitic Wagner and his daughter, Winifred. She even attempted to establish a pure-Aryan colony in Paraguay. You can read about it in “Forgotten Fatherland.” Nietzsche came to despise Wagner, btw.

  5. Dan'l says:

    Indeed. Nietzsche did indeed despise Wagner, and would have despised the Third Reich had he lived to see it. He made anti-Semitic comments in his writings, it is true; but he also made anti-Christian, anti-atheist, and anti-German comments. He was an equal time – I won’t say “bigot,” but “critic” of all peoples and affinity groups.

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