Did the Nazis feel inspired by Nietzsche?

Delusion and effect

God's death, the superman, the revaluation of all values ​​- these keywords are inseparably linked to the philologist and pastor's son Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) to this day. Hans-Martin Schönherr-Mann, Professor of Political Philosophy at the LMU Munich, now presents a compact introduction to his life and work.

Schönherr-Mann traces Nietzsche's work on almost 130 pages. He does this in strict chronological order and fades brief summaries of its main theses into the description of a life marked by illness and unsteady travel. Nietzsche's alert thinking spanned a period of barely 20 years, from taking up his professorship in Classical Philology in Basel in 1869 to his mental breakdown in Turin in early 1889. Until his death, he was first taken care of by his mother in Naumburg and later by his sister in Weimar groomed. The latter in particular contributed a lot to the mystification of the brother through its falsifications.

Health decline and megalomania

Schönherr-Mann characterizes Nietzsche as a weak thinker who not only achieved little in his actual field, philology, but also remained philosophically pale. In addition to his Spiritus rector Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), he only dealt with the pre-Socratics and shied away from intensive reading, for example, by Kant or Hegel. Perhaps this was hardly possible for him due to his extreme nearsightedness. One gains the image of an amateur narcissist and despiser of women who, as his health deteriorated, ate his way deeper and deeper into megalomania until he finally believed himself to be God or at least the King of Italy.

Schönherr-Mann repeatedly refers to connections between Nietzsche's aristocratic-elitist ethos and the burgeoning totalitarianism of the 20th century. Its ideologues made extensive use of ideas such as the superman and the "will to power" (such a tendentious book title that Nietzsche's sister put on abandoned writings). However, it is questionable to what extent a person's performance can be measured by their later dressing up. It is true that the Nazis misused Nietzsche as their spiritual ancestor, but it does not help to understand him from his time and biography.

Nietzsche's philosophy, indeed his whole person, was not cautious or systematic, but rather biting and polemical, full of exaggerations and contradictions. But that is still their fascination to this day. To complain about this seems a bit like reproaching a thunderstorm for not donating moderate, fertile rain.