Nietzsche’s Influence On The Nazis: Intended Or Misinterpreted?

2406 words - 10 pages

Amanda TassiaPhilosophy 3050December 6, 2011Nietzsche's Influence on the Nazis: Intended or Misinterpreted?Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most well-known German philosophers and influential thinkers of the 19th century. He is considered one of the first existentialist philosophers and his work influenced many future philosophers. He undoubtedly had an impact on 19th century philosophy and that impact continues on even today. However, most of Nietzsche's views went against the popular and conventional beliefs of his time. His ideas challenged Christianity, contemporary German culture and traditional morality, which as a result, created a great deal of controversy. Nietzsche is also one of the most misunderstood philosophers and his work is often misconstrued, never more than with the Nazis. The Nazis claimed that Nietzsche was one of their biggest inspirations. They had an attraction to Nietzsche's ideas, such as his attacks against Democracy, Christianity, and Parliamentary Governments. They took a lot their like-mindedness towards Nietzsche from his work The Will to Power. The controversy comes from whether or not this was Nietzsche's intention or if his work was taken out of context by the Nazis for their own interpretation. Although Nietzsche may have had a similar attitude towards concepts such as religion, the will to power, and the idea of an Übermensch (Superhuman) that the Nazis coincided with, his work was not intended to be used in reference to, or in support of, Nazism and/or Fascism. The Nazis misused Nietzsche's philosophy, misinterpreted his views and distorted his intentions to further support their own objectives.One must first know a little history of both Nietzsche and the Nazis before being able to establish any connection between the two. Friedrich Nietzsche was born on October 15, 1844 in the small German village of Röcken bei Lützen. He was named after the Prussian King, Friedrich Wilhelm IV because of the fact that he was born on the King's birthday. Ironically, the man who is famously known for his statement in his book The Gay Science that "God is dead" came from a very religious Lutheran family. His father was the town minister and his uncle and grandfather were also ministers as well. Nietzsche's childhood was shaken when at the young age of five his father died from a brain ailment after suffering a head injury from a fall the previous year. The young Nietzsche was devastated and to make matters worse, six months later he lost his two year old brother as well. These incidents greatly affected Nietzsche and he often referred to them in later writings. It was during this time shortly after the death of his father and brother that Nietzsche started to question religion, and more so, God. He had a hard time understanding how this all mighty God of love could be so cruel as to make a man, who was preaching his word, suffer so much and ultimately die a painful death. Not to mention also taking the innocent...

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