Nietzsche And His Influence On Hitler Philosophy Essay
History has welcomed many great thinkers and philosophers, offering new and sometimes revolutionary ideologies which can completely modify a society. From his rejection of Judeo-Christian morality and his commentary on the “Death of God”, Nietzsche had become one of the most prominent philosophers in Europe. Often, his philosophy isn’t fully appreciated or acknowledged because of ad hominem attacks from the insanity of his later years, and the denouncement of his work because of its association with Hitler(Solomon XVIII), which is confused with causation. Nietzsche is sometimes credited with being an influential figure in Hitler’s life, and has gained a notion of guilt by association. His philosophies were greatly misinterpreted and omitted by Hitler, they had opposing ideologies in anti Semitism, his views on race were different and their philosophy on power and Religion.
Nietzsche was born and raised in Germany and lived from 1844 or 1900 and is cited to be the first existentialist philosopher. He challenged the foundations of Christianity and presents a “life affirming philosophy”. The German soldiers in world war one would carry a copy of his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra. He had influenced leading cultural figures from different walks of life.(Solomon)
Anti-Semitism was a prominent propaganda tool that had grasped the German nation; it was one of the guiding forces that Hitler had used to gain control(Solomon). During Nietzsche’s time anti-Semitism was a popular ideology and his sister and brother in law had practiced it vigilantly(Solomon 13) . His hero’s, as well as most of the people around him were anti Semites so many would conclude on the basis of what his peers believed that he was an anti Semite as well. Nietzsche was also strongly against anti Semitism, although he was critical of the Judeo-Christian morality, one must not instantly relate the two.
On several accounts does Nietzsche explain his stance on Jews and Judaism, one not look further then in his book “Human, all too Human”. He states “Every nation, every man has disagreeable, even dangerous characteristics; it is cruel to demand that the Jew should be an exception”(Amnation.com) implying that the Jews are not much different from other races. He goes on further to sympathize and even praise the Jews, he had stated that they had the “most sorrowful history of all people”(Amnation.com) and were responsible for the “most effective moral code in the world” (Amnation.com).
Nietzsche was diagnosed as mentally ill in his later years but still continued to address the issue, in his letters to this sister at the time he was openly hostile to her anti Semitism, he stated “the name of Zarathustra is used in every Anti-Semitic Correspondence Sheet, has almost made me sick several times”(consciencia.org) the book Thus spoke Zarathustra was used as a sort of literature that they claim shared the same views. He even goes as far as to insult them; he states “these accursed anti-Semite deformities shall not sully my idea” (consciencia.org).
Hitler on several occasions demonstrates his Anti Semitism in Mien kampf “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."(Nobelifs.com) Nietzsche was in direct opposition to Hitler, his writings were corrupted by the misinterpretation of Zarathustra and the people that Nietzsche was around, they believed since he associated with anti Semites that he was among them. The letters to his sister demonstrate otherwise and that ironically enough Nietzsche had sympathized and even praised the Jews
The most important ideology to the Nazi’s is arguably their belief that the Aryan race is the most superior and has the most valued purity. Hitler arrogantly proclaimed his superiority amongst all the races in the world, included the Polish, Slavic, Arab etc. Hitler’s use of the term Aryan basically is whoever he proclaimed to be, despite the linguistic and physical similarities of close nations, he considered many non-Aryan. Despite the similar characteristics that most poles have to Germans, Hitler had considered the Poles as non Aryan and had stated that “The destruction of Poland is our primary task.”(Holocaustforgotten.com) and Heinrich Himmler had also said "All Poles will disappear from the world.... It is essential that the great German people should consider it as its major task to destroy all Poles."(Holocaustforgotten.com). Hitler had gone on to systematical kill 3 million polish citizens, as well as many other ethnic minorities. The irony in all this is that Nietzsche himself had stated “I am a pure blooded Polish Noblemen without a single drop of bad blood, certainly not German blood”(Anti-Christ 77), it seems that Hitler had missed this very important piece of information when he “read” from Nietzsche’s books. He goes to describe the lofty position that he holds as a Polish man “[…] as a pole. You would not need to go back century’s to find instincts as pure as mine in this noblest race on earth”(Anti-Christ 78) which implies a sort of arrogance that he demonstrates for his supposed Polish ancestry, which further increases the irony of Hitler’s actions. There is dispute however as to whether he is truly of full polish ancestry or not “Nietzsche […] had no proof but it pleased him to think so”(Menchen 3), but it is besides to point because regardless he considered himself one, and insulted the German blood line. He further stresses the importance he prescribes to the polish by saying “Germany is a great nation […] because its people have so much polish blood in their veins […] there were giants in Poland at the time of my fore fathers”(Menchen 2) he claims that reason that Germany is so great is because of the polish! It is evident that Nietzsche would have greatly disapproved of Hitler’s prosecution of Polish people.
On the study of eugenics, the selection of desirable traits for humans, Nietzsche actually favored the “breeding of a race more intelligent, free-thinking, and less resentful then the folks he saw around him”(Solomon 14) although he didn’t discuss any ideas of practicing it. The central philosophy of Nietzsche’s that Hitler and the Nazis had taken was from “Genealogy of morals” is the blonde Germanic beast (some claim it just states “blonde beast”) that they take as support for Aryan superiority, the Historian Kelly Ross believes that Nietzsche was racist, although in the context it can be taken in different direction. In the same book Nietzsche all notes down what he thinks as the noble races "the Roman, Arabian, German, Japanese nobility as for the Homeric heroes and the Scandinavian Vikings."(Frisian.com) He expressed praise for both Arabian and Japanese who were not Aryan stock, although what Hitler considered Aryan mainly was exclusive to mainland Germany. Hitler and the Nazi regime had omitted several important texts from Nietzsche and mainly focused on the blonde Germanic beast and a motivational slogan. Nietzsche had claimed polish ancestry and believed the only reasons their society was successful was because of polish blood, if Nietzsche was alive during Hitler time, he would have resented him for this, not supported him.
Many people don’t consider Hitler not a Christian, based on his actions, not on what he believed or claimed. Whether Hitler’s actions represented that of Christ or not is a separate issue, and from what historians can conclude from the evidence they have collected, Hitler was indeed a Christian. For instance, Hitler proclaimed that "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so." And had his soldiers were had belt buckles that said “Gott min uns” (god with us) and had tried to back up his anti-Semitism with religion. Nietzsche however wasn’t Christian; in fact he resented religion, so much that he had created the term “God is Dead” (Saugstad 2000). Nietzsche philosophy was based on atheism (Saugstad 2000), Nietzsche had a “basic acceptance of Feuerbach’s view that human beings incented God by devising of any sense of their own powers.
It wasn’t just it didn’t believe in religion, It had resented and criticized it. In his book Anti Christ he writes “Christianity is the religion of pity” (Saugstad 2000) and was “skeptical to the church and its ideology” (Saugstad 2000). One of his main objectives was to “turn the values of Plato and Christianity upside down”(Saugstad 2000), Nietzsche had believed that Christianity promoted weakness and pity, and was blemish on the face of mankind, he disliked it so much that he desired for its extinction. Hitler’s justification through Christianity and Nietzsche’s distaste for Christianity are clearly incompatible.
Hitler had manipulated Germany, to the point where his authority was basically absolute in the nation. Nietzsche had appeared to be fairly indifferent to politics he “very rarely speaks of politics” (swgc.com). Nietzsche also had great distaste for authority, in the book daybreak he states "in the face of any authority, one is not allowed to think, [instead] one has to – obey!"(Eurozine.com), if he was in the state of Germany at this time he would have evidently hated Hitlers totalerian regime, beacuse it contradicts what he stand for.
There is a photograph of Hitler staring directly into the eyes of a Nietzche‘s bust, and he would oftenly go to the Nietzche musem of Wiemeir to see the bust for himself. Sometimes Nietzche is victimized by the false premise that he himself, was a Nazi. This however is easily refuted because “Hitler did not form the Nazi party until 1919 and did not ascend to power with it until 1933, several decades after Nietzsche’s death.” Nietzsche was also not a fascist, his ideology, was more so that, his political beliefs, if he had any at all was the belief in no politics. (Solomon 16).
In other words, Hitler had take Fredrick Nietzsche and formulated his own philosophy with little to no influence by him. Their views on anti Semitism greatly contrast each other, Hitler bases much of his political career on the extermination of the Jewish race, while Nietzsche when addressed with being an anti-Semite responds with great hostility as addressed in his letters to his sister. Hitler mystifying concept of racial supremacy, drips with irony for not only did Nietzsche claim full polish ancestry, but he also insulted German blood , and the atrocities committed to the Polish in world war two would evidently not been something Nietzsche supported. Nietzsche’s position on religion contradicts that which Hitler uses to motivate his troops, Hitler claims to be fully Catholic and motivated by god to destroy the Jewish race, whereas Nietzsche shows mostly skepticism and pessimism. It is clear that not only did Hitler greatly misinterpret Nietzsche, the evidence points that he may have not read much at all, and just created a superficial attachment to Nietzsche, mostly based on nothing.