Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (/ˈn/;[1] German: [ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈniːtʃə]Template:IPA audio link; 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher and philologist whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern subculture.[2][3][4][5]


By World War I, Nietzsche had acquired a reputation as an inspiration for both right-wing German militarism and leftist politics. German soldiers received copies of Thus Spoke Zarathustra as gifts during World War I.[6][7] The Dreyfus affair provides a contrasting example of his reception: the French antisemitic Right labelled the Jewish and leftist intellectuals who defended Alfred Dreyfus as "Nietzscheans".[8] Nietzsche had a distinct appeal for many Zionist thinkers around the start of the 20th century, most notable being Ahad Ha'am,[9] Hillel Zeitlin,[10] Micha Josef Berdyczewski, A. D. Gordon[11] and Martin Buber, who went so far as to extoll Nietzsche as a "creator" and "emissary of life".[12] Chaim Weizmann was a great admirer of Nietzsche; the first president of Israel sent Nietzsche's books to his wife, adding a comment in a letter that "This was the best and finest thing I can send to you."[13] Israel Eldad, the ideological chief of the Stern Gang that fought the British in Palestine in the 1940s, wrote about Nietzsche in his underground newspaper and later translated most of Nietzsche's books into Hebrew.[14] Eugene O'Neill remarked that Zarathustra influenced him more than any other book he ever read. He also shared Nietzsche's view of tragedy.[15] Plays The Great God Brown and Lazarus Laughed are an example of Nietzsche's influence on O'Neill.[16][17][18] Nietzsche's influence on the works of Frankfurt School philosophers Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno[19] can be seen in the popular Dialectic of Enlightenment. Adorno summed up Nietzsche's philosophy as expressing the "humane in a world in which humanity has become a sham."[20]

Nietzsche's growing prominence suffered a severe setback when his works became closely associated with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Many political leaders of the twentieth century were at least superficially familiar with Nietzsche's ideas, although it is not always possible to determine whether they actually read his work. It is debated among scholars whether Hitler read Nietzsche, although if he did his reading of him may not have been extensive.[21][22][23][24] He was a frequent visitor to the Nietzsche museum in Weimar and did use expressions of Nietzsche's, such as "lords of the earth" in Mein Kampf.[25] The Nazis made selective use of Nietzsche's philosophy. Mussolini,[26][27] Charles de Gaulle[28] and Huey P. Newton[29] read Nietzsche. Richard Nixon read Nietzsche with "curious interest," and his book Beyond Peace might have taken its title from Nietzsche's book Beyond Good and Evil which Nixon read beforehand.[30] Bertrand Russell wrote that Nietzsche had exerted great influence on philosophers and on people of literary and artistic culture, but warned that the attempt to put Nietzsche's philosophy of aristocracy into practice could only be done by an organization similar to the Fascist or the Nazi party.[4]


  1. Wells, John C (1990), "Nietzsche", Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, Harlow, UK: Longman, p. 478, ISBN 0-582-05383-8 
  2. "Friedrich Nietzsche," by Dale Wilkerson, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Template:ISSN,[dead link]. 14 October 2015.
  3. Raymond A. Belliotti, Jesus or Nietzsche: How Should We Live Our Lives? (Rodopi, 2013), 195–201
  4. 4.0 4.1 Russell, Bertrand (1945). A History of Western Philosophy. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 766, 770. ISBN 0-671-20158-1. 
  5. Wicks, R. (Summer 2011) "Friedrich Nietzsche". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.). Retrieved 6 October 2011.
  6. Aschheim, Steven E. (1992), The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany, 1890–1990, Berkeley and Los Angeles, p. 135, ""[a]bout 150,000 copies of a specially durable wartime Zarathustra were distributed to the troops"" 
  7. Kaufmann 1974, p. 8.
  8. Schrift, A.D. (1995). Nietzsche's French Legacy: A Genealogy of Poststructuralism. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-91147-8.
  9. Jacob, Golomb. Nietzsche and Zion. 
  10. Jacob, Golomb. Nietzsche and Zion. 
  11. Ohana, David (2012-01-23). The Origins of Israeli Mythology: Neither Canaanites nor Crusaders. ISBN 9781139505208. 
  12. Golomb 1997, pp. 234–35.
  13. Walter, Kaufmann (2008-09-02). Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. ISBN 1400820162. 
  14. Zev Golan, God, Man and Nietzsche, iUniverse, 2007, p. 169: "It would be most useful if our youth climbed, even if only briefly, to Zarathustra's heights..."
  15. Press, Cambridge University (1998-09-24). The Cambridge Companion to Eugene O'Neill. ISBN 9780521556453. 
  16. Postomodern considerations of Nietzschean perspectivism. [dead link]Template:Cbignore
  17. Diggins, John Patrick (2008-09-15). Eugene O'Neill's America: Desire Under Democracy. ISBN 9780226148823. 
  18. Törnqvist, Egil (2004-01-14). Eugene O'Neill:A Playwright's theatre. ISBN 9780786417131. 
  19. Adorno, Theodor. 
  20. Arthur, Herman (2010-06-15). The Idea of Decline in Western History. ISBN 9781451603132. 
  21. "We know, from his [Hitler's] secretary, that he could quote Schopenhauer by the page, and the other German philosopher of willpower, Nietzsche, whose works he afterwards presented to Mussolini, was often on his lips." Trevor Roper, H. The Mind of Adolf Hitler, p. xxxvii. Introductory essay for Hitler's Table Talk 1941–1944 Secret Conversations. Enigma Books (2008)
  22. "'Landsberg,' Hitler told Hans Frank, was his 'university paid for by the state.' He read, he said, everything he could get hold of: Nietzsche, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Ranke, Treitschke, Marx, Bismarck's Thoughts and Memories, and the war memoirs of German and allied generals and statesmen....But Hitler's reading and reflection were anything but academic, doubtless he did read much. However, as was noted in an earlier chapter, he made clear in My Struggle that reading for him had purely an instrumental purpose. He read not for knowledge or enlightenment, but for confirmation of his own preconceptions." Kershaw, Ian Hitler: Hubris 1889–1936. WW Norton p. 240
  23. Weaver Santaniello, Nietzsche, God, and the Jews, SUNY Press, 1994, p. 41: "Hitler probably never read a word of Nietzsche."
  24. Berel Lang, Post-Holocaust: Interpretation, Misinterpretation, and the Claims of History, Indiana University Press, 2005, p. 162: "Arguably, Hitler himself never read a word of Nietzsche; certainly, if he did read him, it was not extensively."
  25. William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, Touchstone, 1959, pp. 100–01
  26. Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini's Italy, University of California Press, 2000, p. 44: "In 1908 he presented his conception of the superman's role in modern society in a writing on Nietzsche titled "The Philosophy of Force."
  27. Philip Morgan, Fascism in Europe, 1919–1945, Routledge, 2003, p. 21: "We know that Mussolini had read Nietzsche"
  28. J. L. Gaddis, P. H. Gordon, E. R. May, J. Rosenberg, Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 217: "The son of a history teacher, de Gaulle read voraciously as a boy and young man—Jacques Bainville, Henri Bergson, Friederich Template:Sic Nietzsche, Maurice Barres—and was steeped in conservative French historical and philosophical traditions."
  29. Mumia, Abu-Jamal (2004). We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party. ISBN 9780896087187. 
  30. Crowley, Monica (1998), Nixon in Winter, IB Tauris, p. 351, "He read with curious interest the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche [...] Nixon asked to borrow my copy of Beyond Good and Evil, a title that inspired the title of his final book, Beyond Peace."