Friedrich Nietzsche, the later years. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons).
Friedrich Nietzsche was a widely known German philosopher and philologist who was known for his critical writings on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science. Nietzsche’s philosophy is believed to have influenced Adolf Hitler. Hot;er mentioned Nietzsche when he spoke about “great men.” Other authors also pointed out the similarities between Nietzsche and Hitler’s anti-egalitarianism and the idea of the “ubermensch” or the Aryan race. Many articles were written about the affinity of Friedrich Nietzsche with Nazism which became woven into his legacy as a philosopher.
Christian Niemeyer, the publisher of Nietzsche Encyclopedia, believed that Elizabeth Forster-Nietzsche, Friedrich’s sister and supporter of Hitler, was the person responsible for the perceived close association between Nietzsche the philosopher and the notorious dictator.
Toward the end of his life, Nietzsche suffered a mental breakdown and gradually lost his faculties. When Elizabeth returned to Germany from a failed mission to create a Utopian Aryan colony in the jungle, she took care of her brother and his estate. When Nietzsche died, Elizabeth also had full access and control to all of Nietzsche’s literary and philosophical writings.
According to Niemeyer, Elizabeth systematically falsified her brother’s works and did everything she could – from telling stories about Nietzsche and writing false letters in his brother’s name – to make it appear that Nietzsche had been a right-wing, Nazi thinker like herself. Historians believe it was Elizabeth who created the most destructive lie of all — that Nietzsche was the godfather of fascism.
Elizabeth actively edited her brother’s writings after he suffered from a mental breakdown in 1889. She started adding, removing, and changing passages to align Nietzsche’s philosophy with her own ideologies and anti-Semitic beliefs.
Elizabeth meddled with her brother’s work, particularly after his death. Scholars call Elizabeth’s “editing” of his writings “criminal.” For instance, Niemeyer, a psychologist and Nietzsche expert from Dresden University, learned that of the 505 letters that Elizabeth published in 1909, only 60 of them were original versions. Thirty-two others were completely fabricated and ascribed to Nietzsche.