Nietzsche’s Influence on the Nazis: Intended or Misinterpreted?

Essay by AmandaJean83College, UndergraduateA-, September 2014

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Amanda Tassia

Philosophy 3050

December 6, 2011

Nietzsche'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...