In the original version of this writeup, I stated:

After seeing a "God is Dead" writeup get "cooled" for claiming that Friedrich Nietzsche essentially led his countrymen to war against the Jews, I felt forcibly compelled to create this node.

This was, unfortunately, an over-reaction. The author of the writeup in question later explained in a /MSG that his intention was not to associate Nietzsche with Nazism but to highlight the flaws in an ethics of human greatness. But this writeup still stands as a statement towards those who immediately associate Nietzsche with Nazism, and especially those who associate Germany with Nazism, and Nazism only. It is unfair to blame any or every German philosopher for the Holocaust just because German nationalists proudly quoted them for the mere fact that they were German.

My thesis is as follows: while both Nietzsche and Luther were quoted and used as sources of rhetorical "fuel" during the Nazi Holocaust, Luther was a self-admitted anti-Semite, whereas Nietzsche was the complete opposite (quotes to follow later), making him a less valid source of nationalistic inspiration for Hitler's failed Third Reich. Many people seem to think that Nietzsche's idea of "The Will to Power" was a motivating force behind Hitler's Reich, even as Nietzsche continually complained about German nationalism and the concept of a German "reich" whatsoever. To inspire anti-Semitic nationalists was clearly not Nietzsche's intention, as I will demonstrate. On the other hand, Luther made his anti-Semitism very clear, and such sentiment fueled the nationalistic fervor behind the atrocities.

One of the best sources on this subject is The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer. The first clear reference to Martin Luther appears on page 91, wherein the author states:

There is not space in this book to recount adequately the immense influence that Martin Luther, the Saxon peasant who became an Augustinian monk and launched the German Reformation, had on the Germans and their subsequent history. But it may be said, in passing, that this towering but erratic genius, this savage anti-Semite and hater of Rome...Through his sermons and his magnificent translation of the Bible, Luther created not only a new Protestant vision of Christianity but a fervent German nationalism and taught them, at least in religion, the supremacy of individual conscience...It doomed for centuries the possibility of unification of Germany.

The author does make it clear that Hitler used Nietzsche as an intellectual idelogical figurehead, if only because he was against democracy, and in favor of the occasional war. He was also anti-Socialist and anti-Christian, even though Hitler considered his Nazi party "Socialist" and governed by the will of God. Nietzsche was also anti-German in many respects. In Ecce Homo, his autobiography, he claimed that Germans as a whole "have no conception of how vile they are..." Sound nationalistic to you? Shirer also makes it clear that "he was never an anti-Semite."

Perhaps Nietzsche's biggest influence was that he was German. Hitler was a nationalistic freak, obsessed with his slightly "tainted" Austrian-German-Prussian heritage. Nietzsche's idea of an overman probably gave Hitler some nice delusions of grandeur, but he had nothing nice to say about those who hated the Jewish culture. Nietzsche wrote two entire books on his estranged relationship with anti-Semitic composer Richard Wagner, another well of inspiration to Hitler.

But why should I try to put words in the mouths of giants like Nietzsche and Luther? Let the men speak for themselves.

Luther on Anti-Semitism (from his book The Jews and their Lies)

I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that these miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them. I would not have believed that a Christian could be duped by the Jews into taking their exile and wretchedness upon himself. However, the devil is the god of the world, and wherever God's word is absent he has an easy task, not only with the weak but also with the strong. May God help us. Amen.

"Therefore the blind Jews are truly stupid fools..."

"Now just behold these miserable, blind, and senseless people."

"...their blindness and arrogance are as solid as an iron mountain."

Therefore be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in which sheer self-­glory, conceit, lies, blasphemy, and defaming of God and men are practiced most maliciously and veheming his eyes on them.
..but then eject them forever from this country. For, as we have heard, God's anger with them is so intense that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!
Let the government deal with them in this respect, as I have suggested. But whether the government acts or not, let everyone at least be guided by his own conscience and form for himself a definition or image of a Jew.

"Gee, this guy really hates Jews." And lying, for that matter. Or does he? Luther on lying:

What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church... a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.

I got a million of 'em! Seriously. I stop now out of mere discretion. Look for The Jews and their Lies yourself on-line if you need more.

Nietzsche on Anti-Semitism

From Nietzsche Contra Wagner:

By the summer of 1876, during the time of my first Festspiele, I said farewell to Wagner in my heart. I suffer no ambiguity; and since Wagner had moved to Germany, he had condescended step by step to everything I despise--even to anti-Semitism. {my emphasis here}.

From The Case of Wagner:

Does anyone really doubt that I, as an old artillerist I am, could easily bring up my heavy guns against Wagner?--Everything decisive in this matter I held back -- I have loved Wagner. Ultimately, an attack on a subtler "unknown one," whom nobody else is likely to guess, is part of the meaning and way of my task...even more, to be sure, an attack on the German nation which is becoming ever lazier and more impoverished in its instincts, ever more honest and which continues with enviable appetite to feed on opposites, gobbling down without any digestive troubles "faith" as well as scientific manners, {once again, my emphasis}"Christian love" as well as anti-Semitism, the will to power as well as the evangile des humbles {Gospel of the Humble}...

From the same book...

"German" has become an argument, Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles a principle; the Teutons represent the "moral world order" {sound like the modern day Religious Right to you?} in history -- the carriers of freedom versus the imperium Romanum and the restoration of morality and the "categorical imperative" versus the eighteenth century. -- There is now a historiography that is reichdeustsch; there is even, I fear, an anti-Semitic one--there is a court historiography, and Herr von Treitschke is not ashamed.

So, who's the anti-Semite proto-Nazi? Nietzsche may have been in favor of war and power, but he was not a German nationalist, and he was not an anti-Semite. Luther, on the other hand... Isn't it ironic that the progenitor of all Protestant denominations of Christianity1 should be more of a Nazi inspiration than the man who dared claim that "God is Dead?"

Quote sources: Basic Writings of Nietzsche and The Portable Nietzsche translated by Walter Kaufmann, and Luther's Works, Volume 47: The Christian in Society IV, copied and pasted from

It should be noted that the site posted above presents an explanation for Luther's violent/vulgar language and anti-Semitism. Luther had no problem with Jews who were willing to convert to Christianity, although he didn't sell his religion too smoothly to them. Nazis, on the other hand, hated Jews for racial reasons. Luther hated the fact that they wouldn't convert to his touchy-feely "even murderers go to Heaven if they beg for forgiveness and believe in Jesus" form of Christianity.

1Correction suggested by graymalkn; in the original version I stated that Luther was the progenitor of all "non-Catholic Christianity." See also Orthodox Church, and Orthodox Christianity.

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