Friedrich Nietzsche
Translation: H.L. Mencken


Here it becomes necessary to call up a memory that must be a hundred times more painful to Germans. The Germans have destroyed for Europe the last great harvest of civilization that Europe was ever to reap--the Renaissance. Is it understood at last, will it ever be understood, what the Renaissance was? The transvaluation of Christian values,--an attempt with all available means, all instincts and all the resources of genius to bring about a triumph of the opposite values, the more noble values. . . . This has been the one great war of the past; there has never been a more critical question than that of the Renaissance--it is my question too--; there has never been a form of attack more fundamental, more direct, or more violently delivered by a whole front upon the center of the enemy! To attack at the critical place, at the very seat of Christianity, and there enthrone the more noble values--that is to say, to insinuate them into the instincts, into the most fundamental needs and appetites of those sitting there . . . I see before me the possibility of a perfectly heavenly enchantment and spectacle :--it seems to me to scintillate with all the vibrations of a fine and delicate beauty, and within it there is an art so divine, so infernally divine, that one might search in vain for thousands of years for another such possibility; I see a spectacle so rich in significance and at the same time so wonderfully full of paradox that it should arouse all the Gods on Olympus to immortal laughter--Caesar Borgia as pope! . . . Am I understood? . . . Well then, that would have been the sort of triumph that I alone am longing for today--: by it Christianity would have been swept away!--What happened? A German monk, Luther, came to Rome. This monk, with all the vengeful instincts of an unsuccessful priest in him, raised a rebellion against the Renaissance in Rome. . . . Instead of grasping, with profound thanksgiving, the miracle that had taken place: the conquest of Christianity at its capital--instead of this, his hatred was stimulated by the spectacle. A religious man thinks only of himself.--Luther saw only the depravity of the papacy at the very moment when the opposite was becoming apparent: the old corruption, the peccatum originale, Christianity itself, no longer occupied the papal chair! Instead there was life! Instead there was the triumph of life! Instead there was a great yea to all lofty, beautiful and daring things! . . . And Luther restored the church: he attacked it. . . . The Renaissance--an event without meaning, a great futility !--Ah, these Germans, what they have not cost us! Futility--that has always been the work of the Germans.--The Reformation; Liebnitz; Kant and so-called German philosophy; the war of "liberation"; the empire-every time a futile substitute for something that once existed, for something irrecoverable . . . These Germans, I confess, are my enemies: I despise all their uncleanliness in concept and valuation, their cowardice before every honest yea and nay. For nearly a thousand years they have tangled and confused everything their fingers have touched; they have on their conscience all the half-way measures, all the three-eighths-way measures, that Europe is sick of,--they also have on their conscience the uncleanest variety of Christianity that exists, and the most incurable and indestructible--Protestantism. . . . If mankind never manages to get rid of Christianity the Germans will be to blame. . . .

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