Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born in Röcken on October 15, 1844 and died in Weimar on August 25, 1900. He was named by his pious parents after the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, with whom he shared a birth-day. Nietzsche would also share with his father, Ludwig, a Lutheran pastor, a deep disdain for the 1848 liberal revolutions. Curtis Cate recalls, referring to the February Revolution in Paris and the uprisings it provoked in Germany, that ‘when Ludwig Nietzsche read a newspaper account of how, to appease the noisy crowds milling around in front of his royal palace in Berlin, the Prussian monarch [Friedrich Wilhelm IV] had donned the red cockade of the revolutionaries, he broke down and wept.’1


Social Democratic Party Social Question German Culture German Unification Jewish Question 
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  1. 1.
    Curtis Cate, Friedrich Nietzsche: A Biography (London: Pimlico, 2003), p. 7.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    R. Hinton Thomas, Nietzsche in German Politics and Society: 1890–1918 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1983), p. 2.Google Scholar
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    An event which has been described as the ‘cardinal point of reference in nineteenth-century political debates’. See Egon Flaig, ‘Jacob Burckhardt, Greek Culture, and Modernity’, Out of Arcadia: Classics and Politics in Germany in the Age of Burckhardt, Nietzsche and Wilamowitz, ed. Ingo Gildenhard and Martin Ruehl (London: Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 2003), p. 9.Google Scholar
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    See Ronald Hayman, Nietzsche: A Critical Life (New York: Penguin Books, 1980), p. 142.Google Scholar
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    See EH ‘wise’ 3, First version. These two meanings of the ‘anti-political’ are expressed, for example, in Thomas Mann, Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man (1918), trans. Walter D. Morris (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1983), esp. pp. 85, 191 and 303;Google Scholar
  6. and in Keith Ansell-Pearson, An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker: The Perfect Nihilist (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 27–8. Norbert Elias writes that ‘During the eighteenth and part of the nineteenth cen-turies, the anti-political bias of the middle-class concept of “culture” was directed against the politics of autocratic princes… At a later stage, this anti-political bias was turned against the parliamentary politics of a democratic state’. See Norbert Elias, The Germans (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), pp. 126–7.Google Scholar
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    Duncan Large says Nietzsche’s break with Bismarck occurred in 1888. He writes that Nietzsche could not ‘continue indefinitely to maintain a positive image of Bismarck while condemning his creation, the Reich, and the distinction finally collapses’. Duncan Large, ‘The Aristocratic Radical and the White Revolutionary’, in Das schwierige neunzehnte Jahrhundert. Germanistische Tagung zum 65. Geburtstag von Eda Sagarra im August 1998, ed. J. Barkhoff, G. Carr, and R. Paulin (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2000), pp. 101–16, p. 13.Google Scholar
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    KSA 12 9[180] 1887 WP 884. A. J. P. Taylor agrees that Bismarck was constantly ‘balancing between the various forces and playing one off against another; and he aimed to be the dominant partner in any association. He never became identified with any cause, whether monarchy or German nationalism or, later, conservatism’. A. J. P. Taylor, Bismarck: The Man and Statesman (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1965), p. 94.Google Scholar
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    As Nietzsche writes, ‘Even in the political realm, hostility has now become more spiritual…. Almost every party sees that its self-preservation is best served if its opposition does not lose its strength; and the same applies to grand politics. A new creation more particularly, such as the new Reich, has greater need of enemies than friends: only as a contrast does it begin to feel necessary, only as a contrast does it become necessary’ (TI ‘Morality’ 3). In 1887 Bismarck had writ-ten, in the spirit of opposing the idea of the annihilation of the enemy, that ‘France’s continued existence as a great power is just as needful to us as that of any other of the great powers’. Die grosse Politik der europäischen Kabinette, VII, pp. 177–8. Quoted in Edward Mead Earle, ‘Hitler: The Nazi Concept of War’, Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler, ed. Edward Mead Earle (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1943), p. 510.Google Scholar
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    Jan Rehmann, ‘Re-Reading Nietzsche with Domenico Losurdo’s Intellectual Biography’. Historical Materialism 15, 2007, pp. 1–60, p. 5.Google Scholar
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    While Nietzsche considered Bismarck to be an anti-Semite (see, for example, KSA 12 2[98] 1886), Gordon Craig writes that ‘Bismarck’s attitude toward anti-Semitism was always ambivalent. His son Herbert once explained that the Chancellor opposed Stöcker because of his radical social views and because he was attacking the wrong Jews, the rich ones, who were committed to the status quo, rather than the propertyless Jews in the Parliament and the Press, who had nothing to lose and therefore joined every opposition movement’. Gordon A. Craig, Germany, 1866–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 155, n. 42.Google Scholar
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    James N. Retallack, Notables of the Right: The Conservative Party and Political Mobilization in Germany, 1876–1918 (Boston, MA: Unwin Hyman, 1988), p. 45.Google Scholar
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    Uriel Tal, Christians and Jews in Germany: Religion, Politics, and Ideology in the Second Reich, 1870–1914, trans. Noah Jonathan Jacobs (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975), p. 122.Google Scholar
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    Vernon L. Lidtke, The Outlawed Party: Social Democracy in Germany, 1878–1890 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1966), p. 53.Google Scholar
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    See Steven E. Aschheim, The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany: 1890–1990 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992), p. 85.Google Scholar
  23. 52.
    Gustav Freytag’s Grenzboten responded to Nietzsche’s arguments: ‘When has Germany ever been greater, sounder, and more worthy of the name of a people of culture than today’? Die Grenzboten, xxxii, no. 4, 1873, p. 104ff. Quoted in Craig, Germany, p. 36.Google Scholar
  24. 60.
    See Lionel Gossman, Basel in the Age of Burckhardt: A Study in Unseasonable Ideas (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 430.Google Scholar
  25. 67.
    Prophetic because, by the time it ended, ‘Not only had ecclesiastical power not been broken, but the Catholic Church had emerged from the struggle with its organisa-tional edifice intact and its ideological buttresses stronger than ever before …’ See Helmut Walser Smith, German Nationalism and Religious Conflict: Culture, Ideology, Politics, 1870–1914 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), pp. 50–1.Google Scholar
  26. 68.
    Quoted in James Sheehan, German Liberalism in the Nineteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), p. 183.Google Scholar
  27. 82.
    Erich Eyck, Bismarck and the German Empire (New York: Norton, 1968), p. 275.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Frank Cameron and Don Dombowsky 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wilfrid Laurier UniversityCanada
  2. 2.Bishop’s UniversityCanada

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