Monday, March 31, 2008

Grave Thoughts on Nietzsche

Nietzsche's grave in the churchyard of Rocken, Germany, might have to be moved so that a power company can access a vein of coal running beneath it. Ben MacIntyre of The Times muses that digging up the German philosopher might present an opportunity to save him from his sister ... and the unkind ravages of history. Of Nietzsche's sister Elisabeth, MacIntyre writes that she was "a lifelong anti-Semite who hijacked her brother's writings after his death and used them to serve the cause of Nazism, leaving a stain on his philosophy that has never been fully erased." That stain is very much undeserved, for as MacIntyre explains:
Nietzsche was no Nazi. He vigorously opposed German nationalism, as he rejected all mass movements; he had no time for ideologues, mocked the notion of a Teutonic master race and loathed anti-Semitism in all its forms.
Usually, I am against exhuming remains, particularly when the disturbance serves only to clutch greedily at more mineral rights. But in this case, I stand with MacIntyre and would welcome this action. But only if the philosopher's reburial was performed in accord with his own recorded wishes and, as MacIntyre has suggested, his memory is cleansed as well. Read more: Nietzshe and His Nazi Sister

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