Nietzsche, Narcissist, Nazi
Historians commonly admit they can’t explain the horror of the Nazi mind. But if we can’t understand what happened, shouldn’t we be afraid that history will repeat itself?1
To understand the Nazis, we must recognize that academics are prone to knee-jerk rejection of the Bible (see The Many Ways to go Wrong, and the Easy Way to go Right). Historians, psychologists and philosophers commonly underestimate God’s understanding of the human soul, and His ability to transmit that knowledge to us (Hebrews 4:12). So when a historical figure known for wisdom says something as simple as "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18), they are likely to dismiss it as biased and unscientific.2
People are naturally covetous (see Exodus 20:17, Mammon and the Libertarians), so we proudly buy books that justify greed. Consider the rebellious souls of Roaring 20's Berlin. What Germans did in World War I went far beyond civilized. The blame-shifting they heard from the Kaiser (Caesar) and his generals couldn’t quite explain Germany's revolting sins (the naked conquest of peaceful countries, the wanton destruction in Belgium and France, the terror bombing of civilians with their Zeppelins and Gothas, the introduction of poison gas...). Somehow, Germans needed a way to find pride in that.
Christianity would have led them to be ashamed and repent, but pride stopped them from going there (see Universalism and Narcissism). Just like the Confederates of the Old South (see Mystery: Babylon), all of that revolting horror had to be justified in polite and stimulating conversation. Never mind honesty and repentance, it feels (short-term) better to justify ourselves and embrace a Big Lie (i.e. Animal Farm and 1984. George Orwell). As if pride is a human right, Germans found their lie in Nietzsche's glorification of their animal nature (see John 3:6, Romans 1:18-32, Romans 7:5,18, The Meaning of Life, Selfish vs. Social).
Nietzsche was taught a hyper-cynical and pridefully dismissive view of the Bible. He built his philosophy on schoolboy-fantasy and pseudo-scientific theories of genetics, encouraging people to embrace their greediness (Exodus 20:17) and pride (see Humility). The Antichrist suggests he was no genius; he just took the Bible and said the opposite.3 His books were rejected in his lifetime, but were just what the Nazis needed as they searched for excuses to justify their brutal methods. Therefore, everything they did was understandable, acceptable, good and right.
Nietzsche’s freedom from morality got him syphilis, which made him angry with God and gave him severe mental problems. His friend Richard Wagner (the composer and inspiration for the infamously brutal Russian mercenaries active in Syria, Ukraine, and Africa) said Nietzsche was insane. This mentally ill man wanted to kill everyone else to save himself.
The Nazis then seized on this idea of a Superman, who would start a new and better world. In this mindset, compassion for the enslavement and brutal slaughter of "lesser beings" must be considered weakness. Nietzsche (as edited by his sister after he died) gave the Germans a scapegoat for all their problems. It was the Jews.4
Dr. Stephen R.C. Hicks is the historian who inspired this post with his excellent documentary series “Nietzsche and the Nazis.”5 But his conclusion seems to be ‘Don’t believe Nietzsche so there won’t be any more Nazis.’ However, Nietzsche’s morality was in essence ‘Be proud of your most selfish instincts,’6 therefore, humanity is prone to falling into dictatorships even without Nietzsche (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; see also Science Can't Touch Morality). WWII proved Nietzsche wrong: human beings are social enough and smart enough to organize against a "Master Race". But this is certainly no guarantee of safety.7 On top of that, God is certainly prone to intervention in human affairs, but He is also prone to letting us destroy ourselves when we are not paying attention to Him (see Tribulation Summoned).
To stop Nazism, we must understand that it is simply pride taken to the extreme. But without giving the Bible the respect it deserves, that understanding seems impossible. Narcissism is a very long way from Christianity. In many places today, narcissism seems to be popular and prevalent (see Universalism and Narcissism).8 The Germans could have avoided their own suffering and shame if they simply respected the Bible. On a personal and a national level, we can avoid our own shame and suffering if we turn away from pride (1 Corinthians 4:7).9 Pride will inevitably lead to disaster (e.g. Mammon and the Libertarians, Revelation Revealed).
King Solomon (e.g. Proverbs 16:18) has been all over this territory. He starts "The Teacher" with “… vanity of vanities. All is vanity” (e.g. the vanity of Narcissus; Ecclesiastes 1:2). Solomon concludes with:
And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. — Ecclesiastes 12:12-13
So understanding how the Nazis went wrong is simple. They ignored the Bible, which tells us to reject our animal nature (Romans 7:18). Instead, we can embrace Humility, allowing ourselves to be guided by Jesus, who we know is good (John 10:11-15).10
1. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana.
2. Most ancient writings are influenced by religion, yet Judeo-Christian thought is generally singled out as biased. The Bible holds many profound views of human psychology that do not require supernatural explanations, and science does not require that we exclude such a rich source of influence in world affairs.
3.For example, Nietzsche’s portrayal of believers as sheep fails to explain God’s encouragement of the Israelites to conquer Canaan, even implement The Ban. Here lies the typical lack of understanding of Law and Gospel. In the New Testament, Jesus certainly demonstrates restraint and self-sacrifice, but in the end, He and His followers conquer those that behave like Nietzsche (Revelation 19:11-16). It makes sense that he is still so highly revered today, in that he crudely reflects the theology of Lucifer, the Angel of Light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Nietzsche certainly seems “liberating” from an atheistic viewpoint, but the Bible says we will simply become slaves to our own passions (John 8:34).
4. After Martin Niemöller won the Iron Cross as a U-Boat Captain in World War I, he became a theologian for a major German church. He was still an Anti-Semite, but believed Hitler's promise that there would be no persecution of the Jews. Instead, Niemöller was sent to the concentration camps with them. After the war, he signed the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt perhaps trying to represent the German people, but "the dreadful misery of 1945-1946 held the Germans back from all remorse. Because — most people believed this — the occupation troops were responsible for the misery. 'They're just as inhuman as we were', was how it was put. And with that, everything was evened up" (Victoria Barnett. For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler). It is difficult to see how most Germans have taken the steps needed for Biblical Forgiveness after either of their world wars.
5. See Dr. Hick's website, including links to YouTube videos.
6. Like the science of Nietzsche's day, his philosophy is crude, but it certainly touches on powerful basic human motivations (see Selfish vs. Social, The Meaning of Life). Just because something is real doesn't make it good for an individual or a nation.
7. There are many “What if’s?” regarding WWII. Consider the influence of Churchill, Roosevelt, Turing, Zhukov, Patton, etc. but especially the honesty and self-sacrifice (only superficial Nietzschian qualities at best) of those willing to fight and die to defeat what many still call evil. The possibility that Hitler could have won, despite his blunders, should be remembered. In 2020, the most powerful nation in the world nearly became a dictatorship, and the danger has not been removed.
8. For example Psalm 31:23, Psalm 138:6, Proverbs 6:16-19, Proverbs 8:13, Isaiah 2:12, Isaiah 23:9, Jeremiah 50:31, Ezekiel 7:24, Daniel 4:37, Matthew 23:12, Luke 1:51, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5 etc. See also Humility.
9. If Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) is the goal, does anyone think he or anyone else would be really happy? Applying Nietzsche’s own cynicism (also see Occam’s Razor), we see that he was desperately trying to get women (particularly Lou Andreas-Salomé) to worship him, despite his syphilis. Scholars note the “non-systematic” nature of his writings (i.e. contradictory — no one really knows what he is talking about) so it is clear that he had motives other than changing how people think. Sure, Nietzsche and many of his followers want to dredge up kind of some kind of pride in spite of all the (very justifiable) rejection, but no one has to believe them. It is difficult to honor those who worship today’s Hitlers of the world. They need a strong faith that God doesn’t exist, because He exacts justice on the wicked (Deuteronomy 32:35, Nahum 1:2, Romans 12:19 etc.).
10. The Christianity that Jesus has laid out for us in his Word has a miraculous set of moral checks and balances (Romans 11:3-35). Nonetheless, those that call themselves Christian, like Hitler, commonly ignore them. Every political error (e.g. The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Iraq War, The Ukraine War) can be traced to failures in understanding the Gospel. Jesus can never be fairly blamed for these inglorious blunders. If Christians simply understood love, these tragedies would have never happened (see The Number One Fundamental).