Nietzsche, Narcissist, Nazi


Historians often 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 be able to 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). Like philosophers, psychologists and others that make a claim to science, historians 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 

Nietzsche was taught a hyper-cynical and pridefully dismissive view of the Bible. He built his philosophy on schoolboy-fantasies 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

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. 

What Germans did in World War I went far beyond civilized.4 The blame-shifting they heard from their Caesar (Kaiser) and his generals couldn’t quite explain Germany's revolting sins: the naked subjugation of peaceful countries... the barbaric destruction in Belgium and France... the terror bombing of civilians with their Zeppelins and Gothas... the introduction of poison gas...5 A proud German somehow needed to find pride in that - of course they couldn't just accept the blame for their crimes!

Consider the rebellious souls of Roaring 20's Berlin. People are naturally covetous (see Exodus 20:17, Mammon and the Libertarians), so what better way to justify your greed and inhumanity than quote from an obscure philosopher claiming to understand Christianity's irrationality and inadequacy. Honoring the Bible would have led them to shame and repentance, 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.

Honesty and repentance is usually difficult, and it's (short-term) easier to justify ourselves and embrace a Big Lie (i.e. Animal Farm and 1984, both written by George Orwell). Like 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's 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 (see Isaiah 5:20). The Nazis then seized on the idea of the Übermensch (Superman), who would build a new and better world from the ashes of the old. 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.6, 7

Nietzsche’s morality was in essence ‘Be proud of your most selfish instincts.’8 Therefore, humanity is prone to falling into dictatorships even without Nietzsche (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; see also Science Can't Touch Morality). Obviously, WWII proved Nietzsche wrong: honorable human beings are social enough and smart enough to organize against a "Master Race" of ridiculous narcissists. But this is certainly no guarantee of safety, and there is no reason for billions to suffer all that pain and destruction.8 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 Revelation Revealed).

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, but it seems to be everywhere today (see Universalism and Narcissism).9 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).11 Pride will inevitably lead to disaster (e.g. Mammon and the LibertariansRevelation 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” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, e.g. the vanity of Narcissus). 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 proudly 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).12    

 

Footnotes 

 

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. "Soon after its beginning, a London bookseller dubbed the war of 1914 the Euro-Nietzschian War. He was not only reffering to the dramatic increase in sales of works by Nietzsche. He was alluding to the widespread conviction of Germany's enemies that this thinker was somehow directly responsible for its outbreak and especially brutal conduct. In Britain and the Empire, in France and the United States, Nietzsche was suddenly propelled in the limelight. He was constantly discussed in the popular press, his name entering ordinary households as perhaps the villain of the war... About 150,000 copies of a specially durable wartime Zarathustra were distributed to the troops. Even Christian commentators were struck that Zarathustra had taken its place alongside the Bible in the field. Indeed, this very combination was a key way for interpreters to integrate the notorious author of the Antichrist into respectability." Zarathustra in the Trenches. in The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany: 1890 - 1990. Steven E. Aschheim. University of California Press.

5. "We want to demolish museums and libraries, fight morality, feminism and all opportunist and utilitarian cowardice." A Futurist manifesto of 1909. Reproduced in Umbro Apolonio, ed. Futurist Manifestos (London: Thames and Hudson, 1973), 21-22.

6. 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.       

7. Dr. Stephen R.C. Hicks is the historian who inspired this post with his excellent documentary series “Nietzsche and the Nazis” (see Dr. Hick's website, including links to YouTube videos). But his conclusion seems to be ‘Don’t believe Nietzsche so there won’t be any more Nazis.’  

8. Like the science of Nietzsche's day, his philosophy is crude, but it certainly touches on powerful basic human motivations (see Selfish vs. SocialThe Meaning of Life). Just because something is real doesn't make it good for an individual, or a nation, or an empire.     

9. 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.      

10. 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.

11. 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.). 

12. 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). 

Explore



Explorer