Biography: Friedrick Wilhelm Nietzsche

Friedrick Wilhelm Nietzsche was the German philosopher who developed the idea of overmen obeying their will for power. He believed men are dominated by a will for power over self and creative mastery. They should obey this will for power regardless of the consequences to other. Some men are naturaly stronger than other men and they should be allowed to trample over all others who are weaker than them. Supermen is Nietzsche's term name for those strong men. He believed that the universe is hostile to man, and that natural disasters like earthquackes occur without regard for men fates. He critcized Christian hope for higher state of being after death as compensations for failures in this life. He considers Buddhism 100 time more honest than Christianity. He detest the military and polical power of the young German Empire.

Friedrick Wilhelm Nietzsche was born in Röcken Saxony, Prussia (now Germany) on October 15, 1844 about 10:00 AM. This date was the 49th birthday of the Prussian King, Friedrick Wilhelm IV. Nietzsche was name after the king. His father was Karl Ludwig Nietzsche. His father and both of his grandfathers were Protestant ministers. The King was impressed with Karl tutoring of the Duke of Saxe-Altenburg and bestowed the parish in Röcken. His mother was Franziska Nietzsche. His paternal grandfather, Friedrick August Ludwig Nietzsche was a distinguished Protestant scholar.
His father died from epilepsy on July 30, 1849 when he was only 4 year old.

His mother move the family to Naumburg.

Nietzsche ended his primary education from the local elementary school and begins his secondary education at a private preparatory school and later transfer to Naumberg Domgymnasium (Cathedral high school).

Sever headaches and pain in eyes cause him to be absent from school.

He begins his education at Schulpforta. It is Germany's most famous Protestant boarding school and was established during Reformation in a former Cistercian monastery.

Nietzsche enter University of Bonn to studies classical philology and theology. When he enrolled in the University he had plans to become a pastor, but he started his rebellion of God.existence at Bonn.

He quit theology studies and begin to studies classical philology at University of Leipzig.

Nietzsche found in a second hand bookstore "World as Will and Idea" by Arthur Schopenhauer who was a noted German philosopher of pesssimism. The book was Schopenhauer main work. Schopenhauer's interpretation of reality in terms of nonrational will of man that operates blindly in a godless world that man can never control or understand with endless strugglinges and suffering for no purpose.

He had his first classical philology publication. He enters mandatory military service in a cavalry company on October 9.

Chest injury from riding accident in March leads to discharge from military on October 15. He had his first meeting with Richard Wagner in Leipzig in November.

Nietzsche recieved his doctorate degree without the customary examination on the strength of his teacher recommendation who propheisied Nietzsche if God grant he lives long enough will stand in the front rank of German philology.

He became a professor of classical philology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Being a civil servant in the state educational system, he became a Swiss subject.

His professorship regularized as full Ordinary Professor. Nietzsche requested permission from Switzerland to enlist in the Prussian army during the Franco-Prussian War. Since the Swiss did not want to appear support either side, He was allowed to enlist as a medical orderly in the Prussian Army. He contracted diphtheria and dysentery while tending the sick and wounded. He begin friendship Franz Overbeck, church historian and atheist.

The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music is published on January 1. This is his first book. Citics strongly attacked this book. The violent controversy from its first publication permanently damaged Nietzsche's credentials as an university instructor. The book was against the old conventional view of the ancient Greeks as harmonious, optimistic and cheerful. Nietzsche wrote that 600 BC Greek were very pessimism and distrusted life.

Wagner and his wife Cosima were enchanted by the book. Rohda and Overbeck appreciated the book.

This was the last year of tolerable health for Nietzsche.

Thougths out of Season I is published. This Nietzsche's work is an attack on David F. Strauss's 'The Old and the new Belief'.He begins friendship with Paul Rée. Rée was a writer of psychology.

Thoughts out of Season, II: "The Use and Disadvantage of History for Life" and Thoughts out of Season III: "Schopenhauer as Educator" are published.

He begins friendship with young musician, Peter Gast( Heinrich Köselitz). Gast write dictation from Nietzsche and edited Nietzsche's illegible manuscripts for the press.

Thougths out of Season, IV: "Richard Wagner in Bayreuth" is published. He starts one year sick leave on October 15. He meet the Wagner in Sorrento. He finds Wagner faking Christian convictions for favorable dealing with Germany's ruling powers. The ruling powers had become pious. This was his last meeting with Wagner.

Human, All-Too-Human: A Book for Free Spirits is published.

Poor health from severe eye and brain affliction forced him to resigned from the University with a pension on June 14. He lacked the energy to teach or write. He lived at several health resorts in Italy and Switzerland until January 1889, when he collapsed in the street of Turin Italy.

Human, All-Too-Human: II "The Wanderer and His Shadow" is published.

The Dawn (or The Aurora): Thoughts on Moral Prejudices is published.

The Gay Science (or, The Joyous Science) is published. This is Nietzsche's first book to pronounced that "God is dead" for the first time.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra part one and two is published. Each part was composed in about ten days. Wagner dies on February 13.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra part 3 is published. It was composed in about ten days.

The Fourth and Last Part of Thus Spoke Zarathustra is published privately. Forty were printed but only seven copies distributed to friend.

Beyond Good and Evil is published. Nietzsche buy back the copyright of his previous from inept publisher Ernst Schmeitzner. Except for Thoughts out of Season, Nietzsche writes new introduction for them.


Toward a Genealogy of Morals is published. Nietzsche said in November 26 letter to Brandes that "I was obliged to give up my rigths as a German subject, since as an officer (Horse Artilley) I should have been called up too frequently and my academic duties would have been interfered with."

The Wagner Case: A Musician's Problem is published. The Antichrist: A Curse upon Christianity; The Dionysos Dithyrambs; The Twilght of the Idols; and Ecce Homo are written, but will be all published after his mental breakdown in 1889.

Nietzsche collapsed in the street of Turin Italy on January 3. He had blacked out. When he awaken, he was insane and totally lost his intelligence. The insanity was probably due to an early syphilitic infection. His friend Franz Overbeck collected and return Nietzsche to Basel a day later. He enter a clinic in Basel on January 10. He was transfer to a asylum in Jena on January 17. Twiligth of the Idols is published in Janauary.

Franziska Nietzsche takes her son to her home in Naumberg to takes care of him. Elisaberth return from Paraguary.

Nietzsche's family delays the first public edition of the Fourth Part of Zarathustra. They feared that this work would be confiscated on blasphemy indictment. Nietzsche is totally unware of the incident.

The Fourth Part of Zarathustra is published without any confiscation.

Elisabeth obtains all rights to Nietzsche's written works.

Nietzsche's mother died, and Elisabeth takes Nietzsche to her home in Weimar.

Nietzsche died on August 25, 1900.

Elisabeth publishes over 400 of his notes in Volume XV of his collected works with the title The Will to Power. Many of the notes were used in earlier works.

Elisabeth merge 200 pages additional material from The Will to Power in the last volume of her biography, The Life of Friedrich Nietzsche.

First edition of Ecce Homo is published.

Starting with the 1910 edition of collected works Volume XV, a completely revised version of The Will to Power using 1067 notes is published.

He was close friend of the composer Richard Wagner. Around 1879 he became a strong opponent of Wagner in art and philosopy. He was disgusted by Wagner nationlism and by Wagner anti Semitism.

Nietzshce sister's huband was Bernard Förster who was a failed schoolmaster and a notorious anti Semite. Nietzsche despised him as a man and views. Förster set up a Aryan race colony named Nueva Germania in Paraguay with poor yeoman farmers from Saxony. Förster deceived them and committed suicide. Some trace of Nueva Germania still exist in Paraguay livig like the local Indians. Thier blond hair is only notable difference from the local Indians.

His sister in her old age regarded Hitler as the embodiment of a Nietzschean superman.


Friedrick Nietzsche (George Brandes), Reprint of 1914 edition, Haskell House Publishers Ltd, New York, 1972

Nietzsche: A Biographical Introduction (Janko Lavrin), Charles Scribner's Son, 1972

The Portable Nietzsche (Walter Kaufmann), New York, Viking Press, 1954

What Nietzsche Really Said (Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins), Schocken Books, New York

Friedrich Nietzsche (Joseph Peter Stern), Penguin Books, 1989

Copyright (c) 2000 by
Burton Craddock
Last update: December 20, 2000