The Truth About Friedrich Nietzsche And His 'Letters of Insanity'
The Truth About Friedrich Nietzsche And His ‘Letters of Insanity’

The Truth About Friedrich Nietzsche And His ‘Letters of Insanity’

Trista - February 5, 2019

The Truth About Friedrich Nietzsche And His ‘Letters of Insanity’
Friedrich Nietzsche being cared for by his mother, Franziska Oehler as part of the “Der kranke Nietzsche” (The ill Nietzsche) series by Hans Olde. The Vintage News.

However, perhaps the truth about Nietzsche’s mental breakdown is even stranger. While he was ill, his sister, Elisabeth, took over much of his care. She had his unfinished books published, leading many to believe that she may have actually tampered the original material to make it match more of her own views. Nietzsche became known as the “godfather of Fascism,” but he fervently denounced things like dictatorships and anti-Semitism. Elisabeth, however, was a strong advocate of Hitler and was probably primarily responsible for the false image created around him as a proponent of right-wing ideology.

The Truth About Friedrich Nietzsche And His ‘Letters of Insanity’
A photograph of Friedrich’s sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. The Vintage News.

Christian Niemeyer published The Nietzsche Encyclopedia and, along with a team of 150 scholars, found that Elisabeth had edited and redacted the unfinished books that she submitted for publication. He said, “Förster-Nietzsche did everything she could-such as telling stories about Nietzsche, writing false letters in the name of her brother, and so on-to make it seem that Nietzsche had been a right-wing thinker like herself.” Niemeyer’s team also found forged letters that she had written in her brother’s name that date back to 1887, two years before the episode with the horse.

The involvement of Nietzsche’s sister leads to the speculation that his whole episode of a psychotic breakdown was completely fabricated. There were undoubtedly witnesses to the incident with the horse, but the 11-year illness may have not even happened. If it did, then it is possible that the “letters of insanity” were not actually written by Nietzsche but were instead written by Elisabeth and her associates. They could have been fabricated to help advance her agenda, which was decidedly opposed to many of the philosophies and views that her brother propagated. We may not ever know for sure what happened, but maybe a forensic investigation will be able to ascertain whether Nietzsche actually penned the letters.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

“Friedrich Nietzsche.” Wikipedia.

“The “Letters of Insanity” and “The Turin Horse”: The baffling breakdown of Friedrich Nietzsche,” by Martin Chalakoski. The Vintage News. September 1, 2017.