This site in German

Helmut Walther (Nuremberg)

The Young Nietzsche

Revised and Expanded Version of a Lecture held
before the Gesellschaft für kritische Philosophie Nürnberg on May 8, 2002

With the end of World War II 57 years ago, today, May 8 marks also a change in the Nietzsche reception, from [his status as] house philosopher of the Third Reich to that of a whipping boy. This change was, for example, initiated by Otto Flake with his "Rückblick auf eine Philosophie" of 1946 who, in addition to working on a consequently one-sided interpretation of Nietzsche's poly-perspectivism, already at that time, worked at tarnishing Nietzsche's reputation by leaving room for the possibility of his having been homosexually inclined.(1) This change in the perception of Nietzsche can also be noted in Thomas Mann, to whose "house gods" Nietzsche once belonged.(2)

Contrary to this, in France, Nietzsche's impact remained unchanged (to this day), and in turn, Germany's generation of 1968 befriended the "philosopher with the hammer", again. By the way, Nietzsche would have been delighted about the lively impact of his thoughts on the French - he knew "Europe's flatland" and his Germans only too well, from whom a onesided abuse, and with it actually a lack of understanding of his thoughts, was what one could expect, contrary to which he higly valued the sensitivity of the French esprit (mind). More recently, P. Sloterdijk ransacked Nietzsche in such a manner for his own "Menschenpark" endeavors.(3)

With respect to all of these one-sided perspectives of interpretation, H. J. Schmidt, Professor of Philosophy in Dortmund and organizer of the Dortmund Nietzsche Colloquiums, author of an extensive, four-volume presentation of the development of the young Nietzsche, Nietzsche absconditus(4), as well as co-editor of Aufklärung und Kritik, rightfully emphasizes that it is high time for the development of an understanding of Nietzsche's philosophy from a genetic viewpoint that orients itself on Nietzsche, himself. After all, there exists a large number of texts from Nietzsche's youth, without the knowledge of which Nietzsche's thoughts (and their origins) as well as Nietzsche's importance for us, today, can not adequately be evaluated. Therefore, the following serves as an examination of Nietzsche's personal development as well as of his development as a writer, up to the beginning of his university years.

This period can easily be divided into three sections, namely:

a) 1844 - April 1850 His Childhood at Röcken

b) 1850 - 1858 His years as a pupil at Naumburg

c) 1858 - September 1864 His years as a high school student at Schulpforta(5)

From 1850 on, there exist some letters Nietzsche wrote as a student to members of his family, mostly during vacation periods; naturally, only after his enrollment as Pforta student from 1858 on, when he was separated from his family, did his correspondence with them increase. The boy's poetic and compositional attempts began in 1854. So much with respect to a time overview - let us return to Röcken, in October, 1844:

Karl Ludwig Nietzsche, Friedrich's father, was born on October 10, 1813, at Eilenburg near Leipzig, as son of the Superindendent, Doctor of Divinity, Friedrich August Ludwig Nietzsche (1756-1826) and of his mother, Erdmuthe Dorothea Krause (1778-1856); in her first marriage, the latter had been married to the Court Advocate Krüger of Weimar and, as did Goethe, experienced the occupation of Weimar by the French, and it is very likely that she knew him. Karl Ludwig, himself, had also studied theology and first worked as the educator of the Princesses at Altenburg at the Ducal Court. In 1842, on the "most high command" by the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, he received the position of Pastor in the village of Röcken near Lützen in the Province Saxony, and with his mother and both of his sisters, he set up his household there.

On October 10, 1843, on his 30th birthday, he married the daughter of his colleague David Ernst Oehler from the nearby village of Pobles. The then-17-year-old Franziska Ernestine Rosaura Oehler was born at Pobles on February 2, 1826, as the sixth (of eleven) children of Pastor David Ernst Oehler (1787 - 1859) and her mother Johanna Elisabeth Wilhelmine Hahn (1794-1876).

The Places of Nietzsche's Youth

When one takes a closer look at the Nietzsche family tree and follows its traces back in time, one will be met by a few surprises with respect to Nietzsches relationship to

1. Richard Wagner, via his mother (!)

2. the Schlegel brothers, the early Romantics, via his father,

3. and to Field Marshall Gneisenau, via his father.

Nietzsche's father is described as very talented and conscientious, and he was also ver mystical and played the piano excellently, particularly when improvising freely; his son has obviously inherited this talent from him; it is reported that he heard his father playing the piano when he was just a year old, a memory that would remain with him for the rest of his life. His mother Franziska who might just have stopped playing with her dolls shortly before she met her future husband, is reported as having been a tomboy and as having been very pretty--thus she immediately attracted to her the already somewhat stayed and formal Karl Ludwig Niezsche who was already tied to family duties and to his profession. On October 15, 1844, the birthday of King Friedrich Wilhelm, their son was born and named after this monarch. Nietzsche's father had met the Prussian King once, and there existed even hopes that he might have a chance of becoming Court Pastor.

Karl Ludwig Nietzsche

Franziska Ernestine Rosaura Nietzsche
nee Oehler

"Thou blessed month October in which, in several years, all important events in my life took place, that which I am experiencing today, however, is the greatest, the most wonderful event, yet, I am about to baptize my little infant! Oh thou blessed moment, oh unspeakably holy work, be blessed in the name of the Lord! - With the most deeply moved heart, I exclaim: So bring unto me this, my dear child, so that I dedicate it to the Lord. My son, Friedrich Wilhelm, this is how you shall be called on earth, in memory of my Royal benefactor, on whose birthday you were born." These were Karl Ludwig's words at the baptismal ceremony that he held, himself at the Röcken Church.(6)

Excerpt from a Video: Röcken (Church Interior)
ARTE / Nietzsche-Biography of May 2, 2002
roecken.wmv - 1.573 KB

According to his sister's report, Friedrich learned to speak, very late, at the age of 2 1/2 years(7); but then all the faster - and he began to learn reading and writing very early, namely at the age of four years. From his 5th birthday on, he attended school at Röcken for one hour, daily.

In general, the veracity of Nietzsche's sister's reports on the childhoud and youth of "Fritz" is not an easy matter to determine: already in 1895, Nietzsche's mother noted that in her Nietzsche biography, Elisabeth was fantasizing "extraordinarily; after all, I have witnessed everything, as well, have also played games with them, and these were, by no means, as "intellectual" as she has described them, but that does not matter." It is also nonsene "that Fritz would have been 2½ years old when he learned to talk and that we had consulted the doctor--the latter--had great pleasure with th strong boy, however, when he cold not talk, yet, as he was supposed to, according to his age, I mentioned this to him in passing, 'that he does not want to talk, yet', to which he replied, 'you are paying too much attention to his signals and gestures with which he expresses his will', so that, from then on, I did not do that, anymore." . . . "In short, the biography is truth and fiction."(8)

In any event, his sister described him as "very passionate, what he, however, did not like to hear, later on, since he, according to the Nietzsche 'family tradition', learned to control himself early on."(9)

Well, this "self control" did not fall from the sky; in the pastor's home, there existed various "tranquilizers" for the passionate, yet still "speechless" child: When he cried for unknown reasons, his father was asked to "make music" and instantly, "Fritzchen became as quiet as a mouse, sat upright in his little cart and did not turn his eyes away from the player."(10)

The second and third tranquilizer(s), probably both equally effective, are described by Nietzsche's father in a letter from 1846 (Friedrich was just 2 years old at that time!) "Brother Fritz is a wild boy who, at times, can only be brought under control by his father, since the rod is not far removed from the latter; however, there exists now another, more powerful helper, that is Christ who has already won the boy's head and heart, so that he does not want to hear anything else talked about but of 'heile Kist!'"(11)

Here, we see, within the closest space, a double and with it also doubly unfortunate conditioning of the speechless child who can also not physically defend himself: by means of physical punishment, on the one hand, free emotional development is negatively affected that, thereby, forces it back into the child from earliest childhood on; at the same time, Christian indoctrination is taking place: What impression must it have made on the little Fritz when he saw his father in his pastor's robe, as the center of Sunday worship in the Röcken church?

Reiner Bohley, whose meritous research into the young Nietzsche H.J. Schmidt espressly mentions, sees here the "principle of the Pietists" at work, in which the child's own will has to be broken so that the child can later be open to God's will. And Schmidt, himself, comments, "der Vater setzt alle ihm zugänglichen Mittel ein, um das Eine zu erreichen, den Eigenwillen seines Erstgeborenen zu brechen, ihn auf Religion und elterliche Moaral zu fixieren." (Schmidt writes here that Nietzsche's father used all available means to reach one goal, namely to break his first-born son's own will and to fixate him on religion and parental morality.)(12)

On July 10, 1846, Friedrich was not even two years old, yet, his mother gave birth to his sister Elisabeth, which, for the first-born, presented, of course, an interruption of his mother's sole attetion on him, since up to that time, she was able to mainly pay attention to this child; after all, her mother-in-law and her aunt took care of the household. Inevitably, in February, 1848, Franziska Nietzsche already gave birth to her third child, Ludwig Joseph, which brought with it even less attention to her first-born son.

At this time, even at Röcken, the Revolution of 1848 had its effect on the village, since the pastor's house had to accommodate Husars, as Nietzsche reported in his curriculum vitae of May, 1861.(13) While Ludwig Feuerbach went to Frankfort, and, in the spring of 1849, held his lectures on the "Essence of Religion", a two-fold tragedy descended upon the Nietzsche family: In August, 1848, Pastor Nietzsche fell ill with his "nerve strain" and "brain affection", which Elisabeth later tried to explain with an alleged fall of her father from the stairs(14). Friedrich himself, in his curriculum vitae of 1858(15) spoke of his father's "suddenly falling ill emotionally" and of the consulted physician's diagnosing a "softening of the brain." "My beloved father had to endure incredible pain, but the illness did not want to subside, rather, it grew day by day. Finally, even his eyesight was lost, and in eternal darkness, he had to endure the rest of his suffering." He considered his father's illness to have been hereditary and fled from it, himself, for all of his life. Finally, his father died on July 30, 1849--what might the child have experienced and thought during all of this time? God has obviously not heard all those countless prayers of his family and of little Fritz, to save his father and thus, H.J. Schmidt, with good reason, suspects in Nietzsche already here an impulse to inwardly withdraw from Christian religion.

He does so as, for example, by referring to No. 72 in "Menschliches Allzumenschliches" in which the death of his father is seen as source of Nietzsche's passionate outrage: "Grad der moralischen Erhitzbarkeit unbekannt. - Daran, dass man gewisse erschütternde Anblicke und Eindrücke gehabt hat oder nicht gehabt hat, zum Beispiel eines unrecht gerichteten, getödteten oder gemarterten Vaters [bolded by the website writer], einer untreuen Frau, eines grausamen feindlichen Ueberfalls, hängt es ab, ob unsere Leidenschaften zur Glühhitze kommen und das ganze Leben lenken oder nicht. Keiner weiß, wozu ihn die Umstände, das Mitleid, die Entrüstung treiben können, er kennt den Grad seiner Erhitzbarkeit nicht." (Degree of moral excitement unknown--From the fact as to whether one has had certain distressing experiences and impressions or not, for example, that of a father who was unjustly killed or tortured {bolded by the website writer], of an unfaithful woman, of a cruel enemy attack, it depends if our passions can flare up and govern our entire lives or not. No one knows to what circumstances, compassion, outrage, will lead us, we do not know to what extent our passions can heat up.)(16) With Nietzsche, this "heating up" would last until 1888, as for example, in his Antichrist, if it was not even also a contributing factor to his mental demise.

On the other hand: Certain "oedipal" considerations in a Freudian sense, that Nietzsche, for example, might have wished for his father's death, himself, and then was plagued by the actual emergence of a guilt complex, appear less relevant to me: Such assumptions, in Nietzsche's case, lack all concrete evidence, although from him and about him, there has been preserved so much with respect to his childhood as is seldom the case; to the contrary, from most of Nietzsche's biographical boyhood notes, his deep pain over the loss of his father becomes clear. Therefore, such assumptions rest solely on the Freudian "Oepidus" hypothesis, which today, however, is (at least ...) controversial, itself.

Rather, it would appear to me that in the "ghost" "behind his chair" that Nietzsche was haunted by repeatedly, there appears to hide behind the mask of his father "God" himself--as that Western concept of the "highest idea" that returns as a conditioned reflex--after all, ghosts are "returning" phenomena! The demand, "God is dead!" wants to, above all, forever, ban that ghost that has sprung from one's own brain that has been pre-conditioned by Christian teachings.

Hardly had his father been buried--"Um 1 Uhr Mittag begann die Feierlichkeit unter vollen Glockengeläute. Oh, nie wird sich der dumpfe Klang derselben aus meinem Ohr verliehren, nie werde ich die düster rauschende Melodie des Liedes ‚Jesu meine Zuversicht!' vergessen!" (At 1 o'clock at noon, the ceremony began, with all bells ringing. Oh, never will the dull sound of them leave my ears, never shall I forget the gloomy sound of the melody of the hymn, "Jesu meine Zuversicht!")(17)--, did the second catastrophy set in, in January 1850, that announced itself to Friedrich in a dream: "In der damaligen Zeit träumte mir einst, ich hörte in der Kirche Orgelton wie beim Begräbniß. Da ich sah, was die Ursache wäre, erhob sich plötzlich ein Grab und mein Vater im Sterbekleid entsteigt denselben. Er eilt in die Kirche und kommt in kurzen mit einem kleinen Kinde im Arm wieder. Der Grabhügel öffnet sich, er steigt hinein und die Decke sinkt wieder auf die Oeffnung. Sogleich schweigt der rauschende Orgelschall und ich erwache. - Denn Tag nach dieser Nacht wird plötzlich Josepfchen unwohl, bekommt die Krämpfe und stirbt in Wenig Stunden. Unser Schmerz war ungeheuer. Mein Traum war vollständig in Erfüllung gegangen." (During that time, I dreamed that I heard funeral organ music from the church. Since I looked what the cause might be, suddenly, a grave was rising, and my father emerged, in his funeral attire. He hurried towards the church, and shortly after, he returned with an infant in his arms. The grave opened up, he went in, and the tombstone closed behind him. Instantly, the organ music stopped, and I awoke.--The day after this night, suddenly, little Joseph became ill, had cramps and died within a few hours. Our pain was unspeakable. My dream had come true completely.)(18) Thus Nietzsche's recollection in 1858.

The three Nietzsche family graves at the foot of the Röcken church wall
Friedrich to the left, Elisabeth in the middle, their parents and Joseph to the right

At the beginning of April, the family had to leave the Pastor's house at Röcken in order to make room for the successor.--"Adde, adde, theures Vaterhaus!" [Farewell, farewell, dear father's house] noted Friedrich with respect to his painful loss of his native home, and for the rest of his life, he would not forget his childhood at Röcken, spent close to nature, in his father's pastoral home as well as his father's church, with the latter's grave and the grave of his brother--his early poems reflect this only too often, for example, as a 16-year-old, he tried to render a poetic version of his painful memories. In his poem "Abschied" [Farewell]: "Aber die Wehmut ist in dem fühlenden Herzen geblieben / Nichts auf der Welt vermag davon die Seele zu befrein / Doch jetzt brechen von neuem die Narben und bluten in Strömen [But the longing remained in the feeling heart / Nothing on earth can free the soul from it / But now, anew, the wounds are breaking open and bleed heavily] (here, the poem breaks off...)(19)

The Pastor's Home at Röcken, next to the Church

The family turned to the nearest town, Naumburg, where grandmother Erdmuthe still had connections; after all, before her second marriage to August Ludwig Nietzsche, she lived for a longer time with her brother, the then-Pastor of the Naumburg cathedral. Due to this, from the beginning, the Nietzsche's were in contact with the "better" circles of Naumburg.

Naumburg around 1870

The final house of the Nietzsche Family in Naumburg, Weingarten 18

Now, the grandmother was in charge of the small family estate, and therefore it was natural that both her own daughters ("Auntie Rosalie", in charge of "spiritiual matters", "Aunt Auguste", together with the maid, "Mine", responsible for the household) as well as her daughter-in-law Franziska, together with the remaining grandchildren, Friedrich and Elisabeth, moved with her. Franziska, herself, received a widow's pension of 46 Talers as well as a small contribution from the Altenburg court.(20)

Of course, Franziska's mother-in-law kept the most beautiful rooms; her daughter-in-law, 24 years of age at that time, and financially dependent on her, had to dance to her tune and had to make do with the darker rooms in the back, for herself and for her children. Also, in her mother-in-law's house, strict silence had to be maintained, and thus one can imagine the contrast between the life at Röcken and these cramped conditions in the small town(21). "In meiner Erinnerung erscheint mir das damalige Naumburg als eine streng christliche, konservative und königstreu gesinnte Stadt, eine Stütze des Thrones und des Altars" [In my memory, the Naumburg of those days appears to me as a strictly Christian, conservative and Royalist city, a Royalist stronghold in support of the Crown and of the Altar] - this is how Elisabeth, arch-conversative, herself, described her impressions.

From then on, Friedrich attended the Boys' Public School in which he, "serious" and "pensive" as he had become due to his upbringing and his experiences--felt lonely; moreover, due to his already very eloquent and pathetic language, he was already touted as "the little pastor".

His sister described a particular event: "One day, at the end of the school day, a heavy raint set in, we looked out for our Fritz, along the Priestergasse. All boys were hurrying home like a wild horde,--finally, also Fritzchen appeared, who was walking calmly, his cap hidden under his slate, a small handkerchief spead over it. Mama signalled him and called out to him from afar, "run, just run!" The heavy rain prevented us from hearing his answer. Since our mother, when he arrived completely wet, admonished him, he replied seriously, "But, Mama, the school regulations state: The boys shall not run and jump when leaving school, but walk home calmly and orderly."(22)

Thus, already in his childhood can we encounter that peculiar trait of Nietzsche that can be observed in him thoughout his life: to adopt a formal behaviour--in his writings, his striving for form, of which he, as we will soon see, already was aware very early. To Nietzsche, both in his life and in his writing, form served him as a hideout, protective shield and effective means, at the same time.

At first, the two children shared a room in Naumburg, which caused H. J. Schmidt to not only discuss the hypothesis of incest between the siblings, but also to consider it probable. One of Schmidt's main sources: "Werde suchen mir ein Schwans / Wo das Zipfelch<en> noch ganz"(23) - a verse from one of the earliest, preserved poems of Nietzsche, Phantasie II of 1854/55. He also discusses in detail the authenticity of the "treatise", "My Sister and I by Friedrich Nietzsche", translated by Oskar Levy, who, as the first translator, has tranlated the "gesamten Nietzsche" [the 'Entire Nietzsche'] into English. Nietzsche is supposed to have written this "treatise" in "1889 or 1890", while he was already mentally incapacitated and staying at the Jena hospital; along unknown and adventourous paths, it is supposed to have arrived in America and from there returned back to Europe, in 1951. Schmidt, himself, speaks of a "Hollywood-Story", yet, at least considers it possible that some parts of this text were written by the ill Nietzsche at Jena (24). Fortunately, he features four original quotes, and thus the reader may form his own opinion as to whether Nietzsche would really have written in this style--particularly in light of his already prevailing mental illness? For comparison, one should keep in mind the tenor of his "insanity notes" or also that of his last writings, from late 1888--yet what is Nietzsche supposed to have written here?! quot;Es geschah zwischen mir und Elisabeth in der Nacht, als unser junger Bruder Joseph starb, obwohl wir keine Ahnung hatten, daß er im Sterben lag, als sie in mein Bett kroch, unter dem Vorwand, daß ihr kalt war, und daß sie wisse, wie warm ich immer war. ... Plötzlich fühlte ich Elisabeths warme kleine Hände in meinen, ihre zische[l]nde kleine Stimme in meinem Ohr, und ich fing an, mich überall warm zu fühlen." [It happened between me and Elisabeth in that night as our young brother Joseph died, althoug we had no idea that he was dying, when she crawled into my bed, under the pretext, that she was cold, and that she knew that I was always warm . . . Suddenly, I felt Elisabeth's little hands in mine, her hissing little voice in my ear, and I began to feel warm all over]

"Ich liebte und grollte zugleich [über] diesen Reichtum an Wärme, den Elisabeth mir brachte, in diesen unerwarteten Stunden der Nacht. Ich war gewöhnlich in einem gesunden Schlaf, wenn sie in mein Bett kam, und aufwühlend ..., wie ich die Dienste ihrer fetten kleinen Finger fand, bedeutete es gleichzeitig, daß ich für Stunden und Stunden wachgehalten wurde." [I loved it and hated at the same the abundance of warmth that Elisabeth brought me, in these unexpected hours of the night. Usually, I was sleeping healthily, when she came into my bed, and stirring as I found the services of her fat little fingers, it also meant that I was kept awake for hours and hours]

"Trotz ihrer inzestuösen Neigungen war Elisabeth sowohl eine Mutter als auch ein Vater für mich. Ohne ihre strenge Disziplin hätte mein Genius in früher Jugend vernichtet werden können, als ich erkannte, daß Gott tot war." [In spite of her incestuous tendencies, Elisabeth was both a mother and father to me. Without her strict discipline, my genius could have been destroyed in my early youth, when I realized that God was dead.](25)

Nietzsche is supposed to have written such commonplace and vulgar sentences? He could not have gotten that insane ... Moreover, factually nothing fits here: In the night in which his brother died, according to his autobiography, he dreamed of his brother's death, in advance--in the morning he experienced his dream as factual reality--and precisely then he was supposed to--he, himself, just five years old, his sister three years old--have played little incestuous games with her? Who is supposed to, who will believe that? That is against all plausbility. And then the description of his sister, in the last quote, as "father and mother", her "discipline", together with his (allegedly already at that time exsting) realization of God's death? That is contrary to everything that we know about the relationship of the two (siblings); from childhood on, Elisabeth looked up to her brother, to her, he was "von frühester Jugend an eine Autorität ersten Ranges" [from the earliest youth on, an authority of the first rank], and towards her, he usually behaved somewhat condescending--particularly in the discussion of "Religionssachen" [religious matters], as a letter in the matter of Strauss and his "Leben Jesu" [Life of Jesus] showed (and that as late as 1865, from Bonn! - "frühe Jugend" [early youth]?!)(26) See also Elisabeth's revealing report who, at the age of seven years, still believed in the stork, which Fritz admonished by referring to the fact that man was a mammal.(27)

Alternately, Schmidt also tests the hypotheses of masturbation, homo-eroticism and pederasty that, for example by Joachim Köhler(28) are straightforwardly assumed that Nietzsche Nietzsche was involved in; the unfortunate Libido theory of Freud is being extensively tested on Nietzsche, also with respect to his new-found Naumburg friends: In the house of Mme. Privy Counsellor Pinder, a friend of his grandmother Erdmuthe, Nietzsche met her grandsons Wilhelm Pinder and Gustav Krug who would become the most important friends of his youth. With Pinder, he shared his interest in poetry, with Krug his insterest in music.

At the end of 1851, Nietzsche started taking piano lessons, and his mother acquired a piano for him. Due to the family tradition on both sides, and very understandably, from early on, it was pointed out to the child, nay even stressed, that his background and his talents have destined him to become a pastor. In order to achieve this goal, however, he would have to study, so that, at first, he was sent to the private institute of Candidate Weber, from Easter 1853 to 1855, in order to prepare him for his attendance of the Naumburg Domgymnasium. Usually, the children spent their school holidays in pastors' homes of the extended family, in the countryside, as, for example, at Nirmsdorf, but mostly at Pobles which, for the time being, became a substitute for Röcken to Nietzsche.

The Naumburg cathedral with its famous Founder Figures in the Church Interior
Listen to an excerpt from Handel's "Messiah" (726 KB)

In May, 1854, Nietzsche heard Handel's "Messiah" at the Naumburg Cathedral, for the first time--and from then on, the friends, under this influence, turned to "more serious activities" in literature and music. Thus it is from this time that we find Nietzsche's first texsts and compositions; the first, as far as they have been preserved, have been published by Hans-Joachim Mette in a historical and critical edition in the "Beck'sche Ausgabe Werke" (BAW) Volumes 1-5.(29) The boy wrote his first "play", entitled Das Königsamt ("König Eichhorn")[The Royal Office; "King Eichhorn/Squirrel], and, due to the Crimean War, dealt extensively with various aspects of warfare and even wrote a comedy, Der Geprüfte, which H. J. Schmidt examined thoroughly, and that justifiably, since the piece holds some surprises: It presents Jupiter, Juno, Sirenius, etc., thus ancient Roman mythological figures and thereby points ahead towards the boy's later interest and engagement in dealing with Antiquity. With this, a door to literary activity has been opened that would only be closed with Nietzsche's Turin insanity notes.

At the same time, together with his friends, Nietzsche entered the "Quinta" of the Naumburg Domgynmasium and, already as a 10-year-old, he adopted, according to his own statements, a "serious demeanor" and a "Quintaner's Pride"(30)--behaviour patterns that would be of great importance to him for all of his life. This time also saw his first small compositions that Curt Paul Janz has collected and published. Nietzsche's mother wrote about her son at that time: "Fritz is a tall, blossoming boy and reaches above my shoulders, a bit, and is making good intellectual progress. . . . Fritz still remains true to his plan to become a pastor, therefore now psalms in music. . . . " What becomes evident here is the never-ceasing pressure of Nietzsche's family on him to follow in his father's footsteps, which he was, for the time, exposed to defenselessly.

On April 3, 1856, Nietzsche's grandmother Erdmuthe passed away--her inheritance allowed "Aunt Rosalie" and Franziska Nietzsche to live on their own, and for the following two years, the latter moved into a "charming little apartment with a garden"(31) (Marienmauer 623), and at that time, Friedrich got his own room; however, as he reported to his sister in writing, he was not afraid of falling asleep, by himself.(32) Are such official statements in letters, that were accessible to his mother and to other family mambers, probable or even believable, in light of the "incest" question? He who has to hide something will avoid drawing attention to awkward situations as best as he can, and Nietzsche was truly a great escape artist as he himself never grew tired of emphasizing. His open statement as well as, for example, also his sister's New Year's Eve recollections(33) rather speak for the possibility that, in this point, both were quite naive.

In his "Quarta" school year, for the first time, in the fall of 1856, Nietzsche's headaches became apparent--very likely his eyes were strained from extensive reading and forced him to be absent from school; during this time, he went for long walks and pondered over literary plans and played piano. For Christmas, he received, among other presents, a luxury edition of "Die Sagenwelt der Alten" (The World of the Ancient Myths) with which he, as we have seen from his writing of the play "Der Geprüfte" had already been familiar--and thus many of his plays and poems (of this time) centered around these ancient topics. In this way, he made himself aware of human issues such as death, guilt and "divine providence" that troubled him, in quite a different manner than from a Christian viewpoint that he knew from school and from his family. This rational path of dealing with these issues was also always overshadowed by his Röcken childhood memories (his father's grave, the funeral bells, loss of his home); at the same time, however, they became generalized and sublimated by images that also reflect human existence in the larger context of a mythical nature which, to the "homeless", would become his actual "home" during all of his life.

Naturally, up to a time that reached far into his Pforta school years, there was also no lack of poems with Christian content. After all, at that time, he still followed the plans forced on him by his family with respect to his becoming a pastor; also, his mother, for whom he compiled poems for her birthday on February 2, every year, was very fond of such poems. However, by that time, for Nietzsche, the Christian God already had to compete with other Gods: Zeus, Jupiter and, still more importantly, the sun as a symbol of nature that reigned over all of it; moreover, the sea also became a familiar mental image or concept to the boy, such as that life was like a dangerous ocean voyage that required courage. His Zwei Lerchen und Colombo already showed this basic premise of his existence, with its demand of overcoming oneself.

Zwei Lerchen.

Ich hörte zwei Lerchen singen
Sie sangen so hell und klar
Und flogen auf freudigen Schwingen
Am Himmel so wunderbar.

Two Larks.

I heard two larks singing,
They sang so bright and clear
And flew on joyful wings
Across the sky so wonderfully.

Die eine nahte der Sonne
Geblendet doch schrak sie zurück
Wohl dachte sie oft noch mit Wonne
An dies vergangene Glück.

One approached the sun
Blinded, it withdrew in awe
While often recalling with delight
Memories of this past bliss.

Doch wagt sie nicht zu erheben
Die Schwingen nach jenem Strahl
Sie fürchtet, es möchte ihr Streben
Ihr werden am Ende zur Qual.

Yet, it does not dare to raise
Its wings towards those rays,
Afraid, that its striving
Might turn to pain, in the end.

Die andre in mutigem Drange
Schwingt sich zu der Sonne heran
Doch schließt sie die Augen so bange
Auf nie noch betretener Bahn.

The other [lark], courageously venturing
Swings itself up, close to the sun
Yet it fearfully closes its eyes
Along this never-taken path.

Sie kann doch nicht widerstehen
Sie fühlt unbesiegbare Lust
Die himmlischen Strahlen zu sehen
Sich selber kaum mehr bewußt.

Yet, it can not resist
It feels an invincible desire
To see the heavenly rays
Hardly aware of itself, anymore.

Sie blickt in die strahlende Sonne
Sie schaut sie an ohne Klag
In himmlischer Freude und Wonne,
Bis endlich ihr Auge brach. - -??!!!

It gazes into the bright sun
Gazes at it without complaint
In heavenly bliss and joy,
Until, finally, its eyes break. - -??!!!

Personally, I do not see, as H. J. Schmidt does, for example, in his "Meta-Spuren" interpretation--the poetic expression of an orgasm, but rather a foreboding of that later immanent-transcendent dictum of Nietzsche; "for one second to reach the super human". Also in the image of the seafarer, he expressed this concept:


Die Winde rauschen durch die Segel hin
Nach Westen schau ich bang und zweifelnd zu
Kein Hoffnungsstrahl erheitert meinen Sinn
den müden Augen fehlt schon lang' die Ruh.
Im Zweifeln ringt mein Geist! Hat mich betrogen
Ein Traumbild und die Ferne vorgelogen
Schon steigt die Sonne höher, strahlt und glüht
Mein Mut entflieht.


The winds are blowing through the sails
Fearfully, I am looking to the west
No ray of hope is cheering my senses
My tired eyes have missed rest, for a long time.
My mind is wrestling with doubts! Have I been
Betrayed by a mirage, from afar
The sun is already rising higher, shining and and burning
My courage is waning.

Doch seh ich recht Ein muntres Vögelpaar
Das mit Gesang sich in den Lüften wiegt
O laß von deinem Grimm du wilde Schaar
Da nimmer dieses Hoffnungszeichen trügt
Nicht ist mehr fern das Land noch heut erreichen
Wir unser Ziel, wo alle Zweifel weichen
Auf! Rausche Schiff hin durch die Fluth
Nur Muth, nur Muth.

Yet, am I seeing right, a courageous pair of birds
That is rising up in song,
O let go of your anger, wild horde
Since this sign of home never betrays
Land its not far away, still today, we
Shall reach our goal, where all doubts will vanish
Onward, ship, throught the waves
Have courage, have courage.

Also here, the dangerous and enticing sun and the pair of birds--has the conflict between lark 1 and lark 2 been solved? Both birds point towards the closeness of the saving goal--land--doubts vanish only there, where one remains true to earth.

In 1882, in Genoa, he wrote his famous and "parallel" Columbus poem, that he gave to Lou Salome as a farewell present. In such formal-linguistic, as well, above all, in contexts pertaining to content and thought, the continuity in Nietzsche of certain trains of thought, from his childhood to his mature years, becomes overly apparent.

By May, 1858, shortly before his switch to Pforta, in addition to his musical compositions, he had already written 46 poems.

In September, the godfather of his sister, Pastor Oßwald, prepared him for the entrance exam at Pforta, where he had received a free spot. At that time, this Saxon Provincial School was one of the oldest elite schools of Germany, in which, for example, Klopstock, Novalis, Ranke and Fichte had been trained. At the beginning of October, Franziska, with her children, moved to her final Naumburg apartment, Weingarten 335 (today: No. 18), today's Nietzschehaus at Naumburg (see photo above).

Schulpforta in the Saale River Valley

Again, a time of changes--how should this new change not conjure up his distressing experiences of the past--the loss of his father and of his brother as well as the loss of his Röcken home, close to nature? Inwardly, the boy was shuddering--still in Ecce Homo, he wrote: "In einer absurd frühen Zeit, mit sieben Jahren, wusste ich bereits, dass mich nie ein menschliches Wort erreichen würde ..." [At an absurdly young age, at the age of seven years, I already knew that never would a human word reach me--...(35) Yet, weakness will not do--and thus he bravely looked back on his experiences, rendered an account of them, for himself--already in the Colombo poem, he tried to instill courage in himself; his first, lengthy reminiscences of his life up to this point, thus ended in this manner(36):

Ein Spiegel ist das Leben.
In ihm sich zu erkennen,
Möchte' ich das erste nennen,
Wonach wir nur auch streben.!!

Life is a mirror.
To recognize oneself in it,
I want to name as the first
After which we only strive!!

Also, with respect to music, he commented extensively--"Gott hat uns die Musik gegeben, damit wir ... durch sie nach Oben geleitet werden" [God has given us music so that we...will be guided upward by it!]. Thus, already at the age of 14, we can observe that in Nietzsche, three major basic motivations were already present and reflected upon by him: rational self-assessment, emergence of his self in poetic creation(37) and uplifting guidance of the mind by music.

While, here as well as later, the "liebe Gott" still lingers on in his texts--is that not "natural" in light of his upbringing in a pastor's family? Yet, above all: It is less the Crhistian God that is referred to, here, but rather, the religous outlook of Nietzsche as such, that, here, corresponds with a highly unique set of values. With respect to the name "God", Nietzsche related to himself! To his own innermost--insofar, quite Lutheran. . . . However, just as Feuerbach turned Hegel upside down, by incorporating the Lutheran relatedness to one's innermost into the here and now and transferring it into the power and duty of its disposal to the individual.

Already Lou Saome, in her Nietzsche biography, rightfully pointed out this basic religous trait of Nietsche's nature. And Nietzsche presented this highest level of personal values already in his very first poems and writings, in the most varied ways, above all, in ancient images and as myths of nature, but also in medieval themes such as that of Conradin or Barbarossa, and, of course, also, mostly to please his mother, in Christian images. To claim the boy Nietzsche for Christianity, on the basis of this, as has been done in Nietzsche interpretation, for a long time, is not appropriate, as H.J. Schmidt rightfully criticises.(38)

ARTE Video Schulpforta (1.845 KB)

His being separated from his family and his immersion into the strict routine at Schulpforta with its nearly monastic regulations, from taking meals to prayer, was very hard for the boy, at first. No wonder, if one takes a look at this daily routine:

No later than 5 a.m., pupils had to be up in order to save themselves a spot in the lavatories; at five-thirty, each day, they had to be in the prayer hall, to pray, to hear a sermon and to sign hymns; after a quick breakfast in their rooms, students had to attend class until 12 a.m., with lessons and reviews of completed work. After that, students had to march, in rank-and-file-order, into the mess hall in which a thoroughly outlined hierarchy had to be observed among students, as well, so that younger students had a hard time to get adequate nourishment...Therefore, it is not surprising that Fritz always wrote home in this respect and asked for fruit, nuts, cocoa, etc.

After a brief leisure period, lessons were resumed at 13.45 that, interrupted by vespers, lasted until 19:00 hours. After supper, students were allowed to spend some time in the school garden, and after the obligatory evening prayer, they had to go to bed at o p.m.(39)

Nietzsche was also admitted to the school choir--and in spite of his hours being planned out to the fullest, he was still active on his own and continued to write compositions and poems, exchanged thoughts with his Naumburg friends Krug and Pinder, partly in letters, partly on Sunday walks, on the occasion of which he met up with them "in a very nicely situated restaurant at Almrich"(40). At Pforta, he also met two of his best friends that would accompany him through his adult life, Paul Deussen (who has already been mentioned here) and Carl von Gersdorff.

Walter Weiße: Die Straße nach Schulpforta I 1996, Collage 10,6 x 14,8 cm
Walter Weiße on the Internet:

In July, 1859, Fritz was on vacation, again, namely at his uncle Emil Schenk's house, who was Mayor of Jena; according to his sister's report, he was supposed to have ended up in a maelstrom and was reportedly trying to manage to get out of it without calling for help, and only by accident, his uncle discovered him and rescued him when he was already half unconsious.(41) H. J. Schmidt interprets this swimming experience in Nietzsche absconditus(42) as "Selbsttötungsversuch" [suicide attempt], by referring , in particular, to some of Nietzsche's poems that appear to have expressed a "death wish" and to the boy's despair and depressed mood of that time. Although Schmidt's version appears to me to portray this hypothesis in a somewhat exaggerated manner, the boy could very well have been torn back and forth between a longing for death and a creative will to live and may, in this instance, have entrusted himself to the forces of nature and only barely escaped danger with the help of his uncle.

In spite of these emotional problems that may also have been related to puberty, Nietzsche's academic achievements were already excellent; in the fall of 1859, he was transferred to the "Obertertia" and already held the position of valedictorian of his class. On his 15th birthday, he wrote: "Mich hat jetzt ein ungemeiner Drang nach Erkenntniß, nach universeller Bildung ergriffen." [I have been seized by an incredible thirst for knowledge and universal education.](43) And he added: "Wenn sie doch so beständig wie meine Zuneigung zur Poesie wäre!" [If it (the thirst) was only as steadfast as my inclination towards poetry!]

However, not soon after, he proved that his thirst for knoweldge did not subside, when he, advancing into his later state as "psychologist" noted:(44): "Wenn ein Mensch in irgend einen besonderen Falle zu euch sagt, - dieses und jenes vertrage sich nicht mit seinem Gewissen, - so glaube nur immerhin, er meine damit nichts mehr als dieses und jenes vertrage sich nicht mit seinem Magen - ein derzeitiger Mangel an Appetit ist gewöhnlich die wahre Ursache von dem Einen und dem andern. -" [When a person, in any particular case, says to you, "this and that does not agree with me or goes against my conscience", then believe me, that this means as much as if he were to say, "this and that does not agree with my stomach"--a temporary loss of appetite is usually the true cause of the one and the other.]

On July 21, 1860, during his vacation, together with Pinder and Krug, he founded the Germania, whereby the initiative and guidance always went out from him; each of the three friends was supposed to submit works in the fields of science and poetry on a regular basis, later also in music, that were then supposed to be discussed and corrected by each other. A Nietzschean discussion of Pinder's "works" already reveals traces of Nietzsche's philological and language talent and also shows traces of his later delight in literary fencing in a superior and high-spirited style as in his discussion of David Friedrich Strauss in his "Erste Unzeitgemäße Betrachtung".(45)--vice versa , one can also see how Nietzsche related to literature, himself, in his reflections. However, it should not surprise us that, with such a critic as Nietzsche, his friends were less and less in the mood of submitting any of their work. Thus Fritz became the only one who submitted poems, essays and compositions on a regular basis, and after 1862, the Germania petered out.

However, already at that time, the activities of the later Pforta Alumnus were often interrupted by illnesses; the Pforta records that have been preserved(46) show, in addition to frequent colds, above all, headaches that, very likely, due to an overexertion of Nietzsche's eyes, can be related back to Nietzsche's myopia, for the cure of which he was even sent home, on occasion, as also on February 16, 1861: "Ich habe es nun wahrhaftig satt mit diesen Kopfschmerzen; es wird nicht besser und kommt immer wieder. Die kleinste Anstrengung des Kopfes macht mir Schmerzen." [I am truly sick of these headaches; it will not get better, and they always return. The slightest exertion of my head causes me pain](47) is what he wrote to his mother, before he went home for two weeks, where she tried to cure him with her natural and homeopathic remedies. Although he was not quite restored, he went back to Pforta at the end of February. Exams and his confirmation awaited him.

In the event that the indoctrination that Nietzsche would likely have been subjected to in the course of his prepration for confirmation, mighthave brought about a certain "Christian regression", as Deussen recalled a certain "sacred and world-removed mood" of theirs(48), then, at least with Nietzsche, it did not last all too long. He also expressed this to his family: "In seinen Äußerungen über Christentum und Religion war mein Bruder damals äußerst vorsichtig, zumal da er durch die Empfehlung von zwei Büchern ‚Das Leben Jesu' und die Kirchengeschichte von Professor v. Haase in Jena, die ich mir zu Weihnachten wünschen sollte, einen Sturm der Entsrüstung erregte, sowohl bei unserer Mutter als auch bei unserer Tante Rosalie."[In his statements on Christianity and religion, my brother was extremely cautious at that time, all the more since he, with the recommendation of two books, "Das Leben Jesu" and the Church History by Professor v. Haase in Jena, that I was supposed to put on my Christmas wish list, he caused a storm of outrage, both with my mother and withour aunt Rosalie.](49) During his Easter vacation, he wrote one of his first independent essays on the "Kindheit der Völker" (Childhood of Nations) in which he, already in the introduction, expressed doubts, "aus denen sich manche für Religion und Geschichte gefährliche Muthmaßungen" [out of which some dangerous assumptions with respect to religion and history] could arise.(50) In it (the essay), he reflected on the origin of culture and language, but most extensively on the development of religion that already here, he approached psychologically in a rough form.

At this time, through his friend Krug, he also became acquainted with Richard Wagner's Tristan in a piano reduction, and he also had a brief, temporary falling-out with his mother--he mentioned "häßlichen Vorfällen" [ugle scenes] and a "Riß" [rift], for which he asked for her forgiveness.(51) It is very likely that he had ventured too far in expressing his own ideas, particularly in religious matters. In spite of this, these questions became increasingly pressing to him, and therefore, it is not surprising that on his birthday wish list,(52) for 1861, we can find Feuerbach's "Wesen des Christentums" [Essence of Christianity] and "Gedanken über Tod und Unsterblichkeit" [Thoughts on Death and Immortality]!

In spite of his illnesses and absences caused by them, he once again became valedictorian of his class, and for his Latin essay on Cicero, he received the mark "1" [excellent], which was rarely given at Pforta.

In July, 1861, Nietzsche went on his first trip to Nuremberg, in order to attend the "Deutsche Sängerfest" and visited the sights of our city and enjoyed the famous Bratwurst with Sauerkraut at the "Bratwurstglöckle" adjacent to the Moritzkapelle that was then attached to the Sebaldus Church. On my page that is dedicated to Nietzsche's visit to Nuremberg(53) you will not only find the confirmation photo of the 17-year-old, but also his notes of this journey and pictures of the sites he saw, as far as they are still in existence, today.

At the end of September, shortly after he had become acquainted with Liszt's "Dante" Symphony, Nietzsche composed his first larger work for piano, the Ermanarich Symphony, written for two pianos, and not much later, on the same subject, he also wrote a dramatic poem as well as a longer essay that he later considered one of his most important achievements at Pforta. For his school, he wrote an enthusiastic paper on his "favorite poet Hölderlin"(54), that, however, resulted in the (today somewhat strange) advice by his teacher Koberstein, "sich an einen gesundern, klareren, deutschen Dichter zu halten" [to stick to a healthier, clearer German poet].(55) What fascinated him in Hölderlin? It was the latter's "highest ideality" but also how, for example, in his Hyperion, Hölderlin "den Deutschen bittre Wahrheiten sagt" [told bitter truths to the Germans]. In Empedokles, "in dessen schwermüthigen Tönen die Zukunft des unglücklichen Dichters, das Grab eines jahrelangen Irrsinns, hindurchklingt" [in whose melancholy mood there comes across the unfortunate poet's future, the grave of a decade-long insanity], "in einer unendlichen Fülle von tiefsinnigen Gedanken" [in an infinite wealth of profound thoughts], Nietzsche recognized himself, time and again, and, of course, Hölderlin's language was what he was fascinated by, Empedokles "in der reinsten, sophokleischen Sprache"[in the purest sophoclean language] - and the "wohlklingende Bewegung" seiner Prosa im Hyperion: " [well-sounding movement of his prose in Hyperion: "In der That, diese Prosa ist Musik" [indeed, this prose is music].

With sure instinct, Nietzsche detected important aspects of his own personality in Hölderlin--all attributes accorded by him to Hölderlin could later also be found in him.

At that time, with respect to his own reading material, in addition to Feuerbach, he was also interested in Byron, Büchner and, above all, Emerson, who would still hold the interest of the mature Nietzsche of the 3. UZB(56) and up to his later works. Moreover, he also became acquainted with the poems of the Hungarian poet Petöfi, some of which he would set to music.(57)

His 1862 Easter vacation saw the writing of his first explicitly philosophical texts, entitled Fatum und Geschichte / Willensfreiheit und Fatum [Destiny and History / Freedom of Will and Destiny].(58) Already in the introduction, Nietzsche introduced the subject that would remain important to him up to his Antichrist:

Wenn wir mit freiem, unbefangenem Blick die christliche Lehre und Kirchengeschichte anschauen könnten, so würden wir manche den allgemeinen Ideen widerstrebende Ansichten ausspre<c>hen müssen. Aber so, von unsern ersten Tagen an eingeengt in das Joch der Gewohnheit und der Vorurtheile, durch die Eindrücke unsrer Kindheit in der natürlichen Entwicklung unsers Geistes gehemmt und in der Bildung unsres Temperaments bestimmt, glauben wir es fast als Vergehn betrachten zu müssen, wenn wir einen freieren Standpunkt wählen, um von da aus ein unparteiisches und der Zeit angemessenes Urtheil über Religion und Christentum fällen zu können. [Were we in a position to take a fresh, unbiased look at Christian teachings and at the history of Christianity, we might see ourselves forced to express opinions that are contrary to generally held views. However, since we have been under the yoke of custom and prejudice from early on, our minds' natural development and the formation of our temperaments has been stifled by childhood impressions, we almost believe that we have to consider it a transgression if we choose a more liberal position, in order to be able to form an impartial and timely opinion on religion and Christianity on its base.]

Ein solcher Versuch ist nicht das Werk einiger Wochen, sondern eines Lebens. [!] [Such an attempt is not the work of a few weeks, but that of an entire lifetime. [!](59)

How prophetic--as if he was already having a premonition of his own destiny(60) ... And quite Feuerbachian--whereby the final quote has been taken directly from the Wesen des Christentums--ended a letter of this time to his friends with it(61):

...Durch den Glauben selig werden heißt nicht<s> als die alte Wahrheit, daß nur das Herz, nicht das Wissen, glücklich machen kann. Daß Gott Mensch geworden ist, weist nur darauf hin, daß der Mensch nicht im Unendlichen seine Seligkeit suchen soll, sondern auf der Erde seinen Himmel gründe; der Wahn einer überirdischen Welt hatte die Menschengeister in eine | falsche Stellung zu der irdischen Welt gebracht: er war das Erzeugniß einer Kindheit der Völker. Die glühende Jünglingsseele der Menschheit nimmt diese Ideen mit Begeisterung hin und spricht ahnend das Geheimniß aus, das zugleich auf der Vergangenheit in die Zukunft hinein wurzelt, daß Gott Mensch geworden. Unter schweren Zweifeln und Kämpfen wird die Menschheit männlich: sie erkennt in sich "den Anfang, die Mitte, das Ende der Religion." [Finding one's salvation through faith does not mean anything but the truth that only the heart, not knowledge, can make us happy. that God has become man only points towards the idea that man should not seek his salvation in the infinite, but rather create his heaven on earth; the delusion of a supernatural world has moved human mind into a wrong position towards the earthly world: it was the product of a childhood of nations. The glowing soul of man's youth accepted these ideas with enthusiasm and, forebodingly, reveals the secret that has its roots in the past and in the future, at the same time, that God has become man. Under desperate doubts and struggles, humanity matures into manhood: in itself, it recognizes "the beginning, the center, the end of religion.]

Such texts, from a 17-year-old, are astonishing, indeed--he was on his way of--by using as his aid the most liberating thoughts of his time, as he found them in Feuerbach and Emerson, freeing himself from the traditional entanglements of his own childhood and youth and to walk on his own path. That, at that time, this path did not form a straight line, yet, but rather still presented many bends, can be seen in many things, such, as for example, in his fragment Euphorion(62), which oriented itself on Byron's "Weltschmerz" [world weariness] and, in its tone, is reminiscent of Georg Büchner's "Leonce und Lena", which is full of peculiarities and in which one can find unexpected sentences like these:

... ich fühle es, daß ich mich völlig entpuppt habe ich kenne mich durch und durch und möchte nur den Kopf meines Doppelgängers finden, um sein Gehirn zu secieren ... Bin auch ich Kind gewesen, zugedrechselt worden durch den alten abgeleierten Weltmechanismus? Und schleppe jetzt - eine Klapper an der Tretmühle - recht behaglich langsam das Seil, das man Fatum nennt, bis ich verfault bin, der Schinder mich verscharrt, und nur einige Aasfliegen mir noch ein Wenig Unsterblichkeit zusichern? [I feel that I have come completely out of my shell and I know myself through and through and only want to find the head of my look-alike so that I can discsect his brain. Have I also been a child, molded by the old, worn-out world mechanism? And now I drag--like a rattle on the treadmill--quite slowly and comfortably, the rope that is called destiny, until I have decayed, until the undertaker will have buried me and until only a few flies will secure me a little bit of immortality.]

... In meiner Stube ist es todtenstill - meine Feder kratzt nur auf dem Papier ... Vor mir ein Tintenfaß, um mein schwarzes Herz darin zu ersäufen, eine Scheere um mich an das Halsabschneiden zu gewöhnen, Manuscripte, um mich zu wischen und ein Nachttopf. [ my room, it is deadly silent--only my pen is scratching across the front of me, an ink pot that I can drown my weak heart in, a pair of scissors so that I can get used to cutting throats off, manuscripts with which I can wipe myself, and a night pot.]

However, this was very likely only a break-out attempt into quite a different direction--after all, a decision will be made (by him) in favor of philology; in May, 1863, he wrote to his mother:

Was meine Zukunft betrifft, so sind es eben diese ganz praktischen Bedenken, die mich beunruhigen. Von selbst kommt die Entscheidung nicht, was ich studieren soll. Ich muß also selbst darüber nachdenken und wählen; und diese Wahl ist es, die mir Schwierigkeiten macht. ... Wie leicht läßt man sich von einer momentanen Vorliebe oder einem alten Familienherkommen oder von besonderen Wünschen fortreißen .... Nun bin ich noch in der besonders unangenehmen Lage, wirklich eine ganze Anzahl von auf die verschiedensten Fächer zerstreuten Interessen zu haben, deren allseitige Befriedigung mich zu einem gelehrten Manne, aber schwerlich zu einem Berufsthier machen würde. Daß ich also einige Interessen abstreifen muß, ist mir klar. Daß ich einige neue hinzugewinnen muß, ebenfalls. Aber welche sollen nun so unglücklich sein, daß ich sie über Bord werfe, vielleicht gerade meine Lieblingskinder! [As far as my future is concerned, those entirely practical considerations are what concern me. The decision as to what I should study does not make itself. I have to think about this, myself, and choose; and it is this choice that is difficult for me. It is certainly my aim to study that which I will choose, thoroughly, and all the more difficult becomes my choice, since one has to choose a discipline in which one hopes to be able to achieve something good. And how deceiving these hopes often are! How easily does one allow oneself to be torn away from family tradition or from particular wishes by a momentary preference, so that the choice of a profession appears to be a lottery in which there are many losing tickets and only few winning tickets. On top of it, I am in the particularly unpleasant position to really have a great number of interests that are spread over various disciplines, the satisfaction of all of which would turn me into a learned man, but hardly into a professional of a particular discipline. That I, therefore, have to disregard some interests, is clear to me. That I have to gain a few new ones, as well. But what interests will be the unfortunate ones that I will throw overboard, perhaps my very favorite ones!] (63)

What becomes clar is that he no longer saw himself pursuing theology, as it was asked of him by "family tradition" and particularly by his mother, well into his Bonn year. At the end of September, he wrote: "Man lebt jetzt recht viel in der Zukunft und macht sich Pläne für die Universitätszeit: selbst meine Studien beginne ich schon darauf einzurichten." Zum anstehenden Geburtstag wünscht er sich daher in der Hauptsache "nur wissenschaftliche Werke", und zwar philologische. [One really lives a great deal in the future now and makes plans for one's university years: even my present studies are already geared towards that. For his upcoming birthday, he therefore requested "only scientific works", namely philological ones](64)

Even though already in the young Nietzsche, his genius began to show, he still went astray in his youthful exuberance and ran into disciplinary problems. Twice, he had to pay for it with jail time and even with the removal of his status as a valeditorian and barely escaped suspension. That he, contrary to others, was allowed to remain in school, had certainly also to do with the fact that his extraodrinary talent in the area of language and philology began to emerge, soon, and became a known fact among the teachers. He quickly came to terms with the first incident of November 1862, since he actually did not feel guilty about it. Since this incident illustrates Nietzsche's behavior and reaction, let me briefly describe the details:

As valdeditorian, the held the position of "weekly inspector" whose task it was to "note everything that required repair, in the rooms, cupboads, auditoriums, etc. and to submit his note to the inspection room." Since this appeared too boring to him, he draped "all remarks in the cloak of a joke" in order to "spice the matter up with humor."(65) His sister preserved a few examples:

"In the auditorium such-and-such, the lamps burn so dimly that the students are tempted to let their own light shine"--"In the Obersecunda, benches have been painted and display an undesirable stick-to-it-iveness to those who sit on them."(66)

Today, this appears to us more like a funny prank, but in those days, some fellow students of Nietzsche, as, for example, G. Meyer, with whom he was in closer contact, were simply dismissed from Pforta. Therefore, disciplinary transgressions were quite a dangerous matter. Well, he did not actually take it seriously, and towards his mother, he expressed that he "only drew the lession from it to be more careful with jokes, in the future.--"(67)

Privately, the consequences that he drew from this were quite more radical, and for himself, he summed the event up as a general principle:

Nichts verkehrter als alle Reue über Vergangnes, nehme man es wie es ist. ziehe man sich Lehren daraus, aber lebe man ruhig weiter - betrachte man sich als ein Phänomen, dessen einzelne Züge ein Ganzes bilden. Gegen die andern sei man nachsichtig, bedaure sie höchstens, lasse sich nie ärgern über sie, man sei nie begeistert für jemand, alle nur sind für uns selbst da, unsern Zwecken zu dienen. Wer am besten zu herrschen <versteht>, der wird auch immer der beste Menschenkenner sein. Jede That der Notwendigkeit ist gerechtfertigt, jede That notwendig, die nützlich ist. Unmoralisch ist jede That, die nicht notwendig dem Andern Not bereitet; wir sind selbst sehr abhängig von der öffentl<ichen> Meinung, sobald wir Reue empfinden und an uns sel<b>st verzweifeln. Wenn eine unmoral<ische> Handl<ung> notwendig ist, so ist sie moralisch für uns. Alle Handlungen können nur Folgen unsrer Triebe ohne Vernunft, unsrer Vernunft ohne Triebe und unsrer Vernunft und Triebe zugl<e>ich sein. [Nothing would be more wrong than to show any remorse over that which has passed, accept it as it is. One should learn lessons from it but go on living calmly and one should observe oneself as a phenomenon whose various individual traits form a whole. Towards others, one should be tolerant and, at the most, pity them, but never become angry at them one should (also not) become enthusiastic about someone, they are all there for us, to serve our purpose. He who knows best how to rule will also be the best judge of character. Every necessary deed is justified, every deed necessary that is useful. Immoral is that deed that is, not being necessary, causing someone else distress; we, ourselves, are very dependent on public opinion as soon as we feel remorse and despair over ourselves. In the event that an immoral act becomes necessary, then it is moral to us. All actions can only be the consequences of our driving forces, without reason, of our reason without our driving forces behind it, and of our reason and our driving forces, at the same time.] (68)

By the example of this, at first sight, actually harmless event, one can see how, with Nietzsche, life and thought were intertwined; in his reflection on what his position with respect to it ought to be, already the 18-year-old created for himself the inner platform of "beyond good and evil", from which he, unmoved, reduced life to the motivations of the individual and elevated the individual's striving for power to a necessity. And even the plight of the other (fellow being) was not only taken for granted, morally, but even morally re-evaluated, itself, as long as it was "useful" and with it necessary from the viewpoint of the individual. Certainly, the youth did not want to advocate a mere subjective utilitarism with it--however, why he later would feel comfortable with Schopenhauer's belief in genius, becomes quite clear: That individual that knows best how to rule, creates its own morality. Parallelly, shortly before that, he had noted with respect to Krimhild who arranged for the murder of Gunther and Hagen, "Nur volle, tiefe Naturen können sich einer furchtbaren Leidenschaft so völlig hingeben, daß sie fast aus dem Menschlichen herauszutreten scheinen; mir graut aber vor der Herzlosigkeit derjenigen, die den ersten Stein gegen solche Unglücklichen aufheben können."[Only full, profound natures can completely succumb to a terrible passion, that they almost appear to step outside of humanity; however, I dread the heartlessness of those who can lift the first stone against such unfortunate ones.](69)

Although he should have been warned by the events of November 1862, in April, 1863, it got even worse--with a guilty conscience, he wrote to his mother (70):

"Wenn ich dir heute schreibe, so ist es mir eins der unangenehmsten und traurigsten Geschäfte, die ich überhaupt gethan habe. Ich habe mich nämlich sehr vergangen und weiß nicht, ob du mir das verzeihen wirst und kannst. ... Ich bin also vorigen Sonntag betrunken gewesen und habe auch keine Entschuldigung weiter, als daß ich nicht weiß, was ich vertragen kann." [When I write to you, today, then it is one of the most unpleasant and saddest matters that I have been involved in, at all. I have seriously transgressed and do not know if you can and will forgive me. ... Last Sunday, I have been drunk and I have no further excuse than that I do not know how much I can drink.] On his return to Pforta, we was caught and two days later, he was called before the "extraordinary synod". In the penalty book(71) is reported: "Nietzsche und Richter trinken am Sonntage auf dem Bahnhofe zu Kösen während einer Stunde je vier Seidel Bier. N. war davon betrunken und noch ersichtlicher Richter." [On Sunday, Nietzsche and Richter drank four Seidel beer each at the Kösen railway station. N. was drunk from it, and, more visibly, Richter.]

He lost his position as valedictorian and Sunday outing privileges were withdrawn from him, thus, one was lenient with him, once more, certainly also in view of his extraordinary scholastic achievements.

"Durch diesen einen Fall verderbe ich mir meine leidliche Stellung, die ich mir im vorigen Quartal erworben hatte, völlig." [Through this incident, I have completely ruined my rather favorable position that I had attained during the last quarter.} This time, he really took the matter to heart--the embarrassing and hurtful removal of his special status led to his being more cautious in general, and in particular with respect to consumption of alcoholic beverages--his tendency to play outward roles was certainly strengthened by this turn of events.

With respect to another "role play", namely the relationship of the young Nietzsche to the poet Ortlepp, I do not wish to comment here, since with respect to this, many things reamin unclear; with respect to it, I refer to H.J. Schmidt's article(72) and my review of his Nietzsche absconditus(73). At least, it is possible that he met Ortlepp at Almrich, where he often met his mother and sister or his friends, and that he received some literary stimulation from him.

At the conclusion of his high school years, Nietzsche prepared his valedicatorian paper, which once had been a duty, but which, in his days as a Pforta student, was voluntary and which discusses the ancient Greek poet Theognis of Megara(74) (6th century B.C.). The text, save for its many original ancient-Greek quotes, has been written entirely in Latin. In three parts, it deals with Theognis' life and with the circumstances of his time at Megara, the Theognidian songs as well as with his opinions of the Gods, the customs and the state. Theognis lived during the time of transition from aristocratic rule to democracy, as representative and "glorifier" of the first, he was banished. Nietzsche's related philological skills and knowledge were so excellent that he was able to use them up to his Leipzig study period and so that he was able to live off its success there, as well--and he was, as one can already see here, also in his philological work, content-wise always involved in his own topics. It is due to this fact that, as he noted, himself, also his philological texts are always filled with a degree of suspense and read themselves in that way.

However, he almost did not pass his math exam--and thus he also had to thank his graduation to the intervention of his teacher Corrsens: "Wünschen Sie vielleicht, daß wir den begabtesten Schüler, den Pforta, so lange ich hier bin, gehabt hat, durchfallen lassen?"[Do you really want that the most talented student that we have had at Pforta, as long as I have been here, will fail?](75)

In his letter of recommendation to the Bonn Professor Saarschmidt, his teacher Steinhart wrote on September 7, 1864: "... Nietzsche[,] ist eine tiefe, sinnige Natur, schwärmerisch der Philosophie, namentlich der platonischen, zugethan, in die er schon ziemlich eingeweiht ist. Er schwankt noch zwischen Theologie und Philologie, doch wird die letztere wol siegen, besonders aber wird er unter Ihrer Leitung sich freudig der Philosophie zuwenden, zu der ihn doch sein innerster Trieb hinführt." [ [. . . Nietzsche is a profound, pensive nature, enthusiastically inclined towards philosophy, in particular towards the Platonic one, in which he is already fairly immersed. He still vacillates between theology and philology, however, the latter will very likely win, and particularly, under its guidance, he will turn to philosophy, to which his innermost striving leads him, after all.] (76)

Particularly in the subjects German, Latin and Greek does his graduation certificate, logically, show excellent marks, contrary to which, astonishingly, the subjects of science and history were only marked with "satisfactory". In spite of his inner distance to religion, he also received a good grade in that subject--officially, after all, he was still on his way to studying theology and to follow in his father's footsteps.

And thus he bade farewell to Pforta to enjoy his so-called "Mulus" vacations, before he, after a vacation trip with his friend Deussen, would move to Bonn to study there, and, at first, enrol in the discipline of theology. Inwardly, however, he was already on quite different paths, that he, however, due to his family and due to financial conditions, would and could not show openly, yet. Thus, in conclusion, we feature here Nietzsche's first "real" poem(78), that,even today, is still misunderstood and quoted as Christian devotional literature:

Noch einmal eh ich weiter ziehe
Und mein<e> Blicke vorwärts sende
Heb ich vereinsamt rnein<e> Hände
Zu dir empor, zu dem ich fliehe,
Dem ich in tiefster Herzenstiefe
Altäre feierlich geweiht
Daß allezeit
Mich seine Stimme wieder riefe.

Once more, before I move on
And direct my gaze forward,
Lonely, I lift up my hands
To Thee, to whom I flee
To whom I, from the deepest bottom of my heart
Have solemnly consecrated altars
So that, at all times,
His voice would call me, again.

Darauf erglühet tiefeingeschriebe<n>
Das Wort: Dem unbekannte<n> Gotte:
Sein bin ich, ob ich in der FrevIer Rotte
Auch bis zur Stunde bin gebliebe<n>:
Sein bin ich - und ich fühl' die Schlinge<n>,
Die mich im Kampf darniederziehn
Und, mag ich fliehn,
Mich doch zu seinem Dienste zwinge<n>.

Thereupon, written deeply inside
Is blazing like fire: To the unknown God:
I am his, even if I remained with the horde of the infidels
Up to this hour:
I am his--and I feel the ties
That pull me down in fight
And, even if I should flee,
Still would force me into his service.

Ich will dich kenne<n> Unbekannter,
Du tief in mein<e> Seele Greifender,
Mein Leben wie ein Sturm durchschweifender
Du Unfaßbarer, mir Verwandter!
Ich will dich kennen, selbst dir diene<n>

I want to know thee, unknown one,
Thou who art reaching deeply into my soul,
Who art raging through my life like a storm
Thou Unfathomable One, akin to me!
I want to know Thee, and serve Thee.

Nietzsche's life is not only of great interest for biographical-personal and for personal-compassionate reasons, but also, above all, because it can serve us, today, as a prime example of the effect of Christan indocrination on the free intellectual development of a youth. Even a genius such as Nietzsche was ultimately not in a position to win the fight against his own preconditioning that he received in his childhood.--However, precisely this fight and struggle for the freeing of the individual that, at their core, are what all of Nietzsche's writings from his youth on, have been dedicated to, has provided us with profound insights into the hyman psyche that, up to our days, have not yet entered cultural tradition, at large.

Literature: See my page: philos.htm#literatur


1 Otto Flake, Nietzsche, Rückblick auf eine Philosophie, P. Keppler, 2. Aufl. Baden-Baden 1947, p. 53.

2 The following link (in German) leads you to Excerpts of Thomas Mann's Speeches of 1924 and 1947.

3 With respect to Sloterdijk's "Menschenpark" Theory, you can read more on my Metaphysics website (in German).

4 Hermann Josef Schmidt, Nietzsche absconditus oder Spurenlesen bei Nietzsche, Teil I Kindheit (Part I, Childhood) (3 Teilbände; 3 separate volumes) and Teil II Jugend (Part II, Youth) (2 Teilbände, 2 separate volumes), Alibri Verlag (formerly IBDK Verlag), Berlin-Aschaffenburg 1991-1994. My review of this milestone in the research of the history of the development of the young Nietzsche can be accessed via this link: Rezension Nietzsche absconditus (in German)

5 Further information, original quotes, videos and many illustrations can be found on these pages that have been on the internet, for a while: Röcken, Youth and Works. All poems referred to here can be read in full text via this link: Youth Poems (in German / PDF)

6 E. F.-N., Der junge Nietzsche, p. 14

7 Chronik p. 13

8 Chronik p. 18 f.

9 E. F.-N., Der junge Nietzsche, p. 15

10 E. F.-N., Der junge Nietzsche, p. 18

11 Chronik p. 11

12 H. J. Schmidt, Nietzsche absconditus, Kindheit Teil 3, p. 833 f.

13 BAW 1, 279

14 E. F.-N., Der junge Nietzsche, p. 18 ff.

15 BAW 1, 4 ff.

16 I owe this information to Professor H.J. Schmidt: "ich würde nur an einen Gott glauben, der" oder Lebensleidfäden und Denkperspektiven Nietzsches in ihrer Verflechtung (1845-1888/89) in Nietzscheforschung 9, Berlin, 2002.
In my study of this aphorism that lies somewhat in the past, I have actually overlooked the obvious biographical connection. Basically, since we now have the possibility of learning more precise details on Nietzsche's development and its circumstances, we would have to re-read all of his works and check them as to biographical references that they might contain.

17 BAW 1, 5

18 BAW 1, 6

19 BAW 1, 230 ff.

20 Chronik p. 15

21 E. F.-N., Der junge Nietzsche, p. 25

22 E. F.-N., Der junge Nietzsche, p. 28

23 BAW 1, 309; s.a. H. J. Schmidt, Nietzsche absconditus, Kindheit 3, p. 656/57

24 Such an assumption might also be based on the possibility that from the institution, a note book of Nietzsche has reportedly vanished.
On the other hand: Overbeck's report (In German), particularly with respect to the "Jumpiness" (a mixture of memory flashes and fantasy and the "Grundzug einer bis zur Herabstimmung oder Erschlaffung gehenden Beruhigung" ["the basic tendency towards a state of calmness that was close to numbness respectively near-lifelessness of the patient"] as well as his disposition towards being easily controlled would hardly speak for such an "independent writing activity".

25 H.J. Schmidt, Nietzsche absconditus, Kindheit Teil 3, 646 ff.

26 HKGA Briefe p. 317 ff.

27 E. F.-N., Der junge Nietzsche, p. 44

28 see, for example, Joachim Köhler, Friedrich Nietzsche und Cosima Wagner, Rowohlt TB, Sonderausgabe 1998. Corresponding excerpts via this link on my page: Lou Dokumente 3 (in German). Or in the upcoming A & K 2/2002: Zarathustras Seele (Link GKP-Artikel)

29 In the appendix, p. 307 ff., vol. 1 also features the earliest texts, amongst others also Phantasie II mentioned in footnote 19, with the verse interpreted by H.J. Schmidt. All texts mentioned here as well as further important youth poems in their full length via this link: Jugendgedichte/Youth Poems (German)

30 BAW 1, 19

31 Chronik p. 32

32 HKGA Briefe 1, No. 11, 8

33 Chronik p. 30

34 March 1858, BAW 1, 433 ff. and Beginning of May,1858, BAW 1, 443

35 KSA 6, 297. Such a later statement does not necessarily have to be a self-stylization, in each case...

36 BAW 1, 1-32

37 Significant here are the manifold aspects of the interpretation of "poetry": on the one hand, the creative emergence of the self in form of poetry, that, at the same time, is also a concentration towards an independent and unified personality.

38 That this is still being attempted (or pursued) under various preconditions, shows an article from the Rheinische Merkur 11/2002 of March 15, 2002: Nietzsche neu verstanden - "Der Zweifel frisst mich auf". Der Philosoph, der wie kein anderer für den Tod der Gottheit steht, wurde oft falsch verstanden. Er war tief religiös. Author: Werner Thiede. Also this text, as many earlier texts, is written from a perspective of "re-incorporating" Nietzsche, his "subordination" under the so highly superior "Christian Teachings of Redemption" --and thus it is also deceitful. After all, Nietzsche was, above all, striving for this: To free man from this position of Christian humility and to drive him to finally take responsiblity for himself, instead of looking out for higher powers and of expecting any kind of salvation from them--and that quite parallel to Feuerbach.

39 BAW 1, 119 ff.

40 E. F.-N., Der junge Nietzsche, p. 88

41 E. F.-N., Das Leben Friedrich Nietzsche's, First Volume, Leipzig 1895, p. 155

42 More in detail, H. H. Schmidt in: Im Saalestrudel oder ein Selbsttötungsversuch des vierzehnjährigen Nietzsche? Erstabdruck in: Palmbaum. Literarisches Journal aus Thüringen. 8. Jahr / 2000 / 1. Heft: Zum 100. Todestag von Friedrich Nietzsche. Jena: Quartus Verlag, 2000, p. 15-23. Aslo upcoming in A & K 2/2002 GKP-Link

43 BAW 1, 152

44 BAW 1, 155

45 This criticism by Nietzsche, in addition to pictures of his friends, can be found on the following page with the title "Die poetischen Leistungen W. Pinders".

46 The Pforta School Hospital Records that have been preserved.

47 HKGA Briefe, I, 134

48 E. F.-N., Der junge Nietzsche, p. 98: "Wir wären ganz bereit gewesen, sogleich abzuscheiden, um bei Christo zu sein ..." [We would have been entirely ready to depart immediately in order to be with Christ.]

49 E. F.-N., Der junge Nietzsche, p. 99

50 BAW I, 235

51 HKGA Briefe, I, 140

52 BAW I, 251

53 With respect to this, see my separate page created for this issue, "Nietzsche and Nürnberg".

54 BAW II, 1-5

55 Chronik p. 82

56 see also Text to the 3. UZB "Nietzsche as Educator"

57 You can hear and download some samples on the page dedicated to Nietzsche's music.

58 BAW II, 54-62

59 You can find the entire text of these writings on the "Works" page.

60 "Geschick" (Talent, destiny) seen in its manifold meanings: On the one hand, his own Talent, that, as such, presents him with a task, this is thus sent to him and thus forms his destiny. Thus, in "Geschick" is expressed the inner inter-relationship between individual disposition and the destiny developing out of it, within the social environment.

61 BAW II, 63

62 BAW II, 70 ff.

63 HKGA Briefe, I, 213

64 HKGA Briefe I, 226

65 HKGA Briefe, I, 200

66 Chronik p. 92

67 In the Synodal Book of Records of Punishments of the Pforta State School, the following entry is found with respect to this:
"Nietzsche erlaubt sich als Schulhausinspektor arge Witzeleien über einige Übelstände auf dem Zettel, den er bei dem Hebdomarius abgiebt.
am Rande: Nietzsche 3 Stunden Carcer u bedroht in s. Stellung als Primus. Auch 1 Woche dispensirt." [As school inspector, Nietzsche allowed himself very crude jokes with respect to some ill conditions, on the note that he delivered to the "Hebdomarius", and on the side: "Nietzsche. 3 hours of confinement and his position as valedictorian is threatened. Also suspended for a week.]

68 BAW II, 143

69 BAW 2, 134

70 HKGA Briefe I, 209 ff.

71 HKGA I, 390

72 H. J. Schmidt in Aufklärung und Kritik, Nietzsche-Sonderheft No. 4/2000, p. 87 ff. with further literature references.

73 Aufklärung und Kritik No. 1/2002, S. 200 ff. You can find a preliminary statement on this on the Works page--in the near future, I will publish a more detailed comment on the actually very relevant Nietzsche-Ortlepp matter.

74 BAW III, 21-64

75 E. F.-N., Der junge Nietzsche, p. 129; here a picture of the Pforta teachers of that time..

76 HKGA Briefe I, 409

77 Picture of Nietzsche's Graduation Certificate on the Works page

78 BAW II, 428

Translation by Ingrid Sabharwal-Schwaegermann, Edmonton, Canada
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