Forgotten Fatherland

Jean @ Howling Frog thought she may have read Ben MacIntyre’s Forgotten Fatherland : The True Story of Nietzsche’s Sister and Her Lost Aryan Colony  and I’m sure she did because it seems to be the only book on this subject.   There’s a couple of biographies, but none with a lot of the focus on this Aryan Colony in Paraguay the remains of which MacIntyre sought out in 1991.    I think it was his first book.  Still in his 20s, there’s an awkward phrase or two, but overall it’s an extremely well-written and fascinating yet repellant story of Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth, who was a real piece of work, her fellow anti-semite and husband Bernhard Förster, the colony they founded , and her other great work, the Nazification of her brother’s philosophy.   


Elisabeth was courageous, strong-minded, stubborn, dishonest, racist, a bully, a liar, pretty much capable of anything to get her own way.   She was close to her brother when they were young, but as she got older her anti-semitism and marriage drove a wedge between them.   Nietzsche, an extremely passionate and nearly unread philosopher, went mad in 1889 and never recovered.   His sister made it the second great work of her life (after the founding of the extremely unsuccessful colony) to promote his work and control it.  She was so successful at this that decades later a completely misunderstood Nietzsche became the darling of the Nazi party and Elisabeth, the grand dame lauded by Nazi officers up to and including Hitler himself.

As I said earlier, a fascinating though painful story.   A well-told interweaving of the history of Elisabeth, the history of Paraguay and the Nueva Germania colony and MacIntyre’s expedition to find whatever remained of it.    This was my 5th of the #20booksofsummer.    I seem to be sticking with my list, much to my own astonishment.   Perhaps it was choosing mostly recent aquisitions?   My enthusiasm hasn’t waned as much as usual?   I don’t know, but so far, so good.