Book Reviews

Forgotten Fatherland: The search for Elisabeth Nietzsche by Ben Macintyre

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List Price: £12.99


Paperback: 320 Pages.

Published: 14 March 2013 by Bloomsbury Paperbacks

ISBN: 140883815X

EAN: 9781408838150

In 1886 Elisabeth Nietzsche, Friedrich's bigoted, imperious sister, founded a 'racially pure' colony in Paraguay together with a band of blond-haired fellow Germans. Over a century later, Ben Macintyre sought out the survivors of Nueva Germania to discover the remains of this bizarre colony. Forgotten Fatherland vividly recounts his arduous adventure locating the survivors, while also tracing the colorful history of Elisabeth's return to Europe, where she inspired the mythical cult of her brother's philosophy and later became a mentor to Hitler. Brilliantly researched and mordantly funny, this is an illuminating portrait of a forgotten people and of a woman whose deep influence on the twentieth century can only now be fully understood.


4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Anne

An excellent read

I suffered a bit reading this book because I am completely unaware of what Nietzsche wrote or believed (although I knew the name I had absolutely no idea what century he wrote in). I am not particularly interested in philosophy but I wanted to read this book because I do like these microhistories of things that I didn't know anything about and which are slightly quirky. I am very pleased that I read this one because it opened up a lot of things I didn't know about at all and shone a light on a particularly unpleasant time in history - I still know nothing much about Nietzsche though !

The book is mainly about the philosopher's sister Elisabeth who had some very alarming right wing white supremacist views and idolised Hitler and his revolting racial theories. In order to test or live out her ideas she created a white enclave in Paraguay where people would live in a community of similar minded souls and live a utopian life off the land. You can probably guess that this didn't quite work out as she intended although there are still descendants of this experiment living in South America.

I rather wish that the book had spent a little more time in South America and less in Germany but the way in which the story is told is fascinating. It raised my awareness of all sorts of things including how mainstream and accepted these views were less than one hundred years ago. Elisabeth does some across as a rather stupid and deluded woman who got her way because of brother's reputation and also her access to money and people of power - it would be good not to forget, however, that people lost everything in this scheme and she seemed to come out of it all relatively untouched so maybe she wasn't that stupid after all.

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