Ecce Homo Complete Works, Volume Seventeen

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 77

the Germans are idealists.



2


But here nothing shall stop me from being rude, and from telling the
Germans one or two unpleasant home truths: who else would do it if I
did not? I refer to their laxity in matters historical. Not only have
the Germans entirely lost the _breadth of vision_ which enables one
to grasp the course of culture and the values of culture; not only
are they one and all political (or Church) puppets; but they have
also actually _put a ban upon_ this very breadth of vision. A man
must first and foremost be "German," he must belong to "_the_ race";
then only can he pass judgment upon all values and lack of values
in history--then only can he establish them.... To be German is in
itself an argument, "Germany, Germany above all,"[4] is a principle;
the Germans stand for the "moral order of the universe" in history;
compared with the Roman Empire, they are the up-holders of freedom;
compared with the eighteenth century, they are the restorers of
morality, of the "Categorical Imperative." There is such a thing as
the writing of history according to the lights of Imperial Germany;
there is, I fear, anti-Semitic history--there is also history written
with an eye to the Court, and Herr von Treitschke is not ashamed
of himself. Quite recently an idiotic opinion _in historicis,_ an
observation of Vischer the Swabian æsthete, since happily deceased,
made the round of the German newspapers as a "truth" to which every
German _must assent_ The observation was this: "The Renaissance _and_
the Reformation only together constitute a whole--the æsthetic
rebirth, and the moral rebirth." When I listen to such things, I lose
all patience, and I feel inclined, I even feel it my duty, to tell the
Germans, for once in a way, all that they have on their conscience.
_Every great crime against culture for the last four centuries lies
on their conscience...._ And always for the same reason, always owing
to their bottomless cowardice in the face of reality, which is also
cowardice in the face of truth; always owing to the love of falsehood
which has become almost instinctive in them--in short, "idealism."
It was the Germans who caused Europe to lose the fruits, the whole
meaning of her last period of greatness--the period of the Renaissance.
At a moment when a higher order of values, values that were noble,
that said yea to life, and that guaranteed a future, had succeeded
in triumphing over the opposite values, the values of degeneration,
in the very seat of Christianity itself,--and _even in the hearts of
those sitting

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