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Basel remembers former professor, Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a professor at Basel University Keystone

The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, died one hundred years ago on Friday, an occasion also remembered in Switzerland where he lived and taught for many years.

Born in 1844, Nietzsche moved to Switzerland in 1869, soon after completing his studies in Germany. He really wanted to teach philosophy, but accepted a post as a teacher of classical Greek at Basel University.

He also taught at the local college, where locals remember his classes as uplifting and inspiring.

At this time, Nietzsche became close to the Swiss historian, Jakob Burckhardt, the theologian, Franz Overbeck, and the German composer, Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima.

Wagner offered him a place to stay at his home near Lucerne. Nietzsche at first admired the composer’s work, although their relationship later turned sour. The philosopher did not accept Wagner’s decision to convert to Christianity or to become a Prussian nationalist. His last meeting with Wagner was in 1876.

Nietzsche taught in Basel until that year, when illness prompted him to take up a nomadic life, travelling around Europe. On his travels, he even used a passport issued by the Basel authorities, given to him because he was considered stateless under Swiss law.

He finally gave up this passport when he was interned in Basel’s mental asylum in 1889.

This was also the period that saw Nietzsche produce his major philosophical works, such as “Thus spoke Zarathustra”, “The gay science” or “Beyond good and evil”.

Nietzsche lived for another 10 years before his mental illness contributed to his death in the German town of Weimar in 1900.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR