The German metaverse in Paraguay
Nietzsche's sister attempt to create the Arian town of Nueva Germania
Welcome Avatar! There are many German elements in South America, but likely non is as bizarre as the story we will touch on today. This is the story of how Nietzsche’s sister tried to establish an Arian utopia town in Paraguay, since she (and her husband) thought that real German roots in the Old Continent might be lost to posterity. The idea was that the superiority of the German ancestry would conquer even the most uninhabited lands of South America.
In 1886 a German crew of 14 German families decided to found a Newfound Germany in the Paraguayan jungle, about 180 miles out of the city of Asunción. They made their way through the jungle with the aim of founding a Germany of racial purity.
The Holocaust was still fifty years away, but the seed of its madness was already very alive. The protagonists in this story are none other than Elisabeth Nietzsche, the younger sister of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and her deranged husband, Arian supremacist Bernhard Förster.
Welcome to Nueva Germania, their German colony located in the Paraguayan jungle.
The idea for Nueva Germania
To understand the origins of Nueva Germania we have to place them in the growing anti-Semitic climate that was sweeping Europe in the 1870s.
The German composer Richard Wagner, a recognized anti-Semite, was part of this environment. Wagner wrote a pamphlet called Judaism in Music, with which he set out to show that the Jews had poisoned German music. His operas raised the unity of the various German states in a single powerful political expression and were later lauded frequently by the Nazis.
Professor Bernhard Förster and his wife Elisabeth Nietzsche, sister of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, were also part of this movement. It’s important to note the philosopher was opposed to the ideology of his sister.
Friedrich Nietzsche's post-mortem links to Nazism and anti-Semitism were largely due to Elisabeth, who shared her husband's racist views. More about that later.
Nietzsche’s relationship with Wagner
A young Nietzsche began to hang out with Wagner. Nietzsche praised the Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, which raises the formation of Germany from mythology.
In 1878 they grew apart. Nietzsche’s last texts before falling into madness were devoted to refuting Wagnerian ideas.
Both Wagner and Nietzsche would have had in-laws with an undisguised racist ideology. Wagner's daughter Eva married Houston Stewart Chamberlain, an English philosopher who came to praise Aryan supremacism and rubbed shoulders with nascent Nazism (he died in 1927 and Hitler attended his funeral); while Elisabeth Nietzsche became Mrs. Bernhard Förster in 1885.
Förster, a school teacher born in Saxony, had collected signatures a few years earlier for Chancellor Bismarck to expel the Jews from Germany.
His anti-Semitism cost him his professorship in Berlin. His organization, the German People's Party, was said to be financed by the Hungarian nobility. "When the most degenerate nobility in the world, the Hungarian, belongs to a party, then it can be said that all is lost," Nietzsche wrote to his sister.
An Aryan utopia
When Elisabeth Nietzsche met her future husband Bernhard Förster at Richard Wagner's house, the composer supposedly dropped the idea that a “New Germany” should be built outside of Europe, because Europe was already under too much Jewish control.
The marriage made up of Förster and Nietzsche put that idea into practice and the racist utopia of creating an Aryan community outside of Germany materialized more than 6,000 miles away.
From Germany to Paraguay
Before their marriage, Förster had already traveled to South America in February 1883. Förster had decided that if Germany did not get rid of the Jews, he would create a German utopia of the Aryan race somewhere else. Even today it is not clear why he considered that the preservation of Germanity was going to be in the Paraguayan jungle.
For some historical context: Paraguay was still facing the consequences of the War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870), which had taken place little over 10 years ago, wiping out most of the male population in Paraguay (we will be writing extensively about this war in a later article series).
Paraguay was a totally rekt country, without economic resources and with a gigantic war debt. In order to generate foreign exchange, it was ceding land to foreigners.
Förster spent two years in Paraguay, travelling the country from end to end, studied the climate and saw what the alternatives were to dedicate himself to agriculture.
The chosen place was a remote area with difficult access, located 155 miles from Asunción, on the banks of the Aguaray-Guazú river.
He negotiated with the Paraguayan government and they reached an agreement in which the State gave the land to Förster in exchange for him bringing over 140 European families in two years. If he could pull that off, the land would become the property of the settlers.
Förster decided to call the colony Nueva Germania. President Bernardino Caballero approved the project and the seed of disaster lay in the legal process: Caballero leased the land and Förster announced in Germany that he was selling plots.
As we will soon see, the ICO for this German metaverse in Paraguay would take a disastrous turn, as is the fate of many security offerings for projects that overpromise and underdeliver.
The Nietzsche-Förster bond intensifies
Förster returned to Germany to crowdsource his ICO, and he had also come back for Elisabeth. They married in May 1885 and recruited fourteen settler families.
The racism of the project implied not only colonizing Paraguayan soil, but also that there would be no contact with the natives. No way in hell Förster was going to let the German settlers mix with the inhabitants of Paraguay.
Before the couple’s departure to South America, the only face-to-face meeting between Nietzsche and his brother-in-law took place. Nietzsche contributed money to the colony: exactly 300 marks. Elisabeth did not lose hope that her brother would travel to the distant South American country at a later date.
In 1887 the couple traveled to Paraguay, together with several other German families, and founded Nueva Germania.
Startup issues after initial seed round
However, life in the colony and adaptation to the place were not easy, and problems soon began in Nueva Germania. The tropical climate in the area was terribly humid and the German settlers with no agricultural experience found a hostile land, without much possibilities to produce food.
Förster had many financial problems and was selling land that did not yet belong to him as agreed with the Paraguayan government.
The Aryan utopia goes to zero
At the beginning of 1889, the utopia of the Aryan colony came to an end. Settlers' claims to metaverse land titles they had paid for before leaving Germany piled up.
Förster was never able to deed the lands that the Paraguayan government had leased him, precisely for that reason. As he had offered land for sale that the Paraguayan government actually gave him to lease, they accused him of being a swindler and the news spread like wildfire, just when he wanted to dispatch a second contingent to Nueva Germania.
This is why a second contingent of Germans never arrived and Förster was never able to fulfill the commitment to bring 140 families.
The settlers' relationship with the couple worsened. Förster spent less and less time in the colony and Elisabeth more and more, dealing with the management of the colony.
He died shortly after that in that same year. There are two theories surrounding his death. Most say that he committed suicide, but it is not known for sure.
The medical report said that he suffered a heart attack, but it is said that the medical report was falsified by Elisabeth (which would be very much inline with the rest of the additions and changes she would make in her brother’s manuscripts).
Elisabeth wrote a book in which she outlined the panegyric of the Aryan utopia in Guarani land and she returned to Nueva Germania in August 1892 to settle outstanding debts, which included selling the spacious house that she lived in with her husband and the plots that Förster had reserved for Nietzsche, in the form of payment for the 300 marks contributed.
The settlers no longer accepted her and she settled permanently in Germany in 1893 to take care of her sick brother. The philosopher had already lost his sanity and was suffering from progressive paralysis, presumably from syphilis.
Elisabeth helps Nazism appropriate Nietzsche
After the philosopher's death in 1900, Elisabeth obtained the rights to her brother’s manuscripts. She got right to work.
Imbued with the racism of her late husband, Elisabeth devoted herself to editing Friedrich's works and attributing explicit sympathies to anti-Semitism.
In her edition of the famous book, The Will to Power, Förster-Nietzsche included only 270 of the 374 aphorisms her brother wrote – and most of them were incorrect.
She cut out the maxim in which her brother condemned anti-Semitism with the words: "Have nothing to do with a person who takes part in the dishonest race swindle."1
Elisabeth Nietzsche-Förster became close to Nazism and Hitler stopped by to greet her in November 1933, in a visit that included a photo of the dictator next to a bust of Nietzsche:
Two months earlier, Nazi Germany had enacted the Nuremberg Laws, the body of law that instituted anti-Semitism and racism. Bernhard Förster's Aryan dream came true in Germany, half a century after his South American adventure.
Elisabeth’s funeral in 1935 was attended by Adolf Hitler himself, together with other high ranking Nazi officials.
After her death and after WWII, experts reissued Nietzsche's writings and found the distorted versions of Elisabeth.
Nueva Germania today
The German origin of this town is still visible, and today you can see blond boys speaking Guarani.
Three languages are spoken in New Germania. Guarani and Spanish, which are the official languages in Paraguay, and German, which is used by families of German descent.
What is not representative of the New Germania that survived Bernhard Förster and his wife Elisabeth Nietzsche, is the racist idea with which the couple conceived the colony.
Recommended additional reading
One of the best books about this subject is definitely Forgotten Fatherland, The Search for Elisabeth Nietzsche (1992) by Ben Macintyre. I read it about five years ago and was blown away by this crazy story.
Macintyre goes into a lot of the nitty gritty details and tells the story in a very entertaining way.
See you in our Jungle, frens (not the Aryan jungle)!