1. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was briefly enlisted in the Prussian military, until he injured himself jumping into the saddle of his horse and tore two muscles, leaving him unfit for service. Nevertheless, he also served as a medical orderly on the Prussian side of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870.
2. After renouncing his Prussian citizenship in 1869, Nietzsche spent the rest of his life without citizenship anywhere, preferring the life of a stateless traveler. He spent most of his adult life alternating between living in Switzerland and Italy.
3. There is a legend in which Nietzsche witnessed the beating of a horse in the street and stepped in to defend the animal, wrapping his arms around its neck while sobbing. The event supposedly triggered Nietzsche’s mental breakdown and was featured as the subject of the 2011 Hungarian film The Turin Horse.
4. Nietzsche’s sexuality has been often argued about by historians—notably, he was diagnosed with syphilis despite being distinctly uncomfortable with sex. Nietzsche himself once told his friend Paul Deussen a story about the time he was taken to a brothel by mistake, and wound up playing piano all night, as it was “the only soulful thing present.”
5. The Nazis adopted Nietzsche’s concept of the “Übermensch” to satisfy their racial agenda—despite the fact that Nietzsche himself once stated that he would be in favor of “having all anti-Semites shot”.
6. Believe it or not, Nietzsche’s philosophy was the inspiration behind Superman! Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, first used the name in “Reign of the Super-man”, a 1933 short story in which the titular character is a telepathic tyrant modeled after Nietzsche’s Übermensch. Later they would use the name “Superman” for their all-American superhero, and the original Nietzschean concept would be applied to the new Superman’s nemesis: Lex Luthor.
7. Despite his own mental illness and troubled personal life, Nietzsche was never one to back down from an argument: he described himself as “warlike in nature” and in need of “objects of resistance” in order to function. One of these objects was composer Richard Wagner, whom Nietzsche alternately respected and attacked.
8. Both Nietzsche and his father died in a similar manner: when Nietzsche was five, his father died of what was likely a stroke, leaving him blind and insane before his death. In 1900, Nietzsche suffered a similar fate, enduring a mental collapse and blindness in his right eye before dying.
9. At Nietzsche’s funeral, his friend Peter Gast gave the oration: “Peace be on your ashes! Holy be your name to all future generations!” In his then-unpublished Ecce Homo, Nietzsche had expressed a distinct fear that his name would be considered “holy” by his followers.
10. Although he wasn’t overly self-deprecating, Nietzsche wasn’t afraid to criticize his own works: in his later life he admitted that he found The Birth of Tragedy to be “an impossible book: I consider it badly written, ponderous, embarrassing, image-mad and image-confused, sentimental, in places saccharine to the point of effeminacy, uneven in tempo, without the will to logical cleanliness.” A savage review coming from the book’s own author!