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Nietzsche: Biographical Timeline

1844 October 15 Friedrich Nietzsche born at Röcken in the outskirts of Lützen, province of Saxony to Franziska Nietzsche, née Oehler, and Carl Ludwig Nietzsche, a pastor, who names his son after King Friedrich William IV of Prussia.
1846 July 10 Birth of Elisabeth Nietzsche.
1848 February 27 Birth of Joseph Nietzsche.
1849 July 30 Nietzsche's father (age 36) dies of a brain tumor.
1850 Joseph Nietzsche dies on January 9th. Franziska moves the family to Naumburg, close to relatives and friends, where Nietzsche attends the local elementary school.
1853 Meets childhood friends Gustav Krug and Wilhelm Pinder, cousins of each other; Nietzsche's paternal grandmother Erdmuthe Nietzsche was a friend of their families. On Easter, he enrolls at the "Institut zum Zwecke gründlicher Vorbereitung für Gymnasien und andere höhere Lehranstalten," a school run by Karl Moritz Weber.
1854 Nietzsche's mother turns down an offer from the director of the Franckeschen Stiftungen in Halle to admit Nietzsche to their school for fatherless children.
1854 May 25 Hears Händel's "Messiah" at the Naumburg cathedral. First attempt to write a musical composition: "Alsbald faßte ich den ernstlichen Entschluß, etwas ähnliches zu componiren." (I immediately made the decision in earnest to compose something similar.) He also tries his hand at poetry for the first time.
1855 April-June Takes piano lessons from the local precentor, G. Fr. M. Steeger.
1855 August 2 Death of his paternal aunt, Auguste Nietzsche.
1855 October Enrolls at the Naumburg Domgymnasium.
1856 More attempts at poetry: "... versuchte ich in der zweite[n] in geschmückter und strahlender Sprache zu reden. Aber aus der Zierlichkeit wurde Ziererei und die schiller[n]de Sprache zu pfrasenartiger Verblümung. Und bei diesem allem fehlte noch die Hauptsache, die Gedanken." (... in the second period [of his poetic attempts], I tried to express myself in more ornate and sparkling language. But out of gracefulness grew affectation and out of dazzling language, cliché-ridden floweriness. And in all this the chief thing was still missing: ideas.) In February, Nietzsche and Wilhelm Pinder write the play "The Gods of Olympus" and stage a performance with their families.
1856 April 2 Death of his paternal grandmother, Erdmuthe Nietzsche.
1856 December 26 Starts to keep a diary.
1857 Further attempts at musical compositions.
1858 February Composes more music ( Nietzsche will continue to dabble at musical compositions yearly through 1867) and makes a third attempt at poetry: "Die Jugend, der noch eigne Gedanken fehlen, sucht ihre Ideenleere hinter ein schillernden glänzenden Styl zu verbergen. Gleicht hierin die Poësie nicht der Modernen Musik? Ebenso wird hieraus alsbald eine Zukunftspoësie werden." (The youth who still lacks his own thoughts tries to conceal his empty ideas behind an enigmatic, dazzling style. Doesn't modern music resemble this kind of poetry? A poetry of the future will soon come out of it, too.)
1858 August-September Nietzsche writes the autobiography "Aus meinem Leben" (From My Life).
1858 September 29 Leaves the Naumburg Domgymnasium just prior to his second term of Untertertia after receiving a scholarship from the Landesschule Pforta. Nietzsche's gymnasium grades were mediocre, except in religion. However, his deceased father had been an employee of the state, and it was not uncommon for their children to receive admission to Pforta upon a satisfactory examination. Poor results on his Pforta entrance exam set Nietzsche back a year. See Thomas Brobjer, "Why did Nietzsche Receive a Scholarship to Study at Schulpforta?" Nietzsche-Studien (2001) 30:322-28.
1858 October 6 Enrolls at Pforta, near Naumburg, an elite school with only 200 students. His fellow students include classmate Paul Deussen, and Carl von Gersdorff, who was a half a year behind them.
1859 Nietzsche finally begins to blossom as a student. By the end of his first semester (WS1858-59), he is already ranked third of 25 students, which speaks volumes about his progress in Latin and Greek, and by the end of WS1859-60, he is at the head of his class. Writes poem "To W. Pinder," spends his Easter holiday in Naumburg and Pobles, writing a play entitled "Prometheus"; summer in Jena with an uncle and aunt, Emil and Mathilde Schenk.
1859 August 6 From Nietzsche's Diary, "Wider das Heimweh, (nach Prof. Buddensieg) 1. Wenn wir etwas Tüchtiges lernen wollen, können wir nicht immer zu Hause bleiben. 2. Das wollen die lieben Eltern nicht; wir fügen uns deshalb in den Willen der Eltern. 3. Unsre Lieben sind in Gottes Hand; wir sind immer von ihren Gedanken begleitet. 4. Wenn wir tüchtig arbeiten, so vergehen traurige Gedanken. 5. Hilft das alles nicht, so bete zu Gott dem Herrn." (Cure for Homesickness (according to Prof. Buddensieg) 1. If we wish to learn anything good, we cannot always remain at home. 2. Our dear parents do not want this; we therefore comply with our parents' wishes. 3. Our loved ones are in God's hands; we are constantly accompanied by their thoughts. 4. If we work hard, then sad thoughts vanish. 5. If all this is of no avail, then pray to God Almighty.)
1859 August 27 From Nietzsche's Diary, "Ich habe jetzt die Literaturgeschichte von Kletke und vorzüglich hat mich das Leben Jean Pauls angezogen. Die Bruchstücke seiner Werke, die ich gelesen habe, ziehen mich ungemein durch die blühende, überschwengliche Schilderung, die zarten Gedanken und den satyrischen Witz an. Ich glaube, Jean Paul wird einmal bei reiferen Jahren mein Lieblingsschriftsteller.—" (I now have the history of literature by Kletke and have been especially drawn to the life of Jean Paul. The fragments of his work that I have read appeal to me uncommonly through lively, effusive description, subtle ideas and satirical wit. I think Jean Paul will be my favorite author sometime in my mature years.—) Nietzsche probably read Hermann Kletke's Handbuch zur Geschichte der neueren deutschen Literatur. Bd. 2: Von Göthe bis auf die Gegenwart. Berlin: Amelang, 1845. Jean Paul is discussed in §37, pp. 318-358.
1859 December 17 Death of his maternal grandfather, David Ernst Oehler.
1860 July 25 Starts a literary society, "Germania," with Pinder and Krug for monthly musical and literary contributions.
1861 March 10 Nietzsche and Deussen receive their confirmation together.
1861 July 3 Writes an independent essay entitled "Ermanarich, Ostgothenkönig" (Ermanarich, King of the Ostrogoths) for the "Germania" club. He expands the work in autumn 1863 and later judges it to be "the only work of my schooldays with which I was almost satisfied."
1861 Summer Makes his first contributions to "Germania": letter to Pinder and Krug about opera and oratorios; parts of his Christmas Oratorio (probably "Der Könige Tod," "Ehre sei Gott" and "Heidenwelt"); essays on Byron and Schiller's Wallenstein.
1861 September Composes "Ermanarich: 'Symphonische Dichtung.'" Piano 4-hands (revised 1862). See Nietzsche's critical notes for the composition (another submission for "Germania" in Sept.-Oct 1862).
1861 October 19 Submits an essay on Hölderlin for a class assignment: "Brief an meinen Freund, in dem ich ihm meinen Lieblingsdichter zum Lesen empfehle." ("Letter to my friend, in which I recommend that he read my favorite poet.") The essay has been shown to be plagiarized from William Neumann's Moderne Klassiker. Deutsche Literaturgeschichte der neueren Zeit in Biographien, Kritiken und Proben: Friedrich Hölderlin (Cassel, 1853, 1859). See Thomas Brobjer, "Discussion and Source of Hölderlin's Influence on Nietzsche. Nietzsche's Use of William Neumann's Hölderlin." Nietzsche-Studien (2001) 30:397-412.
1862 April Nietzsche writes "Fatum und Geschichte" (Fate and History) and "Willensfreiheit und Fatum" (Freedom of the Will and Fate) for "Germania."
1862 April 16 Nietzsche, Pinder and Krug draft the statutes for "Germania."
1862 July Nietzsche writes two pages for a novel called "Euphorion."
1862 Sept.-Oct. Nietzsche writes "Über das Dämonische in der Musik" (On the Demonic in Music), a lecture for "Germania."
1862 November At Pforta, Nietzsche as "school inspector" hands in a list of comments to the inspection office: he makes a few innocuous jokes and gets three hours detention and the loss of a few walks. He informs his mother: "I haven't troubled myself about the matter for a moment, and have only learned a lesson from it—next time to be more careful what I joke about. —"
1863 April Nietzsche gets drunk at the Kösen train station and is demoted from first in his class.
1864 April Nietzsche writes "Über Stimmungen" (On Moods).
1864 July Nietzsche begins to write "De Theognide Megarensi" (On Theognis of Megara), his Valediktionsarbeit (written in Latin, with Greek citations), a non-compulsory essay for graduation.
1864 July-August Nietzsche writes "Mein Leben" (My Life), another autobiographical fragment.
1864 September 4 Graduation from Pforta.
1864 September 26 Plays the piano in a tavern in Schwelm, to the delight of the director of the local musical society: "der nachher mit aufgesperrtem Rachen dastand und alles Schöne sagte und mich beschwor, Abends an seinem Gesangverein Theil zu nehmen. Was ich nicht that." (... who stood there afterwards, jaws agape, and said all sorts of nice things and implored me to take part in his choral society that evening. Something I did not do.)
1864 Early Fall Nietzsche writes the poem "Noch einmal, eh ich weiterziehe ..." ("Once more, ere I move on ...").
1864 October 16 Enrolls as student of theology and philology at the University of Bonn.
1864 October 24 Joins the fraternity, "Franconia": "Of course, I considered the step carefully and in view of my nature deemed it almost necessary. For the most part we are all philologists, at the same time all music lovers. In general, a very interesting atmosphere prevails in the Franconia, I like the older people a lot."
1865 January To the dismay of his mother, Nietzsche changes his major to philology at the start of the second semester.
1865 March-April Reads David Friedrich Strauss Das Leben Jesu (The Life of Jesus).
1865 May Seven months with "Franconia" are quite enough: Nietzsche resigns from the fraternity, writing in a letter to Gersdorff that "the expression of conviviality on nightly drinking socials often made me highly uneasy, that I knew some individuals whose beer materialism I could hardly stand; likewise those who, to my great annoyance, would pass judgment on human beings and opinions en masse with outrageous arrogance. Nevertheless, I gladly bore the fraternity, since I learned a lot from it and generally also have to acknowledge the intellectual life there. But more intimate relations with one or two friends is a necessity to me; if one has these, then one takes in the rest as a kind of seasoning, some as pepper and salt, others as sugar, others as nothing at all."
1865 Summer Some of Nietzsche's classes, which he didn't necessarily attend on a regular basis include: Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie (Carl Schaarschmidt); Platos Schriften und Philosophie (Carl Schaarschmidt); Grundzüge der Archäologie (Otto Jahn); Lateinische Grammatik (Friedrich Ritschl); Gedichte Walthers von der Vogelweide (Karl Simrock).
1865 Fall Jahn and Ritschl's dispute over Jahn's clandestine attempt to hire Hermann Sauppe finally leads to Ritschl's departure from Bonn for the University of Leipzig. Nietzsche follows Ritschl to Leipzig.
1865 October 17 Continues his studies at the University of Leipzig, where he discovers the works of Schopenhauer in Rohm's second-hand bookshop.
1865 December Becomes a founding member of The Classical Philology Club at Leipzig.
1866 Begins friendship with Erwin Rohde.
1866 January 18 Gives a lecture on Theognis for the philology club. Ritschl advises him to revise the lecture for publication.
1867 March 1 "Zur Geschichte der Theognideischen Spruchsammlung" (On the History of the Collection of the Theognideian Anthology) is published in the Rheinisches Museum für Philologie.
1867 August 10 Finishes his autobiographical text, "Rückblick auf meine zwei Leipziger Jahre" (Retrospect on My Two Years at Leipzig).
1867 October 9 Begins his year of obligatory military service.
1868 March Nietzsche injures himself in a riding accident. He writes to Gersdorff: "I had survived the winter, and with it the most difficult and unpleasant half of the service; they had made me an artillery private and were also quite pleased with my conduct. With the onset of finer weather, I was able to breathe freely and breeze my horse in the vast exercise yard. Finally I was riding the most fiery and high-strung animal in the battery. One day I failed to execute a quick leap into the saddle; I hit my chest hard against the pommel and felt a shooting pain on the left side. I calmly rode on and even withstood the increasing pain for a day and a half. On the evening of the second day, however, I fainted twice and on the third I was nailed to my bed by the most acute pain and high fever. Through a medical examination, they found that I had torn two muscles in my chest."
1868 March-April Writes the notes "Zu Schopenhauer" (On Schopenhauer).
1868 April Writes preparatory notes for a planned dissertation: "Die Teleologie seit Kant" (The Concept of the Organic Since Kant).
1868 April 25 Reviews G. F. Schoemann's Die hesiodische Theogonie for the Literarisches Centralblatt für Deutschland.
1868 May 30 Publishes "Beiträge zur Kritik der griechischen Lyriker I, Der Danae Klage" (Contribution toward the Critique of the Greek Lyric Poet 1, [Simonides'] Ode on Danae) in the Rheinisches Museum für Philologie.
1868 September 25 Publishes "De Laertii Diogenis fontibus, 1-2" (The Sources of Diogenes Laertius, 1-2) in the Rheinisches Museum für Philologie.
1868 October 31 Reviews V. Rose's Anacreontis Teii quae vocantur for the Literarisches Centralblatt für Deutschland.
1868 November 8 Meets Richard Wagner in Leipzig.
1868 November 21 Reviews Richard Nitzsche's Quaestionum Eudocianarum capita quatuor for the Literarisches Centralblatt für Deutschland.
1869 January 30 Reviews C. Ziegler's Theognidis Elegiae, Jacob Bernays' Die Heraklitischen Briefe and Paul Marquard's Die harmonischen Fragmente des Aristoxenus for the Literarisches Centralblatt für Deutschland.
1869 February Appointed professor of classical philology at the University of Basel.
1869 March 18 Publishes "De Laertii Diogenis fontibus, 3-6" (The Sources of Diogenes Laertius, 3-6) in the Rheinisches Museum für Philologie.
1869 April 3 Reviews E. Rohde's Über Lucian's Schrift for the Literarisches Centralblatt für Deutschland.
1869 May 28 Inaugural lecture at the University of Basel under the title "Über die Persönlichkeit Homers" (On the Personality of Homer). Subsequently published as Homer und die klassische Philologie (Homer and Classical Philology).
1869 Begins writing The Birth of Tragedy.
1870 January 18 Public Lecture entitled "Das griechische Musikdrama" (The Greek Music Drama).
1870 February 1 Public Lecture entitled "Sokrates und die Tragödie" (Socrates and Tragedy).
1870 March Becomes tenured professor at University of Basel.
1870 March 10 Publishes "Analecta Laertiana" (Analects of Laertius) in the Rheinisches Museum für Philologie.
1870 April Begins friendship with Franz Overbeck.
1870 May 1870 Publishes Beiträge zur Quellenkunde und Kritik des Laertius Diogenes (Contribution toward the Study and the Critique of the Sources of Diogenes Laertius).
1870 August Serves as a volunteer medical orderly in the Franco-Prussian war.
1870 September 3 Reviews S. A. Byk's Der Hellenismus und der Platonismus for the Literarisches Centralblatt für Deutschland.
1870 September 28 Publishes "Der Florentinische Tractat über Homer und Hesiod, ihr Geschlecht und ihren Wettkampf, 1-2" (The Florentine Manuscript Concerning Homer and Hesiod, Their Ancestry and Their Contest, 1-2) in the Rheinisches Museum für Philologie.
1870 December Publishes "Certamen quod dicitur Homeri et Hesiodi" (The So-Called Contest of Homer and Hesiod) in Acta societatis philologae Lipsiensis.
1871 June 18 Publishes Sokrates und die griechische Tragödie (Socrates and Greek Tragedy).
1872 January Publication of the Index to the new series of Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, 1842-1869.
1872 January 2 Publishes Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik (The Birth Of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music).
1872 Jan. 16-Mar. 23 Gives lectures "Über die Zukunft unserer Bildungsanstalten" (On the Future of Our Educational Institutions).
1872 May Spends time with Wagner.
1873 January 17 Publishes "Ein Neujahrswort an den Herausgeber der Wochenschrift 'Im neuen Reich'" (A New Year's Greeting for the Editor of the Weekly Paper 'In the New Reich'") in the Musikalisches Wochenblatt.
1873 February 24 Publishes "Der Florentinische Tractat über Homer und Hesiod, ihr Geschlecht und ihren Wettkampf, 3-5" (The Florentine Manuscript Concerning Homer and Hesiod, Their Ancestry and Their Contest, 3-5) in the Rheinisches Museum für Philologie.
1873 April Writes the fragment "Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks."
1873 May Meets Paul Rée.
Writes the fragment "On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense."
1873 August 8 Publication of the first Untimely Meditation: David Strauss, the Confessor and the Writer.
1873 October 31 Mahnruf an die Deutschen (Exhortation to the Germans) written at the behest of Richard Wagner, as a fundraising appeal for the construction of his theater in Bayreuth.
1873 December Finishes the second Untimely Meditation: On the Use and Abuse of History for Life.
1874 February 22 Publication of On the Use and Abuse of History for Life.
1874 October 15 Nietzsche's 30th birthday: publication of the third Untimely Meditation: Schopenhauer as Educator.
1875-1876 Writes the fourth Untimely Meditation: Richard Wagner in Bayreuth.
1875 October Begins friendship with Heinrich Köselitz, a/k/a Peter Gast.
1876 May 19 Requests leave of absence from University of Basel (granted June 2, 1876).
1876 July-August Nietzsche in Bayreuth for the last time. First Bayreuth Festival. Meets Louise Ott.
1876 July 10 Publication of the fourth Untimely Meditation: Richard Wagner in Bayreuth.
1876 October 26 Arrives in Naples. Last meeting with Wagner.
1876-1878 Writes the first part of Human, All Too Human.
1876 December Winter in Sorrento with Paul Rée, Malwida von Meysenbug and Nietzsche's student, Albert Brenner.
1877 February Publication of Marie Baumgartner's French translation of Richard Wagner in Bayreuth.
1877 May 8 Leaves Sorrento.
1877 October 17 Requests extension of leave of absence from University of Basel.
1878 January 3 Receives copy of Parsifal from Wagner.
1878 January 10 Sends manuscript of Human, All Too Human to his publisher.
1878 February 11 Requests extension of leave of absence from University of Basel.
1878 May Publication of Human, All Too Human (Nietzsche sends a copy to Wagner; their last correspondence).
1878 May 17 Death of Albert Brenner from tuberculosis.
1879 March 20 Publication of Mixed Opinions and Maxims.
1879 May 2 From Geneva, sends letter of resignation to the University of Basel.
1879 June 14 University accepts resignation, and grants six-year pension.
1879 Summer Writes The Wanderer and His Shadow.
1879 October 18 Sends manuscript of The Wanderer and His Shadow to his publisher.
1879 December 18 Publication of The Wanderer and His Shadow.
1880 March Travels to Venice with Heinrich Köselitz.
1880 June Leaves Venice.
1880 July 5 Arrives in Marienbad.
1880 Autumn Begins writing Dawn.
1880 November Arrives in Genoa. Continues work on Dawn.
1881 January 25 Sends manuscript of Dawn to Köselitz.
1881 May 1 Leaves Genoa.
1881 July 8 Arrives in Sils-Maria.
1881 July Publication of Dawn.
1881 October 1 Leaves Sils-Maria for Genoa.
1881 November 27 In Genoa, attends performance of Bizet's Carmen.
1881 Winter Begins writing The Joyful Science.
1882 February 4 Paul Rée visits Nietzsche in Genoa. They travel to Monte Carlo.
1882 March 13 Paul Rée again travels to Monte Carlo. He loses his entire bankroll in one night.
1882 March 15 Paul Rée travels to Rome where he meets Lou von Salomé at the home of Malwida von Meysenbug.
1882 April 1 Nietzsche arrives in Sicily.
Writes Idylls From Messina.
1882 April 24 Nietzsche arrives in Rome.
1882 April 25 Nietzsche meets Lou Salomé.
1882 June 15 Finishes The Joyful Science.
1882 June Publishes Idylls From Messina.
1882 September Nietzsche in Leipzig.
1882 Sept. 10 Publication of The Joyful Science.
1882 October 1 Paul Rée and Lou Salomé arrive in Leipzig for a one-month visit; Nietzsche's friendship with Rée and Salomé deteriorates.
1882 November 5 Rée and Salomé travel to Paris. Nietzsche makes plans to join them; he never sees them again.
1882 Winter Nietzsche stays in Rapallo.
1883 February Begins to write Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
1883 February 13 Richard Wagner dies in Venice.
1883 February 14 From Genoa, Nietzsche sends manuscript of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part I to his publisher.
1883 May 3 Nietzsche travels to Rome for a five-week visit.
1883 June 14 Leaves Rome.
1883 June 18 Nietzsche arrives in Sils-Maria where he writes Part II of Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
1883 August Publication of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part I.
1883 August late Receives proofs of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part II.
1883 Sept. 5 Leaves Sils-Maria for Naumburg.
1883 Sept. 7 Arrives in Naumburg for a five-week visit. Elisabeth engaged to Bernhard Förster, a leader of the German anti-Semitic movement.
1883 November 23 Nietzsche arrives in Nice.
1883 Winter Meets Dr. Josef Paneth, a Viennese zoologist, from whom Sigmund Freud first learned of Nietzsche.
1884 January 18 Completes Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part III (partially written in Eze).
1884 April 10 Publication of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part III.
1884 April 21 Leaves Nice for a seven-week visit in Venice.
1884 June 15 Arrives in Basel.
1884 July Meets Meta von Salis in Zurich.
1884 August 26 Heinrich von Stein visits Nietzsche in Sils-Maria.
1884 November 2 Arrives in Menton; begins to write Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part IV.
1884 December 1 Leaves for Nice; continues to write Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part IV
1885 April 9 Leaves Nice for Venice.
1885 April 10 Arrives in Venice.
1885 May Publication of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part IV (privately printed for select friends).
1885 May 22 Elisabeth Nietzsche marries Bernhard Förster.
1885 June 7 Arrives in Sils-Maria; begins to write Beyond Good and Evil.
1885 June Sues his publisher, Ernst Schmeitzner, to gain control of his works.
1885 November Wins lawsuit against Schmeitzner. Uses part of the proceeds to buy a marble slab for his father's grave. Arrives in Nice.
1886 Spring late Last meeting with Erwin Rohde in Leipzig.
1886 June Arrives in Sils-Maria.
1886 August 4 Publication of Beyond Good and Evil.
1886 August Sends "Attempt at a Self-Criticism" to his publisher for the new edition of The Birth of Tragedy.
1886 October Arrives in Ruta Ligure. Finishes prefaces for the second edition of Human, All Too Human. Begins writing preface for second edition of Dawn and preface and Book Five for The Joyful Science. Leaves Ruta Ligure for Nice.
1886 November 14 While in Nice, finishes new prefaces for Dawn and The Joyful Science.
1887 October 20 Publication of "Hymn to Life, for Mixed Chorus and Orchestra" (Heinrich Köselitz's orchestration).
1887 November 11 Last letter to Erwin Rohde.
1887 November 16 Publication of On the Genealogy of Morality.
1888 April Arrives in Turin.
1888 Spring Georg Brandes lectures on Nietzsche at the University of Copenhagen.
1888 Summer Writes The Case of Wagner and Dionysus Dithyrambs.
1888 August Writes Twilight of the Idols (published January 24, 1889).
1888 September Writes The Antichrist (published November 1894).
1888 Autumn Writes Ecce Homo (published posthumously April 1908).
1888 December Writes Nietzsche contra Wagner: Out of the Files of a Psychologist (published February 1889).
1889 January Mental breakdown in Turin.
1889-1897 Under the care of his mother in Jena and Naumburg.
1897 Easter Death of Nietzsche's mother. Elisabeth moves him to Weimar.
1900 August 25 Nietzsche dies in Weimar.