Commissioned by the Third Reich, Sword of the Spirit, is a collection of aphorisms by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The sole purpose of this collection served as an offering to Wehrmacht soldiers on the front lines during WWII. Original copies of Sword of the Spirit, those that most likely never left the Fatherland, can still be found scattered across Germany in homes and antique book-stores. The copies that went to the front were likely riddled with bullets, obliterated by bombs or burned by the soldiers themselves for warmth in the freezing conditions of the Russian front.

The Wehrmacht soldiers who probably knew little of Nietzsche, Sword of the Spirit served as a firm stepping stone to grasp Nietzsche’s philosophy, while reminding them that Nietzsche made it perfectly clear how he felt about the necessity of war, the sickness of liberalism and democracy, and not least the morality and values of the herd.

Throughout his life, Nietzsche waged philosophical warfare against the “slave morality” rooted in man’s long-standing desire to quell the many forms of life’s inescapable pain and suffering by means of religion, alcohol and submission to the herd, which he personified via his last man. He thereby created the Superman, born from “master morality,” able to take life’s struggles, pain and suffering and cultivate something valuable, beautiful and timeless from it. The purpose was to turn the drafted soldier, confronted by the horrors of war, into a warrior who would fight with reverence to the full spectrum of life and embrace their life, and even their death, in battle with a whole heart.