German Outpost Born of Racism Blends Into Paraguay
The year was 1887 when two of the best-known German anti-Semites of the time put down stakes here in Paraguayâs remote jungle with 14 German families screened for their racial purity.
The team of Bernhard FĂ¶rster and his wife, Elisabeth, the sister of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, had an ambitious plan: nothing less than the establishment of a colony from which an advance contingent of Aryans could forge a claim to the entire South American continent.
But the continent had other plans for this new Fatherland.
âSome were able to survive,â said Lidia Fischer, 38, a blonde-haired descendant of a family that was among Nueva Germaniaâs first settlers. Those pioneers struggled with disease, failed crops, infighting and the megalomania of the FĂ¶rsters, who lorded over the colony from an elegant mansion called the FĂ¶rsterhof.
âSome returned to Germany,â said Ms. Fischer in an interview on her farm, where she lives with her husband and their five children. âSome committed suicide.â
Within two years the dream had been shattered, and today the FĂ¶rsterhof, where a sign that read âOver all obstacles, stand your groundâ once hung on the wall, lies in ruins. The forest grows over its charred remains. Not long after founding the outpost and envisioning its mission as the âpurification and rebirth of the human race,â Mr. FĂ¶rster grew despondent over Nueva Germaniaâs progress. He swallowed a mixture of morphine and strychnine, killing himself in 1889.
Mr. FĂ¶rsterâs wife left Paraguay in 1893 for Germany, where she spent her later years staining her brotherâs reputation. While Nietzsche derided anti-Semitism and expressed disdain in correspondence with his sister for the anti-Semitic character of Nueva Germania, she went on to reinvent his legacy after his death in 1900, transforming the philosopher into a kind of prophet for the Nazi propaganda machine.