Friedrich Nietzsche's grave under threat from search for brown coal

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Friedrich Nietzsche declared famously that “God is dead!” so it is probably safe to assume that he did not much care what happened to his skeleton.

Which may be just as well as bulldozers prepare to turn over the philosopher's grave and his birthplace in search of brown coal.

The village of Röcken, south of Leipzig, is plastered with posters bearing quotes from Nietzsche's masterpiece, Thus Spake Zarathustra, announcing “Be true to the soil!” in a desperate attempt to prevent an energy company from turning the region into a lunar landscape.

Ralf Eichberg, head of the Nietzsche Society, said: “We have Nietzsche's birthplace, the church where he was baptised and where his father preached, the orchard where he played, the school where he learnt to read and write, and the graves; his, that of his sister Elisabeth, his parents.”

Digging the village up — as has happened to 25 east German communities targeted by mining companies since the Second World War — would destroy most of the physical traces of the 19th-century thinker.

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