Letter from Lou Andreas Salome to Martha Freud, on the subject of Nietzsche’s flesh eating sickness.

1 February 1889, Jena

Dear Martha,

I trust you and little Mathilda are doing well, and that she does not keep you up too much at night. I have just returned from visiting our patient with Frau Nietzsche. He is doing as well as can be expected. I think we have hit on the right degree of sedation, and he can now be sufficiently awake to play the piano, but not so much that he is a danger to himself or others. We will need to reassess in a few weeks’ time, but for now, we can can rest in the knowledge that he and those around him are reasonably secure. Throughout my visit Frau Nietzsche has been a model of graciousness to me and kindness to her son. Now that Fritz is no longer in a position to aggravate her every attempt at caring for him, she is finally able to act like the mother she never was, and it suits her personality well. To me, she almost apologized for her behaviour six years ago, and told me that she was happy that I did not accept her son’s proposal of marriage, because I do not have to bear the burden of his disease now.

She is very glad of our decision not to put an end to his days, and is asking me constantly to give her details of Bertha’s recovery, last year, from the same condition. I do not want to give her hope as I am far from convinced that Fritz’s disease is not more advanced than Bertha’s was. Bertha’s violence was always easily contained. Also, I beg you to remember that we do not know as yet what effected Bertha’s recovery. Though I am only your agent abroad, while you make the decisions based on your studies of all the cases, I ask you to bear in mind that I do observe these people first hand, whereas for the past eighteen months, you have been confined in Vienna, relying on others’ testimonies to build up your cases. Still, I bow to your superior knowledge and abilities, and I am yours, ever,

Lou Andreas Salome

PS: If you hear from Andreas, could you please repeat to him that I am visiting a sanatorium for the purpose of research and that he is not to worry? Give my best love to the little one and yourself.

LAS.

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