Within his lifetime, prior to his mental breakdown in 1889, few of Nietzsche’s books sold particularly well, and Human, All Too Human was no exception. The first installment was originally printed in 1,000 copies in 1878, and sold only 120 of these, and still less than half of these by 1886 when it was resold as the complete two-volume set. Though his friendship with Richard Wagner was nearly over, Wagner actually received a signed copy, though he never read it, saying Nietzsche would thank him for this one day. It was first translated into English in 1909 by writer Helen Zimmern as part of a complete edition of Nietzsche’s books in English, but was never translated by Walter Kaufmann when he translated most of Nietzsche’s works into English in the 1950s and ‘60s. Finally, in the 1980s the first part was translated by Marion Faber and completely translated by R.J. Hollingdale the same decade. Marion Faber was critical of Zimmern's " antiquated Victorian style" which made Nietzsche "sound in her translation like a fusty contemporary of Matthew Arnold." Faber further noted errors in Zimmern's work (for example in Aphorism 61 where Schaf (sheep) is translated by Zimmern as fool where the reference is to Sophocles' play Ajax in which the hero charges a herd of sheep) and bowdlerizations.:xxiv–xxv
Most notoriously, Human, All Too Human was used by archivist Max Oehler, a strong supporter of Hitler, as supposed evidence of Nietzsche’s support for nationalism and anti-Semitism, both of which he writes against. Oehler wrote an entire book, Friedrich Nietzsche und die Deutsche Zukunft, dealing with Nietzsche and his connection to nationalism (specifically National Socialism) and anti-Semitism, using quotes from Human, All Too Human, though out of context. Nietzsche would speak against anti-Semitism in other works including Thus Spoke Zarathustra and, most strongly, in The Antichrist: “An anti-Semite is certainly not any more decent because he lies as a matter of principle." In Zarathustra, Nietzsche set up Wagner as a straw man, lampooning his anti-Semitism in the process.
Oehler also had control of Nietzsche’s archive during the Nazis' rule, which he shared with Nietzsche’s sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, a Hitler supporter herself, until her death, when he took it over. It wasn’t until much of Walter Kaufmann’s work in the 1950s through the 1970s that Nietzsche was able to shed this connection with nationalism and anti-Semitism.