- Category : Writer
- Type : ME
- Profile : 5/2 - Heretical / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Upheaval 1
Ernst Jünger (29 March 1895 – 17 February 1998) was a German writer. In addition to his political essays, novels and diaries, he is well known for Storm of Steel, an account of his experience during World War I.
Early life and family
Jünger was born in Heidelberg to a middle-class family and grew up in Hannover as the son of a chemical engineer, who later became a pharmacist. He attended school from 1901 to 1913 and was a member of the Wandervogel movement. In 1913, he ran away from home to join the French Foreign Legion, in which he served very briefly in North Africa. During World War I he served with distinction in the Imperial German Army on the Western Front. He was wounded seven times during his war service. In the first week of January 1917 he was awarded the Iron Cross First Class and in September 1918 was awarded Prussia's highest military decoration of that time, the Pour le Mérite (informally known as the "Blue Max"). This he received as a Lieutenant at the age of 23.
He married Gretha von Jeinsen (1906–60) in 1925. They had two children, Ernst Jr. (1926–44) and Alexander (1934–93).
His brother Friedrich Georg Jünger (1898–1977) was a poet and essayist. His younger son Alexander, a physician, committed suicide in 1993.
His war experiences are first described in Storm of Steel (German title: In Stahlgewittern) which Jünger self-published in 1920. This book, by which Jünger became suddenly famous, has been seen as glorifying war. Jünger served as a lieutenant in the army of the Weimar Republic until his demobilisation in 1923. He studied marine biology, zoology, botany, and philosophy, and became a well-known entomologist. In Germany, an important entomological prize is named after him: the Ernst-Jünger-Preis für Entomologie.
In the 1920s Jünger published articles in several right-wing nationalist journals, and further novels. As in Storm of Steel, in the book Feuer und Blut (1925, Fire and Blood), Jünger glorified war as an internal event. According to Jünger, war elevates the soldier's life, isolated from normal humanity, into a mystical experience. The extremities of modern military techniques tested the capacity of the human senses. He criticized the fragile and unstable democracy of the Weimar Republic, stating that he "hated democracy like the plague." Although never a member of the National Socialist movement around Adolf Hitler, Jünger never publicly criticized the regime before the war. Jünger, however, refused a chair offered to him in the Reichstag following the Nazi Party's ascension to power in 1933, and he refused the invitation to head the German Academy of Literature (Die deutsche Akademie der Dichtung). Even though he never endorsed the Nazi Party, and indeed kept them at a careful distance, Jünger's Storm of Steel sold well into the six-figure range by the end of the 1930s. In the essay On Pain, written and published in 1934, Jünger rejects the liberal values of liberty, security, ease, and comfort, and seeks instead the measure of man in the capacity to withstand pain and sacrifice.
In 1927, he moved to Berlin. In 1929, his work The Adventurous Heart (German title: Das abenteuerliche Herz) was published. In Über Nationalismus und Judenfrage (1930, On Nationalism and the Jewish Question), Jünger describes Jews as a threat to the unity of Germans. In 1932, he published The Worker (German title: Der Arbeiter), which called for the creation of a totally mobilized society run by warrior-worker-scholars.
Jünger left Berlin in 1933; his house was searched by the Gestapo secret police. On the Marble Cliffs (1939, German title: Auf den Marmorklippen) uses metaphor to describe Jünger's negative perceptions of the situation in Hitler's Germany.
He served in World War II as an army captain. Assigned to an administrative position in Paris, he socialized with prominent artists of the day such as Picasso and Jean Cocteau. His early time in France is described in his diary Gärten und Straßen (1942, Gardens and Streets).
Jünger appears on the fringes of the Stauffenberg bomb plot. He was clearly an inspiration to anti-Nazi conservatives in the German Army, and while in Paris he was close to the old, mostly Prussian, officers who carried out the assassination attempt against Hitler. He was only peripherally involved in the events however, and in the aftermath suffered only dismissal from the army in the summer of 1944, rather than execution.
His elder son Ernst Jr., then a Kriegsmarine cadet, was imprisoned that year for engaging in "subversive discussions" in his Wilhelmshaven Naval Academy. Transferred to Penal Unit 999, he was killed near Carrara in occupied Italy on 29 November.
After the war, Jünger was initially under some suspicion for his nationalist past, and he was banned from publishing in Germany for four years by the British occupying forces because he refused to submit to the denazification procedures. His work The Peace (German title: Der Friede), written in 1943 and published abroad in 1947, marked the end of his involvement in politics. Rehabilitated by the 1950s, he went on to be regarded as a towering figure of German literature. German publisher Klett put out a ten-volume Collected Works (Sämtliche Werke) in 1965. The same publishers issued a second edition in 1983, turning Jünger into one of four German authors who lived to see two editions of his Collected Works published; the other three are Goethe, Klopstock, and Wieland. He remained highly controversial, though, in the eyes of the German Marxist Left, both for his past, and his ongoing role as conservative philosopher and icon. Jünger was immensely popular in France, where at one time 48 of his translated books were in print. In 1984, he spoke at the Verdun memorial, alongside with his admirers, French president François Mitterrand and German chancellor Helmut Kohl.
His diaries from 1939 to 1949 were published under the title Strahlungen (1948, Reflections). In the 1950s and 1960s, Jünger travelled extensively. His first wife, Gretha, died in 1960, and in 1962 he married Liselotte Lohrer. He continued writing prodigiously for his entire life, publishing more than 50 books.
Jünger was among the forerunners of magical realism. His vision in The Glass Bees (1957, German title: Gläserne Bienen), of a future in which an overmechanized world threatens individualism, could be seen as science fiction. A sensitive poet with training in botany and zoology, as well as a soldier, his works in general are infused with tremendous details of the natural world. His critics claim there is an excess of emotional control and precision in his writing. In 1981, he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca.
Throughout his life he had experimented with drugs such as ether, cocaine, and hashish; and later in life he used mescaline and LSD. These experiments were recorded comprehensively in Annäherungen (1970, Approaches). The novel Besuch auf Godenholm (1952, Visit to Godenholm) is clearly influenced by his early experiments with mescaline and LSD. He met several times with LSD inventor Albert Hofmann and they took LSD together. Hofmann's memoir LSD, My Problem Child describes some of these meetings.
One of his most important literary contributions was the metahistoric figure of the Anarch (sovereign individual), which evolved from his earlier conception of the Waldgaenger, or Forest Fleer. The anarch is Jünger's answer to the question of survival of individual freedom in a totalitarian world. It is developed primarily through the character of Martin Venator in his novel Eumeswil.
Jünger's 100th birthday on 29 March 1995, was met with praise from many quarters, including the socialist French president François Mitterrand.
Jünger was a friend of Martin Heidegger. Jünger was admired by Julius Evola who published a book called L'Operaio nel pensiero di Ernst Juenger (1960), in which he summarized The Worker.
Despite the controversy surrounding his life, Jünger said he never regretted anything he wrote, nor would he ever take it back.
Yet, he joined Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President François Mitterrand of France at a 1984 Franco-German ceremony at Verdun, France, where he called the ideology of war in Germany before and after World War I "a calamitous mistake".
A year before his death Jünger converted to Catholicism and began to receive the Sacraments. He died on 17 February 1998 in Riedlingen, Upper Swabia, aged 102 years old. He was the last living bearer of the military version of the order of the Pour le Mérite.
Accusations of Fascism
Some say Jünger was a fascist. Jünger never betrayed sympathy to the political style of "blood and soil" popular among the Nazis, but according to some of his critics his conservative literature made Nazism highly attractive. The ontology of war depicted in Storm of Steel could be interpreted as a model for a new, hierarchically ordered society beyond democracy, beyond the security of bourgeois society and ennui.
The writer and critic Walter Benjamin wrote a review/essay of War and Warrior, a collection of essays edited by Jünger. The title of Benjamin’s review, which was published in Die Gesellschaft 1930, is Theorien des Deutschen Faschismus (Theories of German Fascism), and it has been highly influential in its analysis of the relationship between aesthetics and politics.