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Ernst Jünger

Ernst Jünger
An elderly Ernst Jünger, wearing the Pour le Mérite
Born (1895-03-29)29 March 1895
Heidelberg, Germany
Died 17 February 1998(1998-02-17) (aged 102)
Riedlingen, Germany
Nationality German
Genre Diaries, novels
Subject War
Notable works In Stahlgewittern
Auf den Marmorklippen
Notable awards Goethe Prize (1982)
Spouse Liselotte Lohrer (1917–2000)
Military career
Allegiance 23x15px German Empire (1915-1918)
23x15px Weimar Republic (1919-1923)
23x15px Nazi Germany (1939-1944)
Service/branch 23px Imperial German Army
23px Reichswehr
23px Heer
Years of service 1915-1923, 1939-1944
Battles/wars World War I
World War II

Ernst Jünger (29 March 1895 – 17 February 1998) was a German writer and philosopher. 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 Hanover 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[1] and in September 1918 was awarded Prussia's highest military decoration of that time, the Pour le Mérite (informally known as the "Blue Max"). He was the youngest ever recipient of the Pour le Mérite, awarded to him as a Lieutenant at the age of 23.[citation needed]

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.


File:Ernst Juenger inSG.jpg
Ernst Jünger in uniform after World War I.

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.[2]

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.[3] The extremities of modern military techniques tested the capacity of the human senses.[4] He criticized the fragile and unstable democracy of the Weimar Republic, stating that he "hated democracy like the plague."[5]

Never a member of Adolf Hitler's Nazi movement, Jünger refused a seat 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).[6] On 14 June 1934, Jünger wrote a "letter of rejection" to the Völkischer Beobachter, the official Nazi newspaper, in which he requested that none of his writings be published in it.[7] Jünger also refused to speak on Joseph Goebbels's radio. He was one of the few "nationalist" authors whose name was never found on the frequent declarations of loyalty to Hitler. He and his brother Friedrich Georg quit the "Traditionsverein der 73er" (veteran's organization of the Hanoverian regiment they had served during World War I) when its Jewish members were expelled.[8] An attack on Jünger appeared in the Bavarian Völkischer Beobachter of 22 October 1932, with the title "Das endlose dialektische Gesprach" (the Endless Dialectical Discussion), taking Jünger to task for not being an adherent of Blood and Soil racial doctrine, and accusing him of being an "intellectualist" and a liberal.[9]

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.[10] In the essay On Pain,[11] 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, and recommends either assimilation or emigration to Palestine. The article appeared as part of a symposium on the Jewish Question in the Süddeutsche Monatshefte, in which many Jewish authors participated, and whose editor, Paul Nikolaus Cossmann, was also Jewish.[12]

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. 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). He was also in charge of executing younger German soldiers who had deserted. In his book Un Allemand à Paris, the writer Gerhard Heller states that he had been interested in learning how a person reacts to death under such circumstances and had a morbid fascination for the subject.[13]

Jünger appears on the fringes of the Stauffenberg bomb plot. He was clearly an inspiration to anti-Nazi conservatives in the German Army,[14] 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 naval (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.[10] His work The Peace (German title: Der Friede), written in 1943 and published abroad in 1947, marked the end of his involvement in politics. His public image rehabilitated by the 1950s, he went on to be regarded as a towering figure of West German literature. West 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.[15] 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. When German Communists threatened his safety in 1945, Bertolt Brecht instructed them to "Leave Jünger alone."[16] Jünger was immensely popular in France, where at one time 48 of his translated books were in print.[17] In 1984, he spoke at the Verdun memorial, alongside with his admirers, French president François Mitterrand and German chancellor Helmut Kohl.[18]

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 automated machine-driven 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.[citation needed] 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 with LSD inventor Albert Hofmann and they took LSD together several times. Hofmann's memoir LSD, My Problem Child describes some of these meetings.[19]

One of his most important literary contributions was the metahistoric figure of the Anarch, 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.[20][page needed]

Jünger's 100th birthday on 29 March 1995, was met with praise from many quarters, including the socialist French president François Mitterrand.

File:Maison ernst jünger wilflingen.jpg
Ernst Jünger House in Wilflingen.

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.[17]

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".[21]


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. He was the last living bearer of the military version of the order of the Pour le Mérite.[citation needed]

Accusations of fascism

Some say Jünger was a fascist.[22][page needed] 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.[23] 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.[24]

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),[25] and it has been highly influential in its analysis of the relationship between aesthetics and politics.

Jünger and photography

Ernst Jünger's photobooks are visual accompaniments to his writings on technology and modernity. The seven books of photography Jünger published between 1928 and 1934 are representative of the most militaristic and radically right wing period in his writing. Jünger's first photobooks, Die Unvergessenen (The Unforgotten, 1929) and Der Kampf um das Reich (The Battle for the Reich, 1929) are collections of photographs of fallen WWI soldiers and the World War front, many that he took himself. He also contributed six essays on the relationship between war and photography in a photobook of war images called Das Antlitz des Weltkrieges: Fronterlebnisse deutscher Soldaten (The Face of the World War: Front Experiences of German Soldiers, 1930) and edited a volume of photographs dealing with the first world war, Hier spricht der Feind: Kriegserlebnisse unserer Gegner (The Voice of the Enemy: War Experiences of our Adversaries, 1931). Jünger also edited a collection of essays, Krieg und Krieger (War and Warriors, 1930, 1933) and wrote the foreword for a photo anthology of airplanes and flying called Luftfahrt ist Not! (Flying is imperative! [i.e., a necessity], 1928).[26]

In fiction

  • Ernst Jünger appears as a character in the 1974 French film Black Thursday
  • He has a brief and marginal appearance in Jonathan Littell's docudrama Les Bienveillantes, wherein oddly he is derided as a Bolshevik by some of the character's associates.
  • He makes brief appearances in Roberto Bolaño's Nocturno de Chile (By Night in Chile), La literatura nazi en América (Nazi literature in America), and 2666.
  • He appears in Günter Grass's Mein Jahrhundert (My Century) in conversation with fellow German author Erich Maria Remarque.

Decorations and awards

  • 1916 Iron Cross (1914 ) II and I. Class
  • 1917 Prussian House Order of Hohenzollern Knight's Cross with Swords
  • 1918 Wound Badge (1918 ) in Gold
  • 1918 Pour le Mérite ( military class)
  • 1939 Clasp to the Iron Cross Second Class
  • 1956 Literature Prize of the city of Bremen ( for Am Saracen ); Culture Prize of the city of Goslar
  • 1959 Grand Merit Cross
  • 1960 Honorary Citizen of the Municipality Wilflingen ; honorary gift of the Cultural Committee of the Federation of German Industry
  • 1965 Honorary Citizen of Rehburg ; Immermann Prize of the city of Düsseldorf
  • 1970 Freiherr- vom-Stein- Gold Medal of the Alfred Toepfer Foundation
  • 1973 Literature Prize of the Academy Amriswil ( Organizer: Dino Larese ; Laudations : Alfred Andersch, François Bondy, Friedrich Georg Jünger)
  • 1974 Schiller Memorial Prize of Baden -Württemberg
  • 1977 Aigle d'Or the city of Nice, Great Federal Cross of Merit with Star
  • 1979 Médaille de la Paix ( Peace Medal ) of the city of Verdun
  • 1980 Medal of Merit of the State of Baden -Württemberg
  • 1981 Prix Europa Littérature the Fondation Internationale pour le Rayonnement des Arts et des Lettres ; Prix Mondial Cino the Fondation Simone et del Duca (Paris ), Gold Medal of the Humboldt Society
  • 1982 Goethe Prize of Frankfurt
  • 1983 Honorary Citizen of the city of Montpellier ; Premio Circeo the Associazione Italo – Germanica Amicizia ( Association of Italian – German friendship)
  • 1985 Grand Merit Cross with Star and Sash
  • 1986 Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art
  • 1987 Premio di Tevere (awarded by Francesco Cossiga in Rome)
  • 1989 honorary doctorate from the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao
  • 1990 Oberschwäbischer Art Prize
  • 1993 Grand Prize of the Jury of the Venice Biennale
  • 1993 Robert Schuman Prize ( Alfred Toepfer Foundation )
  • 1995 honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Arts of the Complutense University of Madrid

In 1985, to mark Jünger's 90th birthday, the German state of Baden-Württemberg established Ernst Jünger Prize in Entomology. It is given every three years for outstanding work in the field of entomology.

Ernst Jünger was in accordance with the holder of the 'Pour le Mérite' the last recipients of honorary olds . § 11 of the law on titles, medals and decorations from the year 1957.[clarification needed]


For an English listing, see English (bibliography), Jü .

A complete listing is Books in German (bibliography), Jü .

Selected works

  • Jünger, Ernst (2004) [1920], In Stahlgewittern [Storm of Steel] (in German), London: Penguin, ISBN 0-86527-310-3 .
  • ——— (1922), Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis (in German) .
  • ———, Das Wäldchen 125 [Copse 125: A Chronicle from the Trench Warfare of 1918] (in German), ISBN 0-86527-379-0 .
  • ——— (1925), Feuer und Blut (in German) .
  • ——— (1929), Das abenteuerliche Herz [The Adventurous Heart] (in German) .
  • ——— (1931), Die totale Mobilmachung (in German) .
  • ——— (1932), Der Arbeiter, Herrschaft und Gestalt (in German) .
  • ——— (1934), Geheimnisse der Sprache (in German) .
  • ——— (1934), Blätter und Steine (in German) .
  • ——— (1934), Über den Schmerz [On Pain] (in German), ISBN 978-0-914386-40-7 .
  • ——— (1936), Afrikanische Spiele (in German) .
  • ——— (1939), Auf den Marmorklippen [On the Marble Cliffs] (in German), ISBN 0-140-02985-0 .
  • ——— (1942), Gärten und Straßen (in German) .
  • ——— (1943), Myrdun. Briefe aus Norwegen (in German) .
  • ——— (1947), Der Friede [The Peace] (in German) .
  • ——— (1947), Atlantische Fahrt (in German) .
  • ——— (1947), Sprache und Körperbau (in German) .
  • ——— (1948), Ein Inselfrühling (in German) .
  • ——— (1949), Heliopolis (in German) .
  • ——— (1949), Strahlungen (in German) .
  • ——— (1950), Über die Linie (in German) .
  • ——— (1951), Der Waldgang (in German) .
  • ——— (1952), Besuch auf Godenholm (in German) .
  • ——— (1953), Der gordische Knoten (in German) .
  • ——— (1954), Das Sanduhrbuch (in German) .
  • ——— (1955), Am Sarazenenturm (in German) .
  • ——— (1956), Rivarol (in German) .
  • ——— (1957), Serpentara (in German) .
  • ——— (1957), Gläserne Bienen [The Glass Bees] (in German), ISBN 0-374-52173-5 .
  • ——— (1957), San Pietro (in German) .
  • ——— (1958), Jahre der Okkupation (in German) .
  • ——— (1959), An der Zeitmauer (in German) .
  • ——— (1960), Sgraffiti (in German) .
  • ——— (1960), Der Weltstaat (in German) .
  • ——— (1960), Ein Vormittag in Antibes (in German) .
  • ——— (1963), Das spanische Mondhorn (in German) .
  • ——— (1963), Sturm (in German) .
  • ——— (1963), Geheimnisse der Sprache (in German) .
  • ——— (1963), Typus, Name, Gestalt (in German) .
  • ——— (1961–65), Werke (in German)  (10 vols.)
  • ——— (1966), Grenzgänge (in German) .
  • ——— (1967), Subtile Jagden (in German) .
  • ——— (1967), Im Granit (in German) .
  • ——— (1969), Federbälle (in German) .
  • ——— (1970), Annäherungen: Drogen und Rausch (in German) .
  • ——— (1970), Ad hocv (in German) .
  • ——— (1970), Lettern und Ideogramme (in German) .
  • ——— (1971), Sinn und Bedeutung (in German) .
  • ——— (1973), Die Zwille (in German) .
  • ——— (1974), Zahlen und Götter; Philemon und Baukis (in German) .
  • ——— (1977), Eumeswil (in German), ISBN 0-941419-97-5 .
  • ——— (1979ff), Sämtliche Werke (in German)  Check date values in: |date= (help) (18 vols.)
  • ——— (1980), Paul Léautaud in Memoriam (in German) .
  • ——— (1980–81), Siebzig Verweht (in German) .
  • ——— (1983), Flugträume (in German) .
  • ——— (1983), Aladins Problem [Aladdin's Problem] (in German), ISBN 0-7043-0208-X .
  • ——— (1984), Author und Autorschaft (in German) .
  • ——— (1985), Eine gefährliche Begegnung [A Dangerous Encounter] (in German), ISBN 0-941419-37-1 .
  • ——— (1987), Zwei Mal Halley (in German) .
  • ——— (1990), Die Schere (in German) .

Texts about Jünger

  • Barnouw, Dagmar (1988), Weimar Intellectuals and the Threat of Modernity, Bloomington: Indiana University Press .
  • Biro, Matthew (1994), "The new man as cyborg: Figures of technology in Weimar visual culture", New German Critique 62: 71, doi:10.2307/488510 .
  • Bullock, Marcus P (1992), The Violent Eye: Ernst Jünger's Visions and Revisions on the European Right, Wayne State University Press, ISBN 0-8143-2334-0 .
  • Bullock, Marcus. "Ernst Jünger." (2000), <span />Encyclopedia of German Literature, Volume 2 J – Z, ed. Matthias Konzett, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn .
  • Garland, Mary; Garland, Henry (1997), "Ernst Jünger", in Garland, Mary, Companion to German Literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press .
  • Garland, Mary; Garland, Henry (1997), "In Stahlgewittern", in Garland, Mary, Companion to German Literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press .
  • Hervier, Julien (1995), The Details of Time: Conversations With Ernst Jünger, Marsilio, ISBN 0-941419-95-9 .
  • Hoffmann, Michael (2004), Introduction, London: Penguin .
  • Herf, Jeffrey (1984), Reactionary Modernism (Chapter Four), New York: Cambridge University Press .
  • Huyssen, Andreas (Spring–Summer 1993), "Fortifying the Heart—Totally: Ernst Jünger's Armored Texts", New German Critique 59: 3–23, doi:10.2307/488219 .
  • Loose, Gerhard, Ernst Jünger, ISBN 0-80572479-6 .
  • Mitchell, Allan (May 2011), The Devil's Captain: Ernst Jünger in Nazi Paris, 1941–1944, Berghahn Books .
  • Neaman, Elliot Y (1999), A Dubious Past: Ernst Jünger and the Politics of Literature After Nazism, University of California, Berkeley, ISBN 0-520-21628-8 .
  • Nevin, Thomas (1996), Ernst Jünger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914–1945, Duke University Press, ISBN 0-8223-1879-2 .
  • Stern, JP (1953), Ernst Jünger, A Writer of Our Time, Studies in Modern European Literature and Thought, Cambridge: Bowes & Bowes .
  • Strathausen, Carsten (2000), "The Return of the Gaze: Stereoscopic Vision in Junger and Benjamin", New German Critique 80: 125, doi:10.2307/488636 .
  • Woods, R (1982), Ernst Jünger and the Nature of Political Commitment, Stuttgart .
  • Hervier, Julien, Ernst Jünger: dans les tempêtes du siècle, Fayard, Paris, 2014



  1. ^ Jünger 2004, p. 119.
  2. ^ de:Ernst-Jünger-Preis für Entomologie
  3. ^ Garland & Garland 1997, p. 437.
  4. ^ Bullock 1992, p. 549.
  5. ^ Hoffmann 2004, p. vii.
  6. ^ Hoffmann 2004, p. viii.
  7. ^ Barr, Hilary Barr (24 June 1993). "An Exchange on Ernst Jünger". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Barr, Hilary Barr (24 June 1993). "An Exchange on Ernst Jünger". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Barr, Hilary Barr (24 June 1993). "An Exchange on Ernst Jünger". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Hoffmann 2004, p. x.
  11. ^ On pain (translation), Telos press .
  12. ^ Barr, Hilary Barr (24 June 1993). "An Exchange on Ernst Jünger". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Berndt Engelmann (1986), In Hitler's Germany, p. 239 
  14. ^ Neaman 1999, p. 122-23.
  15. ^ Hoffmann 2004, p. xi.
  16. ^ Buruma, Ian. "The Anarch at Twilight". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Hoffmann 2004, p. xii.
  18. ^ Hoffmann 2004, p. xiv.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Laska, Bernd A (1997), <span />'Katechon' und 'Anarch'. Carl Schmitts und Ernst Jüngers Reaktionen auf Max Stirner (in German), Nürnberg: LSR-Verlag .
  21. ^ Binder, David (18 February 1998), "Ernst Junger, Contradictory German Author Who Wrote About War, Is Dead at 102", The New York Times .
  22. ^ Vanoosthuyse, Michel (2005), Fascisme et littérature pure, la fabrique d'Ernst Jünger (in French), FR: Agone, ISBN 978-2-7489-0042-2 , 330 pp.
  23. ^ Huyssen 1993, p. 5.
  24. ^ Huyssen 1993, p. 8.
  25. ^ Benjamin, Walter (1994), "Theories of German Fascism", in Kaes, Anton; Jay, Martin; Dimendberg, Edward, The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 159–64 .
  26. ^ Gil, Isabel Capeloa. 2010. "The Visuality of Catastrophe in Ernst Jünger's Der gefährliche Augenblick and Die veränderte Welt". KulturPoetik. 10 (1): 62–84.
  27. ^ "102 år i hjärtat av Europa (1998)". Swedish Film Database. Swedish Film Institute. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 

External links

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