Ernst Jünger, by Wikipedia

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Ernst Jünger, by Wikipedia

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Ernst Jünger
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/7/18



Ernst Jünger
A centenarian Ernst Jünger, wearing both the Pour le Mérite and the Bavarian Maximilian Order.
Born 29 March 1895
Heidelberg, Germany
Died 17 February 1998 (aged 102)
Riedlingen, Germany
Nationality German
Genre Diaries, novels
Subject War
Notable works In Stahlgewittern
Auf den Marmorklippen
Notable awards Iron Cross I. Class (1916)
Pour le Mérite (1918)
Grand Merit Cross (1959)
Schiller Memorial Prize (1974)
Goethe Prize (1982)
Maximilian Order (1986)
Spouse m. 1925 Gretha von Jeinsen (1906–60)
m. 1962 Liselotte Lohrer (1917–2000)
Military career
Allegiance German Empire (1914–1918)
Weimar Republic (1918–1923)
Nazi Germany (1939–1944)
Service/branch Prussian Army
German Army
Years of service 1914–1923, 1939–1944
Battles/wars World War I
World War II

Ernst Jünger (29 March 1895 – 17 February 1998) was a highly decorated German soldier, author, and entomologist who became publicly known for his World War I memoir Storm of Steel. The son of a successful businessman and chemist, Jünger rebelled against an affluent upbringing and sought adventure in the Wandervogel, before running away to briefly serve in the French Foreign Legion, an illegal act. Because he escaped prosecution in Germany due to his father's efforts, Jünger was able to enlist on the outbreak of war. During an ill-fated German offensive in 1918 Jünger's World War I career ended with the last and most serious of his many woundings, and he was awarded the Pour le Mérite, a rare decoration for one of his rank.

In the aftermath of World War II, Jünger was treated with some suspicion as a possible fellow traveler of the Nazis. By the latter stages of the Cold War, his unorthodox writings about the impact of materialism in modern society were widely seen as conservative rather than radical nationalist, and his philosophical works came to be highly regarded in mainstream German circles. Jünger ended life as an honoured establishment figure, although critics continued to charge him with the glorification of war as a transcending experience.


Early life

Ernst Jünger was born in Heidelberg as the eldest of six children of the chemical engineer Ernst Georg Jünger (1868–1943) and of Karoline Lampl (1873–1950). Two of his siblings died as infants. His father acquired some wealth in potash mining. He went to school in Hannover from 1901 to 1905, and during 1905 to 1907 to boarding schools in Hanover and Brunswick. He rejoined his family in 1907, in Rehburg, and went to school in Wunstorf with his siblings from 1907 to 1912. During this time, he developed his passion for adventure novels and for entomology. He spent some time as an exchange student in Buironfosse, Saint-Quentin, France, in September 1909. With his younger brother Friedrich Georg Jünger (1898–1977) he joined the Wandervogel movement in 1911. His first poem was published with the Gaublatt für Hannoverland in November 1911.[1] By this time, Jünger had a reputation as a budding bohemian poet.[2]

In 1913, Jünger was a student at the Hamelin gymnasium. In November, he travelled to Verdun and enlisted in the French Foreign Legion for five years. Stationed in a training camp at Sidi Bel Abbès, Algeria, he deserted and travelled to Morocco, but was captured and returned to camp. Six weeks later, he was dismissed from the Legion due to the intervention of the German Foreign Office, at the request of his father, on the grounds of being a minor. Jünger was now sent to a boarding school in Hanover, where he was seated next to the future communist leader Werner Scholem (1895–1940).

World War I

Jünger during World War I, wearing the House Order of Hohenzollern.

On 1 August 1914, shortly after the start of World War I, Jünger volunteered with the 73rd Infantry Regiment Albrecht von Preußen of the Hannoverian 19th Division and after training was transported to the Champagne front in December. He was wounded for the first time in April 1915. During reconvalesce, he decided to enlist as an officer aspirant (Fahnenjunker), and he was promoted to Lieutenant on 27 November 1915. As platoon leader, he gained a reputation for his combat exploits and initiative in offensive patrolling and reconnaissance.

Near the obliterated remains of the village of Guillemont his platoon took up a front line position in a defile that had been shelled until it consisted of little more than a dip strewn with the rotting corpses of predecessors. He wrote:

As the storm raged around us, I walked up and down my sector. The men had fixed bayonets. They stood stony and motionless, rifle in hand, on the front edge of the dip, gazing into the field. Now and then, by the light of a flare, I saw steel helmet by steel helmet, blade by glinting blade, and I was overcome by a feeling of invulnerability. We might be crushed, but surely we could not be conquered.[3]

The platoon was relieved but Jünger was wounded by shrapnel in the rest area of Combles and hospitalized, his platoon reoccupied the position on the eve of the Battle of Guillemont and was obliterated in a British offensive.[4] He was wounded for the third time in November 1916, and awarded the Iron Cross First Class in January 1917.[5]

In the spring of 1917, he was promoted to command of 7th company and stationed at Cambrai. Transferred to Langemarck in July, Jünger's actions against the advancing British included forcing retreating soldiers to join his resistance line at gunpoint. He arranged the evacuation of his brother Friedrich Georg, who had been wounded. In the Battle of Cambrai (1917) Jünger sustained two wounds, by a bullet passing through his helmet at the back of the head, and another by a shell fragment on the forehead.

He was awarded the House Order of Hohenzollern. While advancing to take up positions just before Ludendorff's Operation Michael on 19 March 1918, Jünger was forced to call a halt after the guides lost their way, and while bunched together half of his company were lost to a direct hit from artillery. Jünger himself survived, and led the survivors as part of a successful advance but was wounded twice towards the end of the action, being shot in the chest and less seriously across the head. After reconvalescence, he returned to his regiment in June, sharing a widespread feeling that the tide had now turned against Germany and victory was impossible.

On 25 August he was wounded for the seventh and final time near Favreuil, being shot through the chest while leading his company in a German advance that was quickly overwhelmed by a British counter-attack. Becoming aware the position he was lying in was falling, Jünger rose, and as his lung drained of the blood spurting through the wound, recovered enough to escape in the confused situation. He made his way to a machine gun post that was holding out, where a doctor told him to lie down immediately. Carried to the rear in a tarpaulin, he and the bearers came under fire, killing the doctor. A soldier who tried to take Jünger on his shoulders was killed after a few yards, but another took his place.

Jünger received the Wound Badge 1st Class. While he was treated in a Hannover hospital, on 22 September he received notice of being awarded the Pour le Mérite on the recommendation of division commander Johannes von Busse. Pour le Mérite, the highest military decoration of the German Empire, was awarded some 700 times during the war, but almost exclusively to high-ranking officers (and seventy times to combat pilots); Jünger was one of only eleven infantry company leaders receiving the order.[6]

Throughout the war, Jünger kept a diary, which would become the basis of his 1920 Storm of Steel. He spent his free time reading the works of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Ariosto and Kubin, besides entomological journals he was sent from home. During 1917, he was collecting beetles in the trenches and while on patrol, 149 specimens between 2 January and 27 July, which he listed under the title of Fauna coleopterologica douchyensis ("Coleopterological fauna of the Douchy region").[6]

Interbellum period

Ernst Jünger in uniform as depicted in the frontispiece of the 3rd edition of In Stahlgewittern (1922).

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.[7] His war experiences described in Storm of Steel (German title: In Stahlgewittern), which Jünger self-published in 1920, gradually made him famous. He married Gretha von Jeinsen (1906–60) in 1925. They had two children, Ernst Jr. (1926–44) and Alexander (1934–93).

He criticized the fragile and unstable democracy of the Weimar Republic, stating that he "hated democracy like the plague."[8] More explicitly than in Storm of Steel, he portrayed war as a mystical experience that revealed the nature of existence.[9] According to Jünger, the essence of the modern was found in total mobilisation for military effectiveness, which tested the capacity of the human senses.[10] In 1932, he published The Worker (German title: Der Arbeiter), which called for the creation of an activist society run by warrior-worker-scholars.[11] In the essay On Pain,[12] 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. Around this time his writing included the aphorism "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger; and what kills me makes me incredibly strong."[13]

Third Reich

As a famous war hero and prominent nationalist critic of the Weimar Republic, the ascendant Nazi Party (NSDAP) courted Jünger as a natural ally, but Jünger rejected such advances. When Jünger moved to Berlin in 1927, he rejected an offer of a seat in the Reichstag for the NSDAP. In 1930, he openly denounced Hitler's suppression of the Rural People's Movement.[14] In the edition of 22 October 1932 of Völkischer Beobachter, the article Das endlose dialektische Gespräch ("the never-ending dialectical debate") attacked Jünger for his rejection of the "blood and soil" doctrine, accusing him of being an "intellectualist" and a liberal.[15] Jünger again refused a seat offered to him in the Reichstag following the Nazi Party's ascension to power in January 1933, and he refused the invitation to head the German Academy of Literature (Die deutsche Akademie der Dichtung).[16] 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.[15] Jünger also refused to speak on Joseph Goebbels's radio. He was one of the few "nationalist" authors whose names were 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.[15]

By the end of the 1920s, Junger feared that the Nazis would betray the purity of their original national-revolutionary ideals. J. P. Stern believes that Junger's teachings had initially served as an "intellectual superstructure" for the Nazi political program and indeed, after 1933, he was the most important writer to remain in Germany. [61] Significantly, he hardly made any attempt to oppose or to protest against Nazi exploitation of his name as a soldier and a patriot in order to glorify their aims.

Junger never joined the Nazi party, but, to say the least, he did not regret the fall of the Weimar Republic. On the contrary, he felt that the Nazis' rise to power was the "metaphysical solution" that would put into practice the scheme of total mobilization in its pure form. [64] The many explanations that have been given as to why Junger did not join the Nazi party all agree on one point. Junger, with aristocratic disdain, fundamentally rejected the plebeian aspects of Nazism. Junger's aloofness toward the Nazis from 1930 onward, despite his closeness to them in the previous decade, was due to his wish to preserve the idealistic purity of the new nationalism. He feared that the Nazi party was open to the same "party egoism" as he found in the other parties, and he rejected its legalistic tactics and compromises with the Weimar Republic. He believed that Nazism was only a temporary phenomenon. [65] Nor did his ideas really correspond to Nazi ideology, since he did not believe in a biological racism. The rejection by the Nazis of his intellectual and aesthetic criteria should also be noted.

However, the Jungerian "new man" did foreshadow and pave the way for the men of the SS. Indeed, his ideal was not so different from the Nazi storm trooper of the period -- part ex-serviceman, part delinquent, displaying an attitude of 'heroic realism,' which meant 'fighting for its own sake.'" [66] Stanley Rosen saw a connection between Heidegger's Being and Time and Junger's views in Der Arbeiter, and their respective attraction to Nazism. Nihilism and fascism were linked by an umbilical cord: "Junger is of interest because his career provides us with a series of steps similar to those traversed by Heidegger: at first, an active encouragement of the contemporary nihilistic motives; then, disillusion with the political mobilization of what was supposed to be a spiritual purification; last, ... waiting for new, anti nihilistic revelations of Being." [67] In Rosen's opinion, the nihilization of Western civilization proceeded in a straight line from Der Arbeiter to Nazism. In 1934, one year after Hitler came to power, one Nazi writer expressed appreciation of Junger's contribution to the outlook of German youth in the following terms: "German youth is first of all indebted to Ernst Junger for the fact that technology is no longer a problem for us. They have accepted the admirable views about technology expressed in Feuer und Blut; they live in harmony with them. They no longer need an ideology with which to overcome [technology]. Junger has liberated us from that nightmare." [68] The "nightmare" in question was the hostility to the automobile, to technology, to industrialization, and to urbanism that had characterized volkisch anti modernism, the cultural despair of Moller Van den Bruck, and Spengler's pessimism.

-- Nietzsche and the Fascist Dimension: The Case of Ernst Junger, by David Ohana

When Jünger left Berlin in 1933, his house was said to have been searched by the Gestapo. On the Marble Cliffs (1939, German title: Auf den Marmorklippen), a short novel in the form of a parable, 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. Jünger had been interested in learning how a person reacts to death under such circumstances and had a morbid fascination for the subject.[17]

Jünger appears on the fringes of the Stauffenberg bomb plot. He was clearly an inspiration to anti-Nazi conservatives in the German Army,[18] 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.[citation needed]

Postwar period

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.[11] His work The Peace (German title: Der Friede), written in 1943 and published abroad in 1947, marked the end of his involvement in politics. When German Communists threatened his safety in 1945, Bertolt Brecht instructed them to "Leave Jünger alone."[19] 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 (Werke) in 1965, extended to 18 volumes 1978–1983. This made Jünger one of just four German authors to see two subsequent editions of their collected works published during their lifetime, alongside Goethe, Klopstock and Wieland.[20]

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.

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.

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.

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.[21]

Later life

Jünger (left) and his wife Liselotte at a reception of the President of the Bundestag, Philipp Jenninger in 1986.

One of the most important contributions of Jünger's later literary production is the metahistoric figure of the Anarch, an ideal figure of a sovereign individual, conceived in his novel Eumeswil (1977),[22] which evolved from his earlier conception of the Waldgänger, or "Forest Fleer" by influence of Max Stirner's conception of the Unique (der Einzige).[23][24][25][page needed]

In 1981, Jünger was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca. Jünger was immensely popular in France, where at one time 48 of his translated books were in print.[26] In 1984, he spoke at the Verdun memorial, alongside his admirers, French president François Mitterrand and German chancellor Helmut Kohl.[27]

Although he had been cleared of the accusation of any fascist or Nazi sympathies since the 1950s, and he never showed any sympathy to the political style of "blood and soil" popular in the Third Reich, Jünger's national conservativism and his ongoing role as conservative philosopher and icon made him a controversial figure in the eyes of the German Marxist Left, and Huyssen (1993) argued that nevertheless "his conservative literature made Nazism highly attractive",[28] and that "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".[29] Marxist writer and critic Walter Benjamin wrote "Theories of German Fascism" (1930) as a review of War and Warrior, a collection of essays edited by Jünger.[30] Despite the ongoing political criticism of his work, Jünger said he never regretted anything he wrote, nor would he ever take it back.[26]

Jünger 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".[31]

His younger son Alexander, a physician, committed suicide in 1993. Jünger's 100th birthday on 29 March 1995, was met with praise from many quarters, including the socialist French president François Mitterrand.


A year before his death, Jünger was received into the Catholic Church and began to receive the Sacraments.[32] He died on 17 February 1998 in Riedlingen, Upper Swabia in his 103rd year. He was the last living bearer of the military version of the order of the Pour le Mérite.[33] His body was buried at Wilflingen Cemetery.[34]

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 World War I 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).[35]

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 Sarazenentum ); 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.


Collected works

Jünger's works were edited in ten volumes in 1960–1965 by Ernst Klett Verlag, Stuttgart,[36] and again in 18 volumes by Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart in 1978–1983, with four supplement volumes added posthumously, 1999–2003.[37] The Sämtliche Werke edition is now partially out of print (out of print as of December 2015: vols. 6, 7, 10, 15–18), and was re-issued in 2015 in paperback (ISBN 978-3-608-96105-8) and epub (ISBN epub: 978-3-608-10923-8) formats. A selection from the full collected works in five volumes was published in 1995 (4th ed. 2012, ISBN 978-3-608-93235-5).


The following is a list of Jünger's original publications in book form (not including journal articles or correspondence).

• 1920, In Stahlgewittern (Storm of Steel)
• 1922, Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis
• 1923, Sturm
• 1925, Feuer und Blut
• 1925, Das Wäldchen 125 (Copse 125: A Chronicle from the Trench Warfare of 1918)
• 1929, Das abenteuerliche Herz. Aufzeichnungen bei Tag und Nacht
• 1932, Der Arbeiter. Herrschaft und Gestalt
• 1934, Blätter und Steine
• 1936, Akfrikanische Spiele (African Diversions)
• 1938, Das abenteuerliche Herz. Figuren und Capricios (The Adventurous Heart: Figures and Capriccios)
• 1939, Auf den Marmorklippen (On the Marble Cliffs)
• 1942, Gärten und Straßen
• 1943, Myrdun. Briefe aus Norwegen
• 1945, Der Friede. Ein Wort an die Jugend Europas und an die Jugend der Welt (The Peace)
• 1947, Atlantische Fahrt
• 1947, Sprache und Körperbau
• 1948, Ein Inselfrühling
• 1949, Heliopolis. Rückblick auf eine Stadt (Heliopolis)
• 1949, Strahlungen
• 1951, Am Kieselstrand
• 1951, Über die Linie
• 1951, Der Waldgang (The Forest Passage)
• 1952, Besuch auf Godenholm (Visit to Godenholm)
• 1953, Der gordische Knoten
• 1954, Das Sanduhrbuch
• 1955, Am Sarazenturm
• 1956, Rivarol
• 1957, Gläserne Bienen (The Glass Bees)
• 1958, Jahre der Okkupation
• 1959, An der Zeitmauer
• 1960, Der Weltstaat
• 1963, Typus, Name, Gestalt
• 1966, Grenzgänge. Essays. Reden. Träume
• 1967, Subtile Jagden
• 1969, Sgraffiti
• 1970, Ad hoc
• 1970, Annäherungen. Drogen und Rausch
• 1973, Die Zwille
• 1974, Zahlen und Götter. Philemon und Baucis. Zwei Essays
• 1977, Eumeswil
• 1980, Siebzig verweht I
• 1981, Siebzig verweht II
• 1983, Aladins Problem (Aladdin's Problem)
• 1983, Maxima – Minima, Adnoten zum 'Arbeiter'
• 1984, Autor und Autorschaft
• 1985, Eine gefährliche Begegnung (A Dangerous Encounter)
• 1987, Zwei Mal Halley
• 1990, Die Schere
• 1993, Prognosen
• 1993, Siebzig verweht III
• 1995, Siebzig verweht IV
• 1997, Siebzig verweht V


Klett-Cotta edited Jünger's correspondence with Rudolf Schlichter, Carl Schmitt, Gerhard Nebel, Friedrich Hielscher, Gottfried Benn, Stefan Andres and Martin Heidegger in seven separate volumes during 1997–2008.

• Ernst Jünger, Rudolf Schlichter: Briefe 1935–1955, ed. Dirk Heißerer. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-608-93682-3.
• Ernst Jünger, Carl Schmitt: Briefe 1930–1983, ed. Helmuth Kiesel. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-608-93452-9.
• Ernst Jünger, Gerhard Nebel: Briefe 1938–1974, eds. Ulrich Fröschle and Michael Neumann. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-608-93626-2.
• Ernst Jünger, Friedrich Hielscher: Briefe 1927–1985, eds. Ina Schmidt and Stefan Breuer. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-608-93617-3.
• Gottfried Benn, Ernst Jünger: Briefwechsel 1949–1956, ed. Holger Hof. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-608-93619-X.
• Ernst Jünger, Stefan Andres: Briefe 1937–1970, ed. Günther Nicolin. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, 2007, ISBN 978-3-608-93664-3.
• Ernst Jünger, Martin Heidegger: Briefwechsel 1949–1975. eds. Simone Maier, Günter Figal. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, 2008, ISBN 978-3-608-93641-4.
• Alfred Baeumler und Ernst Jünger: Mit einem Anhang der überlieferten Korrespondenz und weiterem Material. eds. Ulrich Fröschle und Thomas Kuzias. Thelem Universitätsverlag, Dresden 2008, ISBN 978-3-939888-01-7.
• Ernst Jünger – Albert Renger-Patzsch. Briefwechsel 1943–1966 und weitere Dokumente.eds. Matthias Schöning, Bernd Stiegler, Ann and Jürgen Wilde. Wilhelm Fink, Paderborn/München 2010, ISBN 978-3-7705-4872-9.
• Ernst Jünger, Dolf Sternberger: Briefwechsel 1941–1942 und 1973–1980. eds. Detlev Schöttker and Anja S. Hübner. In: Sinn und Form, 4/2011, S. 448–473[38]
• Luise Rinser und Ernst Jünger Briefwechsel 1939 - 1944, mit einem einleitenden Essay von Benedikt Maria Trappen Aufgang Verlag, Augsburg 2016, ISBN 978-3-945732-10-6

English translations

The bulk of Jünger's publications remains untranslated, but some of his major novels have appeared in English translation.
• In Stahlgewittern: Basil Creighton, The Storm of Steel. From the Diary of a German Storm-Troop Officer on the Western Front. London: Chatto & Windus (1929).
• Das Wäldchen 125: Basil Creighton, Copse 125: A Chronicle from the Trench Warfare of 1918. London: Chatto & Windus (1930).
• Auf den Marmorklippen: Stuart Hood, On the Marble Cliffs. London: John Lehmann (1947).
• Der Friede: Stuart Hood, The Peace. Hinsdale, IL: Henry Regnery Company (1948).
• Afrikanische Spiele, Stuart Hood, African Diversions. London: John Lehmann (1954).
• Gläserne Bienen: Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Mayer, The Glass Bees. New York: Noonday Press (1960).
• Annäherungen. Drogen Und Rausch: 'Drugs and Ecstasy' in: Myths and Symbols. Studies in Honor of Mircea Eliade, eds. Joseph M. Kitagawa and Charles H. Long. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press (1969), pp. 327–42.
• Aladdins Problem: Joachim Neugroschel, Aladdin's Problem. New York: Marsilio (1992).
• Eumeswil: Joachim Neugroschel, Eumeswil. New York: Marsilio (1993).
• Eine gefährliche Begegnung: Hilary Barr, A Dangerous Encounter. New York: Marsilio (1993).
• Über den Schmerz: David C. Durst, On Pain. New York: Telos Press Publishing (2008).
• Das abenteuerliche Herz. Figuren und Capricios: Thomas Friese, The Adventurous Heart: Figures and Capriccios. Candor, NY: Telos Press Publishing (2012).
• Der Waldgang: Thomas Friese, The Forest Passage. Candor, NY: Telos Press Publishing (2013).
• Besuch auf Godenholm: Annabel Moynihan, Visit to Godenholm. Stockholm: Edda Publishing (2015).
• Sturm: Alexis P. Walker, Sturm. Candor, NY: Telos Press Publishing (2015).


• La Guerre d'un seul homme (One Man's War) (1981). Film directed by Edgardo Cozarinskyjuxtaposing excerpts from Jünger's World War II diaries during his years in Paris with French propaganda films of the same period.
• 102 Years in the Heart of Europe: A Portrait of Ernst Jünger (102 år i hjärtat av Europa) (1998), Swedish documentary film by Jesper Wachtmeister and Björn Cederberg[39]


1. Heimo Schwilk, Klett-Cotta, Ernst Jünger – Ein Jahrhundertleben, 2014, chapter 3. Heimo Schwilk (ed.), Ernst Jünger: Leben und Werk in Bildern und Texten, Klett-Cotta, 2010, p. 24.
2. Heimo Schwilk (ed.), Ernst Jünger: Leben und Werk in Bildern und Texten, Klett-Cotta, 2010, p. 27.
3. Storm of Steel translated by Michael Hoffman, Penguin p99
4. original casualty report, published 4 October 1916, p. 15,280.
5. Jünger 2004, p. 119.
6. Helmuth Kiesel, Ernst Jünger: Die Biographie , Siedler Verlag, 2009.
7. de:Ernst-Jünger-Preis für Entomologie
8. Hoffmann 2004, p. vii.
9. Garland & Garland 1997, p. 437.
10. Bullock 1992, p. 549.
11. Hoffmann 2004, p. x.
12. On pain (translation), Telos press.
13. Michael Hoffman's Introduction to Storm of Steel
14. Peter Longerich: Jünger, Ernst, Schriftsteller. In: Wolfgang Benz, Hermann Graml (Hrsg.): Biographisches Lexikon zur Weimarer Republik. C.H. Beck, München 1988, 164f.
15. Barr, Hilary Barr (24 June 1993). "An Exchange on Ernst Jünger". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
16. Hoffmann 2004, p. viii.
17. Berndt Engelmann (1986). In Hitler's Germany. p. 239; citing Gerhard Heller, Un Allemand à Paris.
18. Neaman 1999, p. 122-23.
19. Buruma, Ian. "The Anarch at Twilight". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
20. Hoffmann 2004, p. xi.
22. Macklin, Graham D. (September 2005). "Co-opting the counter culture: Troy Southgate and the National Revolutionary Faction". Patterns of Prejudice (.pdf). 39 (3): 301–326. doi:10.1080/00313220500198292.
23. Warrior, Waldgänger, Anarch: An essay on Ernst Jünger's concept of the sovereign individualArchived 9 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine. by Abdalbarr Braun, accessed 22 December 2007.
24. An exposition of the figure of the Anarch through citations from Juenger's Eumeswil.
25. Laska, Bernd A (1997), 'Katechon' und 'Anarch'. Carl Schmitts und Ernst Jüngers Reaktionen auf Max Stirner (in German), Nürnberg: LSR-Verlag.
26. Hoffmann 2004, p. xii.
27. Hoffmann 2004, p. xiv.
28. Huyssen 1993, p. 5.
29. Huyssen 1993, p. 8.
30. Benjamin, Walter. "Theorien des deutschen Faschismus" (in German). Project-Gutenberg-DE. Retrieved 30 March 2017. English translation: Benjamin, Walter (1979). Translated by Jerolf Wikoff. "Theories of German Fascism: On the Collection of Essays War and Warrior, Edited by Ernst Jünger". New German Critique (17): 120–128. JSTOR 488013.
31. Binder, David (18 February 1998), "Ernst Jünger, Contradictory German Author Who Wrote About War, Is Dead at 102", The New York Times.
32. Laska, Bernd A. "Ernst Jünger - Anarch und Katholik - ein verspäteter Epilog zu meinem Buch "Katechon" und "Anarch"." Ernst Jünger - Anarch und Katholik. February 16, 2006. Accessed December 20, 2016.
33. Tucker, Spencer, and Priscilla Mary. Roberts, eds. World War I: A Student Encyclopedia. (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006), Pg. 988. ... ia&f=false
34. Entry for Junger's grave in Findagrave ... nst-junger
35. Gil, Isabel Capeloa. 2010. "The Visuality of Catastrophe in Ernst Jünger's Der gefährliche Augenblick and Die veränderte Welt". KulturPoetik. 10 (1): 62–84.
36. ——— (1961–65), Werke (in German) (10 vols.)
37. ——— (1979), Sämtliche Werke (in German) (18 vols.)
38. dazu: Detlef Schöttker: „Gefährlich leben!“ Zum Briefwechsel zwischen Ernst Jünger und Dolf Sternberger. In: Sinn und Form, 4/2011, S. 437–447.
39. "102 år i hjärtat av Europa (1998)". Swedish Film Database. Swedish Film Institute. Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
• 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), 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

External links

• Associazione Eumeswil, Florence, IT – study of Ernst Jünger's works.
• Jünger haus (museum), Wilflingen.
• "At 102 Ernst Jünger", Meaus.
• Ernst Jünger's works (Collection of articles), IT: Centro di studi Laruna.
• Works by or about Ernst Jünger at Internet Archive
• Petri Liukkonen. "Ernst Jünger". Books and Writers
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Re: Ernst Jünger, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:31 am

Friedrich Georg Jünger
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/8/18




Friedrich Georg Jünger (1 September 1898, in Hannover — 20 July 1977, in Überlingen) was a German poet, author, and cultural critic essayist. The younger brother of Ernst Jünger, he volunteered for military service in 1916 and was seriously wounded in the Battle of Langemarck. After the First World War he studied law and cameralism at the universities of Leipzig and Halle-Wittenberg.

Notable works

• The Perfection of Technology
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Re: Ernst Jünger, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:11 pm

Review: The Glass Bees by Ernst Jünger
by Sean Pearce, The Electric Philosopher
January 5, 2016



Thanks to Rowan Lock for the biographical details, and general assistance with writing.

Ernst Jünger was one of the true luminaries of the intellectual Right in the 20th century. A popular hero of the First World War, famous for his memoir of the conflict entitled The Storm of Steel, he became aligned with the German conservative revolutionary movement in the interbellum years, and as such advocated a radical, authoritarian, militarist nationalism. Despite this, he never made the fatal gesture Heidegger made, and was never associated with National Socialism; his relationship with Nazism began as coolly ambivalent, progressing into antipathy and finally open hostility (he was even peripherally involved with 20 July Plot to assassinate Hitler). This being said, his contribution to political theory outside his initial context was, essentially, minimal. However, he was regarded as a figure of great literary stature in post-war Europe. He was a prolific novelist, and his incredibly long lifespan (over a century) gave him an enviable vantage point to comment from: he was a grown man when the German Empire collapsed, he was present during the rise and fall of the Third Reich, and lived to see the reunification of Germany (comfortably outliving the German Democratic Republic). His fans included such contradictory figures as Hitler, Goebbels, Francois Mitterand, Thomas Mann and Bertolt Brecht. As well as writing, he was also a well-educated botanist and entomologist. He was even one of the very earliest experimenters with LSD. He was a man who embodied the very paradoxes and contradictions of recent European existence.

The Glass Bees is a novel about Captain Richard, a retired cavalryman-turned-tank-inspector. He's been offered an interview for a job working for Zapparoni, a technology magnate who embodies the Zeitgeist of modernity perfectly, and is depicted almost as a synthesis of Walt Disney and Steve Jobs, only infinitely cooler. Zapparoni's company makes the finest automata in the land, but these aren't the clunky mechanoids you might expect, they're rather more like the kind of tech that we have here-and-now. They are modest, ubiquitous, labour saving devices, tiny robots performing a host of domestic and industrial tasks. That isn't the limit to Zapparoni's vision though, he is also a purveyor of cinematic products, his automata bringing characters from myth and legend to all-too convincing life (in other words, animatronics). The vividness of the distractions he produces is, however, somewhat disquieting:

Children, in particular, were held spellbound [by his films]. Zapparoni had dethroned the old stock figures of the fairy tales...Parents even complained that their children were too preoccupied with him.

Richard is not a man of his time, arguably like Jünger himself. He harks back to the glory days of warfare and conflict that still felt human, battles fought with flesh and steel, and not simply with mechanisms and calculations. He feels a particular disgust at the kind of dismemberment produced by the technics of modern warfare, remarking that one doesn't find any stories of amputated limbs in the Iliad. That statement in particular becomes eerily prescient of the image of today's soldier wounded by an IED in one of our misadventures in the Middle East, missing an arm or a leg, but still alive: Richard mourns the loss of wars that killed you cleanly. Richard's world is one that has been chaotic and uncertain since his youth, when his country, Asturia, was plunged repeatedly into war, including civil war. He is a man whose principles were formed in a world now lost, and the one he finds himself in does not feel like an improvement.

[My father] had led a quiet life, but at the end he hadn't been too happy either. Lying sick in bed, he said to me: "My boy, I am dying at just the right moment." Saying this, he gave me a sad, worried look. He had certainly foreseen many things.

This is a deeply reactionary novel, and doesn't make for easy reading. Jünger's writing meanders, straying into lengthy digressions into his narrator's memory; his pace is languid, virtually glacial in fact. Although his prose is beautiful, even poetic, it feels incredibly indulgent and is often, frankly, dull. Very little happens as such in the novel, the bulk of it simply being Richard's recollections. And yet, what is curious is how this achingly slow piece of writing is able to convey the sheer speed with which modernity did away with the old world. The narrator, like Jünger, grew up in a world were the horse was still yet to be rendered obsolete by the automobile.

Jünger's clear concern is that technological progress will injure humanity very, very deeply.

Human perfection and technical perfection are incompatible. If we strive for one, we must sacrifice the other...Technical perfection strives toward the calculable, human perfection toward the incalculable.
Perfect mechanisms...evoke both fear and a titanic pride which will be humbled not by insight but only by catastrophe.

What is curious here is that before the Second World War, Jünger advocated Germany's complete embracing of the technological age as the only way it could find victory in the next war. He felt that it was Germany's traditional, aristocratic hierarchy that prevented it from being able to properly mobilise itself in the total way the more levelled, egalitarian societies of the democracies were capable of doing (he discusses this in his work Total Mobilisation), and only by accepting the levelling effects of technological modernity could Germany once again find itself triumphant. Perhaps by the time of writing The Glass Bees Jünger had simply become disenchanted with the fury of warfare.

Elsewhere Richard, and maybe Jünger through him, speaks of the loss of the simple 'joy' of labour, of working the earth, of harvesting crops, of the well-deserved rest at the end of the long day, and how this has been traded in for labour that is certainly easier, and leisure time that is longer, but doesn't carry the same weight of satisfaction. The fear that we have lost much and gained little except damnation in return is the central theme of this book.

Zapparoni himself, in fact, has utilised his vast wealth and power to create a private world at first seemingly devoid of the artefacts that have made his name. He has a residence located within the grounds of his plant (which Bruce Sterling, in his introduction, remarks is not dissimilar to the campus feeling of Silicon Valley) in the form of a converted abbey. Richard explores its private library, finding books on Rosicrucianism and other occult sciences, and is later sent down the path to a cottage that comes close to the very Platonic Form of idyllic country residences. What is curious here is that this retreat from modernity has only been made possible by Zapparoni's very success at the practices and theories that Richard feels have destroyed the simple authenticity of the old world. How might this be read? Perhaps Jünger is suggesting that the only way back into the world that has been lost is to pass through the modern one, presuming we are capable of surviving it, and to use its mechanisms and ingenuity to recreate a new version of the old.

There's a feeling of resignation in this novel. Jünger isn't really calling on us to take up arms against the machines. His constant allusions to astrology suggest that he feels that there was something inevitable to what we now find ourselves in. It is our bad luck to find ourselves in the midst of it, but a way out might be found if we can weather the storm of the new. This being said, Richard repeatedly describes his attitude as 'defeatist'
. Perhaps the more subtle suggestion Jünger is making here is that things only became inevitable when we decided we can't stop them.

I'm left feeling torn by this book. I share Jünger's concerns about the insidious nature of these devices we're now surrounded by, and yet the past he (or Richard) is seemingly appealing to is one that is forever out of reach, and if we were to find ourselves in it, it wouldn't be what we wanted. Consider the above statement about how now modern war doesn't kill one cleanly, that we now have the mutilated, dismembered wounded: we can equally well read this as 'Human technical ingenuity is now such that it can protect us, admittedly only limitedly, from the extremities of human malice.'

The question posed by modernity is one that has not yet had a satisfactory answer. Indeed, the question itself has yet to be fully formulated. Jünger's contribution to understanding the condition that we find ourselves in is an important one. If nothing else, he can remind us how incredibly recent all of this still is. Up until only very recently, there were people alive who'd fought in the war of Kings, Kaisers and Tsars, witnessed the rise of all the great and terrible varieties of attempted Utopia the last century produced, saw a human being walk upon the surface of the Moon (an image which disturbed Heidegger no end), and died in the age of Facebook.

It really is anyone's guess where this will all lead.
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Re: Ernst Jünger, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:50 pm

Total Mobilization [1]
by Ernst Jünger




It goes against the grain of the heroic spirit to seek out the image of war in a source that can be determined by human action. Still, the multitudinous transformations and disguises which the pure form [Gestalt] of war [pg 123] endures amid the vicissitudes of human time and space offers this spirit a gripping spectacle to behold.

This spectacle reminds us of volcanoes which, although they are at work in very different regions, constantly spew forth the same earthly fire. To have participated in a war means something similar: to have been in the vicinity of such a fire-spitting mountain; but there is a great difference between Hekla in Iceland and Vesuvius in the Gulf of Naples. One might say that the difference in the landscapes vanishes the closer one approaches the crater’s glowing jaws; also at the point where authentic passion breaks through-above all, in the naked and immediate struggle for life and death-it becomes a matter of secondary importance in which century, for what ideas, and with what weapons the battle is being fought. But that is not the subject of our essay.

Instead, we will try to assemble a number of facts that distinguish the last war-our war, the greatest and most influential event of our age from other wars whose history has been handed down to us.


Perhaps we can best identify the special nature of this great catastrophe by the assertion that in it, the genius of war was penetrated by the spirit of progress. This was not only the case for the fighting among the different countries; it was also true for the civil war that gathered a rich second harvest in many of them. These two phenomena, world war and world revolution, are much more closely interrelated than a first glance would indicate. They are two sides of an event of cosmic significance, whose outbreak and origins are interdependent in numerous respects.

It is likely that many unusual discoveries await our thinking regarding the reality hidden behind the concept “progress” -an ambiguous concept glittering in many colors. Undoubtedly the way we are inclined these days to make fun of it comes too cheap. To be sure, we could cite every truly significant nineteenth-century thinker in support of our aversion; still, by all our disgust at the dullness and uniformity of the lifeforms at issue, the suspicion arises that their source is of much greater significance. Ultimately, even the process of digestion depends on the powers of a wondrous and inexplicable Life. Certainly, it can today be [pg 124] demonstrated convincingly that progress is, in fact, not really progress. But more important than this conviction, perhaps, is the question of whether the concept’s real significance is not of a more mysterious and different sort: one which uses the apparently undisguised mask of reason as a superb place of hiding.

It is precisely the certainty with which progressive movements produce results contradicting their own innermost tendencies which suggests that here, as everywhere in life, what prevails are not so much these tendencies but other, more hidden impulsions. “Spirit” [“Geist”] has often justifiably reveled in contempt for the wooden marionettes of progress; but the fine threads that produce their movements are invisible.

If we wish to learn something about the structure of marionettes, there is no more pleasant guide than Flaubert’s novel Bouvard and pecuchet. But if we wish to consider the possibilities of this more secret movement-a movement always easier to sense than prove-both Pascal and Hamann offer a wealth of revealing passages.

“Meanwhile, our phantasies, illusions, fallaciae opticae, and fallacies stand under God’s realm.” We find statements of this sort frequently in Hamann; they reflect a sensibility that strives to incorporate the labors of chemistry into the realm of alchemy. Let us leave aside the question of which spirit’s realm rules over the optical illusion of progress: this study isno demonology, but is intended for twentieth-century readers. Nevertheless, one thing is certain: only a power of cultic origin, only a belief, could conceive of something as audacious as extending the perspective of utility [Zweckmdssigkeit] into the infinite.

And who, then, would doubt that progress is the nineteenth century’s great popular church-the only one enjoying real authority and uncritical faith?


With a war breaking out in such an atmosphere, the relation of each individual contestant to progress was bound to playa decisive role. And precisely therein lies the authentic, moral factor of our age: even the strongest armies, equipped with the industrial era’s latest weapons of annihilation, are no match for its fine, imponderable emanations; for this era can even recruit its troops from the enemy’s camp. [pg 125]

In order to clarify this situation, let us here introduce the concept of total mobilization: the times are long gone when it sufficed to send a hundred thousand enlisted subjects under reliable leadership into battle -as we find, say, in Voltaire’s Candide; and when, if His Majesty lost a battle, the citizen’s first duty was to stay quiet. Nonetheless, even in the second half of the nineteenth century, conservative cabinets could still prepare, wage, and win wars which the people’s representatives were indifferent towards or even against. To be sure, this presupposed a close relation between crown and army; a relation that had only undergone a superficial change through the new system of universal conscription and which still essentially belonged to the patriarchal world. It was also based on a fixed calculation of armaments and costs, which made war seem like an exceptional, but in no sense limitless, expenditure of available forces and supplies. In this respect, even general mobilization had the character of a partial measure.

These restrictions not only reflect the limited degree of means, but also a specific raison d’etat. The monarch possesses a natural instinct warning him not to trespass the bounds of dynastic power. The melting down of his treasure seems less objectionable than credits approved by an assembly; and for the decisive moment of battle, he would rather reserve his guards than a quota of volunteers. We find this instinct remaining healthy in Prussia deep into the nineteenth century. One example among many is the bitter fight for a three years’ conscription: whereas a brief period of service is characteristic for a volunteer army, when dynastic power is at stake, tried and tested troops are more reliable. Frequently, we even come upon-what by today’s standards is almost unthinkable-a renunciation of progress and any consummate equipping of the army; but such scruples also have their reasons. Hence hidden in every improvement of firearms-especially the increase in range-is an indirect assault on the conditions of absolute monarchy. Each such improvement promotes firing at individual targets, while the salvo incarnates the force of fixed command. Enthusiasm was still unpleasant to Wilhelm I. It springs from a source that, like Aeolus’ windsack, hides not only storms of applause. Authority’s true touchstone is not the extent of jubilation it receives, but the wars that have been lost.

Partial mobilization thus corresponds to the essence of monarchy. The latter oversteps its bounds to the extent that it is forced to make the [pg 126] abstract forms of spirit, money, “folk” -in short, the forces of growing national democracy-a part of the preparation for war. Looking back we can now say that complete renunciation of such participation was quite impossible. The manner in which it was incorporated [into political life] represents the real essence of nineteenth-century statecraft. These particular circumstances explain Bismarck’s maxim that politics is the “art of the possible.”

We can now pursue the process by which the growing conversion of life into energy, the increasingly fleeting content of all binding ties in deference to mobility, gives an ever-more radical character to the act of mobilization-which in many states was the exclusive right of the crown, needing no counter-signature. The events causing this are numerous: with the dissolution of the estates and the curtailing of the nobility’s privileges, the concept of a warrior caste also vanishes; the armed defense of the state is no longer exclusively the duty and prerogative of the professional soldier, but the responsibility of everyone who can bear arms. Likewise, because of the huge increase in expenses, it is impossible to cover the costs of waging war on the basis of a fixed war budget; instead, a stretching of all possible credit, even a taxation of the last pfennig saved, is necessary to keep the machinery in motion. In the same way, the image of war as armed combat merges into the more extended image of a gigantic labor process (Arbeitsprozesses]. In addition to the armies that meet on the battlefields, originate the modern armies of commerce and transport, foodstuffs, the manufacture of armaments the army of labor in general. In the final phase, which was already hinted at toward the end of the last war, there is no longer any movement whatsoever-be it that of the homeworker at her sewing machinewithout at least indirect use for the battlefield. In this unlimited marshaling of potential energies, which transforms the warring industrial countries into volcanic forges, we perhaps find the most striking sign of the dawn of the age of labor lArbeitszeitalter]. It makes the World War a historical event superior in significance to the French Revolution. In order to deploy energies of such proportion, fitting one’s sword-arm no longer suffices; for this is a mobilization [Rustung] that requires extension to the deepest marrow, life’s finest nerve. Its realization is the task of total mobilization: an act which, as if through a single grasp of the [pg127] control panel, conveys the extensively branched and densely veined power supply of modern life towards the great current of martial energy.

At the beginning of the World War, the human intellect had not yet anticipated a mobilization of such proportions. Still, its signs were manifest in isolated instances-for example, the large employment of volunteers and reservists at the war’s start, the ban on exports, the censor’s regulations, the changes of currency rates. In the course of the war this process intensified: as examples, we can cite the planned management of raw materials and foodstuffs, the transposition of industrial conditions [Arbeitsverhiiltnisses] to military circumstances, civil-guard duty, the arming of trade vessels, the unexpected extension of the general staff’s authority, the “Hindenburg program,” Ludendorff’s struggle for the fusion of military and political command.

Nevertheless, despite the spectacle, both grandiose and frightful, of the later “battles of materiel” [“Materialschlachten”], in which the human talent for organization celebrates its bloody triumph, its fullest possibilities have not yet been reached. Even limiting our scope to the technical side of the process, this can only occur when the image of martial operations is prescribed for conditions of peace. We thus see that in the postwar period, many countries tailor new methods of armament to the pattern of total mobilization.

In this regard, we can introduce examples such as the increasing curtailment of “individual liberty,” a privilege that, to be sure, has always been questionable. Such an assault takes place in Russia and Italy and then here in Germany; its aim is to deny the existence of anything that is not a function of the state. We can predict a time when all countries with global aspirations must take up the process, in order to sustain the release of new forms of power. France’s evaluation of the balance of power from the perspective of energie potentielle belongs in this context, as does the model America has offered-already in peacetime- for cooperation between industry and the army. German war literature raised issues touching on the very essence of armament, forcing the general public to make judgments about matters of war (if somewhat belatedly and in reality anticipating the future). For the first time, the Russian “five-year plan” presented the world with an attempt to channel the collective energies of a great empire into a single current. Seeing how [pg 128] economic theory turns volte-face is here instructive. The “planned economy,” as one of the final results of democracy, grows beyond itself into a general unfolding of power. We can observe this shift in many events of our age. The great surging forth of the masses thereby reaches a point of crystallization.

Still, not only attack but also defense demands extraordinary efforts, and here the world’s compulsions perhaps become even clearer. Just as every life already bears the seeds of its own death, so the emergence of the great masses contains within itself a democracy of death. The era of the well-aimed shot i~ already behind us. Giving out the night-flight bombing order, the squadron leader no longer sees a difference between combatants and civilians, and the deadly gas cloud hovers like an elementary power over everything that lives. But the possibility of such menace is based neither on a partial nor general, but rather a total mobilization. It extends to the child in the cradle, who is threatened like everyone else-even more so.

We could cite many such examples. It suffices simply to consider our daily life, with its inexorability and merciless discipline, its smoking, glowing districts, the physics and metaphysics of its commerce, its motors, airplanes, and burgeoning cities. With a pleasure-tinged horror, we sense that here, not a single atom is not in motion-that we are profoundly inscribed in this raging process. Total Mobilization is far less consummated than it consummates itself; in war and peace, it expresses the secret and inexorable claim to which our life in the age of masses and machines subjects us. It thus turns out that each individual life becomes, ever more unambiguously, the life of a worker; and that, following the wars of knights, kings, and citizens, we now have wars of workers. The first great twentieth-century conflict has offered us a presentiment of both their rational structure and their mercilessness.


We have touched on the technical aspects of Total Mobilization; their perfection can be traced from the first conscriptions of the Convention government during the French Revolution and Scharnhorst’s army reorganization[2] to the dynamic armament program of the World War’s last [pg 129] years-when states transformed themselves into gigantic factories, producing armies on the assembly line that they sent to the battlefield both day and night, where an equally mechanical bloody maw took over the role of consumer. The monotony of such a spectacle-evoking the precise labor of a turbine fueled with blood-is indeed painful to the heroic temperament; still, there can be no doubt regarding its symbolic meaning. Here a severe necessity reveals itself: the hard stamp of an age in a martial medium.

In any event, Total Mobilization’s technical side is not decisive. Its basis-like that of all technology-lies deeper. We shall address it here as the readiness for mobilization. Such readiness was present everywhere: the World War was one of the most popular wars known to history. This was because it took place in an age that excluded a priori all but popular wars. Also, aside from minor wars of colonialism and plunder, the involved nations had enjoyed a relatively long period of peace. At the beginning of our investigation, however, we promised emphatically not to focus on the elementary stratum of human nature that mix of wild and noble passions resting within it, rendering it always open to the battle cry. Rather, we will now try to disentangle the multiple signals announcing and accompanying this particular conflict.

Whenever we confront efforts of such proportions, possessing the special quality of “uselessness” [“Zwecklosigkeit”]-say the erection of mighty constructions like pyramids and cathedrals, or wars that call into play the ultimate mainsprings of life-economic explanations, no matter how illuminating, are not sufficient. This is the reason that the school of historical materialism can only touch the surface of the process. To explain efforts of this sort, we ought rather focus our first suspicions on phenomena of a cultic variety.

In defining progress as the nineteenth century’s popular church, we have already suggested the source of the last war’s effective appeal to the great masses, whose participation was so indispensable. This appeal alone accounts for the decisive aspect of their Total Mobilization: that aspect with the force of faith. Shirking the war was all the less possible [pg 130] in proportion to the degree of their conviction-hence to proportion to the purity with which the resounding words moving them to action had a progressive content. Granted, these words often had a harsh and lurid color; their effectiveness cannot be doubted. They resemble the bright rags steering the battue prey towards the rifle’s scope.

Even a superficial glance, geographically separating the warring par .. ties into victors and vanquished, must acknowledge the advantage of the “progressive” nations. This advantage seems to evoke a deterministic process such as Darwin’s theory of survival of the “fittest.” Its deterministic quality is particularly apparent in the inability of victorious countries like Russia and Italy to avoid a complete destruction of their political systems. In this light, the war seems to be a sure-fire touchstone, basing its value judgments on rigorous, intrinsic laws: like an earthquake testing the foundations of every building.

Even a superficial glance, geographically separating the warring parties into victors and vanquished, must acknowledge the advantage of the “progressive” nations. This advantage seems to evoke a deterministic process such as Darwin’s theory of survival of the “fittest.” Its deterministic quality is particularly apparent in the inability of victorious countries like Russia and Italy to avoid a complete destruction of their political systems. In this light, the war seems to be a sure-fire touchstone, basing its value judgments on rigorous, intrinsic laws: like an earthquake testing the foundations of every building.

On the other hand, the progressive system’s unexpected powers of resistance, even in a situation of great physical weakness, are striking. Hence, in the midst of the French army’s suppression of that highly dangerous 1917 mutiny, a second, moral “miracle of the Marne” unfolds, more symptomatic for this war than purely military factors. Likewise, in the United States with its democratic constitution, mobilization could be executed with a rigor that was impossible in Prussia, where the right to vote was based on class. And who can doubt that America, the country lacking “dilapidated castles, basalt columns, and tales of knights, ghosts and brigands,” emerged the obvious victor of this war? Its course was already decided not by the degree to which a state was a “military state,” but by the degree to which it was capable of Total Mobilization.

Germany, however, was destined to lose the war, even if it had won the battle of the Marne and submarine warfare. For despite all the care [pg 131] with which it undertook partial mobilization, large areas of its strength escaped Total Mobilization; for the same reason, corresponding to the inner nature of its armament, it was certainly capable of obtaining, sustaining, and above all exploiting partial success-but never a total success. To affix such success to our weapons would have required preparing for another Cannae, one no less significant than that to which Schlieffen devoted his life’s work.[3]

But before carrying this argument forward, let us consider some disparate points, in the hope of further showing the link between progress and Total Mobilization.


One fact is clearly illuminating for those seeking to understand the word progress in its gaudy timbre: in an age that publicly executed, under horrific torture, a Ravaillac or even a Damienst as progeny of hell, the assassination of royalty would damage a more powerful social stratum -one more deeply etched in belief-than in the century following Louis XVI’s execution. It turns out that in the hierarchy of progress, the prince belongs to a not especially favored species.

Let us imagine, for a moment, the grotesque situation in which a major advertising executive had to prepare the propaganda for a modern war. With two possibilities available for sparking the first wave of excitement-namely, the Sarajevo assassination or the violation of Belgian neutrality-there can be no doubt which would promise the greater impact. The superficial cause of the World War-no matter how adventitious it might seem-is inhabited by a symbolic meaning: in the case of the Sarajevo culprits and their victim, the heir to the Habsburg crown, [pg 132] national and dynastic principles collided-the modern “right of national self-determination” with the principle of legitimacy painstakingly restored at the Congress of Vienna [18 I 5] through statecraft of the old style.

Now certainly, being untimely in the right sense-setting in motion a powerful effect in a spirit that desires to preserve a legacy-is praiseworthy. But this requires faith. It is clear, however, that the Central Powers’ ideology was neither timely, nor untimely, nor beyond time. Rather, the mood was simultaneously timely and untimely, resulting in nothing but a mixture of false romanticism and inadequate liberalism. Hence the observer could not help but notice a predilection for outmoded trappings, for a late romantic style, for Wagner’s operas in particular. Words evoking the fidelity of the Nibelungs, hopes pinned on the success of Islam’s call to holy war, are examples. Obviously, technical questions and questions of government were involved here-the mobilization of substance but not the substance itself. But the ruling classes’ inadequate relationship both to the masses and to profounder forces revealed itself precisely in blunders of this sort.

Hence even the famous, unintentionally brilliant reference to a “scrap of paper” suffers from having been uttered 150 years too late-and then from principles that might have suited Prussian Romanticism, but at heart were not Prussian. Frederick the Great might have spoken thus, poking fun at yellowed, musty parchment in the manner of an enlightened despotism. But Bethmann-Hollweg must have known that in our time a piece of paper, say one with a constitution written on it, has a meaning similar to that of a consecrated wafer for the Catholic Church -and that tearing up treaties certainly suits absolutism, but liberalism’s strength lies in their exegesis. Study the exchange of notes preceding America’s entry into the war and you will come upon a principle of “freedom of the seas”; this offers a good example of the extent to which, in such an age, one’s own interests are given the rank of a humanitarian postulate-of an issue with universal implications for humanity. German social democracy, one of the bulwarks of German progress, grasped the dialectical aspect of its mission when it equated the war’s meaning with the destruction of the czar’s anti-progressive regime.

But what does that signify as compared to the possibilities for mobi-[pg133] lizing the masses at the West’s disposal? Who would deny that “civilisation” is more profoundly attached to progress than is “Kultur”; that its language is spoken in the large cities, and that it has means and concepts at its command to which Kultur is either hostile or indifferent? Kultur cannot be used for propaganda. An approach that tries exploiting it in this way is itself estranged from it-just as we find the serving up of great German spirits’ heads on millions of paper stamps and bills to be pointless, or even sad.

We have, however, no desire to complain about the inevitable. We wish only to establish that Germany was incapable of convincingly taking on the spirit of the age, whatever its nature. Germany was also incapable of proposing, to itself or to the world, a valid principle superior to that spirit. Rather, we find it searching-sometimes in romantic-idealistic, sometimes in rational-materialistic spheres-for those signs and images that the fighting individual strives to affix to his standards. But the validity lying within these spheres belongs partly to the past and partly to a milieu alien to German genius; it is not sufficient to assure utmost devotion to the advance of men and machines-something that a fearful battle against a world demands.

In this light we must struggle all the more to recognize how our elemental substance, the deep, primordial strength of the Volk, remains untouched by such a search. With admiration, we watch how German youth, at the beginning of this crusade of reason to which the world’s nations are called under the spell of such an obvious, transparent dogma, raise the battle cry: glowing, enraptured, hungering after death in a way virtually unique in our history.

If one of these youths had been asked his motive for taking the field, the answer, certainly, would have been less clear. He would hardly have spoken of the struggle against barbarism and reaction or for civilization, the freeing of Belgium or freedom of the seas; but perhaps he would have offered the response, “for Germany” -that phrase, with which the volunteer regiments went on the attack.

And yet, this smoldering fire, burning for an enigmatic and invisible Germany, was sufficient for an effort that left nations trembling to the marrow. What if it had possessed direction, awareness, and form [Gestalt]? [p134]


As a mode of organizational thinking, Total Mobilization is merely an intimation of that higher mobilization that the age is discharging upon us. Characteristic of this latter type of mobilization is an inner lawfulness, to which human laws must correspond in order to be effective.

Nothing illustrates this claim better than the fact that during war forces can emerge that are directed against war itself. Nonetheless, these forces are more closely related to the powers at work in the war than it might seem. Total Mobilization shifts its sphere of operations, but not its meaning, when it begins to set in motion, instead of the armies of war, the masses in a civil war. The conflict now invades spheres that are off limits to the commands of military mobilization. It is as if the forces that could not be marshaled for the war now demanded their role in the bloody engagement. Hence the more unified and profound the war’s capacity to summon, from the outset, all possible forces for its cause, the surer and more imperturbable will be its course.

We have seen that in Germany, the spirit of progress could only be mobilized incompletely. To take just one among thousands of examples, the case of Barbusse shows us that in France, for instance, the situation was far more propitious.[4] In reality an outspoken opponent of war, Barbusse could only stay true to his ideas by readily affirming this one: to his mind, it reflected a struggle of progress, civilisation, humanity, and even peace, against a principle opposed to all these factors. “War must be killed off in Germany’s belly.”

No matter how complicated this dialectic appears, its outcome is inexorable. A person with the least apparent inclination for military conflict still finds himself incapable of refusing the rifle offered by the state, since the possibility of an alternative is not present to his consciousness. Let us observe him as he racks his brains, standing guard in the wasteland of endless trenches, abandoning the trenches as well as anyone when the time comes, in order to advance through the horrific curtain of fire of the war of materiel. But what, in fact, is amazing about this? Barbusse is a warrior like any other: a warrior for humanity, able [pg 135] to forgo machine-gun fire and gas attacks, and even the guillotine, as little as the Christian church can forgo its worldly sword. To be sure, in order to achieve such a degree of mobilization, a Barbusse would need to live in France.

The German Barbusses found themselves in a more difficult position. Only isolated intellects moved early to neutral territory, deciding to wage open sabotage against the war effort. The great majority tried cooperating with the deployment. We have already touched on the case of German social democracy. Let us disregard the fact that, despite its internationalist dogma, the movement’s ranks were filled with German workers, hence could be moved to heroism. No-in its very ideology, it shifted towards a revision that later led to the charge of “the betrayal of Marxism.” We can get a rough idea of the procedure’s details in the speeches delivered during this critical period by Ludwig Frank, the Social Democratic leader and Reichstag deputy, who, as a forty-year-old volunteer, fell from a shot to the head at Noissoncourt in September 1914. “We comrades without a fatherland still know that, even as stepchildren, we are children of Germany, and that we must fight for our fatherland against reaction. If a war breaks out, the Social Democratic soldiers will also conscientiously fulfill their duty” (August 29, 1914). This extremely informative passage contains in a nutshell the forms of war and revolution that fate holds in readiness.

For those who wish to study this dialectic in detail, the practices of the newspapers and journals during the war years offer a wealth of examples. Hence Maximilian Harden-the editor of Die Zukunft and perhaps the best-known journalist of the Wilhelminian period-began adjusting his public activity to the goals of the central command. We note, only insofar as it is symptomatic, that he knew how to play upon the war’s radicalism as well as he would later play upon that of the Revolution. And thus, Simplicissimus,” an organ that had directed its weapons of nihilistic wit against all social ties, and thus also against the army, now took on a chauvinistic tone. It is clear, moreover, that the journal’s quality diminishes as its patriotic tenor rises-that is, as it abandons the field of its strength.

Perhaps the inner conflict at issue here is most apparent in the case of [pg 136] Rathenau;[5] it endows this figure-for anyone struggling to do him justice-with the force of tragedy. To a considerable extent, Rathenau had mobilized for the war, playing a role in organizing the great armament and focusing-even close to the German collapse-on the possibility of a “mass insurrection.” How is it possible that soon after, he could offer the well-known observation that world history would have lost its meaning had the Reich’s representatives entered the capital as victors through the Brandenburg Gate? Here we see very clearly how the spirit of mobilization can dominate an individual’s technical capacities, yet fail to penetrate his essence.


With our last fighters still lying before the enemy, the secret army and secret general staff commanding German progress greeted the collapse with exultation. It resembled the exultation at a victorious battle. It was the closest ally of the Western armies soon to cross the Rhine, their Trojan horse. The reigning authorities acknowledged the new spirit by the low level of protest with which they hastily vacated their posts. Between player and opponent, there was no essential difference.

This is also the reason that in Germany, the political transformation [following the military collapse] took on relatively harmless form. Thus, even during the crucial days of decision, the Empire’s Social Democratic minister could play with the idea of leaving the crown intact. And what would that have signified, other than maintaining a facade? For a long time, the building had been so encumbered with “progressive” mortgages, that no more doubt was possible as to the true owner’s nature.

But there is another reason why the change could take place less violently in Germany than, say, Russia-besides the fact that the authorities themselves prepared the way for it. We have seen that a large portion of the “progressive forces” had already been occupied with directing the war. The energy squandered during the war was then no longer available for the internal conflict. To express it in more personal [pg 137] terms: it makes a difference if former ministers take the helm or a revolutionary aristocracy, educated in Siberian exile.

Germany lost the war by winning a stronger place in the Western sphere-civilization, peace, and freedom in Barbusse’s sense. But how could we expect anything different, since we ourselves had sworn allegiance to such values; at no price would we have dared extend the war beyond that “wall wrapped around Europe.” This would have required different ideas and different allies, a deeper disclosure of one’s own values. An incitement of substance could have even taken place with and through progressivist optimism-as Russia’s case suggests.


When we contemplate the world that has emerged from the catastrophe -what unity of effect, what incredibly rigorous historical consistency! Really, if all the spiritual and physical structures of a non-civilizational variety extending from the nineteenth century’s end to our own age had been assembled in a small space and fired on with all the world’s weapons-the success could not have been more resounding.

The Kremlin’s old chimes now play the Internationale. In Constantinople, schoolchildren use the Latin script instead of the Koran’s old arabesques. In Naples and Palermo, Fascist police regulate the pace of southern life as if directing modern traffic. Inthe world’s remotest, even legendary lands, houses of parliament are being ceremoniously dedicated. The abstractness, hence the horror, of all human circumstances is increasing inexorably. Patriotism is being diluted through a new nationalism, strongly fused with elements of conscious awareness. InFascism, Bolshevism, Americanism, Zionism, in the movements of colored peoples, progress has made advances that until recently would have seemed unthinkable; it proceeds, as it were, head over heels, following the circular course of an artificial dialectic in order to continue its movement on a very simple plane. Disregarding its much diminished allowances for freedom and sociability, it is starting to rule nations in ways not very different from those of an absolute regime. In many cases the humanitarian mask has almost been stripped away, replaced by a half-grotesque, half-barbaric fetishism of the machine, a naive cult of technique; this occurs particularly where there is no direct, productive relation to those [pg 138] dynamic energies for whose destructive, triumphal course long-range artillery and bomb-loaded fighter squadrons represent only the martial expression. Simultaneously, esteem for quantity [Massen] is increasing: quantity of assent, quantity of public opinion has become the decisive factor in politics. Socialism and nationalism in particular are the two great millstones between which progress pulverizes what is left of the old world, and eventually itself. For a period of more than a hundred years, the masses, blinded by the optical illusion of the franchise, were tossed around like a ball by the “right” and “left.” It always seemed that one side offered refuge from the other’s claims. Today everywhere the reality of each side’s identity is becoming more and more apparent; even the dream of freedom is disappearing as if under a pincers’ iron grasp. The movements of the uniformly molded masses, trapped in the snare set by the world-spirit, comprise a great and fearful spectacle. Each of these movements leads to a sharper, more merciless grasp: forms of compulsion stronger than torture are at work here; they are so strong, that human beings welcome them joyfully. Behind every exit, marked with the symbols of happiness, lurk pain and death. Happy is he alone who steps armed into these spaces.


Today, through the cracks and seams of Babel’s tower, we can already see a glacier-world; this sight makes the bravest spirits tremble. Before long, the age of progress will seem as puzzling as the mysteries of an Egyptian dynasty. In that era, however, the world celebrated one of those triumphs that endow victory, for a moment, with the aura of eternity. More menacing than Hannibal, with all too mighty fists, somber armies had knocked on the gates of its great cities and fortified channels.

In the crater’s depths, the last war possessed a meaning no arithmetic can master. The volunteer sensed it in his exultation, the German demon’s voice bursting forth mightily, the exhaustion of the old values being united with an unconscious longing for a new life. Who would have imagined that these sons of a materialistic generation could have greeted death with such ardor? In this way a life rich in excess and ignorant of the beggar’s thrift declares itself. And just as the actual result [pg 139] of an upright life is nothing but the gain of one’s own deeper character, for us the results of this war can be nothing but the gain of a deeper Germany. This is confirmed by the agitation around us which is the mark of the new race: one that cannot be satisfied by any of this world’s ideas nor any image of the past. A fruitful anarchy reigns here, which is born from the elements of earth and fire, and which hides within itself the seeds of a new form of domination. Here a new form of armament stands revealed, one which strives to forge its weapons from purer and harder metals that prove impervious to all resistance.

The German conducted the war with a, for him, all too reasonable ambition of being a good European. Since Europe thus made war on Europe-who else but Europe could be the victor? Nevertheless, this Europe, whose area extends in planetary proportions, has become extremely thin, extremely varnished: its spatial gains correspond to a loss in the force of conviction. New powers will emerge from it.

Deep beneath the regions in which the dialectic of war aims is still meaningful, the German encounters a stronger force: he encounters himself. In this way, the war was at the same time about him: above all, the means of his own self-realization. And for this reason, the new form of armament, in which we have already for some time been implicated, must be a mobilization of the German-nothing else.

by Richard Wolin, editor of the anthology

Ernst Jünger (b. 1895) came to prominence during the 1920s as the foremost chronicler of the “front experience” (“Fronterlebnis”) of World War I. His well-nigh lyrical descriptions of trench warfare and the great” battles of materiel” (“Materialschlachten”) –- that is, of those aspects which made this war unique in human history –- in works such as In the Storm of Steel (1920) and War as Inner Experience (1922.) earned him the reputation of a type of “aesthetician of carnage.” In this way, Jünger, who was, like Heidegger, deeply influenced by Nietzsche’s critique of “European Nihilism,” viewed the energies unleashed by the Great War as a heroic countermovement to European world–weariness: as a proving ground for an entire series of masculinist warrior-virtues that seemed in danger of eclipse at the hands of an effete, decadent, and materialistic bourgeois Zivilisation. Yet, the war of 1914–1918 had proved that in the modern age warfare was more dependent on the amassing of technological capacities rather than acts of individual heroism, and this realization left a deep imprint on all of Jünger’s writing in the form of a profound amor fati. Thus, as the following passage from War as Inner Experience demonstrates, in the last analysis the war did not so much present opportunities for acts of individual prowess as it offered the possibility of a metaphysical confrontation with certain primordial, chthonic elements: forces of annihilation, death, and horror: “The enthusiasm of manliness bursts beyond itself to such an extent that the blood roils as it surges through the veins and glows as it foams through the heart …. [War] is an intoxication beyond all intoxication, an unleashing that breaks all bonds. It is a frenzy without caution and limits, comparable only to the forces of nature. There the individual is like a raging storm, the tossing sea, and the roaring thunder. He has melted into everything. He rests at the dark door of death like a bullet that has reached its goal. And the purple waves dash over him. For a long time he has no awareness of transition. It is as if a wave slipped back into the flowing sea.”n1

In the late twenties Jünger published over 100 essays in leading organs of Germany’s conservative revolutionary movement (Arminius, Deutsches Volkstum, Vormarsch, and Widerstand), thus establishing himself, along with figures such as Moeller van den Bruck and Oswald Spengler, as one of the movement’s most celebrated and influential figures. “Total Mobilization” appeared in the 1930 anthology Krieg und Krieger (War and Warrior, which was edited by Jünger himself). It represents a distillation of the argument of his book–length study of two years hence, Der Arbeiter–a work which enjoyed a tremendous commercial success and which, along with “Total Mobilization,” represents a remarkable prefiguration of totalitarian rule.

It is important to understand the paramount strategic role played by works such as “Total Mobilization” and The Worker among the German conservative intelligentsia in the postwar period. For thereupon hinges the all–important difference between the “traditional German conservatism” and the new generation of “conservative revolutionaries.” (For this generational split, moreover, the “front experience” of 1914– 1918 represents, as it were, the great divide.) For whereas traditional German conservatives often rejected the utilitarian mind–set of Western modernity in the name of an idealized, pre–capitalist Gemeinschaft, the conservative revolutionaries–Jünger foremost among them–understood that if Germany were to be victorious in the next European war, a modus vivendi would have to be found with the forces of modern technology, on which the future balance of power depended. Certain of these thinkers, therefore, began to flirt with the idea of a “modern community” –a restoration of the integralist values of Gemeinschaft in a manner nevertheless consistent with the new demands of the industrial era. In this way Enlightenment progressivism would undergo a transformation from quantity to quality: for the very forces of science, reason, and technological progress that had been the animating values of the [pg 121] bourgeois epoch had seemingly reached a point where the inordinate degree of technological concentration itself threatened to undermine the survival of bourgeois liberalism. Or as Jünger argues forcefully in “Total Mobilization,” in an age of total warfare, the difference between “war” and “peace” is effaced, and no sector of society can remain “unintegrated” when the summons to “mobilization” is announced.

The two works by Jünger, “Total Mobilization” and The Worker,had an indelible impact on Heidegger’s understanding of modern politics. In fact, it would not be much of an exaggeration to say that his “option” for National Socialism in the early 1930S was based on the supposition that Nazism was the legitimate embodiment of the Arbeitergesellschaft (society of workers) that had been prophesied by Jünger and which, as such, represented the heroic overcoming of Western nihilism as called for by Nietzsche and Spengler. In “The Rectorship 1933-34: Facts and Thoughts” (1945), Heidegger readily admits the enormity of Jünger’s influence on his comprehension of contemporary history:

The way I already viewed the historical situation at that time [i.e., in the early 1930S] may be indicated with a reference. In 1930, Ernst Jünger’s essay on “Total Mobilization” appeared; in this essay the fundamental outlines of his 1932 book The Worker are articulated. In a small group, I discussed these writings at this time, along with my assistant [Werner] Brock, and attempted to show how in them an essential comprehension of Nietzsche’s metaphysics is expressed, insofar as the history and the contemporary situation of the West is seen and foreseen in the horizon of this metaphysics. On the basis of these writings, and even more essentially on the basis of their foundations, we reflected on what was to come, i.e., we sought thereby to confront the later in discussions.n2

In his lectures of the late 1930S, Heidegger would critically distance himself from Nietzsche’s metaphysics. In the early 1930S, however, his relation to Nietzsche was far from critical. Instead, at this time, he clearly viewed the historical potentials of the Nazi movement-its “inner truth and greatness,” as he would remark in An Introduction to Metaphysics (1935) – in a manner consistent with the doctrines of Nietzsche and Jünger; that is, as a resurgence of a new heroic ethos, a “will to power,” that would place Germany in the forefront of a movement directed toward the “self-overcoming” of bourgeois nihilism. Thus, following the argument set forth by Jünger in The Worker, in which [pg 122] “the soldier-worker” is viewed as a new social “type” (“Gestalt”) who is infatuated with risk, danger, heroism, and, as such, represents the antithesis to the timorous “bourgeois,” Heidegger views Nazism as a Nietzschean-Jüngerian Arbeitergesellschaft in statu nascendi.

One of the most prescient contemporary reviews of War and Warriors was written by Walter Benjamin. The essence of Benjamin’s views was conveyed unambiguously by the title he chose for his commentary, “Theories of German Fascism.” One of his central insights concerns the peculiarly “aestheticist” tenor of Jünger’s appreciation of modern warfare. Or as Benjamin expresses it, “This new theory of war … is nothing other than an unrestrained transposition of the theses of l’art pour l’art to war. “n3 For Benjamin the salient feature of Jünger’s glorification of war lies in the fact that it is not so much a question of the ends for which one is fighting, but of the intrinsic value of war as an end in itself. And thus, war becomes a type of aesthetic spectacle to be enjoyed for its own sake. Or as Jünger himself, speaking of the unprecedented carnage of the First World War, observes: “Whenever we confront efforts of such proportions, possessing the special quality of ‘uselessness’ [‘Zwecklosigkeit’]– say,the erection of mighty constructions like pyramids and cathedrals, or wars that call into play the ultimate mainsprings of life-economic explanations, no matter how illuminating, are not sufficient.”



I. Ernst Jünger, Kampf als inneres Erlebnis (Berlin, 1922), p. 57.

2. Martin Heidegger, Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen Universitat/Das Rektorat T933-34 (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1985), p. 24; translated in this volume as “The Self-Assertion of the German University.”

3. Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften III (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1972), P·240.

[1] Published in The Heidegger Controversy, 119-39. Translated by Joel Golb and Richard Wolin. Originally (“Totale Mobilmachung”) first appeared in Kriegund Krieger, edited by Ernst Jiinger (Berlin: Junker und Diinnhaupt, 1930).

[2] ‘Translators’ note: Gerhard Johann David von Scharnhorst (1755-1813), Prussian general and creator of the modern Prussian military system. Following Prussia’s losses in the Napoleonic wars, he reformed the Prussian military by abolishing its predominantly mercenary character and opting instead for a national force based on universal conscription.

[3] Translators’ note: It was at the battle of Cannae in 216 B.C. that Hannibal defeated the Romans. In the history of warfare, the battle stands as the most perfect example of the double envelopment of an opposing army. It took Rome nearly a decade to recover from the loss.

General Alfred von Schlieffen (1833-1913) was head of the German general staff from 1891 to 1906. He was responsible for the “Schlieffen plan” employed in World War I, which concerned the problem of waging war on two fronts.

Translators’ note: Francois Ravaillac (1578-1610), regicide who assassinated King Henry IV.

Robert-Francois Damiens (1714-1757), who was tortured and executed for his attempt on the life of Louis XV.

[4] Translators’ note: Henri Barbusse (1873-1935), french writer whose experiences in World War I led him to pacifism. In 1916 he wrote the powerful anti-war novel, Le feu (Under Fire).

[5] Translators’ note: Walter Rathenau (1867-1922), leading German industrialist who played a key role in organizing the supply of raw materials for Germany’s war effort during World War I. Served as minister of reconstruction and foreign minister during the Weimar Republic and negotiated the Treaty of Rapallo with the Soviet Union. Rathenau, who was jewish, was assassinated by right-wing extremists on june 24, 1922.
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