|Born||29 March 1895|
Heidelberg, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire
|Died||17 February 1998 (aged 102)|
Riedlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
|Notable works||In Stahlgewittern|
Auf den Marmorklippen
Gretha von Jeinsen
(m. 1925; died 1960)
|Allegiance|| German Empire (1914-1918)|
Weimar Republic (1918-1923)
Nazi Germany (1939-1944)
|Years of service||1914-1923, 1939-1944|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
World War II
Ernst Jünger (German pronunciation: [nst 'j]; 29 March 1895 - 17 February 1998) was a philosopher, a highly decorated Imperial 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 in the German Army on the outbreak of World War I in 1914. During an ill-fated offensive in 1918 Jünger's suffered 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.
He wrote against liberal values and democracy, but rejected advances of the rising Nazis. In the aftermath of World War II, Jünger was treated with some suspicion as a possible fellow traveller 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 literary figure, although critics continued to charge him with the alleged glorification of war as a transcendental experience in some of his early works.
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. By this time, Jünger had a reputation as a budding bohemian poet.
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).
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 convalescence, 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.
During the Battle of the Somme 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.
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. He was wounded for the third time in November 1916, and awarded the Iron Cross First Class in January 1917.
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 convalescing, 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 an advance that was quickly overwhelmed by a British counter-attack. Becoming aware the position he was lying 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, and the doctor was killed. A soldier who tried to carry 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.
Throughout the war, Jünger kept a diary, which became 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").
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. 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." More explicitly than in Storm of Steel, he portrayed war as a mystical experience that revealed the nature of existence. According to Jünger, the essence of the modern was found in total mobilisation for military effectiveness, which tested the capacity of the human senses. In 1932, he published The Worker (German title: Der Arbeiter), which called for the creation of an activist society run by warrior-worker-scholars. In the essay On Pain, written and published in 1934, Jünger rejects the liberal values of liberty, security, ease, and comfort, and seeks instead the measure of man in the capacity to withstand pain and sacrifice. Around this time his writing included the aphorism "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger; and what kills me makes me incredibly strong."
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. In the 22 October 1932 edition 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. 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).
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. 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.
When Jünger left Berlin in 1933, his house was searched several times 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 as intelligence officer and mail censor in Paris, he socialized (often at the Georges V hotel or at Maxim's) with prominent artists of the day such as Picasso and Jean Cocteau. He also went to the salons of Marie-Louise Bousquet and Florence Gould. He passed on information e.g. about upcoming transports "at an acceptable level of risk" which saved Jewish lives. His office was in the Hotel Majestic and he was billeted at the Hotel Raphael.
His early time in France is described in his diary Gärten und Strassen (1942, Gardens and Streets). He was also given the task of executing a German deserter who had beaten the women sheltering him and been turned in. Jünger considered avoiding the assignment but eventually attended to oversee the execution in, as he claimed in his journal, 'the spirit of higher curiosity'.
Jünger appears on the fringes of the Stauffenberg bomb plot. He was clearly an inspiration to anti-Nazi conservatives in the German Army, and while in Paris he was close to the old, mostly Prussian, officers who carried out the assassination attempt against Hitler. On 6 June 1944 Jünger went to Rommel's headquarters at La Roche-Guyon, arriving late at about 9pm as the bridge at Mantes was down. Present were Rommel's chief-of-staff Hans Speidel, General Wagener, Colonel List, Consul Pfieffer, reporter Major Wilhelm von Schramm and Speidel's brother-in-law Dr Max Horst (Rommel was in Germany). At 9.30 pm they went to Spiedel's quarters to discuss "Der Friede" (The Peace), Jünger's 30-page peace proposal (written in 1943), to be given to the Allies after Hitler's demise or removal from power; also proposed is a united Europe. He returned about midnight. The next day at Paris HQ Jünger was stunned by the news of the invasion.
Jünger was only peripherally involved in the events, however, and in the aftermath suffered only dismissal from the army in August 1944 rather than execution. He was saved by the chaos of the last months of the war, and by always being "inordinately careful", burning writing on sensitive matters from 1933. One source (Friedrich Hielscher) claimed that Hitler said "Nothing happens to Jünger".
His elder son Ernst Jr., then an eighteen-year-old naval (Kriegsmarine) cadet, was imprisoned that year for engaging in "subversive discussions" in his Wilhelmshaven Naval Academy (a capital offence). Transferred to Penal Unit 999 as Frontbewährung after his parents had spoken to the presiding judge Admiral Scheurlen, he was killed near Carrara in occupied Italy on 29 November 1944 (though Jünger was never sure whether he had been shot by the enemy or by the SS).
After the war, Jünger was initially under some suspicion for his nationalist past, and he was banned from publishing in Germany for four years by the British occupying forces because he refused to submit to the denazification procedures. His work The Peace (German title: Der Friede), written in 1943 and published abroad in 1947, marked the end of his involvement in politics. When German Communists threatened his safety in 1945, Bertolt Brecht instructed them to "Leave Jünger alone." 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.
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.
Martin Heidegger was heavily influenced by Jünger's The Worker although he did not regard Jünger as a philosopher. Heidegger's interpretation of Jünger's work is compiled in volume 90 of his complete edition, titled "Zu Ernst Jünger".
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 a story within the science fiction genre. 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.
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), which evolved from his earlier conception of the Waldgänger, or "Forest Fleer" by influence of Max Stirner's conception of the Unique (der Einzige).[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. In 1984, he spoke at the Verdun memorial, alongside his admirers, French president François Mitterrand and the German chancellor, where he called the "ideology of war" in Germany before and after World War I "a calamitous mistake". 
Although he had been cleared of the accusation of Nazi collaboration since the 1950s, Jünger's national conservatism and his ongoing role as conservative philosopher and icon made him a controversial figure, and Huyssen (1993) argued that nevertheless "his conservative literature made Nazism highly attractive", 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". Walter Benjamin wrote "Theories of German Fascism" (1930) as a review of War and Warrior, a collection of essays edited by Jünger. Despite the ongoing political criticism of his work, Jünger said he never regretted anything he wrote, nor would he ever take it back.
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.
Jünger came from an agnostic family and did not hold to any particular belief in God, yet shortly before he died he converted to Roman Catholicism. A year before his death, Jünger was received into the Catholic Church and began to receive the Sacraments. He died on 17 February 1998 in Riedlingen, Upper Swabia, aged 102. He was the last living bearer of the military version of the order of the Pour le Mérite. His body was buried at Wilflingen Cemetery. Jünger's last home in Wilflingen, Jünger-Haus Wilflingen, is now a museum.
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).
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 the last living recipient of the military class 'Pour le Mérite'.
Jünger's works were edited in ten volumes in 1960-1965 by Ernst Klett Verlag, Stuttgart, and again in 18 volumes by Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart in 1978-1983, with four supplement volumes added posthumously, 1999-2003. 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).
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.
Four of his World War II diaries have been translated and published in English as:
The bulk of Jünger's publications remains untranslated, but some of his major novels have appeared in English translation.
Le domicile d'Ernst Jünger fut fouillé plusieurs fois par la Gestapo.