I. Ernst Jünger as an author of New Nationalism: the Fascist Style vs. Official National Socialist Ideology

It is hard to complain about a lack of attention to Ernst Jünger’s personality and authorship. In spite of his “dubious past”[1] and as opposed to lots of his comrades-in-arms, he has gained recognition in lifetime. Moreover, he himself has become an object of study, one must admit, a rather challenging one: too many questions and controversies surround his mysterious character. As a celebrity and an acknowledged German icon, Jünger hasn’t left them unanswered; however, the mystery remained, because in many cases hints, omissions and especially emphatic silence were his very answer.

The same goes for Ernst Jünger’s creativity that lasted for about eighty years. It’s no wonder that his legacy has been studied in terms of a considerable variety of discourses (from the philological to the political), which reflects richness of the genres that he has mastered; for instance, the reports about LSD-trips are no less integral part of Jünger’s bibliography than far-right journalism or the war diaries. Likewise, it corresponds with multitude of Jünger’s talents and thus sub-personalities for biographical investigation: Jünger as a writer and a journalist, Jünger as a military and a warrior, Jünger as an aesthete and a dandy, Jünger as an entomologist and insect collector, and, finally, Jünger as a leader of National Revolutionaries and a prominent theorist of Conservative Revolution. Furthermore, Jünger’s ideological and political identity has also been a subject of lasting debates that vary over the range from “Jünger as a godfather of fascism” to “Jünger as a hidden liberal”[2]. The most popular issues for inquiry, as one may easily guess, are connected with Jünger’s relations with National Socialism and the infamous “Jewish question.”

At last, traditional discussions regarding “progressive vs. regressive” vector of Conservative Revolution and atypical ideological frameworks of its members in Jünger’s case reach the highest level of intensity. There is a special term in German Jünger studies – “Jünger-Kontroverse,” which means sharp polemic around his personality and writings. At present, despite (or owing to) such riddles, exists a huge Jüngeriana, which may even scare off a curious admirer or a researcher of Ernst Jünger’s legacy who’d like to gain a clear and coherent vision of his ideology.

Indeed, many investigations, both critic and apologetic, seem to confuse rather than clarify Jünger-related matters. Besides, one can hardly surpass Jünger’s level of reflection and give more precise definitions of his views than self-descriptions of this “Augenmensch,” who is also known as a “seismograph of the epoch” whose forecasts came true. Therefore, it’s enough to read attentively his own “confessions” to comprehend this exemplary aesthete of the Right, for whom form and content were equally important. Perhaps that is the reason why Jünger was unable to explain or justify himself in the post-war period: his natural aristocratic pose, this “désinvolture” (easiness, disengagement) and public intellectual answerability, especially that of a person who denied universal suffrage along with other “universal” demands of Enlightenment, were simply incompatible. One should be truly naïve to expect Jünger to do any kinds of populist activities he has never performed even during the National Socialist era, which betrayed his hopes of complete depoliticization of masses, today, under the reign of globalized Leviathan, that is the new world order. Similar to Martin Heidegger, who hasn’t said a single word of repentance, Ernst Jünger has chosen silence as an answer:

“One is then in the immediate post-war period, a sad and painful time when the two men were treated as if they were radioactive. Jünger, on June 25th, 1949, wrote this superb sentence: ‘In the course of these last years, it has become quite clear to me that silence is the strongest of weapons, provided that it is dissimulated behind something that deserves to be hushed up.'”[3]

On the other hand, as the “Wittgensteinian” title of an inquiry into his creativity suggests, “whereof Ernst Jünger cannot speak, thereof he can also not be silent”[4]. Needless to say, one must have ears to hear what Jünger tries to convey by means of this emphatic silence. Or rather, eyes to see what he would like to show, for Jünger’s prose has a distinct “visual” character; another famous aphorism by Ludwig Wittgenstein “What can be shown, cannot be said” is also more than relevant in this context. Furthermore, according to Armin Mohler, a Swiss-German historian who left Switzerland in order to enter Waffen SS, served as Jünger’s secretary from 1949 to 1953 and wrote the classic investigation Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland: 1918–1932 (Conservative Revolution in Germany: 19181932) (1950) that gave birth to academic Jünger studies, Ernst Jünger, along with Gottfried Benn and, for example, Otto Strasser, is the brightest representative of a “fascist style” described in Mohler’s short 27-page essay of the same title (Der Faschistische Stil, 1973) as a positive deviation of the official National Socialist ideology which is characteristic for such diverse phenomena as movements led by José Antonio Primo de Rivera in Spain, Léon Degrelle in France, Gabriele D’Annunzio in Italy, Oswald Mosley in Britain, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu in Romania, etc.

“Mohler understands style as a purely aesthetic phenomenon, as the elevation of the gesture above the idea. An example of the fascist style is “severity and coldness,” wringing form “for the sake of pure form from the chaos.” The battle slogan of the Spanish fascists in 1936, “long live death,” is accordingly a typical fascist gesture.”[5]

Although Mohler warned against shallow leftist interpretations of the fascist style as “mere” aesthetics, such “gestures” must be viewed as the key to understanding why Jünger has been an “inner emigrant” since the Third Reich and an inconvenient person for any political force in general, although he dedicated the copy of his book Feuer und Blut (Fire and Blood) (1926) to “the national Fuhrer—Adolf Hitler” and twice was about to meet him (the first meeting the same year did not happen because of Hitler’s tough work schedule, the second because Jünger did not attend the Nuremberg party rally in 1929). This conflict of ideology and aesthetics in its highest sense is hidden behind such demonstrative acts performed by Jünger during the National Socialist era as rejecting NSDAP membership (twice, in 1927 and 1933) and refusing to enter the Prussian Academy of Arts (in summer 1933) accompanied by a sharply ironical letter where a legendary soldier of World War I, an acknowledged leader of the far-right military circles and a celebrated author of books on war argued that a “deeply soldierlike character” of his job and, in particular, articulated in paragraph 59 of his “book on the worker” thesis regarding correlation between armament and culture prevents him from joining the Academy which may negatively affect his military service conducted since 1914 [6]. After his house was searched by the Gestapo in winter 1933, the bright metropolitan dandy and the proponent of the urbanistic “New Nationalism” moved to the provincial city Goslar.

By the book on the worker Ernst Jünger meant his main metaphysical tract Der Arbeiter (The Worker) published in 1932 which was greeted by silence both from National Socialists and their opponents, who, according to his memories, simply didn’t know what to do with it. Similarly, it is told that rejecting a seat in the Reichstag Jünger commented in the following way: “It is much more honorable to write one good line than represent sixty thousand idiots in the parliament.” As a convinced decisionist and an apologist of revolutionary authoritarianism, Jünger was disappointed with the election campaign initiated by National Socialists in spite of their promise to do without it. In the article Nationalismus und Nationalsozialismus (Nationalism and National Socialism) (1927) the author of the program of so-called “New Nationalism” (with respect to liberal nationalism of the XIXth century resulted from French revolution) explicitly stated that this “fascist style,” speaking in Mohler’s terms, goes beyond ideological patterns as endowed with metaphysical significance: “An ideal of nationalist is his inner position.” Jünger goes on to say that all those who strive for this ideal, even if their ideological standpoints vary, are akin to each other.

Therefore, it is clear that opposition between the official National Socialist course and “fascist” aesthetics is not one between content and form, primal and secondary matters, as leftists and orthodox National Socialists tend to believe, but, quite the reverse, is one between abstract and concrete or even imaginary and real issues, which determine differences in priorities of their adherents. Cold, severe and emotionally restrained manifestations of the fascist style do not cancel anyhow its vitalistic roots: Ernst Jünger, who studied philosophy and zoology at Leipzig University in 1920-s, in particular, attended lectures of Hans Driesch, the founder of neovitalism, Hugo Fischer and his assistant Felix Krüger, not mentioning typical of “the front generation” fascination with Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Oswald Spengler and Werner Sombart, above all, enriched with his Weimar nationalistic journalism (1923-1933) the legacies of German voluntarism, philosophy of life and Romanticism. Even a cursory acquaintance with the text is enough to observe that “blood,” “spirit,” “destiny,” “will,” “life-force,” “heart,” “energy,” etc. are the most frequently used words in these articles; technology itself is portrayed as a magical elemental power that has nothing in common with its leftist vision as a neutral instrument of rationalization and progress. It was this very “combination of fastidious detachment, amor fati, and romantic nationalism” that “was a poor way to resist Nazis” according to Jünger’s critics[7]. Jünger himself, though, preferred to call this position “heroic realism.”

Ernst Jünger, as a leader of National Revolutionaries due to Armin Mohler’s classification of the main directions within the general Conservative Revolutionary movement, held a different opinion on the racial and the Jewish questions than representatives of Völkisch trend to whom belongs invention of the doctrine “Blut und Boden” (“Blood and Soil”) absorbed into the official Hitler’s policy. He denied both racial biologism and anti-Semitism of NSDAP, the former as too abstract (in Jünger’s words, blood proves itself not by its “purity” but by deeds; race has “energetic,” not substantial meaning) and the latter as a reaction on a far overestimated threat of assimilated Jews that only discredits Germans (in the article Nationalismus und “Nationalismus” (Natonalism and “Nationalism”) he rejected the view that nationalist eats three Jews for breakfast. Anti-Semitism as far as he’s concerned is not an essential issue”[8]). Jünger believed that the more distinct the German “gestalt” grew, the more visible Jews would become against that background, so they would have either to turn into Germans, or to leave Germany as representatives of the alien formation:

“For Jews there is only one lasting station, only one temple of Solomon, and that is Jewish orthodoxy, which I hail just as much as I must hail the genuine and unqualified singularity of every people. Undoubtedly it will recover ground to the same degree that the nationalism of the peoples of Europe gains impetus.“[9]

The concept of gestalt is actually a very synonym of the fascist style understood as the phenomenon of metaphysical value. In the foremost tract Der Arbeiter, which summarizes Jünger’s Weimar journalism, he shifts from the German gestalt to the metaphysical gestalt of the Worker that literally imprints a new human type—the type of the Worker endowed with such attributes as unity of freedom and necessity, domination and obedience, work and leisure, openness to the elemental and danger, much easier treatment of pain and death (as compared to the bourgeois individual), impersonality and ability of self-objectification, etc. These features are caused by the Promethean character of the gestalt that represents the powers of technology and expands by their means: technology, according to the famous definition, is the way in which the gestalt of the Worker mobilizes the world. Moreover, Jünger specifies that work, which appears as the way of life with respect to man and as the principle with respect to reality of his efforts, in a formal sense should be regarded as a the style.

Style characteristics are already familiar; after all, they may be easily derived from attributes of the new human type as an impression of the gestalt. As such, they were recognized and highly estimated by Julius Evola in his book on the figure of the Worker in Ernst Jünger’s creativity as traits of the active ascetic-heroic type known as kshatriya in India’s caste system. What also elevates this style above “mere aesthetics” is directly stated by Jünger irreducibility of the gestalt to ethic, aesthetic and scientific assessments, which makes seeing the world in terms of gestalts a truly revolutionary act necessary for grasping being in the wholeness of its life. It does not matter whether something is good or evil, beautiful or ugly, true or false, continues Jünger, the only thing that counts is the gestalt to which it belongs. That’s why he denied both economic and moral interpretation of work: as opposed to widespread attempts to portray the Worker as a selfless toiler, who challenges the greedy capitalist logic, Jünger leaves no doubt that work has more in common with sport and passion for uniform than earning bread “in the sweat of thy face.”

II. Aestheticization of Violence: the Case of On the Marble Cliffs

Armin Mohler meant approximately the same by saying that for aesthetes like Ernst Jünger and Gabriele D’Annunzio the spectacular gesture was “more important” than destiny of their own people and homeland. Or the occupied France where Jünger served as a captain in headquarters of General Otto von Stülpnagel, the German Army Commander for France, during the World War II and was concerned with meeting local celebrities and reading books rather than military duties:

“As for the Neronian aspect of Jünger’s detachment from (not approval of) the barbarism around him, here is Jünger on Nero: “I am always disagreeing with my wife about Nero, whom she doesn’t like. I say: that Nero, what a man! He was a born artist. And now he had to become an emperor, too, poor man. I greatly admire his last words, ‘Qualis artifex pereo.’”[10]

Another exemplary episode, which is eagerly cited both by admirers and haters of Jünger’s godlike manner of writing—by the latter as a decisive argument in the debate on his responsibility as an author for “aestheticization of violence,”—appears in Jünger’s Paris Diaries and reflects his impressions of Paris bombing in May 1944 observed from the roof of the Hotel Raphael while drinking wine:

“During the second wave, at sunset, I held in my hand a glass of burgundy with strawberries floating in it. The city with its red towers and domes lay stretched out in breathtaking beauty like a chalice that is overflown for deadly pollination. Everything was spectacle, pure power, affirmed and exalted by pain.”[11]

Therefore, it is rather official National Socialist ideology that should be considered as the “merely” ethical phenomenon, whereas the fascist style is evidence of genuine conservative-revolutionary aspiration to “re-enchant” the secularized world by reuniting autonomous modern fields of ethics, aesthetics, science, politics, religion, etc. This reproach was addressed to National Socialists in the aforementioned article Nationalism and National Socialism written back in 1927 where Jünger remarked that the number of followers and party struggle were so significant only for National Socialists, who strove for power instead of “the absolute revolution,” whereas for nationalists the number meant nothing and a phenomenon of Spengler’s level was more valuable than a hundred of seats in the parliament. Jünger’s opponents from the Left also felt it: Karl Radek, for example, once said that converting this “disturbingly honest” author to their side would be more important than winning parliamentary majority. In other words, another difference between National Socialism and the fascist style consists in preference for quantity over quality and visa versa accordingly.

Terms that signify this special quality of the new human type in Jünger’s Weimar journalism are “character,” “blood” and “race” in the “energetic” sense which allows spiritual brothers to recognize each other by a handshake, eye contact, tone of voice, facial expressions, etc. Jünger points out that, similar to the gestalt, there are no good or evil characters; there are only great and petty ones. Attention to detail is also crucial according to Mohler’s description of “the new brave guys” who are devoid of ideological messianism and salute a superior only if they like his “mug.” Likewise, he underlines that their reaction on the official propaganda is quite unusual: they either grin or yawn. The paragraph 59 of Der Arbeiter mentioned by Jünger in the letter of rejection to Prussian Academy of Arts contains explicit substantiation for this retreat into fascist aesthetics which borders on anarchist individualism. At a glance, we deal with the contrast between two kinds of aesthetics: fascist aesthetics of youth, the will to power and death and National Socialist aesthetics that appeals to “German culture” and its glorious past even in the remotest depths of which, in Jünger’s opinion, can hardly ever be found this typical of the official slogans “unpleasant mixture of vulgarity and arrogance.”

However, Jünger’s dissatisfaction with cheap epigonism of many regime “artists,” above all, was ideologically motivated. In spite of his futuristic approach, Jünger denied National Socialist focus on the past not in the name of progress but in favor of “the highest living tradition,” which does require genuine greatness and the very opposite of which he considered “museumification” of the cultural heritage initiated by the authority, that is, as one might say, “lower”, “dead,” or “artificial” tradition. Ideologically, it corresponds with Jünger’s outright disrespect for liberal nationalism as a formal pseudo-political theory born out of French revolution and Enlightenment, which has nothing in common with a German doctrine of “organic” nationalism—the only kind of nationalism that is worthy of its title. Strictly speaking, Jünger criticized not so much National Socialism as its liberal counterpart; that’s why he called museumification of history and culture “the last oasis of bourgeois security” that justifies escaping the political decisions and lacks power to protect the state sovereignty from invasion of the smallest among neighboring countries. Jünger insists that under the current circumstances we should not talk about tradition: we should create it. That’s why he underlined that a true symbol of the modern epoch—an unknown soldier, who fell somewhere near Somma or in Flandria,—can never be overshadowed by any spirit of the past. No wonder that Ernst Jünger supported National Bolshevik Ernst Niekisch repressed because of spreading anti-Hitler sentiments and a creator of “degenerate art” Rudolf Schlichter when he was accused of “a non-National Socialist way of life.”

At the same time it would be extremely wrong to conclude that Jünger was an anti-Nazi or even an anti-Hitler activist. The history behind his well-known novel Auf den Marmorklippen (On the Marble Cliffs) written in 1939, which is often referred to as a starting point of Jünger’s die Kehre (the turn) “from politics to literature” (along with the second redaction of Das Abenteuerliche Herz (The Adventurous Heart) (1938)), is highly illuminating in this context. The novel tells the story of two brothers who lead a poetic existence near a no less pastoral idyllic land called the Grand Marina which becomes steadily destroyed by the barbaric gangs of the Chief Ranger (Oberförster) that grow wild woods at his command on areas previously under its peaceful settlements. The book was censored by Goebbels soon after its publication in Germany, but it was re-published at the Army’s expense, the same as Jünger’s Myrdun. Briefe aus Norwegen (Myrdun: Letters from Norway) (1943) that was banned from publishing because of his refusal to eliminate the critical reference to the 73rd Psalm.

On one hand, Goebbels’ reaction was quite understandable: back in 1929 he qualified the first redaction of The Adventurous Heart (1929) as literature (“mere ink”) against the background of Jünger’s earlier “great and heroic” book In Stahlgewittern (Storm of Steel) (1920),—the legendary military diaries that brought him fame and even were recommended for reading in the school curriculum. Besides, taking into account that On the Marble Cliffs as an example of highly sophisticated fiction far from Goebbels’ ideal of “the real full-blooded life” was instantly recognized as an anti-Nazi allegory that targets Adolf Hitler as the Chief Ranger and Josef Goebbels as Braquemart, no wonder that the latter had at least two reasons for censoring this new Jünger’s masterpiece. However, it will turn out to be a false impression if one digs deeper into the story:

On the Marble Cliffs sold 35,000 copies before it was suppressed early in 1940. How it suppressed through the censor machine of Dr. Goebbels is less of a mystery when one realizes that Braquemart was modeled on Dr. Goebbels himself who was flattered and amused by it, and later alarmed by its popularity among the officer caste. Jünger himself claimed then—as now —that the fable is not specifically anti-Nazi, but ‘above all that’.”[12]

Much later in the short afterword to the novel (1972) Jünger repeats that even in occupied France readers guessed that it was “the shoe that fits various feet.” Furthermore, in the interviews he drew his usual parallel between Hitler’s and Stalin’s regimes and remarked that the book might be easily viewed as an exposition of the latter, although, in general, Jünger refuted the very political interpretation of the novel as too narrow. More precisely, Jünger confessed his growing dissatisfaction with the word “resistance” in the same afterword to the work, because his strategy of inner emigration, which found its brightest expression in the concepts of Waldgänger and Anarch, dictated equal status of “opposition” and “collaboration” provided that one stays true to himself.[13]

Despite the fact that in Paris Jünger communicated with many noticeable figures, including that of Resistance (Sacha Guitry, Jean Cocteau, Marcel Jouhandeau, Paul Leautard, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Gaston Gallimard, Paul Morand, Banine, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Henri de Montherlant, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Florence Gould), and his tract Der Friede (The Peace. An appeal to the Youth of Europe and to the Youth of the World) (1943) was very popular among the militaries who prepared a failed assassination plot against Hitler on July 20, 1944 (among others, General Otto von Stülpnagel, under whose supervision Jünger worked, and Hans Speidel, the Chief of Staff; the German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel even planned to spread Jünger’s appeal worldwide in case the conspiracy is successful), his only punishment was dismissal from Wehrmacht as “unfit for service” due to the personal intercession of Hitler. At the same time, the price Jünger paid for subversive activities was symbolical death of his son Ernst near the Marble Cliffs of Carrara on November 29 in Italy where he was enrolled in the punishment battalion because of organizing anti-Hitler conversations in his unit. Or rather, for his usual aesthetically perfect ironical attacks on the regime: young Ernst who was reported to say his comrades-in-arms “If we win, we’ll have to hang Kniebolo” has just repeated a combination of words “knien” (to kneel) and “Diablo” (the devil) used as a codename for Hitler in Jünger’s French diaries.

III. Ernst Jünger’s Inner Emigration: Between Waldgänger and Anarch

In 1945, as a commander of Kirchhorst Volkssturm, Jünger ordered the local militia to stop resistance and surrender to the American occupation authorities. Despite his growing distance to the political involvement and ban on publishing in Germany for four years imposed by the British occupying forces, Jünger refused to participate in the denazification procedure and openly admitted that he was on the side of the defeated:

“Jünger’s journal shows how indignant he was that Germany was being occupied by Americans, whose culture he considered inferior. ‘On the street, an endless row of trucks roll by, driven by Negroes,’ he observed, with barely concealed contempt, as if Europe were being overrun by African bushmen.'”[14]

Similarly, although he was among the first to admit that Germans “have paid the price for their actions” and that revenge of Russians, “the horrible things that happened when the Russians marched in and in the months afterward,” “is not to be approved, but it is understandable”[15], he immediately started exposing the hypocrisy and double standards of the Allies that exploited the Holocaust as a pretext for pushing their own interests. In Jünger’s opinion, it is Germans who play a role of the world’s “beasts of burden” today—a place previously occupied by Jews. Moreover, as opposed to his friend and National Bolshevist Ernst Niekisch, who had high hopes for collaboration with the Soviet Union, Ernst Jünger insisted that USA and the USSR were equally dangerous for Germany; he was totally sure that the loss of Germany’s Eastern territories in Poland would have farreaching consequences.

Besides, Jünger’s supposedly anti-Nazi tract The Peace, which was actively circulating in the post-war period, has been also estimated as a document of “the disappearing guilt”[16], where Jünger, in his usual metaphysical, or, better to say, aesthetical manner, views Holocaust as one of the manifestations of the planetary domination of the metaphysical gestalt of the Worker, which imposes an impersonal character of nihilistic productivity on everything from war to lifestyle. As such, it is perfectly comparable with the military crimes committed by other authoritarian regimes; for instance, Jünger did not see in what way the Holocaust was different from the cold-blooded Katyn execution of at least 14,700 Polish officers by NKWD in 1940[17]. Same goes for Jünger’s seemingly anti-Nazi novel On the Marble Cliffs, which became widely known as a classic example of his “aestheticization of violence” and sparked a new wave of heated debate around Jünger’s responsibility as a writer on occasion of his receiving the prestigious Goethe Prize in 1982.

Overall, Jünger’s public participation in the post-war period was minimal. After publishing books Über die Linie (Across the Line) in 1950 and An der Zeitmauer (At the Wall of Time) in 1959 “Jünger seemed to have disappeared though his own time wall”[18]. Conceptual substantiation for this new inner emigration were Jünger’s models of a sovereign individual Waldgänger (the Forest Goer) and his advanced version Anarch (actually, the right-wing anarchist), developed in the essay Der Waldgang (A Forest Path, Retreat into the Forest) (1951) and futuristic dystopian novel Eumeswil (1977) accordingly. The latter, in turn, was a sequel to his earlier dystopian novel Heliopolis (1949), where, in particular, Jünger predicted contemporary illusion of mass participation in democratic government through anonymous voting by means of “the Phonophor” (the communication medium that may be considered as the analog of a smartphone with Web access), which, however, leaves the next question unanswered: “Who determines the topics for voting?..” Therefore, Waldgänger, who denies this liberal world of false freedom (“anemic abstractions we have come to associate with this term”[19]), automatism and ethical determinism, abandons society in order to flee into the Forest, both literal and metaphorical. The following excerpt from Der Waldgang sheds light on reasons behind Jünger’s own retreat from political activism in the FRG:

“It is indicative of a new feature in our world, in which foreigners may accuse the individual as a collaborator with popular movements, while political parties try him as a sympathizer of unpopular causes. The individual is thus placed between Scylla and Charybdis; he is threatened with liquidation either because he participated or because he failed to participate.

Hence, a high degree of courage is required which will enable him to defend the cause of justice all alone, and even against the power of the state. It will be doubted whether such men can be found. Some will appear, however, and they will be wanderers in the forest (Waldgänger). Even against his will, this type of man will enter the historical scene, for there are forms of coercion that leave no choice.”[20]

As opposed to the Forest Goer, Anarch is not necessarily excluded from society; quite the reverse, he may be more effective functionary than anybody else if seen from outside:

“The forest fleer has been expelled from society, the anarch has expelled society from himself. He is and remains his own master in all circumstances. When he decides to flee to the forest, his decision is less an issue of justice and conscience for him than a traffic accident. He changes camouflage; of course, his alien status is more obvious in the forest flight, thereby making it the weaker form, though perhaps indispensable.”[21]

This deliberate withdrawal from social life that has gained Jünger reputation of a lone wolf, an aristocratic dandy, an outsider, etc. eventually ended with his total mythologization as a person. According to Niekisch, he did not hurry to disprove any of rumors, for “one shouldn’t interfere in the development of a myth”[22]. Jünger’s temporary transition from Waldgänger to Anarch was connected with the loud international celebration of his hundredth birthday on March 29, 1995 broadcast by the media in France, Germany and Italy. Among those who came to greet and praise this living myth of the century were the French President François Mitterrandand the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (both of them were Jünger’s honorable listeners in 1984 when he delivered a speech at the FrancoGerman reconciliation ceremony at Verdun memorial). Apart from that, Jünger-Haus in Wilflingen was previously visited by Jorge Luis Borges and Alberto Moravia. Mitterrand’s birthday greeting speech gives an impression of Jünger’s cult status among the elite:

“Embroiled to the point of risking his life in the turmoil of the century, he held himself apart from his passions. Nothing can appropriate his name, nor his gaze, except perhaps that butterfly in Pakistan now called “Trachydura Jüngeri,” which is his pride. Because this rebel chases glow-worms, this soldier writes novels. A philosopher, he possesses an appetite for living, which time has not wearied. Few life works are more diverse, few minds more restless. As inheritor of Goethe, of Hölderlin and Nietzsche, but also of Stendhal, Jünger’s thought unites the riches of the Enlightenment with those of Romanticism, the rigour of the one with the generosity of the other.

[…] Likewise with his idea of progress, which repudiates alike the prophecies of Hegel and Marx and the pessimism of Spengler. No one has better grasped than him the advent of the world of technology, its benefits and catastrophes. If he deems inevitable the triumphs of science and numbers, he struggles against the excesses of their conquest.”[23]

Naturally, Jünger received not only positive responses. Jean-Paul Sartre, who confessed his hatred of Jünger namely as “an aristocrat,” is a well-known instance of a negative attitude towards the German writer. According to the speech conducted in front of guests at a celebration in Saulgau, his admirers and haters simply “belonged” to his “karma—without them no profile” [24]. No more, no less, that’s why Jünger “was not interested in a dialogue with adversaries. As he wrote at the time of Brecht’s death, ‘I guess no discussion will take place between him and myself, as so many have suggested—well perhaps soon in Valhalla!’” [25]

In general, although Jünger’s aristocratic dandyism, which bordered on the private eccentricity detested in his earlier anti-burgher books, and ultimate devotion to his new spiritual homeland France soon made him a part of popular culture (books with a stylized EJ signature were sold like French perfumes; Jünger accepted Salvador Dali’s proposal to rewrite calligraphically a fragment from his work Fassungen (Versions) (1972) on a sheepskin of a sole exemplar of the million-dollar book [26]; even Pope John Paul II once quoted Jünger [27]), he hasn’t become an icon of democratic Germany. It’s enough to read the following answers to the interviewer to understand that his rejection of liberal nationalism, not mentioning democracy, in favor of the fascist style remained unchanged:

“Question: Do we live in a pseudo-democracy?

Jünger: The things which are allowed today are, compared to the baroque period, much reduced.

Question: What for example?

Jünger: For example, one cannot say, “I am a fascist.” Say that and you are considered to be the lowest of the low. Today you can’t just drive on the left side of the road. That is a deep affront to the individual. Even our grandfathers were more free than us.”[28]

In other words, no matter how poetic at a glance may seem such “escapist” figures as Waldgänger and Anarch, in the post-war period Ernst Jünger still anticipated return of the Prince who would be able to unite the peoples of Europe instead of Adolf Hitler. No wonder that he has never associated himself with new democratic Germany that claimed to be a better successor of the “fallen” German Reich:

“My wife and I are loyal citizens of the Federal Republic, but not particularly enthusiastic ones—our reality is the German Empire.”[29]


1.     Elliott Y. Neamann, A Dubious Past: Ernst Jünger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

2.     Peter Koslowski, Der Mythos der Moderne. Die dichterische Philosophie Ernst Jüngers (München: W. Fink Verl., 1991).

3.     Alain de Benoist, Jünger, Heidegger and Nihilism < >

4.     Bernd Hüppauf, Whereof Ernst Jünger cannot Speak, Thereof He Can Also Not Be Silent. An Early Example of “‘Forgetting’ the Holocaust.” Power, Conscience, and Opposition ( Bern, New York, etc: Peter Lang, 1996).

5.     Elliott Y. Neamann, A Dubious Past: Ernst Jünger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 114.

6.     Quoted in Heimo Schwilk, Ernst Jünger: ein Jahrhundertleben: die Biografie (München; Zürich: Piper, 2007), p. 359.

7.     An Exchange on Ernst Jünger (Hilary Barr, reply by Ian Buruma) < >

8.     Quoted in Thomas R. Nevin, Ernst Jünger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914–1945 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996), p. 108.

9.     Quoted in Ibid., p. 110.

10. An Exchange on Ernst Jünger (Hilary Barr, reply by Ian Buruma) < >

11. Quoted in German Writings Before and After 1945: E. Junger, W. Koeppen, I. Keun, A. Lernet-Holenia, G. von Rez (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002), p. 33.

12. Bruce Chatwin, An Aesthete at War < >

13. Ernst Jünger, Eumeswil; translated by Joachim Neugroschel (New York: Marsilio, 1993), p. 227.

14. Elliott Y. Neamann, A Dubious Past: Ernst Jünger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 48.

15. Quoted in Ibid., 50.

16. Thomas Hajduk, With A Little Help From My Friends: Ernst Jiinger and his network in the post-war period (Masters thesis, Durham University, 2008), < >

17. Ibid.

18. Elliott Y. Neamann, A Dubious Past: Ernst Jünger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 51.

19. Ernst Jünger, Retreat into the Forest (Confluence, vol. 3, # 2, 1954), p. 131.

20. Ibid., p. 139.

21. Ernst Jünger, Eumeswil; trans. by Joachim Neugroschel (New York: Marsilio, 1993), p. 147.

22. Quoted in Elliott Y. Neamann, A Dubious Past: Ernst Jünger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 82.

23. Francois Mitterrand to Ernst Jünger on his 100th birthday—1995 < >

24. Quoted in Elliott Y. Neamann, A Dubious Past: Ernst Jünger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 62.

25. Quoted in Ibid, p. 85.

26. Ibid, p. 52-53.

27. Thomas R. Nevin, Ernst Jünger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914–1945 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996), p. 1.

28. Quoted in Elliott Y. Neamann, A Dubious Past: Ernst Jünger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 62.

29. Quoted in Ibid, p. 61.


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