Jünger, Ernst

(born 1895)
   writer and soldier; glorified war as the ulti-mate existential experience. He was born to a pharmacist in Heidelberg. His lust for adventure led him to leave home at eighteen in a fruitless quest to join the French Foreign Legion. He enlisted in 1914, became an infantry officer, and was highly respected in the trenches as the leader of assault troops. Wounded fourteen times, he was awarded Germany's highest honor, the Pour le Mérite, late in 1918.
   Jünger left the army in 1923 as a captain, but maintained contact with such Freikorps* leaders and right-wing activists as Gerhard Rossbach* and Hermann Ehrhardt.* He despised the Republic, exclaiming that "I hate democracy like the plague. (His brother Friedrich Georg, who attacked efforts to base politics on a moral or scientific foundation, shared a similar philosophy.) After studying zoology and philosophy, he lived from 1926 as a freelance writer. Preaching "national revolution, his writings often appealed to youth, especially a Frei-korps-inspired group known as Freischar Schill. During 1930 he passed briefly through a phase characterized as "Prussian anarchism," in which he established contact with bomb-throwing activists in the Landvolk movement (see Farmers). But by then he was more spectator than participant.
   Jünger gained inspiration from a cluster of irrational ideas called Lebensphi-losophie. He rose to prominence as a symbol of the adventurer and Einsamer (loner). His writings (e.g., Krieg und Krieger or Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis) underscore a fascination with action and war; with the pivotal exception of anti-Semitism,* his ideology anticipated many of the basic impulses of the Third Reich. He believed that the fulfillment of human existence came in the experi-ence of the moment; thus movement and action were fundamental. Only in battle, with the imminent prospect of death, could one realize true consciousness. Thus Jünger fought neither for Kaiser nor victory but for the sake of fighting: for the magnificent "show of destruction." Indeed, he equated victory with failure, for in bringing peace, it led to disillusionment. In a 1932 publication, Der Arbeiter (The worker), he stressed his hostility to both the Republic and Bismarck s Reich by proposing that a new hierarchy of power replace Weimar s anachronistic amalgam of theories, parties, and effete idealism. While he antic-ipated a postindividualistic society based on mass power, he also argued that his concept was the ultimate in existential reality for the individual.
   Jünger searched for a leader drawn from the lower class of a society founded on industrial capitalism. Among the few Germans of the intellectual Right who did not identify with a classical model, he warned conservatives that the past could not be recaptured; one could either choose the mirage of restoration or the reality of action and war. Although he sympathized with the NSDAP, he rejected Hitler s* legal method of taking power and spent the Third Reich nur-turing a silent antipathy for a movement he deemed petty bourgeois. Briefly reactivated during World War II, he grew nostalgic after 1945 for the old con-servative values he had once rejected.
   REFERENCES:Herf, Reactionary Modernism; Struve, Elites against Democracy; Von Klemperer, Germany's New Conservatism; Wurgaft, Activists.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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