biography - youth
Ernst Jünger was born in Heidelberg in 29 March 1895, the son of Dr. phil Ernst Georg Jünger and Lily (Karoline). His father, with a doctorate in chemistry, decided for financial reasons to forego an academic career, and, after an initial spell in Hannover, the family moved to the medieval town of Schwarzenburg in the Erzgebirge (Saxony) where Ernst Jünger Snr owned the pharmacy. He made sufficient money for the family to move to Rehburg in the Lower Saxon countryside in 1907.
A number of issues are of note in this earliest phase of Jünger's life:
- Schooling: Jünger spent a great deal of time at various boarding schools, whose discipline and stuffiness contributed greatly to his desire for autonomy and escape.
- Nature: Jünger's passion for entomology first started at this time, encouraged by his father. Nature seems to have represented two things: the thrill and self-assertion involved in the hunt and the experience of a vital space unencumbered by the burdens of contemporary society.
- Literature: Jünger read extraordinarily widely from an early age. Again, reading seems to have played a dual role. First, the experience of reading provided a manifold imaginary space in which the ego could escape, and second, the act of writing was again a form of self-assertion within an imaginary space.
- Wandervögel: Jünger and one of his brothers, the poet and writer to be Friedrich Georg, joined the Wunstorf Wandervögel in 1911. Although the precise extent of Jünger's involvement is not clear, the group as a whole was prominent as a voice for disaffected middle class youth and its espousal of hiking into Germany's open spaces was then a classic gesture of protest against the stifling atmosphere of Wilhelmine Germany. It could be argued that it represented the first stage of Jünger's transferral of his claims to autonomy and authenticity from the realm of the imaginary to the realm of real life.
The next stage of this would be to abscond to the French Foreign Legion in 1913.
© John King, 2017. Last updated Thu, 20th May 2010.