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biography - third reich

ernst jünger in 1937

Ernst Jünger, 1937.

Although Jünger had flirted briefly with the Nazis in 1923, and had dedicated a copy of Feuer und Blut "dem nationalen Führer Adolf Hitler" and Hitler had arranged a meeting with him (cancelled at the last minute), Jünger's attitude to National Socialism was one of growing disdain. He held his distance, rejecting offers of a place on the NSDAP electoral list and snubbing Goebbels.

Jünger's rejection of the various attempts by the Nazis to claim the by now famous author of war books reached its symbolic conclusions in Jünger's refusal of a place in the purged Dichterakademie in 1933 and by a Gestapo search of his house.

Inner Emigration

Jünger's withdrawal from direct political commentary took the form of a now still much debated innere Emigration. In December 1933 he moved to Goslar in the Harz mountains, a withdrawal from the compromised life of Berlin, and then moved three years later to Überlingen on the Bodensee, and finally, in 1939, he moved again to Kirchhorst in Lower Saxony. Jünger also continued to travel widely - to Norway in in 1935, to Brasil, the Canaries and Morocco in 1936 (Cf. Atlantische Fahrt (1947)), to Paris in 1937 and Rhodes in 1938. In Paris he met Joseph Breitbach, Julien Green, Andre Gide, Jean Schlumberger and Annette Kolb.

Inner Emigration was for Jünger a studied form of detachment from the political events surrounding him. His writing consisted of the essay collection Blaetter und Steine of 1934, with sly criticisms of Nazi racism, the novel Afrikanische Spiele (1936), the much revised second version of Das abenteuerliche Herz (1938) and, finally, the extraordinary novel Auf den Marmorklippen. This novel, which today on a first reading appears obscure, has often been interpreted as a less than covert criticism of Nazi tyranny. Indeed, the novel does lend itself to such a tendentious interpretation, reflecting Junger's increasing hostility to the regime through the oppressive figure of the Oberförster. It has, however, been criticised for its aestheticisation of violence. Both interpretations in my opinion represent an oversimplification of a highly complex and ambiguous literary achievement which belies its chiseled language.

In 1939 Hitler took the world to war again. Ernst Jünger, now promoted to Hauptmann (Captain) was called up in August 1939. His second war was to be very different from his first.

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