The War as Inner Experience
From Jünger, Ernst. Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis. As reproduced in Fascism: A Reader, trans. Roger Griffin, ed. Roger Griffin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 108-109.

Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) became famous in the interwar years as the outstanding chronicler of the Great War in Germany. In his diary, The War as Inner Experience (from which the following selection is taken), and his book The Storm of Steel, Jünger glorified the war experience and argued that the community of the trenches should serve as the basis for a new order. Although he never became a member of the Nazi Party and kept his distance from the regime, Jünger's sentiments echoed many of those expressed by Hitler.


There are moments when from above the horizon of the mind a new constellation dazzles the eyes of all those who cannot find inner peace, an annunciation and storm-siren betokening a turning-point in world history, just as it once did for the kings from the East. From this point on the surrounding stars are engulfed in a fiery blaze, idols shatter into shards of clay, and everything that has taken shape hitherto is melted down in a thousand furnaces to be cast into new values.

The waves of such an age are surging around us from all sides. Brain, society, state, god, art, eros, morality: decay, ferment--resurrection? Still the images flit restlessly past our eyes, still the atoms seethe in the cauldrons of the city. And yet this tempest too will ebb, and even this lava stream will freeze into order. Every madness has always disintegrated against a grey wall, unless someone is found who harnesses it to his wagon with a fist of steel.

Why is it that our age in particular is so overflowing with destructive and productive energies? Why is this age in particular so pregnant with such enormous promise? For while much may perish in the feverish heat, the same flame is simultaneously brewing future wonders in a thousand retorts. A walk in the street, a glance in the newspaper is enough to conform this, confounding all the prophets.

It is War which has made human beings and their age what they are. Never before has a race of men like ours stridden into the arena of the earth to decide who is to wield power over the epoch. For never before has a generation entered the daylight of life from a gateway so dark and awesome as when they emerged from this War. And this we cannot deny, no matter how much some would like to: War, father of all things, is also ours; he has hammered us, chiselled and tempered us into what we are. . . .

As sons of an age intoxicated by matter, progress seemed to us perfection, the machine the key to godliness, telescopes and microscopes organs of enlightenment. Yet underneath the ever more polished exterior, beneath all the clothes in which we bedecked ourselves, we remained naked and raw like men of the forest and the steppes.

That showed itself when the War ripped asunder the community of Europe, when we confronted each other in a primordial contest behind flags and symbols which many sceptics had long mocked. Then it was that, in an orgy of frenzy, the true human being made up for everything he had missed. At this point his drives, too long pent up by society and its laws, became once more the ultimate form of reality, holiness, and reason. . . .

What actually went on? The carriers of War and its creatures, human beings, whose lives had to lead toward War and through Him, were flung into new paths, new goals. This is what we were to Him, but what was He to us? That is a question which many now seek to ask.