Thursday, November 25, 2010

The WWI Diary of Ernst Jünger

The year 2014 will mark the 100th year since the start of World War 1. I'm starting a label for WW1 posts and starting with this one the newly published memiors of Ernst Jünger from Der Spiegel. An immensely popular author with his book "Storm of Steel" in Germany pre-WW2, and a guy who raises some issues for Germans today,
Jünger's book could help open up a new chapter of remembering the conflict in Germany, and historical interest is bound to increase with the coming of the 100th anniversary of its outbreak in 2014, said Kiesel.

"None of the victorious nations shunned calling their soldiers heroes. But it has always been problematic to describe Jünger as a hero, there was always an outcry against it. The time may have come to approach that difficult debate again to restore a certain equality, even if these solders were involved in a war for which Germany bears the main guilt."

It may also be interesting to explore why Jünger didn't noticeably suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, an affliction that has hit large numbers of soldiers who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kiesel said keeping a diary to write down the events in detail shortly after they happened may have helped.

But most importantly, Jünger's crystal-clear descriptions unwittingly offer a fresh reminder of the devastation and terror caused by all wars.

An entry on August 28, 1916, written during the Somme battle, reads: "This area was meadows and forests and cornfields just a short time ago. There's nothing left of it, nothing at all. Literally not a blade of grass, not a tiny blade. Every millimeter of earth has been churned up and churned again, the trees uprooted and torn apart and ground to sludge. The houses shot to pieces, the bricks crushed into powder. The railway tracks turned into spirals, hills flattened, everything turned to desert. And everything full of corpses who have been turned over a hundred times. Whole lines of soldiers are lying in front of the position

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