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War as Inner Experience by Ernst Junger
Recently saw some excerpts from Ernst Junger’s War as Inner Experience and realized this is a book I had to read. It did not disappoint, it is a book of power. War as Inner Experience is a short read, only around a hundred pages. The title I believe doesn’t do justice to the work left to us by Junger. It’s more than the inner experience of war, the first half is more the mindset of the man and warrior in Germany at the time. There are many lessons to take from it, we living in a world void of high culture.
Junger starts from the foundation and then builds the mind of the man and warrior. That foundation is of bloodlines and country. He equates the bloodlines of the Germans as trees in a “primeval forest” where the youth grow from the decomposition of the old. They all live and die in the same soil. Junger understands nature and the circle of life in this respect. Later on in the book, he explains how he and all German soldiers were made to see the defense as country as their sacred duty by the nature of being raised and trained next to powerful statues of the Germanic warriors who came before them. They were made to see greatness in their history and so inspired to become great themselves. To honor the legacy of their ancestors.
But even more powerful in Junger’s thought is the idea of War as God. Some claimed Mars abandoned the warrior during The Great War, but Junger didn’t think so. He believed Mars was there with his “front servants” empowering them with the warrior spirit.
“Do you not hear him roaring in a thousand cities, do you not hear his thunderstorms all around us, as in the days when the battles surrounded us? Do you not see his flame glowing in the eyes of each one of us? Sometimes he sleeps, but when the earth trembles, he bursts forth boiling from the mouth of every volcano.” -Ernst Junger
Junger speaking on war reminds me of a quote from James LaFond which I’ve put on here before, “War is my god.” Junger it seems, believed the same. This first part of his book is more a guide to being a man and warrior. This talk on war and its god is absolutely necessary for boys and young men to hear. War is part of man’s nature and he must be prepared for it. War is to man as giving birth is to woman.
Becoming a Breaker of Wills
“For these two beings have placed themselves in a primordial relationship, the struggle for existence in its most naked form. In this struggle, the weaker must remain on the ground, while the victor, with the weapon clutched in his fist, steps over the slain, deeper into battle, deeper into life.” -Ernst Junger
There is big talk about fighting and war, but few talk about the will involved. Do you have the will to fight? The will to kill? The warrior must go into battle with the desire to break the wills of his enemies and ultimately annihilate them. This will to break the wills of others should be instilled in the minds of all boys and men who seek to become better men. Life itself is war. You must be made ready to fight and win within it.
Storm of Steel was much a journal of Junger’s experiences in the war. War as Inner Experience is more the metaphysics of his mindset, but he also talks at great length the experiences he shared in the war as a way of preparing those who might read his work for the horrors that await them. One such story is Junger being attacked by a rat that sprang from a corpse. He also speaks about the character of the soldiers in the trench, which he admired greatly, believing they were a new kind of man. If you’ve read Storm of Steel, you’ll get a better understanding of these parts of the book where he talks specifically about the war. One chapter deals for example with his training to be a storm trooper and another with the moments before the final push where he believed the Germans would break out of their containment near the end of the war.
Those familiar with Junger know he was an elite man in every sense of the word. The Great War broke the minds and spirits of many, but Ernst Junger was not one of them. He was recruited into a German shock troop near the end of war. An experience he talks about Storm of Steel. This elite force would redefine how the war was fought there as well as in World War II. The spirit of Junger and the other storm troopers was not unlike the old berserkers. They saw red and stormed enemy trenches full of bloodlust.
This is a book you must read. The lost generation of The Great War was perhaps the last generation of real men. The last men of high culture and right nature. From that war on, the number of men raised without fathers grew exponentially. The ways of men and our traditions lost. Our culture now is one without honor or manly courage. A man of power like Ernst Junger offers a bridge back to what we lost.
“A culture may seem to be towering, but if the masculine spirit burns out, then it becomes a colossus on feet of clay. The mightier its structure, the more terrible its fall.” -Ernst Junger