Saturday, October 27, 2018


After WWI, a German named Remarque wrote a book about the war called All Quiet on the Western Front.  It has been an anti-war go-to literature ever since.

But not everyone came out of that war all broken and defeated and sad.  We won't talk about that Viennese guy that volunteered for a Bavarian unit that emerged from the war bitter, enraged, and murderously insane.  I'm talking around Ernst Jünger.  He wrote Storm of Steel soon after the war.

And the horrors he saw didn't turn him off war.  And he did see horrors.  He details the deaths of pretty much every comrade he saw fall around him.  He himself was wounded.  Lots.  So his love of the glory wasn't because he was some REMF, in the rear with the gear.  He saw some serious shit.  And was one of only 11 dog faces not of flag rank to get awarded the Pour le Mérite.  Only 700 were awarded in the whole war.  Mostly to General and pilots. 

Which is probably why this book is rarely assigned in high school like All Quiet on the Western Front was.

Do they still assign it?  I grew up soon after the draft ended, and that warmonger Reagan was in office, and he could start something at any time.  We gotta turn these Select Service cannon-fodder kids off of this stuff, man.  (Too many of my Teachers went to Woodstock, I know it.)

Jünger fought the whole war, beginning to end, pretty much.  Only absent from the front in brief staff stints and while convalescing. He missed the last 3 months after his worst wounding, shot through a lung.  He only died in 1998, aged 103.

The book doesn't notice much rifle fire in the first three years of the war.  Sure, people get shot, but it seems incidental.  More talk of grenade attack and artillery bombardments.  Jünger talks MUCH more about shooting in the final year.  I think a part of that is the extra detail toward the end is because he wrote his account soon after the way and the final year was fresher in his mind.  Recalling earlier stuff, the artillery and grenade assaults would have left a more vivid impression on me were I in his shoes.

Also, he's an officer in the end, he talks about himself shooting a pistol most, though the people around him have rifles 

No comments: