Read today the letters by Ernst Juenger, which he send home from the battles-fields of World War I. I can not describe the degree of my disgust, while reading all these pseudo-heroic and wanna-be cool descriptions from Juengers front-line years. It has little to do with a new evaluation of the history of the WW1, now 100 years after it started in 1914, and it has little to do with my general attrocity against the consideration of war as an “…continuation of politics with other means..” as it was coined by Clausewitz, and is it was misinterpreted by generations after him too easily.
My disgust comes from very own experiences, from 3 years I had to serve in the army myself. Although the cold war time in the early 80s guaranteed a relative peaceful international status, we were always kept in an emotionally state of permanent alert. And I remember very well that by a complete neglectance of this inhuman situation, and being completely victimized to a stupid and brutal machinery, men escape by guilding this situation and inventing a narrative of heroism, of maskuline challenges, of cool adventures. Those, like Juenger and a couple of others, many of them artists and writers, who obviously were lacking a chance to show courage in their former life, exploited the boring, miserable and useless days at the front to invent a new idendity: This of a fearless soldier, who proudly risks his life for his country and the family and friens at home. Mainly, of course, they think of beautiful woman as readers of their letters. They think that their mediocracy in life at peace can now be overwritten by self invented fairy-tales of their heroic front-line adventures.
I piss on all these stories, and I piss on Ernst Juenger and his comrades in mind. And at the same time I accuse their families and friends who read these letters from the front-line for not shouting up against. They encouraged and supported all this miserable effusions of sick minds, instead of answering them and encouraging them to deffect from the battlefield and come home. Most of the men, who initially wrote the self-invented hero stories home, indeed returned soon to their families, although in a coffin or as invalides.
War is stupid, its criminal, it is doing no good, it is a backslash for human evolution to a more primitive state. And there is no space for human dignity at war, except if somebody decides to lay down its arms. But this is not what Juenger did. He luckily survived WW1, with several injuries, which unfortunately were not sever enough to prevent him from writing “Storm of Steel”, his memories which misled millions of younger Germans to invade other European countries 20 years later again and conducting the worst war-crimes.
After World-War 2, where Juenger served as a captain and highlighted the “great time” he had in occupied Paris with Picasso and Cocteau, he presented himself as a conservative writer, what did not prevented him to meet several times Albert Hofmann to have LSD parties with him.
When I read today about the horror of war and civil war somewhere in Syria or in Africa, I am wondering if the militia men, the soldiers of the ruling regimes and the rebells, if they are more brainwashed by Juengers “Storm of Steel” justifications of killing, or brainwashed by drugs. Without sever manipulation of the normal brain function, nobody can seriously consider a war as a field of human heroism. For me, Albert Einstein, Joseph Roth, Jimmy Hendrix or Hugh Heffner are all real heroes, and they never needed to glorify war or the military.