The Generation of the German Conservative Revolution
“I am the great grandchild of an idealistic, a grandchild of a romantic, and a son of a materialistic generation”. (Ernst Jünger) 1
These are the words of Ernst Jünger, born in 1895, who exemplifies the generation which became that of the twentieth century German National Socialist Revolution; the Hitler generation which spawned that uncommon leader from the Common Man. This was that biological generation which experienced the conflicts of 1914 and 1939, those two phases of which Georg Franz-Willing, citing Churchill’s pronouncements, likens to a second Thirty Years War within a tragedy of the West.2
This generation grew up before World War I in an era of apparent security, but of great materialistic changes, and then revolted against “the system” which was perceived as unwanted domination over the majority by an alien, international plutocratic minority. The German National Socialist Revolution grew out of an extended malaise of what was perceived as Folk-threatening dysgenic universalism, degeneracy, money slavery, and the mass impersonalization of modern life, as well as to revise Versailles. It was, and remains, an ideological revolution interrupted by World War II.
The strata of participants was not delineated, resulting in a broad supportive spectrum of the population in Germany and elsewhere; not only from the masses, but also from Zionists, some non Aryans and Mischlinge (cross-breeds) who concurred with aspects of the National Socialist program, both before and after the eventual race defining citizenship laws and geneological identification papers.
These revolutionaries considered themselves radical, meaning basic reformers. They crowned Der Arbeiter (the worker). The elevated and respected worker with his spade at his shoulder marched gloriously as the soldier, and the worker became to include the intellectual who works with his brain, as well as the worker who labors with his brawn. All would be paid by new Marks not backed by gold, but by the Germans’ productivity.
Across all ranks a consortium was formed unifying liberals, socialists, national patriot industrialists, farmers, and scientists, fused together into an intellectual and spiritual Deutschtum or Folkish togetherness, and no matter whether they thought of themselves as being on the “Right” or “Left”, the one thing most of them had in common was a strong nationalism.
They were the flowering from prior generations of “fathers” and “grandfathers” who partook in earlier nationalistic times, although Georg Franz-Willing does show unique aspects of the Hitler era in his definitive series on the Hitlerbewegung (The Hitler Movement). A harbinger had occurred in October of 1817, as Peter Gay states in describing what he calls a famous scene from which nationalist and völkische (folkish) elements derived much inspiration: …”three hundred years after Martin Luther had nailed his theses to the church door at Wittenberg, German students, wearing old-fashioned costumes, gathered at the Wartburg, a historic and romantic spot; they shouted “Heil”, sang patriotic songs, said fervent prayers, and burned some books. They were at the Wartburg to celebrate the liberation of their country – or, rather, countries – from the alien yoke, and in their celebration they linked the reformer Luther with the general Blücher as twin liberators of the German spirit and the German land, determined to draw strength from ancient myths for the political and moral tasks before them.”3
An example of this transition is Treitschke, who wrote toward the end of the nineteenth century that the older generation of liberalism was giving way to a new generation of lusty singers of “Deutschland Über Alles!” 4
An intensification of this new nationalism was noted throughout Europeby the turn of the century. It was in Austria where Adolf Hitler was born in that region most affected by Georg von Schönerer’s Los von Rom (Free from Rome) movement which called upon Germans to mobilize against Jews and other “alien” peoples of the Habsburg Empire, and to prepare for their reception into a Groß-Deutschland (greater Germany) by cutting loose from the Roman Catholic Church and adopting a German “racial Christianity”. We are reminded that it was in the direct wake of this generation that Adolf Hitler developed in boyhood a passionate fondness for Wagner’s music and Adolf Stoecker’s oratory, and that he, Hitler, was punished at school for singing “Deutschland Über Alles” instead of the “Kaiserlied”.5
InFrance, the defeat of 1871 brought together the patriots of the right and the left who were arousing the national spirit. In Russia, Slavophilism was militant, racial, and imperialistic. In Norway, Bjørnson was influenced by Darwin and Spencer, while in Poland, Roman Dmowski agitated for a Polonia Magna. Italy had new followers of Hegel: Francesco de Sanctis and Bertrando Spaventa. A Hagel-styled concept of the state had followers also in England, especially at Oxford Universitywith T.H. Green.6 These are examples illustrating the breadth of this new nationalism which was widespread at this time.
Certainly a new nationalism was developing among the Germans. More than other countries,Germanyhad experienced a great industrial revolution superimposed very quickly upon its essentially agrarian, idealistic, romantic base. Together with this new industrialization, came also its partial unification, and with this, its sudden leadership, via its efficient application of science. This in no small measure was soon to give rise to a feeling of disorientation, and to a new antibürgerlichen Einstellung (anti-Bourgeois attitude). The rising Left had declared war on the bourgeois “system” and the strongest anti-bourgeois forces came out of the ranks of the Bürgertum itself. According to Graf von Krockow, the German Bürgertum [middle class] committted an “ideological class suicide”.7
It must be stressed that this generation following in the wake of the power and faith in science and reason, was characterized by a loosening of the hold of Christian universalism. Many were searching for a new faith. Some found it in a new socialism, still others in a new folkish preservationism and eugenics. Vanquished veteran Hitler fused a new faith after Versailles.
Earlier, many had already gathered together into a youth movement which was searching for new foundations of life by closer contact with nature. With the German Youth Movement which started around 1900, the young Germans appeared to be leading in the search for a new form of life different from their vita urbana. Hiking with their knapsacks, songbooks, mandolins and lutes, those young Germans had their very own earlier, cleaner, and uniquely romantic, hippy era. Those who were influencing this youth movement were found in different camps which were expressed by the various heroes they worshiped, for example: Turnvater Jahn, Nietzsche, Rilke, Bergson, de Lagarde, Dilthey, Langbehn, Wedekind, Dehmel, and Stefan George. The circle around Stefan George is an interesting example of a combination of a pure spiritual and practical social movement. Two principles seem to have been exemplified: an absolute aestheticism, and a charismatic leadership. We find that this youth movement followed through with these ideas; young people chose their leaders because of their unique personalities, and with Stefan George, they attacked the slavery of the money and the slavery of the free mind enmeshed in an Americanized world.
This particular German youth movement started first in the big industrialized cities. In their restless hiking and camping, the young gave expression to the romantic spirit of wandering in contrast to modern traffic. They had first organized in 1896 as the Wanderbund, and then in 1900 as the Wandervogel. In this movement, the German youth were rising up against the bourgeois type. The word bourgeois had different meanings for different groups. For the Left, it meant Capitalism, for others it was merely the traditional form of society or even everything which Germany shared with the West. This movement was very emotional and romantical, and it is not a surprise that after its meeting on the Hoher Meissner in 1913, it split up into various groups because there seemed to be no concrete goal. Of course the war of 1914 added to the loss of its former strength, but this early German youth movement was but a prelude to another youth movement which was to be seminal in the Hitlerian German National Socialist Revolution.
The earlier generational members of the Wandervogel greeted World War I with great ecstady. Thomas Mann recalled: “Let us remember the beginning…those never-to-be-forgotten first days, when what we no longer thought possible, happened. We had not believed in the war, our political insight had not sufficed to recognize the necessity of the European catastrophe. But as moral beings yes, as such we had seen the trial coming…and still more, in some ways we longed for it, felt in the depth of our hearts that the world, our world, could not go on like this any more. We knew that world of peace, that can-can culture…Horrible world, which now no longer is, or no longer will be after the great storm passed by. Did it not crawl with spiritual vermin as with worms! Did it not stink of the decaying matter of civilization?” 8
Friedrich Meinecke also remembered this period with a kind of glow: “The exaltation of the August days of 1914, despite its ephemeral character, is for all who lived through them one of the highest sort…one perceived in all camps that the mere unity of a functional partnership would not suffice, but that a spiritual renovation of our state and culture was necessary.” 9
Meinecke was recalling an experience that had gripped so many Germans, from the poets to the Pan-Germans, and to Hitler, who, a few years after World War I wrote: “The fight of the year 1914 was certainly not forced upon the masses, good God! but desired by the entire people itself…To me personally, those hours appeared like the redemption from the annoying moods of my youth. Therefore, I am not ashamed today to say that, overwhelmed by impassionate enthusiasm, I had fallen on my knees and thanked Heaven out of my overflowing heart that it had granted me the good fortune of being allowed to live in these times.” 10
For four years of the bloodiest battles the world had known, the youth of this generation had fought with great passion. Ernst JÃ¼nger, who volunteered in 1914 as a boy of nineteen, had not only fought – he had also kept a journal, ruthlessly true and as precise as he could make it of those four years of war. He had been fighting, as had many others of his generation, for his country. He was wounded seven times, received the highest medal, the Pour le Mérite, and he came back as others to his Germany defeated by her enemies, torn by internal strife, wholly out of sympathy with the views that were being Moscow directed into the young Weimar Republic. He became a spokesman of a generation that had staked its all, sacrificed its all, but now – a brighter tomorrow must yet come! For Jünger the war of 1914 was not lost; it was only the prelude of a new and greater battle ahead! “It is the glowing evening sky of a sinking time and the rising sun of a new and greater future!” 11 In the journal of his frontline war experiences, he wrote: “Hardened as scarcely another generation ever was in fire and flame, we could go into life as though from the anvil; into friendship, love, politics, professions, into all that destiny had in store. It is not every generation that is so favored!…We stand in the memory of the dead who are holy to us, and we believe ourselves entrusted with the true and spiritual welfare of our people. We stand for what will be and for what has been. Though forces without and barbarity within conglomerate in somber clouds, yet so long as the blade of a sword will strike in the night, may it be said: Germany lives and Germany shall never go under!” 12
Ernst Jünger and other thinkers such as Wilhelm Stapel, Oswald Spengler, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Ernst Niekisch, August Winnig, and writers such as Ernst von Salomon, were among the many fathers in the intellectual climate within the Hitler generation of the German National Socialist Revolution. There were hundreds of different groups striving to reform or to overthrow theWeimarsystem in one direction or another – Marxists, national revolutionary, or national Bolshevist, Young Conservative, or Young Nationalist.
Although the Weimar Republic brought about many social and political re-groupings, the young nationalists regarded Weimar as an unwarranted continuance of bad things for Germany, and they worked with all their strength for an ideological as well as a political revolution.
Political homicides were numerous. Many were committed emotionally such as that participated in by the journalist Ernst von Salomon, who partook in the assassination of the Jewish politician and industrialist Walter Rathenau in 1922. Von Salomon wrote about his “hit list” in his book Fragebogen, where he tells us: “Actually there was only one political common denominator that held the whole ‘national movement’ together at that time, and it was a negative one: it amounted to this: ‘We must make an end to Erfüllungspolitik, to the policy of accepting the Versailles Treaty and cooperating with the West.’ That was the one point on which all the groups and subgroups were agreed, though they might and did argue about everything else. We had no wish to become a political party with mass support and all that that implies. But we did, from the very beginning, desire basic change, a ‘national revolution’ that would free us from the material and ideological supremacy of the West as the French Revolution had freed France from its monarchy. So our means had to be different from those of the political parties…The atmosphere in which we proposed to carry out a series of assassinations was not unlike that in which the Russian Revolutionary Socialists planned theirs – except for the great difference that their deeds were based on belief in a well-thought-out political and economic doctrine whereas ours were the product of emotion…There, as here, ‘lists’ were drawn up and on one of my lists, among many others, was Rathenau’s name.”13
Though the growing Marxian groups had a counter reputation of being unpatriotic, many of the Marxians wanted a social revolution for their own fatherland, and did not think in terms of an international order. Even Stalin realized this when he wrote in a letter to Lenin in 1920: “…For nations which belonged already to Old Russia, our Soviet federation is the best way towards Unity…But the same cannot be said about those nations which have been independent and have developed their own form of government to go into an alliance with Russia in one form or another. Let us consider for instance a future Soviet Germany, Soviet Poland…these countries will not agree to a federation with Russia, because the masses would see in a federation a threat or even an attack to their own national independence.”14
The Marxians were gaining ground, but there was another movement which was more successful and which was calling for a strong hand that would lead Germany now out of political and economic disaster. From all classes of society the voice was getting louder and louder for a Caesar. The first World War and the Weimar Republic had not brought about the desired changes and the people felt much the same as they had felt before the war.
The differences between the Right and the Left brought about many bloody clashes in the streets which gave rise for a popular dictatorial movement which could resolve and fuse the fighting factions.
In 1932, Jünger published Der Arbeiter (The Worker). This work was an attempt to overcome the gap between the Right and the Left which Jünger symbolized in two figures: the conservative soldier, and the socialistic worker. In a modern technical world, battles can only be won through a total national effort (total mobilization) amalgamating the battlefront with the home front. In a giant technical apparatus, the worker becomes a soldier, and the soldier becomes a worker, and both are idealistic servants of the people. The Hitlerian National Socialists, in their attempt to join the Right and the Left, adopted Jünger’s concept and used it in their program.
Jünger had become one of the most influential thinkers in Germany at this time. Not only were his books well known, but he also published many articles and essays. In 1933, Spengler published The Years of Decision in which he repeatedly said, “Struggle is the fundamental fact of life, is life itself.” 15 There was another concept which seemed to be of great importance for many of these intellectuals: Entscheidung (Decision). The words decision, struggle, determination, appear again and again in their writings. Graf von Krockow puts especially JÃ¼nger, Schmitt, and Heidegger in the group of decisionists.16 Hitler himself referred to the year of 1933 as Das Jahr der Entscheidung, (The Year of Decision).
Hitler tried to befriend Ernst Jünger before he came to power, but Jünger never joined the National Socialist Party. After 1933, Jünger moved to Berlinand kept out of political activity. In 1934, Jünger wrote in his diary: “The present is a nihilistic epoch with new orders yet without values. Great organizational ability can be seen but there is blindness toward real values – there is faith without meaning, discipline without legitimacy.”17 He later considered the National Socialists’ rise to power as the purely technical execution of Total Mobilization. Ernst Jünger could recognize many of his phrases and slogans which were used by the National Socialists. Hitler repeatedly described his SS and the Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth) with words taken quite directly from Ernst Jünger: “…hard as Krupp-steel, as tough as leather, as fast as grey-hounds.”18
Jünger seemed to have been allied with Ernst Niekisch, the leader of the National Bolshevists, who wanted a reproachment with Russia against the West. When Niekisch was imprisoned by the National Socialists, his wife and son found refuge in JÃ¼nger’s home. Hitler also tried to befriend Moeller Van Den Bruck. In 1922, Hitler arranged to have a private meeting with Moeller. Afterward, Hitler, who had been very much impressed with Moeller, said, “You have everything I lack. You create the spiritual framework for Germany’s reconstruction. I am but a drummer and an assembler. Let us work together!”19 But Moeller only gave an evasive reply. A year later, after the Munich Putsch failure, Moeller wrote: “There are many things that can be said against Hitler. But one thing one will always be able to say: he was a fanatic for Germany…Hitler was wrecked by his proletarian primitivism. He did not know how to give his national socialism any intellectual basis. He was passion incarnate but entirely without measure or sense of proportion.”20
Although Moeller Van Den Bruck was not greatly impressed with Hitler as the one to lead Germany at this time, the nationalist movement itself was influenced by Moeller’s writings. For example, Moeller’s most important and best-known political work, Das Dritte Reich (The Third Reich) written in 1922 and published a year later, provided the National Socialist movement with one of its slogans and the National Socialist state with its historic name.
It may seem a paradox, but of interest to note that many of these intellectuals of this generation which we have been considering, thinkers such as Ernst Jünger, Moeller Van Den Bruck, Ernst von Salomon, and others who had done works which clearly influenced the German National Socialist Movement, did not themselves actually join the National Socialist Party, neither while it was becoming a popular wave, nor later when empowered. Other intellectuals might be mentioned such as Carl Schmitt and Martin Heidegger, who, after a short period of enthusiasm, later withdrew their support.
But Hitler did find mass enthusiasm and support among the young, utilizing the New German Youth Movement, and among many others who were not satisfied both in the material and in the ideological sense. They were tired of words and promises -they wanted decisions and action. In the early 30’s, many young people, worthy, but unripe politically, began to organize themselves into the SA-Sturmabteilungen (Storm Troops) of the Hitler Movement. According to Friedrich Meinecke, Hitler came to power, “…through a typical but dazzled and blinded youth-movement.” 21 After the war Meinecke writes quite critically but it is a fact that not only youth but the voters generally said “yes” for change. The middle class saw in Hitler the man who would be able to set an end to disorganization and economic depression. Hitler’s extraordinary powers as a popular orator secured him the backing of masses who were moved by a strong discontent of things as they were and a willingness of many to work for a better tomorrow. The young were especially enthusiastic and idealistic. They were marching and singing:
Wir marschieren für Hitler
durch Nacht und durch Tod
Mit der Fahne der Jugend
für Freiheit und Brot!
schmettern die hellen Fanfaren
Jugend kennt keine Gefahren! 22
(We are marching for Hitler
through night and through death
With the flag of youth
for freedom and bread!
blare the bright fanfare
Youth knows no danger!)
Those young Germans believed that it was their destiny to lead their country to a better future. They were not only looking forward but also looking back to their proud German heritage. They felt that in their generation the dreams of their forefathers for a better Germany could come true.
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn’s ideas which had been already revived during the Wandervogel movement, now were again reactivated and put into reality in a national school system. In the early nineteenth century, Turnvater Jahn had set his hopes on youth; so did the National Socialist Movement. The study of patriotic history became important. Young Germans were trained in manual work, gymnastics, and in sports. And now, as Jahn had called for earlier, the movement installed the same state education for children of all classes. The word Volkstum (folkdom) very often used by Turnvater Jahn, became a slogan of the National Socialists. The Hitler Jugend (youth) were reviving old folk-songs, folk craft, and old Germanic folk-myths in their meetings.
Many passionate words were spoken which expressed so truly the Zeitgeist (spirit of the times) of this generation; Freyer as quoted in Die Entscheidung (The Decision) said:
“In the photographs of our grandparents we recognize our own faces. Are one hundred generations more than three? Against the eternal will of the blood, the difference is small. The farmer behind the plow and the soldier under the steel helmet are branches of the same tree which bore the crusaders and the wandering people of the Teutoburger Wald…A tightly woven root-like life spreads through the space of centuries. Time is merely a cloak for that ever-being present…Time might be caught in a painting of a cathedral, and it sinks back into a nameless past…How small seems a downfall of one generation to their grand-children! Great are only the times that realize that they are part of the past. Then, long-believed-dead branches awake to a new Spring – and the people say a political ‘Yes’….Future is over the present, people look forward and believe! And unseen among them is riding the Rider Of Bamberg!”23
We note that the individual is very important as a link in the life of the national folk. The Folk and its destiny is paramount. Hitler considered himself as one link in the Germanic Folk Destiny, and the word Vorsehung (destiny) appeared frequently in his speeches. Although Hitler became Dictator, he considered himself dictated to by German Destiny. Destiny had bestowed to him that office, and because of this, he was obligated to make decisions for the nation. After the Röhm Putsch of 1934, Carl Schmitt wrote, “The Führer protects the law when he in time of great danger, because of his high office, serves as judge. The true leader is always the judge.”24
The German National Socialist revolutionaries from the very beginning indicated that Jews were not included in the ethnic definition of the nationality of the country and were to be excluded from citizenship thereby; certainly not unique in world history. Jewry was seen as debilitating to the national well being and a cause of much of Germany’s times of troubles. It was seen that Jewry was significant in Communism and the Bolshevik Revolution to their East in Russia, and that post World War I Germany itself was repleat with Jewish Communist leaders such as Spartakists Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg in Berlin, Kurt Eisner in Munich, while neighboring Hungary came under the Communist Jewish leader Bela Kuhn (Cohen). Meanwhile the Hitler Jugend were marching and singing:
Schacher Juden ziehn dahin daher
Sie ziehn wohl übers Meer
Die Wellen schlagen zu
Die Welt hat Ruh!25
(Haggling Jews wander here and there;
they travel over the ocean;
the waves will hit them;
the world has peace!)
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion which had first appeared in Germany in 1919, was brought out again.26 Though this is criticized as a forgery, it was available in various languages including the German, as was that work of the famed American industrialist Henry Ford, entitled simply: The International Jew.27 It was presented in The Protocols that Jewry had formed an international organization to establish world rule by money. Writings such as The Protocols and The International Jew seemed by many observers to be exemplified by current events. International Jews were seen as global Capitalists behind Communism bankrolling the Bolshevik monopoly, and it was perceived that Jewry with its Zionism worked to get the USA to intervene into World War I via The Balfour Question quid pro quo (see Peel, note 29 p. xix).
While the German masses had lost everything with the post World War I hyperinflation, Jewry became more powerful. Friedrich Meinecke wrote that “Among those who drank too hastily and greedily of the cup of power which had come to them, were many Jews. They appeared to be the beneficiaries of the German defeat and revolution. Everyone else in Germany, aside from these beneficiaries, seemed irrevocably consigned to misery.”28
World renowned historian David Irving informs that the dimensions of Germany’s Jewish problem may be gauged from an unpublished manuscript of Dr. Heinrich Brüning who was Chancellor of Germany before Hitler. “Writing in American exile in 1943 he stated that after the inflation there was only one major German bank not controlled by Jews, some of them ‘utterly corrupt.’ In 1931 he had brought the banks under government supervision, and had to keep the government’s findings of dishonesty in the banks secret ‘for fear of provoking anti-Semitic riots.’ BrÃ¼ning blamed foreign correspondents for exaggerating the ‘occasional ill-treatment of Jews’ at the beginning of the Nazi regime: ‘In the spring of 1933 foreign correspondents reported that the River Spree [in Berlin] was covered with corpses of murdered Jews. At that time hardly any Jews except for leaders of the Communist party…had been attacked…’If,’ he pointedly added, ‘the Jews had been treated so badly from the beginning of the regime, it could not be explained that so very few of them left the country before 1938.’ In 1948 BrÃ¼ning would write to the editors of Life magazine forbidding them to publish an August 1937 letter he had written to Winston Churchill revealing that ‘from October 1928 the two largest regular contributors of the Nazi party were the general managers of two of the largest Berlin banks, both of Jewish faith, and one of them the leader of Zionism in Germany.”
BrÃ¼ning’s 1943 manuscript is in the Dorothy Thompson collection of the George Arents Research Library,Syracuse University,New York. His letter to Daniel Longwell, editor of Life magazine, dated February 7, 1948, is in Longwell’s papers in the Butler Library,Columbia University,New York. [David Irving, op. cit. p. 17]
“The leadership of the radical Left parties, the Communists, the Social Democrats, the Independent Socialists and the Spartakisten, were mostly Jewish. It had been these elements which had promoted disastrous strikes in the last year of the war and had been largely instrumental in fomenting the insurrections and the naval mutiny which led to the abdication of the Kaiser and the establishment of the so-called Weimar Republic.
“Whether Germany could have long continued to resist the enormous power of the Allies, especially after the total collapse of her own three allies, is a moot point.
But it was commonly felt throughout Germany that the total defeat and utter helplessness of Germany before the triumphant victors was precipitated and made inevitable by treason on the home front in which Jewish influence was the greatest factor and that, but for this, Germany might have held out long enough to secure a truly negotiated peace rather than to submit to a merciless Diktat.
“Nor was this all. Until hated Tsarist Russia had been overthrown and defeated, world Jewry and, especially, German Jewry had supported the cause of the Central Powers. After that, Jewish support switched to the allies. The negotiations in 1916 which led up to the Balfour Declaration of the following year were later admitted by the British wartime Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, to have been undertaken because of the need felt to win the support of the Zionist movement throughout the world. There exists strongly suggestive evidence that the success of this ploy created a quid pro quo situation between the British government and the powerful American Zionists who, in turn, brought irresistible pressure on President Wilson to bring about the decisive participation of the United States in the war.
“In any event, the Weimar Republic which lasted from the end of 1918 to the beginning of 1933, was politically a middle-of-the-road democracy. Socially it was a period of extreme libertarianism and, indeed, license. Berlin came to be seen by traditionalist and conservative observers as the ‘cesspool of Europe.’ To others, it was the haven of total permissiveness where anything went and every passion and vice could be indulged with impunity. Istvan Deak, who admired Berlin society of the period, wrote of it: ‘Berlin harbored those who elsewhere might have been subjected to ridicule or persecution: Comintern agents, Dadaist poets, expressionist painters, anarchist philosophers, Sexualwissenschaftler, vegetarian and Esperantist prophets of a new humanity. Schnorrer (‘freeloaders,’ artists of coffeehouse indolence) courtesans, homosexuals, drug addicts, naked dancers, and professional criminals flourished in a city which was hungry for the new, the sensational, the extreme. Moreover, Berlin became the cultural center of Central and Eastern Europeas well.’
“Peter Gay, another well-known Jewish historian, in a book with a significant sub-title (Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider),writes in a similar vein, telling us that when we think of Weimar, we think of modernity in art, literature and thought; we think of the rebellion of sons against fathers, Dadaists against art, libertines against old-fashioned moralists; we think of The Threepenny Opera, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Magic Mountain, the Bauhaus, Marlene Dietrich…
“Die WeltbÃ¼hne was the most prominent and influential of the left-wing literary journals. Not to have read the latest issue, according to Kurt Hiller, was considered uncouth. Of the sixty-eight writers whose religious origin could be established, forty-two were found to be of Jewish descent, two were half-Jews and only twenty-four were non-Jews (of whom three were married to Jewesses) Deak tells us: ‘The enthusiasm of the Weltbühne writers for revolutionary socialist propositions was to a great part due to the recognition of their inescapable Jewish condition.’
“Deak tells us further, but with an air of approbation, that of those who now dictated public taste and morals and ‘corrupted their customers,’ more than three-fourths were not natives, but came from Austria, Hungary, the Ukraine and Poland. These were the people whom Walter Rathenau, himself a Jew, called ‘an Asiatic horde on the Brandenburg sands.’
“The late Sir Arthur Bryant, a respected historian and a conservative Christian gentleman, wholly out of sympathy with the Nazi regime which followed the Weimar period, is by reason of those very qualities and traits a most reliable source in dealing with the nature of the Weimar Republic.”
As to Jewry’s influence at this time among the Germans, Peter Peel makes reference to the Arthur Bryant book Unfinished Victory which was published just before the outbreak of World War II in which Bryant describes the alien quality of the “200,000 Jews” who thronged Berlin during the post World War I upheaval.
“Bryant says that although the Jews comprised only one percent of the population of Germany, their control of the national wealth and power soon lost all relationship to their numbers. In the 1924 Reichstag, one quarter of the Social Democrats were Jews. As late as November 1938, after five years of anti-Jewish legislation, Jews still owned one third of the real estate in the Reich, most of it acquired during the disastrous inflation of 1923 with foreign funds obtained through their international connections. Jews controlled 57% of the metal trade, 22% of the grain, and 39% of the textile. More than 50% of the members of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce were Jews, as were 1,200 of the 1,474 members of the Stock Exchange. Of the 29 legitimate theaters in Berlin, 23 had Jewish directors. At one point, says Bryant, quoting an anti-Nazi book by Edgar Mower entitled Germany Puts the Clock Back, so complete was the Jewish monopoly of the Press that a telephone connection between [sic] three Jews in Ministerial Offices could effect the suspension of any newspaper in the State. Authorship, continues Bryant, was almost a Jewish monopoly. In 1931, of 144 film scripts worked, 119 were written by Jews and 77 produced by them. Medicine and Law followed the same pattern; 42% of the Berlin doctors were Jews (1,932) and 48% of the lawyers. Every year it became harder for a Gentile to gain or keep a foothold in any privileged occupation.
“Bryant is distressed too, by the undisguised scorn for Christianity – a Jewish poet’s (Carl Zuckmayer) comparing a cat caterwauling on the roof at night with Jesus at Gethsemane, or a Jewish writer’s depicting Christ as a drunken lecher.
“Major Francis Yeats-Brown, in his book European Jungle, adds a few figures to Bryant’s, relative to the disproportionate power of Jews in the professions. He tells us that inBerlin1,925 out of 3,450 lawyers were Jews, and in Frankfurt, 432 out of 659. Fifteen Jewish bankers held 718 directorships. In Vienna, 85% of the lawyers, 70% of the dentists, more than 50% of the physicians, were Jews. The boot and shoe industry was 80% Jewish, as were the newspapers; the banks, 75% ; the wine trade, 73%; the cinema, 70%; fur and furriers, 87%; bakeries and laundries, 60%.
“Even Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who was visiting Germany at the height of the immediate post-war economic distress in order to raise money for the Jewish immigrants in Palestine, spoke disparagingly of the Jews in Germany. He told the British Ambassador that Jewish intellectuals in Germany were most overbearing and aggressive, and quite intolerable. Most significantly, he referred to them as ‘a race apart, differing widely from the native races.’ But the ‘race apart’ dominated the culture and many, if not most of the professions, as we have indicated above. Peter Gay, writing of the vast Ulstein publishing empire, says that their power was almost frightening, and that for a writer without a private income, the favor of Ulstein meant luxury, its disfavor, near-starvation. In the flourishing theatre, even the great classics were cut, edited and distorted to fit the exigencies of the Left-wing propaganda. Leopold Jessner, whom Gay calls ‘the most powerful man in the Weimar theatre,’ staged a deliberate distortion of Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell in which all patriotic references to Fatherland were cut and the play converted into a call for revolution. The tyrant Gessler was portrayed as a bemedalled caricature of a Junker general. Albert Bassermann played Tell and Fritz Kortner played Gessler. Both were Jews. The production was in 1919. Well might Gay say: ‘Hugo Preuss, the architect of the Weimar Constitution, was a symbol of the revolution; as a Jew and a left-wing democrat…he, the outsider, gave shape to the new Republic, his Republic.”29
To take back their country, was the stated goal of German Nationalist revolutionaries, and the Hitlerian generation believed that it had the duty to put decision into action, to do or to die. They were the next generation of Moeller, Spengler, Schmitt, Jünger, and others like Ernst von Salomon who had described the Freikorps in The Outlaw: “We were a band of fighters drunk with all the passions of the world; full of lust, exultant in action”…30 and the young Nazis justified their actions in the same manner as Salomon had done when he wrote: “Anyone who judges the Freikorps fighters by the standards of the civilization it was their task to help destroy, is utilizing the standards of the enemy.”31
Ernst Jünger, for all those years since the First World War had published a number of well-written books glorifying total war as the most powerful expression of the totality of life. The titles of his books – In Storms of Steel (Im Stahlgewitter), War as an Experience of the Soul (Inneres Erlebnis), Fire and Blood, The Total Mobilization, show that he resorted again and again to his central theme. JÃ¼nger had been demanding a “faith in Folk and Fatherland that will flare up like a demon from all classes of society…Everybody who feels differently must be branded with the mark of the heretic and exterminated. We cannot possibly be nationalistic enough. A revolution which inscribes this on its banners will always find us in its ranks”…32 In tramping ranks, uniformed Sturmabteilungen marched and sang:
Die Fahne hoch,
Die Reihen fest geschlossen!
im Sturm mit festem Schritt.
Kameraden, die Rot Front
und Reaktion erschossen,
marschieren im Geist
in unsren Reihen mit.33
(Raise the banner,
the ranks in close formation!
through storm with steady stride!
Comrades shot by the
Red Front [Communists] and
Reactionaries are marching in spirit
with us in our ranks.)
The circle of followers around Stefan George supplied the Hitler movement with its emblem of the Hakenkreuz (Swastika).34 The strong charismatic leader Stefan George had called for, did come – from the Common Man in the crowd. Who can forget the photograph in Munich showing Hitler in the crowd? Stefan George, as many others, left Germanyin 1933. Jünger remained in Germany as did von Salomon, Heidegger and Schmitt. Moeller Van Den Bruck had committed suicide in 1925. Whether Jünger wrote later that the revolution which came was not what he wanted is relatively unimportant for our present study. Although he did not join the National Socialist party, he joined the German army again and was bemedalled for heroism after he swam a river under heavy enemy gunfire and rescued a comrade. Ernst von Salomon wrote in Fragebogen that he tried to fight again in 1939. He was not accepted for active military service and was later imprisoned again -this time by the Americans in 1945. He had been imprisoned for the assassination of Walther Rathenau in 1922 as well as by the Nazis in Berlin after the Reichstag fire. In his book Fragebogen (Questionnaire) which was his response to the questionnaire the conquered Germans were required to fill out by their military occupiers, Ernst von Salomon defiantly showed that he never surrendered.
Jünger published in 1939 the novel, On The Marble Cliffs in which he criticized the National Socialists. About this work, Von Klemperer wrote: “However unwillingly on his part, Jünger was used by the Nazis.”35 In his post World War II writings, Ernst Jünger turned from the warrior who was fighting death alone in a battle, to the individualist who tries to find himself and his final destiny in a technolized world. Looking back at Der Arbeiter, Heinz Ludwig Arnold implies that in this work decades ago, Ernst Jünger already forsaw a world of collectivism and depersonalisation of man which took place under totalitarian National Socialist Germany and continued in Communist Russia, World-Revolutionary China, and even in the democratic world of theUSA. 36
Jünger refused so submit himself to the Umerziehung (reeducation) Denazification Tribunal. He considered his early writings as his Old Testament of which nothing should be added or changed. According to Arnold, Ernst Jünger said to those who would condemn him after those World War II storms buried his beloved Germany in the smoldering ashes of that Second Thirty Years War from which, as the Phoenix, Germany would rise again: “I do not want to belong to those who don’t want to be reminded today what they have been yesterday… I still believe today that it was necessary to have experienced those parts of my life –
Tempestatibus maturesco – I mature through storms!”37
* * *
1. Ernst Jünger, “Sizilianischer Brief an den Mann in den Mond” in Mondstein (Berlin: Frundsberg Verlag, 1930), p. 22.
2. Georg Franz-Willing, Der Zweite Weltkrieg, Ursachen und Anlaß (Leoni Am Starnberger See: Druffel-Verlag, 1979), pp. 10-12.
3. Peter Gay, Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider; New York: Harper & Row, pp. 86-87.
4. Carlton Hayes, A Generation of Materialism 1871-1900 ed. by William Langer; New York: Harper & Brothers, 1941, p. 242.
5. Ibid., p. 245.
6. Hayes, op. cit., p. 250.
7. Graf von Krockow, Die Entscheidung. Eine Untersuchung über Ernst Jünger, Carl Schmitt, Martin Heidegger: Göttinger Abhandlungen zur Soziologie, 3. Band (Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke Verlag, 1958), p. 28.
8. Thomas Mann, Friedrich und die große Koalition, (Berlin: 1915) pp. 12-13.
9. Friedrich Meinecke, The German Catastrophe (Boston: Beacon Press, 1963) p. 25.
10. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1943) p.161.
11. Ernst Jünger, Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis; (Berlin: Mittlerverlag, 1922), p. 74.
12. Ernst Jünger, Storm of Steel, translated by B. Creighton, (London: Chatto & Windus, 1929), pp. 282-284.
13. Ernst von Salomon, Fragebogen, translated by Constanine FitzGibbon with a preface by Goronwy Rees, (New York: Doubleday Co. 1955) p. 55.
14. Quellen zur europaischen Politik 1919-1955, Heft 11, Diesterweg: 1957) S. 9, as quoted by Wilhelm Langenbeck in Weltgeschichte Im Aufriß, (Berlin: Verlag Moritz Diesterweg,1966), p. 156.
15. Oswald Spengler as quoted by Hans Kohn, The Mind of Germany, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1960), p. 335.
16. Krockow, op. cit., p. 5.
17. Ernst Jünger, Blätter und Steine, (Hamburg: Hanseatischerverlagsanstalt, 1934), p. 212.
18. Ernst Jünger, Strahlung (TÃ¼bingen: Heliopolis Verlag, 1949) as quoted by J.P. Stern, Ernst Jünger (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953, p. 212.
19. Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963), p. 238.
21. Friedrich Meinecke, The German Catastrophe: Reflections and Recollections, translated by Sidney B. Fay, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1963), p. 45.
22. As told to the writer by Doris Granata from her personal experiences.
23. Hans Freyer, Pallas Athene; Ethik des politischen Volkes, (Jena:1935), S. 121 f. as quoted by Krockow, op. cit., pp. 100-101.
24. Carl Schmitt, Über die drei Arten des rechtswissenschaftlichen Denkens: “Der Führer schützt das Recht.” (Hamburg: 1934), p. 199, as quoted by Krockow, op. cit., p. 104.
25. As told to the writer by Doris Granata from her personal experiences.
26. Edmond Vermeil, Germany’s Three Reichs, translated by W.E. Dickes, (London: Andrew Dakers Limited, 1945), pp. 261, 264.
27. Koppel S. Pinson, Modern Germany: Its History and Civilization, (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1945), p. 487.
28. Meinecke, op. cit., p. 32.
29. Peter Peel in Preface of The Myth of the Twentieth Century
English translation by Vivian Bird from Der Mythos des 20. Jahrhunderts, (Torrance California: The Noontide Press, 1982), pp. xviii-xxii.
30. von Salomon, op. cit., p. viii.
32. Kohn, op. cit., p. 38.
33. As told to the writer by Doris Granata from her personal experiences.
34. von Krockow, op. cit., p. 38.
35. Klemens Von Kemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, foreword by Sigmund Newman, (Princeton University Press, 1957), p. 188, quoting Ernst Jünger in Auf den Marmor-Klippen, (Hamburg: 1941), 5.
36. Heinz Ludwig Arnold, Ernst Jünger, (Mühlacker: 1966, Stieglitz Verlag), p. 69.
37. Arnold, op. cit., p. 111, quoting Ernst JÃ¼nger in a letter ofJanuary 31, 1962.