The Long and Fruitful Literary Career of a Nazi Sympathizer

Dec. 16 2019

From the publication of his World War I memoir, Storm of Steel, in 1920 until his death in 1998, Ernst Jünger was a significant part of the German literary scene. But Storm of Steel also attracted criticism for its aestheticization of violence and romanticization of warfare—and praise from, among others, Josef Goebbels. Jünger served as an officer in the Wehrmacht during World War II, spending most of the war in occupied Paris, where he had a chance to socialize with the likes of Pablo Picasso. Reviewing Jünger’s memoirs from that period, recently published in English translation, Andrew Stuttaford describes his disturbingly ambiguous relationship to Nazism:

Jünger’s principal objection to the Nazis, at least initially, stemmed, unusually, from their pragmatism. While Hitler was wooing the bourgeoisie, Jünger was roaming in the ideological space where far left and far right meet, championing a machine-age Sparta.

Nazi anti-Semitism was less of a problem for him. To be sure, Jünger mocked both its paranoia and its “science” (“sheer nonsense”). He also argued that anti-Semitism was “not an essential issue” for nationalists, but this cagey formulation fell far short of outright condemnation. . . . In a 1930 article for the Süddeutsche Monatshefte, Jünger conceded that Jews could be German, but only if they abandoned their Jewishness. This was a notion, despite some ugly phrasing (brushed off in 1982 as “sins of youth”), irreconcilable with Nazi doctrine, but more poisonous than Jünger would acknowledge even a half-century later: “The whole question changed because of the concentration camps.” Really?

Jünger’s growing disgust as he begins to discover the extent of Nazi genocide manifests itself in the journals from late 1941 onward, meaning that, if his chronology can be trusted, this well-placed and acute observer was unusually slow on the uptake. . . .

Jünger left Paris on August 14, 1944, after placing a bouquet of flowers on his hotel-room table and “distribut[ing] tips.” He returned to Germany (this edition of the journals concludes with American troops arriving in his home village), but for him Götterdämmerung was merely an interlude. He re-emerged as a leading literary figure in the new, democratic federal republic, but was never of it.

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Read more at New Criterion

More about: Anti-Semitism, Germany, Nazism, World War II

 

Is the Attempt on Salman Rushdie’s Life Part of a Broader Iranian Strategy?

Aug. 18 2022

While there is not yet any definitive evidence that Hadi Matar, the man who repeatedly stabbed the novelist Salman Rushdie at a public talk last week, was acting on direct orders from Iranian authorities, he has made clear that he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Rushdie’s murder, and his social-media accounts express admiration for the Islamic Republic. The attack also follows on the heels of other Iranian attempts on the lives of Americans, including the dissident activist Masih Alinejad, the former national security advisor John Bolton, and the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by the mullahs for over two years, sees a deliberate effort at play:

It is no coincidence this flurry of Iranian activity comes at a crucial moment for the hitherto-moribund [nuclear] negotiations. Iranian hardliners have long opposed reviving the 2015 deal, and the Iranians have made a series of unrealistic and seemingly ever-shifting demands which has led many to conclude that they are not negotiating in good faith. Among these is requiring the U.S. to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

The Biden administration and its European partners’ willingness to make concessions are viewed in Tehran as signals of weakness. The lack of a firm response in the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie will similarly indicate to Tehran that there is little to be lost and much to be gained in pursuing dissidents like Alinejad or so-called blasphemers like Sir Salman on U.S. soil.

If we don’t stand up for our values when under attack we can hardly blame our adversaries for assuming that we have none. Likewise, if we don’t erect and maintain firm red lines in negotiations our adversaries will perhaps also assume that we have none.

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Read more at iNews

More about: Iran, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy