A German Officer in Occupied Paris

The War Journals, 1941-1945

Ernst Jünger. Foreword by Elliot Neaman. Translated by Thomas S. Hansen and Abby J. Hansen.

Columbia University Press

A German Officer in Occupied Paris

Pub Date: June 2020

ISBN: 9780231127417

496 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $26.00£22.00

Pub Date: January 2019

ISBN: 9780231127400

496 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $40.00£34.00

Pub Date: January 2019

ISBN: 9780231548380

496 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $25.99£22.00

A German Officer in Occupied Paris

The War Journals, 1941-1945

Ernst Jünger. Foreword by Elliot Neaman. Translated by Thomas S. Hansen and Abby J. Hansen.

Columbia University Press

Ernst Jünger was one of twentieth-century Germany’s most important—and most controversial—writers. Decorated for bravery in World War I and the author of the acclaimed western front memoir Storm of Steel, he frankly depicted war’s horrors even as he extolled its glories. As a Wehrmacht captain during World War II, Jünger faithfully kept a journal in occupied Paris and continued to write on the eastern front and in Germany until its defeat—writings that are of major historical and literary significance.

Jünger’s Paris journals document his Francophile excitement, romantic affairs, and fascination with botany and entomology, alongside mystical and religious ruminations and trenchant observations on the occupation and the politics of collaboration. While working as a mail censor, he led the privileged life of an officer, encountering artists such as Céline, Cocteau, Braque, and Picasso. His notes from the Caucasus depict the chaos after Stalingrad and atrocities on the eastern front. Upon returning to Paris, Jünger observed the French resistance and was close to the German military conspirators who plotted to assassinate Hitler in 1944. After fleeing France, he reunited with his family as Germany’s capitulation approached. Both participant and commentator, close to the horrors of history but often distancing himself from them, Jünger turned his life and experiences into a work of art. These wartime journals appear here in English for the first time, giving fresh insights into the quandaries of the twentieth century from the keen pen of a paradoxical observer.
Ernst Jünger’s record of German-occupied Paris and the battlefields of the Caucasus is a treasure trove for readers interested in the history of the Second World War. Even more, though, it is a literary accomplishment of the first order, a document of European modernism, in which this master stylist leaves traces of the violence of the age between the lines of his crystalline prose. Russell A. Berman, Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University, and senior fellow, Hoover Institution
These diaries are not only a remarkable document of the time, but bring us close to a strange but highly original person, always capable of a fresh response to the natural world, the atmosphere of Paris, and the hideous events that force themselves on his knowledge. Many of Jünger’s texts have an inhuman chill; these diaries reveal his humanity. Ritchie Robertson, Times Literary Supplement
For English-speaking readers who do not know his work, A German Officer in Occupied Paris shows the many sides of this complex, elusive writer. Edmund Fawcett, Financial Times
Through these journals, we see Jünger consorting with resistors and collaborators, intellectuals and artists, drinking champagne, dining in sumptuous restaurants, and accompanying other officers to nightclubs, where naked women perform. Wandering around the city, he combs through antiquarian bookshops, stops in at galleries, discusses literature with friends, and acutely observes plants and flowers change with the seasons. He recounts in detail his dreams, nightmares, and musings on war. . . . A unique historical testimony. Kirkus Reviews
Once read, these [journals] are never forgotten. They are surely the strangest literary production to come out of the Second World War, stranger by far than anything by Céline or Malaparte. Jünger reduces his war to a sequence of hallucinatory prose poems in which things appear to breathe and people perform like automata or, at best, like insects. Bruce Chatwin, New York Review of Books (review of French edition)
Politically ambiguous and polymathic, Jünger led a remarkable and long life (he died at the age of 102 in 1998) as a soldier, writer and philosopher. "I suffer from a hyperacute sense of observation," he said, not as a boast, but by way of admitting to a weakness. The foibles of the Nazis, the deathwatch beetles he collected, the facial tics of liars, the flick of a Parisian woman's hair as she bought a hat, the physical contortions of an executed deserter: all these came under the magnifying glass in his war journals, kept from 1941-45. Their publication in English, fluently translated, is a remarkable moment, presenting a model of how to navigate an age of extremism. Roger Boyes, The Times of London
Expertly translated into English by Thomas and Abby Hansen . . . with an excellent biographical-critical foreword by Elliot Y. Neaman. Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
[Jünger's] writings and insights have long earned him sage status in Germany. This, the first publication in English of his diaries from 1941–45, heightens his complexity but also makes him a more rounded figure. Alex Colville, The Spectator
A German Officer in Occupied Paris is a remarkable slice of World War II, and makes for fascinating reading. M.A. Orthofer, The Complete Review
Jünger is an eloquent and informative witness to artistic life in occupied France, deportations, the burgeoning French Resistance and the conspirators against Hitler as well as the utter chaos after Stalingrad. This edition also includes extensive notes and a full glossary of all the people mentioned in the text. Times Higher Education
Jünger’s war diaries, translated here with damning clarity by Thomas and Abby Hansen, are a fascinating, refined and disturbing record of the moral disasters of Nazism and collaboration. Dominic Green, Wall Street Journal
With the publication of these extraordinary, sometimes hallucinatory diaries. English speakers have the chance to read one of the great witnesses to 20th-century Europe’s catastrophe. Paul Lay, New Statesman
A highly decorated German veteran of the First World War, Jünger (1895-1998) spent much of the Second as an officer stationed in Paris, where his journal is an almost daily record of the views and impressions of a well-read literary figure, entomologist, and cultural critic, now available for the first time in English. . . . Elliot Neaman is to be thanked for a comprehensive Foreword, as are Thomas Hansen and Abby Hansen for their translation of a most enigmatic set of Journals, and Columbia University Press for publishing them. They have made accessible the work of a cultured and literary person in service to a brutal regime. Bertram M. Gordon, H-Diplo
In Paris, Jünger tried to confront absolute horror with his chevalieresque idea of style, and the experiment is absorbing to observe, in its short-circuits and moments of illumination and ultimate burnout. Adam Thirlwell, New York Review of Books
Foreword, by Eliot Neaman
Translator’s Preface
1. First Paris Journal
2. Notes from the Caucasus
3. Second Paris Journal
4. Kirchhorst Diaries
Notes
Glossary of Personal Names
Index

Read "The Ride of the Valkyries," an excerpt from historian Elliot Neaman's foreword to A GERMAN OFFICER IN OCCUPIED PARIS: THE WAR JOURNALS, 1941-1945 by Ernst Jünger, translated by Thomas S. Hansen and Abby J. Hansen. Jünger was one of Germany's most important writers of the twentieth century. As a Wehrmacht captain during World War II, Jünger faithfully kept a journal in occupied Paris and continued to write on the eastern front and in Germany until its defeat.

About the Author

Ernst Jünger (1895–1998) was a major figure in twentieth-century German literature and intellectual life. He was a young leader of right-wing nationalism in the Weimar Republic. Among his many works is the novel On the Marble Cliffs, a symbolic criticism of totalitarianism written under the Third Reich.

Elliot Neaman is professor of history at the University of San Francisco and the author of A Dubious Past: Ernst Jünger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism (1999).

Thomas Hansen, a longtime member of the Wellesley College German Department, is a translator from the German.

Abby Hansen is a translator of German literary and nonfiction texts.