ernst jünger in cyberspace

mailing list archive - Juenger in STERN/Cold War revisited

An open letter to Bertil Haggman, which I hope will interest other
Dear Bertil:

You mentioned that Juenger appears somewhere in DER STERN No. 28, but
did not say where.  I could not find the passage on the website edition
of the magazine.  Could you give the precise reference?  Perhaps in the
future when you encounter something interesting in the European press
that relates to our hero you could post it for those of us far from the
scene--in this case, California.

I appreciated your remarks in the recent debate on the Cold War. 
Usually I jump into such a debate, but this time, suffering from the
"Indonesian flu," I abstained.  My view is that all those people whom
Koestler called "anti-anti-Communists," all those people whose chief
polemic was against the Cold Warriors of the West and not against
Communism, not to mention all those outright supporters of the Soviet
Union, were greatly dismayed by the collapse of the USSR and the
universal acknowledgement that it was, after all, an Evil Empire.  Yet
very quickly they discovered a saving tactic:  Since it fell so low,
since its vaunted military might fell into shambles, since it was really
a third-world and not a first-world nation, then they could say that the
Soviet threat to conquer the world never really existed.  Ergo, the Cold
War was an invention of American McCarthyites, just as progressives and
liberals had been saying all along.  It's a clever sophism and the basis
for revisionist studies of the period.

Your answer neatly punctured the dream-bubble:  "Well, you have probably
not followed the detailed sifting through of the archives of the
Nationale Volksarmee. Much material has been published on it and I would
be happy to point you towards some of these reports. Basically the
Warsaw Pact was preparing nuclear strikes in advance of the lightning
attacks on the northern German plain. Occupation banknotes for occupied
western Europe, street signs, stamps, medals for the officers with units
first reaching the Channel etc. etc. All was prepared and stored for use
in Honecker's state. The East German archives speak for themselves,
including good evidence that Warsaw Pact troops in fact were ready to
use tactical nuclear weapons against targets in northern Europe."

I myself would indeed appreciate a few references to the published
reports you mention.  They will help me in my long-term study of Soviet

Had I participated in the debate, I might have mentioned the 1996
publication of VENONA documents by the National Security Agency,
demonstrating by decoded Soviet telegrams of the 1940's that the
American Communist Party was deeply involved in espionage for the Soviet
Union, that the Rosenbergs were indeed guilty and that the number of
atomic spies at Los Alamos was considerable.  Also, to take another
example, the correspondence between Mao and Stalin, cited by Dmitry
Volkogonov from Soviet files, demonstrates that the Korean War was
plotted in advance by these two respectable statesmen as a means to
weaken America.  The Soviet threat was real, despite the weaknesses of
its structure; it was on that basis that George Kennan premised the
policy of containment in 1946, a policy he later modified, but the one
that proved victorious.  The threat may have been exaggerated by the
Pentagon and other self-serving members of the military-industrial
complex, but one should not conclude from this that the Cold War was the
invention of mad-dog demagogues conducting a witch hunt for innocent,
progressively minded people.  Demagogues did exist, but they were hardly
the terrors that the left likes to imagine.  On the contrary, McCarthy
and his ilk were the best friends the Soviet Union ever had, because
they largely discredited legitimate anti-Soviet criticism.
Of course, this view will never become the dominant one in America,
because Hollywood was badly burned by the anti-Communist blacklist and
has ever after produced films ridiculing McCarthyism, lampooning every
type of right-winger and glorifying the grand old troopers who held firm
to their "progressive" ideas.

Where does Juenger figure in this development?  I am not sure.  It seems
to me, as a newcomer to the Juenger canon, that by the time of the Cold
War he had pretty much absented himself from the folly of nations and
turned his view to the ages.  That is how, in his GLASS BEES, he could
foresee the present dehumanizing world of media entertainments, the
mind-numbing opiate of special effects and media celebrities--and the
media moguls, the Zapparonis, the Titans who run the show, but not
without irritating labor problems and personal vexations.  Other authors
of the time, such as Orwell, were still caught up in the anti-utopia of
political and social totalitarianism:  the Soviet megalith, seemingly


Follow Ups to this Message

Markup © John King, 2016. Web archive generated Thu, 20th May 2010.