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Ernst Junger 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, Junger 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.
Junger’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 Celine, Cocteau, Braque, and Picasso. His notes from the Caucasus depict the chaos after Stalingrad and atrocities on the eastern front. Upon returning to Paris, Junger 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, Junger 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.