Monday, 13 May 2013
Ernst Jüngers Kreigestagebuch
This is a gem of a resource. It is a diary written by a young German soldier who was in World War I, 1914-1918. A diary written at the time is so much more useful than an account given later coloured by all that the person concerned has experienced in the meantime.
Jüngers simply tells of everyday occurrences. Some excerpts are longer than others. And he doesn’t write every single day. In the earlier accounts, there is a lot of pea soup “Erbsensuppe”.
434 of the 656 pages are diary entries. The other material is equally important and interesting. There are then about 160 pages of notes and further explanations about some of the entries. A summary of Jünger’s time in the war follows. Some other titles are suggested and finally come the publisher’s acknowledgements.
The diary entries are beautifully simple and matter-of-fact. “ich ließ mich im Schlafe nicht stőren” ( I didn’t allow my sleep to be disturbed) he writes of his first night in the trenches on 3 January 1915.
On 4 January we read “Dann kracht es wieder an 4, 5 versheidenen Orten. Nachher rauche ich mit Peipeke meine Cigarette und wir glauben hinten auf dem Felde einen Franzosen zu sehen.” (Then it bangs again, four of five times in different places. Afterwards I smoke a cigarette with Priepke and we think we see a Frenchman on the field, at the back.)
I am so glad I can read German. This book will be such a useful tool in helping me to understand what Ernst Lehrs went through in the Great War.