Ernst Jünger (1895 – 1998)—a close friend of Heidegger and Carl Schmitt, and a contributor to Alfred R. Orage’s The New Age—was an exponent of National Bolshevism. At the time, Jünger was the most famous soldier in Germany, the most highly decorated veteran of World War I. Jünger enjoyed a long-term friendship with Friedrich Hielscher (1902 – 1990), who is said to have “mentored” the Executive Secretary of the Ahnenerbe, Wolfram Sievers. Following Ernst von Salomon, who named Hielscher “Bogumil,” Jünger nicknamed Hielscher “Bodo” or “Bogo” in reference to Hielscher’s interest in Gnosticism. Hielscher was the founder of an esoteric or Neopagan movement, the Independent Free Church (UFK), which combined panentheism with paganism and nationalism. In Hielscher’s theology, God is external to the universe, or the universe is contained within God, and within the universe are the “Twelve Divine Messengers,” six male and six female, identified with the gods of Germanic paganism.
As described by Alexander Reid Ross in Against the Fascist Creep, as White Russian émigrés moved to Germany and forged an ultranationalist sense of anticommunist unity between their countries, some sought to unite with the Nazis to “liberate” their former homeland. Some adopted a semblance of socialism in the belief that state communism would eventually evolve toward nationalism. For example, Nikolai Ustryalov (1890 – 1937) recognized the positive national contributions of the Bolsheviks and hoped that they would abandon internationalism in favor of a strong nationalist political economy—a kind of “national-bolshevism.”
The movement had its origins when Moeller van den Bruck counterposed the tactic of opening the East to Spengler’s well-known “theory of pessimism, arguing that Germany and Russia were both vigorous “young” peoples, and that the outcome of World War I “had separated them with finality from the decaying West.” When Spengler and Moeller debated their respective positions at the June Club in 1920, Otto Strasser (1897 – 1974) was in the audience. With his brother Gregor, Otto later created the left or Strasserist wing of the Nazi Party. In his autobiography, History in My Time, Strasser described how he would never forget that fruitful discussion,” when “the Pessimist and the Optimist of the West expounded their versions of the coming decades.” Although “the two conceptions were opposed to each other,” Spengler and Moeller were “yet attuned to each other and complimentary to each other, so that all of us, moved by this moment, solemnly swore to devote our lives to the realization of their visions.”
The vision became known as National Bolshevism. National Bolshevism arose during the 1920s, when a number of German intellectuals began a dialogue which created a synthesis between radical nationalism (typically referencing Prussianism) and Bolshevism as it existed in the Soviet Union. The main figure in this movement was Ernst Niekisch (1889 – 1967) of the Old Social Democratic Party of Germany. Niekisch and his followers adopted the name of “National Bolsheviks” and looked to the Soviet Union as a continuation of both Russian nationalism and the old state of Prussia. Jünger and Niekisch were members of the Association for the Study of Russian Planned Economy (ARPLAN), along with Georg Lukacs, the Marxist philosopher who was among the primary influences on the Frankfurt School. All of them envisioned a Eurasian cooperation spanning from Russia to Portugal.
Although members of the Nazi party under Hitler did not take part in Niekisch’s National Bolshevik project, characterizing Bolshevism as a “Jewish conspiracy,” in the early 1930s there was a parallel tendency within the party which advocated similar views. Also known as Strasserism, for its leader, Gregor Strasser, the Nazi left-wing was the strand of Nazism that called for a worker-based and anti-capitalist form of Nazism. They included Aufbau member Karl Haushofer, who eventually came under suspicion because of his contacts with left-wing socialist figures within the Nazi movement, and his advocacy of essentially a German–Russian alliance. The Strasser brothers’ movement advocated neither capitalism nor Marxism, but instead a society organized “without masters,” in a natural hierarchy based on merit and an organic integration of syndicates and corporations bringing the nations of Europe into a new United States of Europe. However, their movement was crushed during the Night of the Long Knives.
Jünger’s 1932 work Der Arbeiter (“The Worker”) is considered a seminal National Bolshevik text. Along with Karl Haushofer, Jünger, Niekisch and other figures of the Conservative Revolution, the Strassers advocated National Bolshevism, a German-Russian revolutionary alliance which influenced the German Communists with connections to the Nazi left-wing. Jünger was the most prominent of the German Conservative Revolutionaries and considered one of the greatest German writers of the twentieth century, and although he was sympathetic of National Socialism he never joined the Nazi party. He was a highly-decorated German soldier in World War I, after which he became active in German politics, experimented in psychedelic drugs, and travelled the world.
Jünger’s accounts of the war, The Storms of Steel and The Adventurous Heart, celebrated the heroism of the battlefield, the real arena of the “world spirit.” Jünger identified the decline of civilization and the portent of an oblivion, joined with the feminization of Weimar, that had to be overcome. This Zivilisationskritik (critique of civilization) became his trademark, along with a rejection of the Enlightenment in favor of a more natural “deeper Enlightenment.” Jünger envisioned a “total mobilization” that would capture the imagination of the workers of the nation in a united industrial effort to bring catastrophe to the modern world and overthrow liberal democracy.
Jünger never joined the Nazi Party, and eventually turned against them by the late 1930s. His objections to the Nazis, which were influential on the members of the Stauffenberg plot to assassinate Hitler in July 1944, led to his dismissal from the Wehrmacht. He eventually settled in Wilfingen in the house of the Master Forester attached to the ancestral home of his executed friend Graf Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, who was one of the leading members of the failed plot of 1944 to assassinate Adolf Hitler and remove the Nazi Party from power. There he founded the literary review Antaios with Mircea Eliade.
In 1946, Jünger met Armin Mohler (1920 – 2003), who is often considered a central intellectual figure of the post war extreme Right in Germany, and who would become his secretary. Mohler was also press secretary for Heidegger. Mohler also maintained extensive correspondence with Carl Schmitt. An important scholar on the German Conservative Revolution, Mohler was responsible for popularizing that term, in Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918-1932: Ein Handbuch, this PhD dissertation published in 1949 under the supervision of Karl Jaspers.
Otto Strasser fled first to Austria, then to Prague, Switzerland and France, and in 1941 he emigrated to Canada, where he was the famed “Prisoner of Ottawa.” During this time, Goebbels denounced Strasser as the Nazis’ “Public Enemy Number One” and put a price of $500,000 on his head. As an influential and uncondemned former Nazi Party member still faithful to many doctrines of National Socialism, he was initially prevented from returning to West Germany after the war, first by the Allied powers and then by the West German government. During his exile, he wrote articles on Nazi Germany and its leadership for a number of British, American and Canadian newspapers, including the New Statesman, and a series for the Montreal Gazette, which was ghostwritten by then Gazette reporter and later politician Donald C. MacDonald. A long time Canadian politician and political party leader and had been referred to as the “Best premier Ontario never had.”