In response to:
An Aesthete at War from the March 5, 1981 issue
To the Editors:
In the otherwise well-informed and sympathetic review by Bruce Chatwin on Ernst Jünger, one unfortunate error should be corrected. Ernst Niekisch—a leading intellectual of the so-called “national bolshevists” in the Weimar Republic—was not killed in prison in 1945, but survived Nazi prisons and was a representative in the East German parliament until 1954. Having severely criticized the government and resigned all his posts he went to West Berlin, where he died in 1967. He published in 1953 “Das Reich der niederen Dämonen” (“Reich of the Base Demons”), an interpretation of Nazi Germany as he saw it and (posthumously) interesting memoirs (Erinnerungen eines deutschen Revolutionärs, two volumes, 1958 and 1974). Niekisch’s contradictory and highly ambivalent personality gives a useful clue to recent German history.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Frankfurt am Main
Bruce Chatwin replies:
My mistake. In his diary for April 5, 1945, Jünger writes: “[Lieutenant Wollny] brought news of Niekisch. It seems that the liquidation of the prisoners has been decided on. Niekisch was able to write a letter to his wife saying that, doubtless, it would be the logical conclusion to his destiny.”