Storm of Steel

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Storm of Steel (in German: In Stahlgewittern, ISBN 0-86527-310-3) is the memoir of German officer Ernst Jünger's experiences on the Western Front during the First World War. It was originally printed privately in 1920, making it one of the first personal accounts to be published. The book is a graphic account of trench warfare. It was largely devoid of editorialization when first published, but was heavily revised several times.

Plot[edit]

Storm of Steel begins with Jünger as a private entering the line with the 73rd Hanoverian Regiment in Champagne. His first taste of combat came at Les Éparges in April 1915 where he was first wounded.

After recuperating, he took an officer's course and achieved the rank of Ensign. He rejoined his regiment on the Arras sector. In 1916, with the Battle of the Somme underway, Jünger's regiment moved to Combles in August for the defence of the village of Guillemont. Here Jünger was wounded again, and fortunately absent shortly before the final British assault which captured the village — his platoon was annihilated. In 1917 Jünger saw action during the Battle of Arras in April, the Third Battle of Ypres in July and October, and the German counter-attack during the Battle of Cambrai in November. Jünger led a company of assault troops during the final German Spring Offensive, 21 March 1918 when he was wounded again. On 23 August he suffered his most severe wound when he was shot through the chest.

In total, Jünger was wounded 14 times during the war, including five bullet wounds. He was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class and was the youngest ever recipient of the Pour le Mérite[citation needed].

Publication history[edit]

The first version of Storm of Steel was essentially Jünger's unedited diary; the original title was In Storms of Steel: from the diary of a Shock Troop Commander, Ernst Jünger, War Volunteer, and subsequently Lieutenant in the Rifle Regiment of Prince Albrecht of Prussia (73rd Hanoverian Regiment). Since it was first published there have been up to seven revisions of Storm of Steel, with the last being the 1978 version for Jünger's Collected Works. For the first revision in 1924 Jünger rewrote the entire book for a new publisher. The result was a highly nationalistic and bloodthirsty version. The next major revision came in 1934, for which the explicit descriptions of violence were muted. This edition carried the universal dedication For the fallen.

The 1924 version was translated into English by Basil Creighton as The Storm of Steel [1] in 1929 and into French in 1930. A new English translation, based on the final 1961 version, was made by Michael Hofmann in 2003 which won the 2004 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. In his introduction to his own edition, Hofmann is highly critical of Creighton's translation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Source: Spine of original dust jacket. With an introduction by R.H. Mottram, Chatto & Windus. Retrieved 2009-9-10.

External links[edit]