Hitler's Germany Paper #1 (1)

But never did i entertain mean thoughts of him 3 this

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kill him, and I expected nothing else from him. But never did I entertain mean thoughts of him.” 3 This war of nations is legitimized by the gallant nature with which the contestants behave. Junger will fight with all his might for his country and he expects his enemies to do the same for theirs. To do any less would be to defeat the point of the entire exercise, and bring dishonor to all those involved. Perhaps the most interesting rule that Junger holds himself to is revealed late in the memoir. When discussing how he was staring at a young British soldier that he just shot Junger explains, “The state, which relieves us of our responsibility, cannot take away our remorse; and we must exercise it. Sorrow, regret, pursued me deep into my dreams.” 4 While other men desire 2 Ibid, p. 77 3 Ibid, p. 58 4 Ibid, p. 241
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to shrink away from their actions, Junger demands they be faced. This war only has any kind of meaning so long as those fighting it are still aware of each others humanity, however dimly. Junger holds himself accountable for the lives he has taken, he isn't slaughtering cattle, he's fighting a war. Junger therefore found the war legitimized by the love of his country, the desire to prove himself valorous in its name, and the noble way in which he conducted himself throughout the war. This belief is perfectly encapsulated in this excerpt taken directly before Junger engages in the largest battle that he has known, “The decisive battle, the last charge, was here. Here the fates of nations would be decided, what was at stake was the future of the world. I sensed the weight of the hour , and I think everyone felt the individual in him dissolve, and fear depart.” 5 Here is war crystallized in one momentous battle, and to Junger all seems right in the world. He and his fellow countrymen have stripped themselves of all superfluous emotions and identities, and now as one proud mass of Germans stand ready to vanquish their foes. At this moment Junger is sure the war is just, and necessary. The future of the world is at stake, and far more importantly the future of Germany. No war could possibly be more legitimate, and Junger obviously takes comfort in that. However, the Great Battle would prove to be more trying then Junger expected, and the effects of the war that had been wearing on him for four long years would finally throw some doubt onto his ironclad beliefs. Two events from the Great Battle stand out as particular breaking or boiling points for Junger. To fully understand the significance of these instances an examination of the long term effects of the war upon Junger is required. Junger's experience with war begins with the hollowing of his person, the loss of the more sensitive aspects of his nature. As with all men the hollowing progressed throughout the 5 Ibid, p. 231
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duration of the war. Civility, humanity and sanity were all slowly sapped. Every cold night alone in the trench, every shell that crashed into the earth, every comrade that lay screaming in agony, eroded a little more of the spirit. There was no one event that can be pointed to, no single battle
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Christopher Reinemann
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