April 18, 2019

The Path to a Higher Freedom: The Forest Passage by Ernst Jünger

This review appears in the Summer 2014 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe now, go here.
Download PDF version here.

The Forest Passage by Ernst Jünger, trans. Thomas Friese
(Candor, NY: Telos Press, 2013)


This is a book about freedom. It was first published in 1951 as a response to the Nazi experience and the perceived threat of Soviet expansion. Its explicit focus was resistance to the totalitarian state. Yet its implicit focus is resistance to all forms of social control, including the soft totalitarianism of present-day mass democracy. And this why Ernst Jünger’s classic remains relevant today, and that is why Telos Press has reissued it.

Ernst Jünger (1895–1998) was twentieth-century Germany’s most prolific author. He was also the most controversial. He was a highly decorated soldier in World War 1 who first gained literary fame writing about his war experiences. Jünger aligned himself with the political Right during the 1920s and 1930s and wrote scathing attacks against the Weimar regime and the decadence of liberal democracy and communism. He championed a German nationalism based on aristocratic and martial values.

His early writings gained him a reputation as a fascist and militarist, an image that haunted him for the rest of his long literary career. But Jünger distanced himself from Hitler and the Nazis early on, realizing that the political Right and Left differed little; both led to totalitarianism. The war and Germany’s defeat changed Jünger’s perspective even more. His militarist leanings changed to an existential quest—a way to find freedom in the modern world, in which the mechanisms of total social control continued to multiply.

April 3, 2019