10 Feb 2008

The friendly beams of Orion

In the middle of the night after the attack at Les Éparges the 24th April 1915 Jünger was awaken and marched off together with the company in what he describes as an “endless French communication trench through thick undergrowth”, strewn with French equipment (“Unser Weg führte durch dichtes, geschoßdurchklatschtes Unterholz in einen endlosen Laufgraben, den fliehende Franzosen mit Gepäck bestreut hatten.“).

They crossed the Mouilly–St-Remy la Calonne road in the western end of the valley Ravin des Feuilles and entered the wood on the other hill, “near Les Éparges”, where they were supposed to dig new front line/jumping-off trenches close to the enemy. (“In der Nähe des Dorfes Les Eparges mußten wir, ohne Truppen vor uns zu haben, eine Stellung in festes Gestein hauen.“). Jünger does not describe the work, but writes that he finally got to sleep. “Zuletzt sank ich in einen Busch und schlief ein.“

In his original diary however, Jünger confesses that there was no digging and that instead, “das erste, was ich tat, war meinen Kopf auf einem Tornister legen und einpennen” (“The first I did, was to lean my head on the bread-bag and fall asleep.”). And so did his N.C.O. [Offz.-Stellvertreter].

In In Stahlgewittern Jünger writes, that as he dozed at this spot, he “could see high overhead the shells of some artillery or other describe their ellipses in a train of sparks” (“Manchmal sah ich im Halbschlummer hoch über mir die Granaten irgendeiner Artillerie mit funkenden Zündern ihre Bogen ziehen.“).

Probably Jünger had also, however, before he went to sleep, a “look out for the friendly beams of Orion”, which he always did during his Western Front nights, according to Copse 125.

Photo by David Cortner, published at NASA's website.