Jünger vs. Benjamin in Babylon Berlin

In Babylon Berlin’s third season, there was a dialogue between the daughter of the major general Seegers, Marie-Louise “Malu” Seegers, and a member of the paramilitary Black Reichswehr, Wendt. Malu is a Marxist. Wendt probably is a nationalist, pragmatically playing power games to climb the ladder. They have some open conversations in the third season, and their relationship even deepens in the fourth.

This conversation happens during a dinner where many high-rank officials gather at Mrs. Nyssen’s home. A hookup where bureaucracy, military, and capital get together. Malu and her sister play Lizst’s Liebesträume with cello and piano, and then she changes the seating plan and sits next to Wendt. They talk about music and politics. The conversation ends with Wendt quoting and recommending Ernst Jünger and Malu retaliating with Walter Benjamin. It was a simple but compilable summary of their relationship and political stances.

Malu: What about you, Colonel? Don’t you want to congratulate me on old Liszt?

Wendt: Pardon? No, I… I’m not into music.

Malu: Neither am I.

Wendt: You’re not?

Malu: Not in such a way as to give it a higher meaning. Euphony, yes. But when it takes on the weight of intoxication, of glorification, then no. They are all strategies of the bourgeoisie to steer people away from a critical awareness and towards the ornamental.

Wendt: So you’re a Communist?

Malu: Correct.

Wendt: And your father, what does he have to say about that?

Malu: Don’t you know? “My children are free republicans,” he says. They can talk about and do whatever they want.

Wendt: Are you a member of the party?

Malu: Not yet, no. What about you?

Wendt: Which party should I belong to in your opinion?

Malu: The NSDAP.

Wendt: I’m afraid I have to disappoint you.

[cuts to another short conversation at the table, then cuts back] 

Wendt: Politics is a question of fate. Not of interests.

Malu: That’s an open confession of political irrationalism.

Wendt: In politics as in life, instinct is superior to intelligence.

Malu: Says who?

Wendt: Ernst Jünger. A magnificent writer, you should read him.

Malu: The destructive spirit is jolly and gay. Its only purpose is to make room.

Wendt: Says who?

Malu: Walter Benjamin. A magnificent philosopher. You should read him when you get the chance.