All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

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All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, All Quiet on the Western Front gives you detail and insight into the long, destructive “Great War”. Quickly, romantic illusions about combat are disintegrate. Enthusiastic teenage boys convinced to fight for their country by their patriotic teachers came back feeling part of a lost generation . This novel teaches us what a terrifying and painful experience World War I was for those fighting in the trenches on the front.

German propaganda spread throughout Germany like wildfire. The glory and enthusiasm of going to war to fight for your country aims and ideals was the mood set. Everyone wanted to be a hero, and if you did not want to fight than you would be thought of as a coward,.. “ because at the time even one’s parents were ready with the word ‘Coward’..” (Remarque p.11). The elders glorified war by writing and talking about it, expressing that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing. The soldiers saw the hideous wounds and dying men and distinguishing the false from the true, realizing that there is nothing of their world left. That is how Paul Baumer felt when he was in the Catholic hospital with his friend and comrade Albert Kropp. Looking around at all the wounded solders he saw what a waste war was. Up until this war, nobody had ever seen such a destructive war, partly due to all the advanced technology, and therefore none of the great world powers knew what they were getting themselves into. “ To shed one’s blood for the fatherland is not difficult it is enveloped in romantic heroism” (McKay/Hill/Bucker 904) as explained by a German soldier who volunteered for the front. The fact that the whole country of Germany was patriotic, energetic, and unified towards the war effort glorified it even that much more. Who would not want to fight for their homeland at that time? “ We were still crammed full of vague ideas which gave to life, and to the war also an ideal and almost romantic character” (Remarque 21). Once these combatants experienced the real life threats such as poisonous gasses, rapid machine gun fire and a constant flurry of explosive shells, these were propelled into a New World of killing or being killed. They are fighting with animal like instincts and all their proper manners that they are raised with vanish.
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