The Impact of Historical German Events on Its Citizens

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History shapes not only the pathway of the future, but the citizens and individuals within each era. The development and growth of Germany in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, directly altered and impacted the lives of the individuals within German society. Historical changes in this time frame are captured by Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest, in which the primary characters of the novel are shaped by the time period in which they live, as well as a significant historical event. In Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, the narrator Paul experiences trauma and a loss of youth as a direct result of his involvement in World War I, while in Fontane’s Effi Briest, the main character, Effi experiences trauma and a loss of youth as she becomes consumed with the social expectations of the aristocracy in late 19th century Germany. Each character is shaped by their time in history in a similar way, while undergoing an entirely different experience in the history of Germany. In the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul is forced to retreat from his life of normalcy due to his enlistment in World War I. His youthfulness and desire to explore life are abandoned when his life entirely transitions to the battle field. After a discussion with his fellow soldiers on their personal lack of motivation outside of the battlefield, Paul intimately discusses the real loss of life that he has experienced. Paul narrates, “We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by a storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces… We believe in the war.” After the war... ... middle of paper ... ...d War I, as Effi is shaped by her participation in the aristocratic society of Germany in the late 1800’s. Both novels exemplify the impact of historical German events and time periods on its citizens which change the course of the future of Germany. Works Cited Remarque, Erich. All Quiet on the Western Front. Fawcett Crest, New York: Ballentine Books, 1989 (87-88) Remarque, Erich. All Quiet on the Western Front. Fawcett Crest, New York: Ballentine Books, 1989 (94) Blackbourn, David. History of Germany 1780-1918. 2nd ed. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2003. (278) Fontane, Theodor. Effi Briest. London, England: Penguin Publishing, 1995. (63) Fontane, Theodor. Effi Briest. London, England: Penguin Publishing, 1995. (14) Otto Von Bismarck. " Blood and Iron Speech". Translated by Jerimiah Riemer from Vormärz to Prussian Dominance Volume III.

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