The Soldier's True Enemy in Erich Remarque’s "All Quiet on the Western Front"

The Soldier's True Enemy in Erich Remarque’s "All Quiet on the Western Front"

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Who or what is a soldier’s true enemy? Is it the appalling conditions he must endure? Figures of authority abusing their power? Or is it perhaps even the fear of death itself? These are the questions raised in Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front as he voices his own experiences as a soldier fighting for the Germans in World War One through his narrator Paul Baumer.
Despite the fact the soldiers have received expert training when they enlisted in the army they struggle to fight their most basic instinct, to survive. The fear of death can compel an individual to do things considered completely irrational and foolish with resultant dire consequences.
One of the great dangers facing soldiers who fought on the front was that of shellshock which occurs when a soldier’s stress levels reach a point beyond which they can no longer cope mentally. In the novel there is a scene where Paul’s company are all huddled together in a flimsy bunker withstanding heavy bombardment from the ‘enemy’. Many of the men became hypersensitive and were unable to sleep as they feared somethi...

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