All Quite on the Western Front

Category: Military
Last Updated: 29 Dec 2016
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HIST 234 March 21 All Quiet on the Western Front All Quiet on the Western Front is narrated by Paul Baumer. Paul was only a nineteen year old fighting in the German army on the French front with some of his classmates: Albert Kropp, the clearest thinker among them; Muller, a physics-inclined academic; and Leer, who wears full beard and lusty nature for girls. Their friends include Tjaden, a skinny 19-year-old locksmith who love to eat; Haie Westhus a large peat-digger, also 19; Deterring, a married peasant; and Stannislaus Katczinsky their wise and crafty 40-year-old leader.

Page 3 they all joined the army voluntarily after listening to the stirring patriotic speeches from their teacher, Kantorek. But after experiencing ten weeks of brutal training at the hands of the petty, cruel Corporal Himmelstoss and the unimaginable brutality of life on the front, Paul and his friends have realized that the ideals of nationalism and patriotism for which they enlisted are simply empty line. They no longer believe that war is glorious or honorable, because they live in constant physical terror.

At the very beginning of the book Erich Maria Remarque says "This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war. " Page 0 This novel does not focus on daring stories of bravery, but rather gives a view of the conditions in which the soldiers find themselves. According to the writer “no one has the vaguest idea what we are in for. The wisest were just poor and simple people.

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They knew the war to be a misfortune. ” page 11 The monotony between battles, the constant threat of artillery fire and bombardments, the young soldiers struggle to find food and the lack of training of young recruits meaning lower chances of survival. In the novel the author writes “our early life is cut off from the moment we came here and that without our lifting a hand” page 19. The young soldiers would often look back and try to find explanation but never quite succeed, since they consider themselves young and extraordinary vague because they were in the 20’s they only had their parents and maybe a girl, hich was not consider too much influences. Whereas older men have a strong background that cannot be destroy, they linked to various life for example they had a family, wife, children, occupations, interest and a background which was strong, which means that war cannot destroy their memory of family. During the war soldiers spent their time on the front line, in an infantryman and in front line trenches. The working conditions became very predictable since it was spent mostly in the trenches. Soldiers recall the boredom of life in the dreary, lice-ridden, diseases spreading, muddy and dusty trenches.

The writer describes the unsanitary conditions of life at the front as Tjaden, tired of killing lice one by one, scrapes them off his skin into a boot-polish tin. He kills them by heating the tin with a flame. Haie’s lice have red crosses on their heads, and he jokes that he got them at a hospital where they attended the surgeon general. Paul remembers he and his friends were embarrassed to use the general latrines when they were recruits but now they find them a luxury. With Behm’s death, Paul and his classmates lost their innocent trust in authority figures such as Kantorek.

Kantorek writes a letter to them filled with the empty phrases of patriotic fervor, calling them “Iron Youth” and glorifying their heroism. The men reflect that they once idolized Kantorek but now despise him; they blame him for pushing them into the army and exposing them to the horror of war. They would wake up middle of the night by hearing loud booms. According to Paul he believed that they “have lost their senses of other consideration because they are artificial since only the facts are real and important to them.

Page 21 As Paul sits with Kemmerich who knew his leg has been amputated, he tries to cheer him up, but Kemmerich is convinced he will die, Paul has seen friends die before, but growing up with Kemmerich makes life harder, the orderlies were not helpful, and when they return, Kemmerich has died. Paul collects his things and they remove the body to free up the bed for more wounded. As younger soldiers arrived, Paul and his friends feel like mature veterans. Paul believes every company has one or two resourceful people, but Kat, a cobbler by trade, is the smartest he knows. Page 37.

Paul is glad to be his friend, and tells a story to illustrate his strength as a leader. For example Kat, bunking in a small, ravaged factory one night, Kat finding straw for the men to sleep on, and when they are hungry with no food, Kat goes off again and returns with bread and horse-flesh without providing an explanation. page 37 It was assumed that Kat's sixth sense help locating food and his special talent. As men return from the fronts, they see the shells shattered and coffins pilled by the dozens, however they made jokes in order to distance themselves from the unpleasant knowledge that coffin are made for them.

Their first front was completely demolished by a direct hit and the second only to discover it has been buried. Captured Russian soldiers, who are reduced to picking through the German soldiers’ garbage for food, which means there might not be any food in the garbage. Food is so scarce that everything is eaten. Looking at the Russian soldiers, Paul can scarcely believe that these men with honest peasant faces are the enemy. Since nothing about them suggests that he is fundamentally different from them or that he should have any reason to want to kill them.

Many of the Russians are slowly starving, and they are stricken with dysentery in large numbers. But most people simply ignore the prisoners begging, and a few even kick them. When Paul returns to the front, he finds Kat, Muller, Tjaden, and Kropp still alive and uninjured. He shares his potato cakes with them. There is excitement among the ranks: the Kaiser, the emperor of Germany, is coming to see the army. In preparation for his visit, everything is cleaned thoroughly, and all the soldiers are given new clothes.

But when the Kaiser arrives, Paul and the others are disappointed to see that he is not a very remarkable man. After he leaves, the new clothes are taken away. Paul and his friends muse that if a certain thirty people in the world had said “no” to the war, it would not have happened. They conclude that wars are useful only for leaders who want to be in history books. During the Great War millions men lost their lives in one of the greatest acts of barbarity the world has ever seen. The heroism and sacrifice of troops in the trenches is probably without parallel.

The pretexts for execution for British soldiers had a common theme: many were suffering shell shock or now recognized as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Most of those men were young, defenseless and vulnerable teenagers who had volunteered for duty. Millions of men lost their lives fighting for war and millions of men came home without a leg, an arm, or blind, or deaf, or mentally broken due to the things they had to live through in the trenches. Others had their lives cut short through the effects of poison gas, and injuries due to blast, with collapsed lungs.

While others came home whole in body, appearing normal, but with such serious nervous and mental conditions that they could not work, and were confined to mental hospitals for the rest of their lives. It should be noted that most, especially on the Allied side, later believed the war to have been worthless. Technological and military innovations such as poison gas, the machine gun, and trench warfare revolutionized combat during World War I, and Remarque effectively dramatizes how these innovations made the war bloodier, longer, and more costly.

In almost every case, military innovations make the soldiers’ lives more dangerous, while medical innovations lag increasingly far behind. Kemmerich, for instance, dies from complications from a relatively light wound. Glory and patriotism cease to be rational ideals in the conflict because advanced technology limits the effect that an individual soldier can have on the conflict and alienates him from the consequences of his actions. Life and death thus become meaningless.

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