All Quiet on the Western Front is novel written by a German author named Erich Maria Remarque. Originally, the novel was published in a German newspaper called the Vossische Zeitung in November and December of January 1929. Within the first eighteen months of being printed, the book sold two and a half million copies and was published in twenty-two different languages; the book’s vision on World War I hit many former soldiers hard, multiple being in Germany at the time.The rising Germany National Socialist Party criticized the book heavily and it became one of the many books be to publicly burnt when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi movement came to power in the 1930’s. Also, with this, an academy-award winning movie was created based on the novel on April 21, 1930. The film was directed by Lewis Milestone and published by Universal Studios.
The novel details the treacherous journey of a young soldier named Paul Baumer; Paul is fighting alongside Germany on the front lines in World War I.Throughout the book, Paul suffers through many horrors on the daily; friends dying and general well being of being out on the battlefield. Personal hygiene wasn’t even considered a thing; many soldiers suffered because of the conditions of trench warfare.The book shows soldiers returning with PTSD, and how soldiers were to struggle with survivor’s guilt, and identity after fighting for so long.”This book is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure for 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.”The first chapter introduces us to Paul Baumer who is fighting with his unit of German soldiers during the first World War. Paul and his group are resting after they’re brought back from the front lines.
The Second Company, which was initially made up of one hundred and fifty men, is now down to only eighty. They recent just suffered an attack, and have spent the last two weeks under constant fire. Paul informs us of some of his friends and fellow soldiers. Three other soldiers named Muller, Leer and Kropp attended school together and enlisted in the military because they wanted to, completely voluntarily. All of the men are now only nineteen years old.Paul’s old schoolmaster, Kantorek, was the one who convinced him and all of his friends to enlist.
Kantorek was super patriotic and was able to get many of Paul’s classmates onboard with the idea, as well. Unfortunately, now Paul and his buddies hate and blame Kantorek for harassing them to join.One of Paul’s classmates, Kemmerich, had his leg amputated; he goes to visit him, and soon realises that Kemmerich will probably not live for much longer.Before the war, Paul was an art student; he used to enjoy writing poetry, but can no longer find poetic thoughts within himself. Feelings of emptiness, and being cynical are to blame from the war.
Paul feels that the war taught him more difficult life lessons than any school classroom ever could have; with this, though, he also believes that he was stripped from living their lives just as they were starting them. The war has become many soldiers’ new way of life; having no families to return home to after the war, or looking forward to work and education before the war, now halted.As Kemmerich dies, Paul tries to comfort him.
He tells Paul to let Muller have his boots.Paul and his group are told that their old drill sergeant, Himmelstoss, is coming to the front line; he is very cruel to them in training and forced Tjaden to sleep under a recruit that was a bedwetter, resulting in Tjaden being drenched in urine from the soldier above him. Paul and buddies were waiting for the drill sergeant outside of a pub; when he showed, they threw a bed cover over his head and beat him. They were able to escape without him realising it was them that attacked.The Germans are bombarded, and forced to scramble for cover; after the attack dies down, the recruits come out from hiding and realise many of their horses have been killed or wounded, as well as many soldiers. Men were assigned to put the wounded animals out of their misery. A truck arrives to bring the men back, however, another round of fire erupts out of nowhere.
Paul describes how unsanitary it was at war times; men were pulling lice off of their skin one by one and killed them by throwing them into the fire. They had to fight rats to protect their food.Himmelstoss arrives and attempts to order the men around, however, they ignored him. Tjaden runs and hides, just in case Himmelstoss decides to tell authorities of the disrespect.
He returns with the sergeant-major to punish Tjaden. The men refused to tell them where he was hiding, and the sergeant-major resolves this by announcing that Tjaden must be in the Orderly Room in ten minutes.Their dugout has been bombed, and the men must stay inside and take shelter; days without no food or water, one of the new recruits loses it and tries to run outside. Paul and another solder beat the soldier, keeping him from running out into danger. They knew that it was the French that had attacked, and the Germans fight back with complete rage and fury after what they had to go through because of them; the French were pushed back.This is only the first half of this amazing war story; this alone shows you how terrible it was for soldiers at this time, yet they remained and fought hard for what they believed in, and for their country.
Without the men fighting in these wars, and putting their lives on the line, things would be so, very much different back at home today.Paul Baumer described the effect of war and PTSD on young men; through him, we are shown a man who is forced to act a certain way as a soldier that contrasts him against who he is as a person. His inner thoughts and memories reveal him to be a caring, sensitive individual, but the tasks of a more solid forced him to be removed. He learnt to hide and disconnect from his emotions, which caused him to feel as though he is not even human anymore.Unable to reconcile, and end the war and his place in the world of peace, Paul was said to die in the end with a smile on his face, happy that he does not have to struggle anymore.Mental health, especially nowadays is a huge topic, and at times can be controversial to talk about.
Many people do not come forward with what they’re currently experiencing, thus resulting in tragic actions being made. Even today, men and women that have returned from war-time areas are faced with PTSD, but not to share their story with others. Some may never know of their issues, and will never know truly what is wrong. Sometimes, all it takes is one simple question to get somebody’s mind across.
With all of these risks in mind, men and women still enlist today to support militaries across the world in countries everywhere. These passionate, courageous and amazing individuals are definitely ones to look up to, as they’re putting themselves at risk to protect their rights back at home, and create a better life for the citizens of the countries that they’re fighting for, and alongside.Even with being a fictional novel, All Quiet on the Western Front shares true and factual stories of what happened during the first World War, and what many soldiers had to deal with daily. We are to respect the individuals that have signed up to participate in this madness, as they truly are heroes. To honour them, Canada, along with multiple other countries dedicate a day to their fallen soldiers and current veterans in the military; for Canada, this would Remembrance Day on November 11th. Stories like these are crucial for current generations to read, and educate themselves with.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.