”I am very quiet.
Let the months andyears come, they can take nothingfrom me, they can take nothing more. I am so alone, and so without hope thatI can confront them without fear. Thelife that has borne me through theseyears is still in my hands. WhetherI have subdued it, I know not. But solong as it is there it will seek its ownway out, heedless of the will that iswithin me. ”These are the thoughts of a young veteran of World War I, namedPaul Baumer.
It is a testament for one and all of the “lost generation. ” Ageneration of war ravaged youth trying to come to terms with the realityof life, and the hatred that took the lives of so many of their comrades. Before they had a chance to live the war engulfed their youthfulaspirations to conquer the world. Torn apart by war, yet unified by thenoble cause of defending their country in all its glory.
”On the threshold of life,they faced an abyss of death. ”Among the many new recruits, Paul Baumer and his classmates,enlist with youthful enthusiasm in the German army of World War I. Assoldiers they know not what awaits them on the battle field. Many oftheir comrades will die before their very eyes. And for what? They don’tknow what their fighting against, they’re fighting a war that isn’t their own. But rather the war of the political leaders of several countries, whosearrogance cost the lives of so many young men.
A war can never be fullyjustified, how do you justify the loss of human life? They know nothing oflife but despair, death, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss ofsorrow. The war has destroyed them, before they had a chance to live. ”We loved our country as much as they;we went courageously into every actionbut also we distinguished the false fromthe true, we had suddenly learned to see. And we saw that there was nothing oftheir world left. We were all at onceterribly alone; and alone we must see itthrough.
”It’s hard for us to imagine what it must have been like for theseyoung men to face the hardships that war brings. The loss of theircomrades, fear, what it all boils down to is death. A word that issynonymous with war. One by one, they all die, and in the end Paul is leftto face the war alone. Kemmerich is the first to die. And he is a sign of the things tocome.
When he dies, they all see themselves, and the uncertainty thatlies ahead. A friend has died, yet he remains only a face in theirimagination, someone they once knew. One by one, Kemmerich, Muller,Kropp, Tjaden, Detering, Haie, Katczinsky, Leer, Ginger, all of them: dead. Yet Paul remains. To live his life in the silence the war brings. Erich Maria Remarque brings his own experience of such matters to”All Quiet on the Western Front.
” He was in combat during World War I,and was wounded several times during the course of his service. Hebrings you the personal side of what war is, and with those whoparticipated in this (fictitious) war. The emotion is real, though thecharacters are not. It is said to be the greatest war novel of all time.After reading All Quiet on the Western Front tell me if you don’t see warin a whole new perspective, one that in all it’s chaos eluded you before.