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All Quiet on the Western Front

Author: Erich Maria Remarque

Character List
Paul Bäumer: The narrator and protagonist of the novel, Paul conveys to the reader the
profound alienation of the young WWI soldier. For Paul, especially, this alienation emerges
in two ways. For one, he is caught in a virtual no-man's-land in his life. He feels dislocated
from his past, but can conceive of no possible future for himself. His former schooling seems
useless, and he cannot imagine reentering the civilian world in any kind of occupation.
The more terrifying part of his and the typical soldier's alienation, however, is in the way
Paul must dull his feelings. Paul frequently explains that soldiers must shut off their
emotions, or else go insane from the ravages of war. Paul's tone is often curiously flat when
describing even the deaths of close friends. His alienation extends to his family. Paul refuses
to allow himself to get too close to his dying mother, let alone the rest of his family and
others from home. He feels betrayed by his elders, who have pushed Paul and the German
youth into fighting for a cause they have no stake in.
The saving grace for Paul is that he does bond with his fellow soldiers--at least while they
are alive. Camaraderie, to him, is the one good thing that has come out of the war, and his
intimacy with Kat as the two cook a goose borders on the homoerotic.
Paul also exhibits increasingly anti-nationalistic sentiments as the novel progresses, and his
recognition of the arbitrariness of war allows him to grow closer to the Russians in an
adjacent prison camp, and to the Frenchman he kills in a shell-hole.
Paul occasionally comments on the impotence of words in describing the brutality of war. He
also laments how civilians will never be able to understand the soldier's plight. We may
assume that Remarque felt the same way, but decided that by writing about WWI, he might
overturn these theories and relate his own alienated war experiences.
Kantorek: Although Kantorek, the former schoolteacher of Paul and his friends, figures in
only one present-tense scene, he casts a long shadow over the novel. He represents
nationalism, the ideology of unswerving dedication to one's own country that swept Europe
before and during WWI, at its worst. His patriotic sentiments and bullying forced Paul and
his classmates--what he proudly calls the "'Iron Youth'"--into volunteering for the war. Paul
gains some measure of revenge when he sees that Kantorek has been enlisted in the war;
at least Kantorek must now fight and possibly die for the war he has helped promote.
Corporal Himmelstoss: Like Kantorek, Himmelstoss is in just a few scenes, but he is an
important representative figure. As Paul's friends see it, Himmelstoss epitomizes the way
men with little power otherwise--Himmelstoss was a postman before the war--exploit
whatever power they gain in the military. A ruthless disciplinarian in the training platoon
Paul and his classmates originally joined, Himmelstoss delights in humiliating the inferior-
ranking soldiers, especially Tjaden. However, even a coward like Himmelstoss can be
redeemed by the camaraderie of war; after he is brought up to fight and has his first
experience in the trenches, he makes up with the men he previously punished and insulted.
Stanislaus Katczinsky: Kat, as he is known, is the wise, 40-year-old unofficial leader of
Paul's company. A peacetime cobbler, Kat has a knack for making shrewd trades and
scrounging up food in seemingly impossible situations. He also seems to have some
sympathy with Communism, although this is not well developed in the novel. Though half
his age, Paul seems to be closest with Kat of all the soldiers.

20/08/2008
Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
ETE 12th Batch
ID No: 082 118 003
All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque

Paul's mother: Dying of cancer, Paul's mother awakens some dormant emotions in Paul,
but he ultimately represses them, unable to deal with both his own imminent death and
hers. She is highly maternal, dispensing advice to Paul about the war that is both caring and
naïve.
Albert Kropp: Described by Paul as the "clearest thinker" of his former classmates, Kropp
is one of Paul's oldest and closest friends. Paul is fiercely loyal to him, faking illness so he
can stay with Kropp when his leg is wounded.
Tjaden: A 19-year-old skinny locksmith, Tjaden is most notable for his vendetta against
Himmelstoss, who unfairly punished Tjaden's for his bed-wetting problem in training camp.
Detering: A married peasant farmer, Detering has the most compelling reasons to return
home. He also loves animals and is upset that horses are used in a human war.
Müller: A physics-inclined academic from Paul's class, Müller appears crass for wanting the
dying Kemmerich's boots, but he is only pragmatic, as all soldiers are.
Leer: Lusty and sexually mature (he was the first to lose his virginity in the boys' class),
Leer leads the sexual charges in the novel.
Haie Westhus: A large 19-year-old peat-digger.
Franz Kemmerich: A wounded soldier the boys visit whose expensive boots are passed
around throughout the novel when its wearer dies.
Gérard Duval: A French soldier Paul stabs in a shell-hole but must stay with for hours as
the man dies. Paul later discovers that Duval is a printer and has a wife and daughter.
French brunette: One of the three Frenchwomen the boys visit across the canal, the
brunette loses interest in Paul when he tells her he is going on leave; she is aroused only
when he is in danger of entering combat.
Lewandowski: Lewandowski: The oldest soldier in the Catholic Hospital, the other patients
help Lewandowski arrange a conjugal visit with his wife.
Joseph Behm: The one student who openly did not want to join the war, Behm was bullied
into it by Kantorek and got killed almost immediately.
Mittlestaedt: A former classmate of Paul's, Mittlestaedt ends up in charge of Kantorek and
gleefully lords his power over his former schoolteacher.
Ginger: The cowardly and stingy cook of Paul's company at the start of the novel.

20/08/2008
Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
ETE 12th Batch
ID No: 082 118 003
All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque

Major Themes
Brutality of war:
Remarque writes in the epigraph that his book will describe the men who were "destroyed
by the war," and after that All Quiet on the Western Front is a nearly ceaseless exploration
of the destructive properties of The Great War. Included are two detailed chapters about
fighting at the front and in the trenches (Chapters Four and Six). Remarque smashes
whatever romantic preconceptions the reader may have about combat in his descriptions of
rat-infestation, starvation, nerve attacks, shell-shock, and inclement weather--to say
nothing for actual combat and the deadly zone of no-man's-land between enemy trenches.
The reader is also introduced to all the new forms of assault World War I developed--tanks,
airplanes, machine guns, more accurate artillery bombardment, and poisonous gas. The
consequences of war are given due consideration--Paul watches friends die, sees dislocated
body parts, and tours a hospital of the wounded. Each time Paul counts the thinning ranks
of his company, we are reminded that all the fighting is only over a small piece of land--a
few hundred yards or less--and that, very soon, the fighting will renew over whatever was
gained or lost.
The young soldier's alienation:
To add to the discussion of war's destructive properties (see Brutality of war, above),
Remarque comments in the epigraph that his novel is primarily for "a generation of men
who, even though they may have escaped the shells, were destroyed by the war." This
generation is Germany's youth, pushed into the war by their nationalistic elders for a cause
they have little stake in, and transformed into desensitized zombies by a war too brutal to
endure. Paul's flat tone throughout the novel emphasizes this numbness: he often passes
off a friend's death as if it is a common occurrence--which it is. If the soldier allowed himself
to feel emotions, he would die far sooner, or go mad. Accordingly, the soldiers either make
light of war--they bet over an airplane dogfight, for instance--or become pragmatic rather
than sentimental (the fight over Kemmerich's boots, for instance). Paul vows to repress his
feelings until after the war, but even he cannot deny the profound pain he endures.
Paul's disconnection emerges again when he visits home. He does not allow himself to bond
with his dying mother, and regrets having come home and opened emotional wounds. He
has further trouble connecting with the rest of his family and other civilians, none of whom
he feels understands his plight, and it is clear his alienation also springs from his
disconnection with the past. Like most of the young soldiers who joined the war after they
graduated from school, he can barely remember what his life was like before he joined the

20/08/2008
Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
ETE 12th Batch
ID No: 082 118 003
All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque

military, and what he can remember now seems useless to him. Moreover, he cannot
imagine any future after the military; the adjustment to civilian life and an occupation
seems impossible. The young soldiers are caught in a nihilistic no-man's-land between the
irretrievable past and an unfathomable future.
Paul's generation feels betrayed by its nationalistic elders like Kantorek, and by those who
glorify war, such as the French brunette who is interested in Paul only as a romanticized
soldier on the brink of death. The only thing reducing the soldiers' alienation is their
intimate bond with each other (see Unity among soldiers).
Nationalism:
Nationalism is the unswerving dedication to one's homeland, and it swept Europe in the
years leading up to WWI. Kantorek, the boys' former schoolteacher, epitomizes nationalism;
Paul describes how Kantorek rallied his pupils with patriotic speeches and bullied them into
volunteering for the war, ridiculing them for cowardice if they stayed at home. However,
Kantorek and his generation are not the ones dying in the war. It is the "'Iron Youth,'" as he
calls them, who give up their lives for the political power games of a few global leaders.
Paul is bitter about the nationalism that has forced him and countless others to enter the
war, but he manages to use it for humane purposes. He unites with the Russian prisoners
through a universal language, music, knowing that arbitrary political powers have made
them enemies. He also empathizes deeply with the Frenchman he kills, seeing past the
man's nationality and into his life (he discovers his name, occupation, and family situation).
In fact, Paul kills the Frenchman in the no-man's-land between enemy trenches, the only
remaining place in Europe not owned by a particular country (although, of course, bitter
fights take place over its ownership).
Unity among soldiers:
The first word of the novel is "We," and Paul's typically first-person singular narration ("I")
frequently slips into the first-person plural voice. The one good thing that has emerged from
the war, he often contends, is the comradeship between the soldiers. Disciplinarian training
intent on breaking down the soldiers' individuality, and the horrors of war, bond the men in
ways civilians cannot comprehend. They do everything together, from eating to using the
latrines; even dead bodies in battle are used as cover for the living. Sexuality plays an
important role in their all-male camaraderie; they go on amorous adventures for women
(the Frenchwomen episode) or help others have sex (as when they arrange the conjugal
visit for Lewandowski in the hospital). Their intimacy is also tinged with homoeroticism
(Paul's fondness for Kat as they cook a goose together goes beyond mere friendship).
Animalism:
The soldiers are frequently compared to animals. They eat mass-prepared food together as
if out of troughs and use the outdoor latrines together. Kat theorizes that the battle for
power within the military is like that of the animal kingdom, and Himmelstoss's hunger for
alpha-male power reinforces this claim (as does the soldiers' vicious ambush of him). The
soldiers are also de-individualized during battle, losing their humanity. Almost as a
response, animals play a more important role at these times; horses are used and wounded
in battle, rats infest the trenches, and geese pop up at several times.
Words, words, words:

20/08/2008
Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
ETE 12th Batch
ID No: 082 118 003
All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque

In Chapter Six, Paul laments that words cannot do the war justice; in Chapter Seven, he
believes they may do it too much justice, making it too real and unbearable. He echoes
Hamlet's famous line "Words, words, words"; like Hamlet, Paul is absorbed in his own verbal
thoughts, unable to escape from them. Remarque possibly wrote his novel to master and
define the emotions of war; perhaps he is the third-person narrator at the end who
describes Paul's death.

Short Summary
Paul Bäumer, the narrator, and his fellow German soldiers of the Second Company
recuperate behind the front in World War I. The last day of fighting thinned their ranks from
150 men to 80. Paul describes three 19-year-old boys from his class who also volunteered
for the war: Albert Kropp, the "clearest thinker" among them; Müller, a physics-inclined
academic; and Leer, sexually mature. Their friends include Tjaden, a 19-year-old locksmith;
Haie Westhus, a large peat-digger, also 19; Detering, a married peasant; and Stanislaus
Katczinsky ("Kat"), their wise 40-year-old leader.
The boys discuss Kantorek, their former schoolmaster, who used to bully his pupils into
volunteering for the war. The boys feel betrayed by Kantorek and their other elders. The
boys visit Kemmerich, a wounded soldier. Paul and the others see that Kemmerich, who is
unaware that his leg has been amputated, will die here. The boys all want Kemmerich's
expensive boots. Paul describes how the twenty boys from his class patriotically enlisted in
the war. In training, the disciplinarian Corporal Himmelstoss immediately disliked and
punished Paul and some of his friends, recognizing some defiance in them. Paul sits with
Kemmerich, who tells Paul to give Müller his boots. He dies, and Paul runs home and gives
Müller the boots.
Twenty-five younger men arrive as reinforcements. Paul believes Kat is the most resourceful
soldier he knows, always able to scrounge up food. The men learn Himmelstoss is coming
up to the front. Tjaden especially hates the Corporal because of his cruel punishment for
Tjaden's bed-wetting problem. For vengeance, Paul and his friends ambushed and beat
Himmelstoss before they left for the front.
The soldiers are sent to put up barbed wire at the front. At night, during an artillery
bombardment, the soldier dive for cover. The men set up the wire. Soon the artillery attacks
them. Several men are hit, as well as horses. The shells tear up the graveyard they are in,
uprooting coffins. Gas shells are deployed, and the men scramble to put on their masks.
After another bombardment, more men die and are wounded. Still, the losses are fewer
than expected, and the soldiers climb into the trucks and ride home.
The men are preoccupied with the arrival of Himmelstoss, who was removed from his
training post for his barbaric tactics and forced to go to the front. Himmelstoss shows up,
and soon he and Tjaden insult each other. The men realize that out of their class of twenty,
seven are dead, four are wounded, and one is insane. They reminisce about Kantorek.

20/08/2008
Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
ETE 12th Batch
ID No: 082 118 003
All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque

Kropp points out that the young soldiers who did not have jobs before will have difficulty
getting used to a new one after having fought in the war. Tjaden is put on trial in the
evening. The lieutenant lectures Himmelstoss for his inappropriate behavior in training, and
metes out open arrest for Tjaden and Kropp (for insulting Himmelstoss earlier). The men
visit Tjaden and Kropp at night. Later, Kat and Paul steal a goose. When they cook it
together, Paul reflects how intimate he and Kat have become.
Rumors of an offensive recall the soldiers to the front. Rats invade the worn-down trenches
and assault the men's bread. Days pass with no major attacks. Finally, the enemy launches
an artillery bombardment one night and continues through to the next day, but no full
attack commences. No one can get through the bombardment to bring back food. Several
recruits throw insane fits. Finally, the bombardment stops and the attack begins. Paul stares
into the eyes of a Frenchman on the ground and eventually throws a grenade at him. The
Germans reach the enemy line and repel the French. More casualties pile up in the coming
days; the men cannot always retrieve their wounded comrades in no-man's-land, and they
die out there. The shelling renews its strength. New recruits are brought in, but they die at
high rates from foolish mistakes. Haie is wounded in the back. In the end, the battle is a
success for the Germans, who have yielded just a few hundred yards to the French. The
men ride away and regroup. Second Company has thirty-two men left.
The men are given some time to rest. Himmelstoss wants to make amends with the boys,
and Paul is willing to forgive him, since Himmelstoss helped Haie when he was hit in the
back. One night while swimming nude, the men see three French women across the bank of
the canal. They make plans to meet the women at their house at night when there are no
guards. At night, with some food and gifts stowed in their boots, the boys swim across the
canal. A small brunette takes a liking to Paul, though he leaves in an unhappy mood.
Paul receives seventeen days' leave, after which he is to report to a training camp away
from the front for four more weeks. As Paul buys the men drinks at the canteen, he
wonders if he will see them all again--Haie has died by now, too. Paul takes the train to his
home. His mother lies in bed, sick with cancer. Paul feels uncomfortable at home and with
others, feeling they do not understand him. He spends most of his time alone. A former
classmate of Paul's in nearby barracks tells him that Kantorek has been called into the war
in a low rank. His friend torments Kantorek in military exercises, much to Paul's
amusement. Paul sees Kemmerich's mother and lies that Kemmerich died immediately. On
Paul's last night, his mother gives him advice about how to handle the war.
Paul has previously been to the camp on the moors for training, but he hardly knows
anyone there now. A Russian prison camp is adjacent to theirs, and Paul studies the enemy
prisoners as they scavenge for food. He is kind to them and observes a funeral they hold.
One Russian who speaks some German plays violin for Paul and the other prisoners. Before
Paul leaves for the front, he learns his mother is in the hospital, and she will soon undergo
an operation for cancer.
Paul returns to his company, where the men prepare for the arrival of the Kaiser, who turns
out to be less intimidating than Paul had imagined. After, the men discuss nationalism;
Kropp wonders if both sides can possibly be "in the right," and Tjaden is curious as to how a
war gets started and what its purpose is. The company returns to the devastated front. Paul
volunteers to go on a patrol to find out how strong the enemy is. He later gets lost and
must crawl into a muddy hole. A man falls into the hole, and Paul stabs the body. The man
convulses and, by the morning, is still barely alive. Paul tends to the man's wounds. This is
the first time Paul has killed a man in hand-to-hand combat. Finally, the man dies. Paul

20/08/2008
Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
ETE 12th Batch
ID No: 082 118 003
All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque

apologizes to the dead man and asks for forgiveness. At night, Paul crawls toward his
trench.
Paul and his friends guard an abandoned village and watch over a supply dump. They make
the most of the village's possessions, decorating and stocking with food the concrete cellar
in which they shelter. The men happily spend nearly two weeks there, relaxing as the shells
continue to destroy the village; all the soldiers need to protect is the supply dump. The men
are sent to help evacuate a village. On their way in, they pass by the fleeing inhabitants.
Shells soon drop and knock down Paul and Kropp; Kropp is hit in the knee. They are
brought to a dressing station. Kropp says that if his leg is amputated, he will commit
suicide. Later, a surgeon removes a piece of shell from Paul's leg. Paul bribes the army
medical sergeant-major to keep him and Kropp together. Paul and Kropp share a room in a
Catholic Hospital. Paul bonds with the other patients, though many are taken to die in the
"Dying Room," and others are operated on unnecessarily for surgery that ends up crippling
them. Kropp's leg is amputated at the thigh, and he becomes sullen and suicidal. After a
few weeks, Paul is able to move his leg again. Kropp's stump has healed, though he is even
more solemn than before. Paul goes on convalescent leave, and his mother, sicker than
before, does not want to let him go again. Paul is recalled to his regiment.
By spring, the men remain hardened and closed off, but occasionally their true desires burst
free, as when Detering deserts the company. He is caught by the military police, and no one
hears anymore from him. Müller is killed, and Paul gets Kemmerich's boots. During an
attack, the company's commander and Leer die. The summer of 1918 further devastates
the Germans, who are on the brink of losing the war. There are rumors of an armistice. Kat
is heavily wounded in the leg one day, and Paul carries him back to the dressing station,
though he dies on the way--part of the shell hit his head, as well.
By autumn, only six others besides Paul from his class are left. They hope for an armistice
to bring peace. Paul is unsure if he has fully subdued all the life within him, but feels it will
"seek its own way out" somehow. In third-person narration, we learn that Paul died in
October, 1918, on a day otherwise so calm that the army report merely stated "All Quiet on
the Western Front." Paul's face seemed calm, "as though almost glad the end had come."

20/08/2008
Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
ETE 12th Batch
ID No: 082 118 003
All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front


Author: Erich Maria Remarque

The Glory of War is the Realization That There is No Glory


collected by Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
http://www.gradesaver.com
August 20, 2008
World War I was a conflict fueled by territorial desires and nationalism. This very sentiment
is captured in Erich Remarque's novel All Quiet on the Western Front. In the novel, the main
characters, all young soldiers, come to understand that war is not glorious and that the
people they are fighting are not their enemy. At the time, such ideas were dangerously anti-
nationalist ones. Nationalism was a necessary component of World War I but was not, as is
explored in Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, a doctrine held by all Europeans.
It is not difficult to see the mark nationalism left on World War I. The popular definition of
nationalism is that it is a doctrine that "holds that all people derive their identities from their
nations, which are defined by common language, shared cultural traditions, and sometimes
religion" (Hunt et al 814). Considering that at the beginning of World War I many countries
had a variety of different cultural traditions, religions, and in some cases, languages, it is
conceivable that they would be facing considerable turmoil within their borders.

20/08/2008
Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
ETE 12th Batch
ID No: 082 118 003
All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque

One country dealing with the problem of multiple ethnicities was Austria-Hungary. These
struggles culminated in the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife,
Sophie. At the time, the Archduke was "a thorn in the side of many politicians because he
did not want to favor Hungarian interests over other ethnic ones in his kingdom" (Hunt et al
997). Strangely, it was not for this reason that he was killed. His assassin, nationalist
Gavrilo Princip, "[dreamt] of reuniting his homeland of Bosnia-Herzegovina with Serbia"
(997). The goal of creating a state composed of a single, united ethnicity is undoubtedly
nationalist in origin. In fact, it stems directly from the popular definition.
After the assassination, Austria-Hungary, with the backing of Germany, declared war on
Serbia. One of Germany's motives in joining the war was "territorial gains leading
toward...Mitteleuropa," which was a territory of middle and eastern Europe that included the
Balkan states (Hunt et al 993, 999). The expansion of territory can be seen as a
nationalistic goal when it is taken into consideration that nationalism includes a belief in the
supremacy of the nation. If those in power believed that their nation was the most powerful
and deserving of territories, then that nationalist spirit justifies their country's expansion.
A flurry of nations then joined the war due to alliances. Russia joined to protect the Serbs,
as did France, another ally of Russia's (Hunt et al 999). Great Britain entered the war on the
side of Russia and France when Germany, on its way to attack France, violated Belgian
neutrality. It is possible to see nationalism at work in these actions, as well. A nation can
hardly consider itself superior if it does not honor its alliances and come to the aid of other
countries. Similarly, only a nationalistic country can see itself as deserving of other
countries' lands; to do so, the people of the offensive nation have to believe themselves
more worthy than those of the defensive nation.
During the war, in order to keep the nationalist spirit alive, it was necessary to employ
propaganda. In many cases, this was done by vilifying the enemy countries. In one case,
"British propagandists fabricated atrocities the German 'Huns' supposedly committed
against Belgians," and, in another, "German propaganda warned that French African troops
would rape German women if Germany was defeated" (Hunt et al 1012). Even stricter
measures were taken by the governments, who "passed sedition laws that made it a crime
to criticize official policies" (Hunt et al 1012). All of these things served to rally the citizens
in support of the war. The nationalist mentality was common among civilians, and was
reinforced by propaganda and the government.
It cannot be said, though, that all of Europe was taken in by the nationalist spirit. Erich
Remarque's All Quiet On the Western Front stands as testament to this. In the novel,
although the young men fighting the battles are initially caught up in nationalist fervor, they
are ultimately able to transcend the one-sided belief of belonging to a singularly superior
nation when they experience the war firsthand. This is not to say that the fighting men and
women were not affected by nationalism; All Quiet on the Western Front's civilian characters
seem almost solely driven by it and can only interact with the soldiers through a
nationalistic paradigm.
Early in the novel, it is revealed that the narrator joined the army at the urging of his
schoolteacher, Kantorek. Wildly nationalistic, Kantorek would give "long lectures until the
whole of [his] class went, under his sheparding, to the District Commandant and
volunteered" (Remarque 11). In fact, this mentality was so widespread that "at that time,
even one's parents were ready with the word 'coward'" if they did not join the army (11). It
is notable here that those recommending the army were not often those in a ready place to

20/08/2008
Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
ETE 12th Batch
ID No: 082 118 003
All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque

join. It is easy to be nationalistic and urge the younger generations to fight in a war when
one is not expected to do the same.
A similar episode occurs when the main character, Paul, returns to his hometown for a few
days. A group of older men invite him to smoke and drink with them. One of them remarks
that "naturally it's worse here," referring to the lack of food in the area as opposed to the
imagined bounty the soldiers enjoy (Remarque 166). The rest of the men are in a
nationalistic mood and speak of the territories they deserve to gain in the war. One of them,
a school headmaster, "wants to have the whole of Belgium, the coal-areas of France, and a
slice of Russia" (166). This attitude held by the civilians, that their country was the most
correct and deserving in the war, made it necessary for them to dismiss the non-
nationalistic views held by the returning soldiers.
Also tied to nationalism is the romanticization of war, which is displayed by Haie when he
expresses his wish to stay in the army after the war. He explains that:
...you've nothing to trouble about...your food's found every day, or else you kick up a row;
you've a bed, every week clean underwear like a perfect gent, you do your non com.'s duty,
you have a good suit of clothes; in the evening you're a free man and go off to the pub.
(Remarque 79)

Haie, like other characters who favor the army, is able to believe in a good life after the war
only because of the degree to which army life has been romanticized. His friends must
remind him that such a position does not exist (79). The idea of the glory of war is held by
many civilians because they have not experienced the degradation of fighting. They believe
strongly in their leaders and the propaganda; they need to believe that their army is
infinitely superior to other countries' armies. If they were made aware of the harsh reality,
it would be hard for them to sustain their nationalism and unwavering patriotism.
Most obvious in All Quiet on the Western Front is the loss of nationalism seen in the troops.
Early in, the informal leader of the group, Kat, suggests an alternate solution to the war:
...a declaration of war should be a kind of popular festival with entrance-tickets and bands
like a bull fight...in the arena the ministers and generals of the two countries...can have it
out among themselves. (Remarque 41)

He concludes that it would be "much simpler and more just than this arrangement, where
the wrong people do the fighting" (41). Kat realizes that the disagreements that led to the
war are not between the people fighting, but between the leaders that orchestrated the war.
This realization is the first of many had by the men that lead them to see that all men,
despite their nationality, are the same.
In a traditional war novel vignette, the men at one point bring gifts to a household of French
women. In order to guarantee a visit, Paul describes how "eagerly we assure them that we
will bring [bread] with us...and other tasty bits too" (Remarque 145). In a bit of irony,
Remarque has the soldiers paying in food to spend time with the enemy. In fact, it seems
they are not enemies at all, but willing barterers. They take pains to travel to the women at
night so as to not be detected; after all, they're not allowed to be there.
Later in the novel, Paul is stationed by a camp for Russian prisoners of war. He notes that
"they look just as kindly as our own peasants in Friesland" (Remarque 190). Paul notices
that they are not much different from German peasants. Were he to believe the nationalists,
he would be forced to find even the lowliest German peasant above these Russian soldiers,

20/08/2008
Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
ETE 12th Batch
ID No: 082 118 003
All Quiet on the Western Front
Author: Erich Maria Remarque

but he does not. Musing about the Russians, Paul sees that "a word of command has made
these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our
friends" (194). He knows that these people are not his enemies because of anything they
have done. They are enemies only because a leader, far removed from the actual situation
of war, chose to call them such. Such an attitude is fatal to nationalism. The Russians can
no longer be vilified to him because he knows that those he fights are not villains. They are
the same as he is: civilians who were sent to fight by an authority that did not have their
best interest in mind.
This sentiment is further expressed in an exchange between Paul and Albert:
"But what I would like to know," says Albert, "is whether there would not have been a war
is the Kaiser had said No."

"I'm sure there would," [Paul] interjects, "he was against it from the first."
"Well, if not him alone, then perhaps if twenty or thirty people in the world had said No."
"It's queer...we are here to protect our fatherland. And the French are over there to protect
their fatherland. Now who's in the right?" (Remarque 203).
Again, they realize that those they are fighting, in this case the French, are the same as
themselves. The final question asked cannot be answered because neither party is wrong.
The only blame lies with the leaders that chose to invade; the soldiers doing the work can't
be in the wrong if they see their actions as merely guarding their fatherland. If, indeed, the
French are the same as the Germans, German nationalism cannot be upheld. They cannot
declare themselves more worthy of land that people equal to them inhabit. This rudimentary
conflict of logic is found throughout the novel and constitutes the primary argument against
nationalism.
All Quiet on the Western Front is considered one of the greatest anti-war novels of all time.
It attacks the very foundations of war, arguing that war is neither glorious nor necessary.
The Great War was largely inspired by a desire for ethnically unified countries and each
party's belief that their nation was the greatest. All Quiet on the Western Front exposes the
truth behind these assumptions; it dispels nationalism by revealing that we are all the
same.

20/08/2008
Md Abu Bakar Belali Tamim
ETE 12th Batch
ID No: 082 118 003