All Quiet on the Western Front

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All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet On the Western Front

Born Erich Paul Remark (later changed to Remarque) on June 22, 1898, he grew up in a Roman
Catholic family in Osnabruck in the province of Westphalia, Germany--a city in the
northwest part of what is now West Germany. He adored his mother, Anna Maria, but was
never close to his father, Peter. The First World War effectively shut him off from his
sisters, Elfriede and Erna. Peter Remark, descended from a family that fled to Germany
after the French Revolution, earned so little as a bookbinder that the family had to move
11 times between 1898 and 1912. The family's poverty drove Remarque as a teenager to earn
his own clothes money (giving piano lessons). In November 1916, when Remarque was eighteen
and a third-year student at Osnabruck's Lehrerseminar (teachers college), he was drafted
for World War I. After basic training at the Westerberg in Osnabruck (the Klosterberg of
the book), he was assigned to a reserve battalion, but often given leave to visit his
seriously ill mother. In June 1917, he was assigned to a trench unit near the Western
Front. He was a calm, self-possessed soldier, and after carrying fellow comrades to safety
during battle, he himself was severely injured and was sent to the hospital in Duisburg
for much of 1917-1918. He was there when his mother died in September 1917.


The war ended before Remarque could return to active service, but even though he had not
experienced front-line fighting at its worst, the war had changed his attitudes forever.
He had learned to realize the value of each individual life, and had become disillusioned
with a patriotism that ignored the individual. To him and many of his companions, civilian
careers no longer held any meaning. In 1929, he published All Quiet on the Western Front,
a novel about the experiences of common German soldiers during World War I. Remarque
stripped the typical romanticism from the war experience in his shocking anti-war novel.
The novel instantly became an international success, and also was turned into an Academy
Award winning movie. After reading the book, I can't even fathom what a different
lifestyle Remarque led, fighting for survival every day while I find myself watching hours
of TV searching for entertainment day after day. One can imagine the intense emotions that
Remarque included in his story, seeing as how his first hand experiences have affected him
so greatly. All through the war, the Western Front was a major battle line, riddled with
trenches and tunnels. The fighting there was always fierce, with much hand-to-hand combat
and frequent air strikes. The events that lead up to Germany's signing of the armistice on
November 11, 1918 form the background of the entire novel, and it is because of this
direct connection with U.S. History that I believe this book should be read by everyone,
for the author's experiences in the trenches can't compare to any experience I've ever
had.


Through the observations of Paul Baumer, a 19-year-old volunteer to the German army during
World War I, readers see war and all its horror. Baumer and his classmates go right from
high school to military service, egged on by parents, teachers, and other stubborn adults
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