The Lost Generation



Brian Bunevich
3/22/99
History

During World War I, many of the men who fought were only about nineteen years young. These men experienced horrors beyond belief in a matter of years, which is ten times worse than a normal man experiences his whole life. This generation of men, from 1914-1918, who fought in a great war and lived in constant fear of their last breathe, while we enjoy parties, the freedom of being a teenager, and able just to kick back and enjoy life at its prime. This is the lost generation.
As tensions grew in Europe during the early twentieth century young teenagers throughout were going to grade school and enjoying life to its fullest. Little do these children know that in a matter of years they will be fighting in one of the most gruesome wars in history. While they were in school the leaders of Europe were contemplating the thought of war and forming alliances.
Many people thought that if they went to war, it would be over and done with before they knew it. The people who said this were the lucky ones; they didn\'t have to fight in it. The kids who did fight in it didn\'t know what to expect. They were taken from their sheltered homes and thrown into unimaginable chaos. World War I should never have been fought. It was because of a royal family feud that caused millions of deaths.
How would one feel if one saw their best friend blown up right before their very own eyes? These kids saw their comrades choke to death because of the fatal mustard gas. They saw friends get shot in the stomach and die slowly of excruciating pain. The dead bodies were innumerable and they had to face their enemy eye to eye and then kill them. These men starved and had to fight off giant rats. Most of these men died of a cause they did not know.
If you look at The Gulf War back in 1991, any intelligent person would say how easily we won. We decimated Iraq in a few weeks for two reasons; because of top grade equipment and because of excellently trained men. The men who fought in The Gulf War were between 26 and 27 years old. They were properly trained and had the audacity that younger soldiers lack. The older men also do not loose their youth. They had something that no one can take away, memories of their childhood and teenage years. That is something World War I veterans never had in the first place.
Through the book All Quiet on the Western Front, it tells all the horrors of war. It also tells of comradeship and the lost generation. Baumer states, "I can not bear to look at his hands, they are like wax. Under the nails is the dirt of the trenches, it shows through blue black like poison. It strikes me that these nails will continue to grow like lean fantastic cellarplants long after Kemmerich breathes his last."(15) Could you imagine seeing this during a lifetime, but all at the age of nineteen. In the book, Paul sees all his friends meet their demise, in the end Paul dies himself. The survival rate in the war was extremely low. The men went to sleep every night not knowing if it would be their last night on the planet.
Another memorable passage from the book is when Albert Kropp exclaims; "We are the iron youth."(18) What does he mean by this? One must realize the meaning of this phrase. They truly are youthful and they have been turned to iron, so-to-speak. They are called the iron youth because mostly youths were fighting in the war. Since these men loose their youth after the war, they are no longer youths, but they become iron youth, who no longer have the innocence that of a normal youth.

Baumer again illustrates the lost generation when saying, "And men will not understand us- for the generation that grew up before us, though it has passed these years with us already had a home and a calling; now it will return to its old occupations, and the war will be forgotten- and the generation after us will be strange