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The Great War

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Introduction

To understand the human catastrophe that was the "Great War," it is imperative to consider the socializing factors that shaped the generation of men whose lives and futures were forever altered by one of the most costly events of the twentieth century. A large, na�ve membership who had, for the most part, only known the fruits of industrialization and the patriotic highs of nationalism, this generation quickly found itself amidst the horrors of a modern, technological war: an experience characterized by death, madness and near starvation for many of its participants. Yet, out of the ferocity and desperation, these young men discovered "the finest thing that arose out of the war - comradeship."1 In the aftermath of the First World War, authors and historians alike have attempted to assess the impact of the tragic ordeal on its participants. Erich Maria Remarque, renowned author of All Quiet on the Western Front, himself served in the war and harshly critiqued the conflict's validity throughout his acclaimed novel. Indeed, for Remarque, the special camaraderie shared amongst those involved, acquired only in the annals of war, was the only positive result amidst the deprivation and despair that defined the First World War. ...read more.

Middle

war that, unbeknownst to them, would be utterly catastrophic; a far cry from the lustful and violent reasons dealt us by Ernst J�nger. Amidst a war Considering the utter devastation of the first massive, technological war, the question of "why did men stay and fight?" proves an extremely difficult one. Given the complete waste of resources and astronomical number of casualties, we are hard pressed to find valid reasons as to why the combatants stayed and fought. Ernst J�nger proposes that the war gave these men an opportunity to vent their frustrations with modern social contexts in the manner of violence. Whilst this may seem an appealing theory at first glance, J�nger's proposition does not consider the roles of camaraderie, deep-seated discipline, pure naivet� and simple social conformity with proper merit. I am young, I am a twenty year old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another. I see the keenest brains of the world invent weapons and words to make it yet more refined and enduring. ...read more.

Conclusion

Conclusion Amidst the horrors of war; the meaningless sacrifices and struggles, a generation developed from young adolescents to weary, broken old-men almost overnight. Their tribulations would not be rewarded and their sacrifices would, for the most part, not be commended. Following the war, the new 'war-veteran' generation returned to a crumbling Vaterland and assembled with the only people they could relate to: themselves. Perhaps Ernst J�nger, upon seeing the rioting veteran organizations-known as the Freikorps-reeking havoc throughout the streets, associated their violence with a continuation of what he considered, a 'lustful enjoyment' of war. In reality, these few returning soldiers were only searching for comfort: a relaxation found only when amongst each other; because they had served together and survived in a hellish, unforgiving environment: a war which everyone else had drove them into, trained them for, prepared them for, and inevitably hated them for. These men were warriors, for that was all they had known. 1 Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front, translated from the German by A.W. Wheen, First Ballantine Books Edition, New York, 1982. p.27 2 Remarque, All Quiet, p.11 3 Remarque, All Quiet, pp. 263 - 264 ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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