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The Great War

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After 5 years of conflict of the Great War, the world was devastated. Germany lay in defeat after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1921, the Allied Reparations Commission, mostly controlled by the French government, demanded that reparations were to be paid on the part of Germany of amounts surpassing �7,000,000,000. In 1922, there was a massive wave of inflation that swept the German economy, and as a result, many people were left penniless and unable to buy the necessities of life. At the end of 1922 the German Mark was worth absolutely nothing. The people were hopeless and frantic to survive. "It was such a desperate time that the people would follow anyone who would provide them with work, bread, and a bright new future"1. Political and economic unrest in Germany uprooted many of the old parties in parliament and made way for now more extreme groups. The NSDAP (later to be known as the Nazi party) was one of these new radical groups struggling for power in the sea of turmoil that was now called Germany. They were lead by Adolf Hitler, a shrewd and cunning man with excellent skills in public speaking. In 1929, the world markets crashed and a global depression began. The Germans were one of the hardest hit due to their already "knife edged"2 economy. Most of Germany's foreign investment came from the United States, and as soon as the markets crashed America pulled all its money back home. In between the years of 1930 and 1932, the German unemployment rate was running as high as 33%. ...read more.


This is particularly prevalent in the novel for the view is from soldiers fighting on the front, not being sure if they will survive the next few moments. As well as being physically harmful, this kind of stress and trauma wreak havoc on the nerves of a human being. "Bombardment, barrage, curtain-fire, mines, gas, tanks, machine-guns, hand-grenades--words, words, words, but they hold the horror of the world"5. The conditions that the soldiers were also forced to fight in conditions that can only be described as appalling. Trenches were filled with mud, rats, and the remains of the dead, whole or not. The soldiers would go without any sleep or food for days on end, proper medical care was also in short supply, along with ample clothing in which to protect themselves from the elements. Remarque shows us the effects that all these things have on the soldiers. The only way that they would be able to deal mentally with the world around them was to disconnect themselves from their feelings, suppressing their emotions and accepting the events that occur around them, no matter how horrid they may be. Being this disconnected from society, and themselves destroys a soldier's humanity. For example, Paul becomes unable to imagine a future for himself when the war is over, as well as not being able to remember what his life was like before the conflict began. "We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. ...read more.


Paul found out that the French man has a name, it being Gerard Duval. A whole new level of comprehension had been reached; it is now plain to see that it is the common man fighting the common man, both fighting another mans war, both dieing for a senseless cause. "Tomorrow we march on our enemies land with music... Our Heaven is the great war on earth. We live in battle our eternal life"13. The war was a glorious crusade to the Nazis, in which they wanted to cleanse the land of anyone who is not Aryan. This was all to be accomplished through war, and if they were to be successful in their aims, they would have to make sure there were no opinions available anywhere. Whether these opinions would be people, radio broadcasts, or in the case of all, quiet on the western front, literature was all to be wiped out of society. It was wiped out due to the themes that it portrayed, the horrors of war, it's psychological and emotional effects on the soldiers, and brotherhood among others. "'Then what exactly is the war for?' asked Tjaden. Kat shrugs his shoulders. 'There must be some people to whom the war is useful'". It is evident that war is useful to some people, particularly those of the Nazi regime. War in the eyes of Remarque is a useless waste of life, that has caused the tragedy of millions of people around the world, and will continue to do so if works such as All Quiet on the Western Front are censored and burned for the ideals that are portrayed within it. ...read more.

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