All Quiet on the Western Front - Politics | PoFo

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The First World War (1914-1918).
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So I recently found and dusted off my copy of this old classic, and decided to give it a view.


My god. This movie really is one of the best of all time, and it's held up so well as a film that you forget the vintage (1930).

I remember reading the book for the first time in school (and re-reading it many times in the years since) and being shocked at the tragedy of war. I still think that the book is perhaps the most bleak piece of modern literature in existence (and I've read most of Cormac McCarthy).

There is a scene in the middle where the french are charging the German trenches (probably at Verdun, though it is never mentioned) which fully illustrates the soul-crushingly futile human cost of the War. The French first cross no-man's land while being pummeled by the German guns. Once they reach the German wire, the machineguns make mincemeat out of them. Perhaps one quarter of the first wave make it to the German first line trench, where Paul and his company make short work of them in merciless melee combat. After dispatching the first wave of French attackers, Paul's 2nd Company fall back to the reserve trench in a fighting retreat, taking potshots at the French second wave clambering haphazardly over the parapets of the abandoned trench. Finally, the Germans reach the reserve trench, upon which their artillery -- already registered specifically on the killzone between their first and second line of trenches -- utterly decimates the French second wave just as they are within sight of their goal, routing them instantly. A victory for the Germans? No -- Paul and company are ordered to counterattack where they fall victim in turn to the same exact defenses and are themselves mauled to half-strength. Only belatedly does the order come down to fall back to their own line.

This is truly a great film. A contemporary reviewer wrote that if the League of Nations (precursor to UN) bought rights to it and distributed it globally, the very notion of war could be eradicated. I completely echo that sentiment myself.

Anyone else want to talk about the book or the film?
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By MB.
Great movie. Great book.
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By SecretSquirrel
aw come on add something more the the conversation than that!


One quote I liked was in the book during the discussion that Paul and friends were having about the causes of the war.

Tjaden reappears. He is still quite excited and again joins the conversation, wondering just how a war gets started.
“Mostly by one country badly offending another,” answers Albert with a slight air of superiority.
Then Tjaden pretends to be obtuse. “A country? I don’t follow. A mountain in Germany cannot offend a mountain in France. Or a river, or a wood, or a field of wheat.”
“Are your really as stupid as that, or are you just pulling my leg?” growls Kropp. “I don’t mean that at all. One people offends the other—”
Then I haven’t any business here at all,” replies Tjaden. “I don’t feel myself offended.”
“Well, let me tell you,” says Albert sourly, “it doesn’t apply to tramps like you.”
“Then I can be going home right away,” retorts Tjaden, and we all laugh.
“Ach, man! he means the people as a whole, the State—” exclaims Müller.
“State, State”—Tjaden snaps his fingers contemptuously. “Gendarmes, police, taxes, that’s your State;—if that’s what you are talking about, no thank you.”
“That’s right,” says Kat, “you’ve said something for once, Tjaden."

There were some proto-anarchist and anarchist movements amongst returning soldiers after the war. I'm wondering if Remarque intended it to be interpreted in this way.
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By MB.
I can't really differentiate between remarque and junger any more. They make the same basic point: war is not cute and the only thing that keeps people alive in these conditions is camaraderie (and heavy drinking). This is fundamentally a socialist message.
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By SecretSquirrel
MB. wrote:I can't really differentiate between remarque and junger any more.

wow.... what?
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By MB.
Because they both wrote about the face of battle of western front wwi from the german perspective and their experiences were so horrible they are not things i wish to remember thoroughly?

Why does this surprise you?
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By SecretSquirrel
Because Junger wrote about how he found battle to be exhilarating... he was recommended by the Nazi party unlike Remarque who was banned for being strongly and unambiguously antiwar
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By MB.
Except that you apparently didn't read Junger (at least the Storm of Steel): He never implied that his battle experiences were fun or exhilarating (beyond perhaps some pre-battle excitement common to all faced with the prospect of unleashed violence- Remarque was no different). His experiences were nevertheless horrible and he only survived by complete chance after being wounded several times and having all of his comrades killed. He drank himself silly at night and went about his duty on watch like a robot. If anything, he relates a calm stoicism (desensitization) about the ordeal, no doubt derived from his exposure to horrors beyond the imagination. There are times (now that I'm forced to think back) where he breaks down completely, such at the near death of his brother, or when he almost killed some of his comrades with a hand grenade that luckily failed to detonate. Like Remarque his innocence was destroyed by war. The subsequent involvement and controversy with the Nazis does not change the fundamental fact that in the Storm of Steel & All's Quiet, the prevailing theme is one of the unrelenting tragedy of war.
I like a good bit of WWI literature.
While you may have been talking about the movie, it’s a better book IMO.
Other good books of the vein that are maybe even better are.
Memoires of an Infantry Officer by Siegfried Sassoon
Not So Quiet Stepdaughters of War by Helen Zenna Smith (pseudonym for Evadne Price)

I especially recommend the second one. Bloody brilliant.

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