Essay on World War I and Erich Maria Remarque

Submitted By taniamelissa
Words: 1853
Pages: 8

"We did not break down, but adapted ourselves; our twenty years, which made many another things so grievous, helped us in this. But by far the most important result was that it awakened in us a strong practical sense of esprit de corps, which in the field developed into the finest thing that arose out of the war - comradeship." P26

In Remarque's depiction of World War 1 trench warfare, outlined in the book, All Quiet on the Western Front there are no such things as heroes or self-sacrificing victims, It all comes down to a group of men whom has barely anything in common at the very first but ends up as relatives due to the comradeship that is developed.
You might think something like "Hey they have got so much in common! Some of them were friends from before they even went into the war". But there is a difference between friendship and comradeship. Individuality is what you're looking for in friendship, while in comradeship it is as I already said forced upon them, commonality the war.
Now you might also think that I am a hypocrite, saying that they end up as relatives but that friendship and comradeship are two different things, here's how I see it; relatives are as comrades, they do not have to like each other, thus they can not do anything about it, they have something in common.

Notwithstanding that they chose to join the army the comradeship is after all forced upon these men, as the war. They have not chosen whom they're fighting this war with. Even though there are so many different personalities in this story, personal chemistry does not become an issue. I don't think they have time to conceder what they think is annoying about each other, that would destroy them, so they all adjust. This creates comradeship, since they have to care for each other and they have to trust one another! Who dies does not matter for long, for they can nothing do to prevent it, all they can do is keep fighting, and staying alive. "There are a hundred and twenty wounded men laying somewhere or other; it is a dimmable business, but what has it to do with us now - we live. If it were possible for us to save them, then it would be seen how much we cared." P.139
Despite all this terror they keep on, they forget, and make stronger bonds with whoever is still alive.

I think that the comradeship reaches its climax when the group is ordered to guard a village where they can live quite well in variation to the trench at the front. The group of soldiers becomes so full of themselves whilst having such a good time that they make sarcastic jokes against each other. "We put on extraordinary airs, every man treats the other as his valet, bounces him and gives him orders there is something itching under my foot; Kropp my man catch that louse at once, says Leer, poking out his leg at him like a ballet girl." P.238

Despite that Remarque may from time to time describe their comradeship as a good outcome from the war, it is all wrong; it is all awful and terrible. The author Ernest Hemingway once said; “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime”. Even though that these men had some good/better times during the war, it was not a good thing, it does not matter how fine their comradeship was, it does not justify the war.

In Erich Maria Remarque novel of the First World War, All Quiet on the Western Front, his protagonist embodies the selfsame idea. Paul Baumer, a young German, finds himself caught up in a war that means far more to the older generation left at home than it does to him and his comrades: "'I think it (the war) is more of a kind of fever,' says Albert. 'No one in particular wants it, and then all at once there it is. We didn't want the war, the others say the same thing – and yet half the world is in it all the same'" (page 181). Youthful, idealistic, and patriotic at the war's beginning, Paul gradually evolves throughout the course of the fighting into an "Iron Youth" destroyed by