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All Quiet on the Western Front

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"This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war....." The soldiers of this war felt they were neither heroes nor did they know what they were fighting for. These soldiers were pulled from the innocence of their childhood, and thrown into a world of rage. Yet somehow they still managed to have heart and faith in man kind and could not look the opponent in the eye and kill him. For he was man too, he too had a wife and children at home, he too was pulled out of his home to fight for a cause he didn't understand.

The comrades were taught to fight. They were taught to kill the British and their allies. The comrades had no personal reason to fight with the other, except that it was an order and must be done. They were not fighting because they held a strong passion for their country, or felt deeply for the cause of the war. Albert simply states, "...almost all of us are simple folk. And in France, too, the majority of men are laborers, workmen, or poor clerks. Now just why would a French blacksmith or a French shoemaker want to attack us? No, it's merely the rulers. I had never seen a Frenchman before I came here, and it will be just the same with the majority of Frenchmen as regards us. They weren't asked about it any more then we were."

These soldiers lacked passion for the war. They didn't feel heroic because they did not hate the French or the British. Therefore they lacked zeal to fight the war and did not fit the title of hero; they clung on to their life at all times. An example of Paul hiding during an attack shows his fear of death. "I lie huddled in a large shell-hole, my legs in the water up to the belly. When the attack starts I will let myself fall into the water, with my face as deep in the mud as I can keep it without suffocating. I must pretend to be dead." These soldiers went to extremes to save themselves from the raging war. Not only soldiers but officers of the army had come under the great influence of fear. During one scene, under a heavy attack Paul sees a petrified Himmelstoss who is crouching in a corner. "Get out!" I spit. He does not stir, his lips quiver, and his moustache twitches. "Out!" I repeat. He draws up his legs, crouches back against the wall, and shows his teeth like a cur." If officers of the army overcame with such great fear, naturally the young recruits would be horrified as well. Unprepared and still innocent the recruits stared at the world in front of them with blank faces. Paul describes this during a front line attack. "Their pale turnip faces, their pitiful clenched hands, the fine courage of these poor devils, the desperate charges and attacks made by the poor brave wretches, who are so terrified that they dare not cry out loudly, but with battered



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