All quiet on the western front
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All Quiet on the Western Front. By ERICH MARIA REMARQUE. The Author. Erich Maria Remarque studied at the University of Münster but had to enlist in the German army at the age of 18.  He fought on the Western Front and was wounded several times.

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All Quiet on the Western Front

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All Quiet on the Western Front


The Author

  • Erich Maria Remarque studied at the University of Münster but had to enlist in the German army at the age of 18. 

  • He fought on the Western Front and was wounded several times.

  • After the war, Remarque worked as a teacher, a stonecutter, and a test-car driver.

  • He became famous after his first novel, All Quiet on the Western Front

  • touched a nerve of the time

  • sparked off a storm of political controversy

The Author

  • More than any other conflict, the Great War inspired writers of all generations and classes, most notably among combatants

  • AQWF is an anti-war novel depicting the horrors of war from the point of view of the ordinary soldier

Causes of WWI

  • On June 28, 1914, GacriloPrincip, a nineteen-year-old Serbian revolutionary, fired two pistol shots. One killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary and heir to the Austrian throne. The other killed Sophie, his wife.

  • Austria-Hungary held Serbia responsible. On July 5 Austria asked for and received from Germany a "blank check" of support for any action Austria-Hungary might take against Serbia.

  • On July 23 Austria sent a series of demands to the Serbians. The demands were designed to humiliate and virtually destroy the Serbian nation. Still, Serbia agreed to most but not all of the demands.

  • Austria reacted on July 28 by declaring war on Serbia. The Russians prepared to defend Serbia. Germany sent a warning to Russia to stop mobilizing its army for war; the Russians ignored the warning, and Germany declared war on Russia on August 1. France came to the aid of its Russian ally by declaring war on Germany. The British hesitated, but when the Germans marched into Belgium, they declared war on Germany as well.

  • Italy, the third member of the Triple Alliance, refused to back Germany and Austria-Hungary. Italy claimed the Triple Alliance was for defensive purposes only and Austria's declaration of war against Serbia was no defensive.

  • So in August, 1914, the guns of the war went off. The system of alliances for keeping peace had brought the great nations of Europe into war with one another.

  • Central Powers:

  • Allies:

  • Russia

  • France

  • Great Britain

  • Italy

  • Japan

  • United States (1917)

  • Germany

  • Austria-Hungary

  • Ottoman Empire

  • Bulgaria

Why did it take so long for America to get involved in the war?

  • America was isolationist

  • “Why should I get involved in someone else’s problems”

What did it take to get the US involved?

  • Britain blockaded (stopped) all German ships going to America

  • Germany announced a submarine war around Britain

  • Y-53 German Submarine 1916

What did it take to get the US involved?

  • In May, 1915 Germany told Americans to stay off of British ships

  • They could/would sink them

What did it take to get the US involved?

  • Lusitania torpedoed, sinking with 1200 passengers and crew (including 128 Americans)

  • Was eventually found to be carrying 4200 cases of ammunition

  • German Propaganda Justifying Lusitania sinking

What did it take to get the US involved?

  • US intercepted a note from Germany to Mexico

  • It promised Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona back in return for an alliance

  • Zimmerman Note + the sinking of 4 unarmed American ships led to a declaration of war

Trench Warfare

  • type of fighting during World War I in which both sides dug trenches protected by mines and barbed wire

  • Many men killed in the trenches were buried almost where they fell.

  • These corpses, as well as the food scraps that littered the trenches, attracted rats.

Officers walking through a flooded communication trench

A photograph of a man suffering from trench foot


  • Protagonist: Paul Baumer

  • Secondary: Stanislaus Katczinsky

  • Background characters: Muller, Tjaden, Albert Kropp, Kimmerich, Leer, HaieWesthus, Detering

  • Kantorek (their Schoolmaster)

  • Corporal Himmelstoss

  • Baumer, Muller, Leer and Kropp went to school together and were encouraged to enlist Kantorek. All are age nineteen.

  • Tjaden, Westhus and Detering are lower class workers or farmers.

  • Katczinsky is the oldest and becomes a mentor or father figure to Paul.

Point of View

  • Narrative Voice

  • Told entirely through the eyes of a yuong German soldier named Paul Baumer

  • The reader can really feel the numbness, fear, and loneliness of a young soldier

Theme: Feeling of Void

  • Void and being alone is symbolized by the quietness

  • Paul often speaks of this quietness he feels inside himself.

  • He hates to be alone, yet it is something he craves.

  • The war has isolated him from his life at home and from any hope of living a full and abundant life after the war is over

Theme: Mother Earth

  • While the earth provides shelter and stability, it is also cratered and stripped of beauty by the bombs.

  • There is a beautiful scene where Paul almost serenades the Earth while he is in the midst of flying shrapnel, blood, and clods of dirt.

  • Over half of the novel is spent sitting in the mud, dirt, craters, or earth.

Theme: Degradation and Dehumanization

  • Desensitization of these once-sensitive boys who are now hopeless, spiritually-dead figures.

  • The way the men are treated in the make-shift hospitals and in the shell holes when they have been blown apart.


  • Paul describes a beautiful summer day. They hear the bomb shells in the distance.

  • They are called to fight the front lines. There are 100 new coffins prepared. The soldiers try to joke around and shrug it off, but they all know that the coffins are for them.

  • Paul eloquently and hopelessly describes how their dreams are dead and the soldiers are dead inside only to have a physical death soon.

  • A company of new recruits comes to the front lines. Paul can already see they are dead. They will lose their dreams, sanity, and hope and then die in the wretched trenches.

  • Paul calls them “dead children”

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