im westen nichts neues by erich remarque l.
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Im Westen Nichts Neues by Erich Remarque. By: Travis Roberts. Remarque’s Life. In 1912 he entered the Katholische Präparande for preparation to become an elementary school teacher.

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Im Westen Nichts Neues by Erich Remarque

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remarque s life

Remarque’s Life

  • In 1912 he entered the Katholische Präparande for preparation to become an elementary school teacher.

Erich “Paul” Remarque was born on June 22nd , 1898 in Osnabrück Germany (Lower Saxony). He would later change his middle name to “Maria” to honor his late mother.

Remarque as a boy with his two sisters

  • He was drafted into the German army on November 21st, 1916, two years after the First World War began.
off to war

Off to War

  • Remarque was shipped to the Western front on June 12, 1917. His time there was brief however as he was soon wounded in Several places by shell fragments from English artillery on July 31, 1917.
  • He was not cleared for active duty again until October 1918, and he would never return to the front due to the war’s ending one month later.


  • Remarque would be disturbed by his war experience, and the experience of all the worlds youth who fought in the war, for the rest of this life.
  • He finally records his thoughts on the Great War in “Im Westen Nichts Neues” (All Quiet on the Western Front) published in 1929. While the book is fiction, it is based on some events in his life and the lives of others.
betrayed youth

A constant theme in Remarque’s book is that the youth of Germany (and the world) had been betrayed by teachers, parents, and other leaders who told them war was a great patriotic adventure.

Betrayed Youth

“Das erste Trommelfeuer zeigte uns unseren Irrtum, und unter ihm sturtze die Weltanschauung zusammen, die sie uns gelehrt hatten.”

(The first bombardment showed us our mistake, and under it the world as they had taught it to us broke in pieces.)

-Im Westen Nichts Neues

causes of wwi

The causes of WWI go all the way back to the unification of Germany under Bismarck in 1871.

Causes of WWI

  • Europe experienced an arms race and several complex alliance systems from the late 1800’s until the wars outbreak in 1914.
  • Intense nationalistic feelings also played a role, many peoples now wanted independent countries for their respective ethnic groups.
the spark

The Spark

  • The spark that finally ignited Europe into war was the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by a Serbian nationalist
  • After Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia in 1914, the alliance systems of the past few decades would slowly bring the entire continent of Europe into conflict.
the first months

WWI was supposed to be a quick war, everyone thought it would be over by Christmas. Initially the war moved quickly with both sides making gains, but by November a stalemate had set in.

The First Months

  • The first trenches on the Western Front are begun at Ypres in November 1914, this was the beginning of what would become a new breed of horrific warfare.
life in the trenches

Life in the Trenches

  • The trenches were dark, damp and cold. The men had no way to clean themselves so they were often lice infested. Rats were also a problem, eating food stores and bothering the soldiers.

“Sie scheinen recht hungrig zu sein. Bei fast allen haben sie das Brot angefressen. Kropp hat es unter seinem Kopf fest in die Zeltbahn gewickelt, doch er kann nicht schlafen weil sie ihm über das Gesicht laufen, um heranzugelangen.”

- Im Westen Nichts Neues

trench warfare

Along with Trench warfare came new inventions with incredible destructive capability. Machine guns and barb wire emplacements were used en masse. Extremely long range artillery, tanks, poison gas and aero planes were also employed for the first time in WWI.

Trench Warfare

  • These new weapons however, did not make the war end quicker, they simply made the death toll rise higher.
poison gas

Chemical weapons, in the form of Poison gases, were first used in 1915 by the Germans at Second Ypres.

Poison Gas

“Ich kenne die furchtbaren Bilder aus dem Lazarett: Gasranke, die in tagelangem Würgen die verbrannten Lungen stückweise auskotzen.”

(I remember the awful sites in the hospital: the gas patients who in day long suffocation cough up their burnt lungs in clots)

-Im Westen Nichts Neues

major battles and losses

Major Battles and Losses

  • First Battle of Ypres – 238, 155 Killed
  • Second Battle of Ypres - 104,000 Killed
  • Battle of Verdun – 750,000 Killed
  • Battle of the Somme – 1,070,000 Killed
  • Arras – Casualty rate per day 4,070
  • Third Battle of Ypres – 550,000 Killed
a soldiers view

We see men living with their skulls blown open; we see soldiers run with their two feet cut off, they stagger on their splintered stumps into the next shell hole…..we see men without mouths, without jaws, without faces; we find one man who has held the artery of his arm in his teeth for two hours in order not to bleed to death. The sun goes down, night comes, the shells whine, life is at an end.

  • -Im Westen Nichts Neues

A Soldiers View


Vergehen Wochen – Monate – Jahre? Es sind nur Tage. Wir sehen die Zeit neben uns schwinden in den farblosen Gesichtern der Sterbenden, wir löffeln Nahrung in uns hinein, wir laufen, wir werfen, wir schießen, wir töten, wir liegen herum, wir sind schwach und stumpf…

(How long has it been? Weeks-months-years? Only days. We see time pass in the colorless faces of the dying, we cram food into us, we run, we throw, we shoot, we kill, we lie about, we are feeble and spent…)

-Im Westen Nichts Neues


The thousand yard stare

nature and war

Nature and War

Einen ganzen Vormittag spielen zwei Schmetterlinge vor unserm Graben. Es sind Zitronenfalter, ihre gelben Flügel haben rote Punkte. Was mag sie nur hierher verschlagen haben; weit und breit ist keine Pflanze und keine Blume. Sie ruhen sich auf den Zähnen eines Schädels aus.

(One morning two butterflies play in front of our trench. They are brimstone butterflies, with red spots on their yellow wings. What can they be looking for here? There is not a plant nor a flower for miles. They settle on the teeth of a skull)

-Im Westen Nichts Neues

war ends

After a large German advance was halted and pushed back, Germany was forced to broker piece on November 11th, 1918. The war had finally ended at the cost of 9 million soldiers.

War Ends

“This book is to be 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 shells, were destroyed by war.”

-Im Westen Nichts Neues

lost generation

Remarque kills his main character at the end of Im Westen Nichts Neues. On a day in October 1918 that was so Quiet the army confined itself to one sentence “Im Westen sei nichts Neues zu Melden” or “All Quiet on the Western Front”.

Lost Generation

  • Paul’s death is symbolic of the destruction of an entire generation both physically and mentally.
  • When Paul’s body is found Remarque writes, “sein Gesicht hatte einen so gefaßten Ausdruck, als wäre er beinahe zufrieden damit, daß es so gekommen war.”
  • (his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come)

Duffy, Michael. First World War (2003)


Glibert, Julie. Opposite Attraction

New York, 1995

Groves, Paul. W.O.M.D.A (2003)

Remarque, Erich. All Quiet on the Western Front

Ballantine Books, 1996

Wagener, Hans. Understanding Erich Remarque

University of South Carolina, 1991

Westwall, Ian. World War I Day by Day

Brown Partworks Limited, 2000