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All Quiet on the Western Front. By Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front. The novel is fictional, but it is based upon Remarque’s personal experiences during the war.

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all quiet on the western front

All Quiet on the Western Front

By Erich Maria Remarque

all quiet on the western front1
All Quiet on the Western Front
  • The novel is fictional, but it is based upon Remarque’s personal experiences during the war.
  • It was first published in 1929. More than one million copies were sold, and it was translated into twenty-three languages.
  • The Nazis banned and burned All Quiet on the Western Front in 1933 because it was considered an anti-war novel.
erich maria remarque
Erich Maria Remarque
  • Born in 1898
  • Served in World War One
  • Fought on the side of the Germans
  • Sustained injuries and spent time in the hospital
  • His German citizenship was revoked in 1938 as a result of his “anti-war” novel.
  • Died in 1970
world war one
World War One
  • Lasted from 1914-1918
  • The “war to end all wars”
  • Axis Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey
  • Allies: United States (joined in 1917), Britain, France, and Russia
  • Total Number Killed: 8.5 – 10 million

The Western Front ran approximately 300 miles across the face of Western Europe, from Belgium to Switzerland.

  • The front consisted of opposing trenches, sometimes only yards apart. The trench warfare of World War I lasted for three years and took several million lives.
  • The Battle of the Somme, an attack by the Allies trying to break through the German lines, took more than four months. The allies gained only six miles. British and French casualties were 95,675 Britons killed and 60,729 Frenchmen killed. The defense cost the Germans 164,055 soldiers killed.

The trenches were muddy and often flooded with water. The bodies of dead and wounded men and animals fouled them.

  • Corpses lay in the “no man's land” between the trenches. Enemy snipers, rats, lice, and stench from the decaying bodies contributed to the misery of the trenches.
  • Toward the end of the war the German soldiers had little food.


Belgium, 1917

Before and After


An attack was preceded by bombardments, some lasting for days.

  • In order to mount an attack, soldiers carrying rifles and packs had to go "over the top” of the trenches.
  • Once in the no man's land, they faced barbed wire entanglements, machine guns, bombardment (often by their own misdirected guns), grenades, poison gas, and fire from the opposing trenches.

For many historical scholars, WWI is interesting to study because it a moment in military technology when fire power doesn’t match with mobility.

  • At the beginning of the twentieth century, automatic weapons and new modes of transportation were combining with traditional military routine.
  • This, on top of the rural locations where many soldiers fought, lead to a dangerous and difficult life on the front.

The Western Front was in stalemate until the United States entered the war.

  • Fresh troops, along with abundant hardware and supplies, tipped the scales decisively in favor of the Allies.
  • An armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 and the Treaty of Versailles was imposed on Germany in June 1919.
  • The conflict was one of the bloodiest in history; ten million soldiers were killed along with an estimated ten million civilians.

All Quiet on the Western Front is narrated by Paul Bäumer, a young man of nineteen who fights in the German army on the French front in World War I.

  • Paul and several of his friends from school joined the army voluntarily after listening to the stirring patriotic speeches of their teacher.
  • After experiencing ten weeks of harsh training and the unimaginable brutality of life on the front, Paul and his friends have realized that the ideals of national pride and patriotism for which they enlisted are simply empty expressions.
  • They no longer believe that war is glorious or honorable, and they live in constant physical terror.