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World War I History in All Quiet on the Western Front

Paul Baumer and his classmates had volunteered to enlist in the war or at least that what the story told. But that is not true, they were forced to volunteer. Their schoolmaster Kantorek had filled their heads up with views of nationalism which glorified the war. Some students were even pressured by their parents to enlist. If they did not enlist it would be like turning their back on their country. The teachers and schoolmasters thought going to war was the best thing a man could do for his country. When Baumer and his friends get to boot camp, they found out that it was not so great. In boot camp, they were taught to be soldiers. They found out that what they learned in school had no meaning in the war.

It was also in the front line where Baumer and his friends saw the contradictions made by people at home. Paul and his comrades all saw the true horror of the war in the front. Each one of them experienced the wounded and dying of other soldiers. They also experienced hunger and fear. They saw how destructive the new war technology could be, the use of machine guns, gas, flamethrowers, bombing planes, and the tanks used by the British. Despite all this, they stilled continued to stay loyal to the war.

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The German soldiers continued to fight because of the training they received. Baumer and his group had one of the strictness drill instructors, Corporal Himmelstoss. It seemed like abuse but his training actually helped the soldiers. His training made the soldiers bitter and made them more aware. They had to be bitter and sharper if they were to survive the war. The will to survive is another reason why the German soldiers kept fighting. Baumer says that they become like wild beasts in a field while under attack. They had to defend themselves against annihilation. The soldiers also felt angry from within, which allowed them to kill and to save themselves. Paul says that when they are in this rage, they kill. If the soldiers don’t kill, their enemies will kill them. The German soldiers have no choice; you either kill or be killed. Comradeship is another reason the Germans soldiers keep fighting.

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Baumer’s group is made up of a variety of people. There is a peasant, farmer, locksmith, peatdigger, and student. In the war, these people would not normally meet in civilian life but are struggling to keep their country together. Also near the end of the story, two flamethrowers are getting closer to Baumer and his companions. One of the junior officers then gets up and shoots the flamethrowers. In the process, the junior officer gets killed. This act shows how close the comradeship was in the German army.

Another reason why the German soldiers kept fighting was that was all they knew what to do. Paul Baumer tells us that all the older soldiers are stilled linked to their present lives. These older soldiers have wives, children, jobs and interests to come back to. According to Baumer, all the younger soldiers have to come back to is their parents and maybe a girlfriend. The young soldiers have no jobs and no idea of what life will be like for them after the war. All the young soldiers know how to do is fight, and that is what they do till they are injured or killed. This war has ruined the lives of Baumer, his friends, and all the young German soldiers who fought in this war.

The fact that the soldiers are forced to fight this war is another reason they continue to stay loyal to the cause of the war. Baumer and his group had a discussion on why there is a war, who started it, and why they are there. None of them really wants to be at war. If they had the chance would leave the war to go home. They finally decided that the cause of the war is because of some general or ruler wanting to get famous. They are stuck fighting for a cause none of them wants to fight for.

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The most important reason why the German soldiers stayed loyal to the war was because of nationalism still left inside of them. The fact that they were fighting a war that they couldn’t win was a sign of their loyalty. Throughout the entire novel, the soldiers kept fighting and never turned their back on their country. Even in the end, Baumer shows his nationalism, he tells us that the German soldiers are not beaten because they are better and more experienced than the other soldiers. It was just they were driven back by superior forces.

In conclusion, many conflicts broke out between the countries and empires of Europe. This eventually led to World War I. During the war, the people’s view of nationalism contradicted what the soldiers had to face in the war. These views showed how inexperienced the people were in modern warfare. In Erich Remarque’s novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, we see that despite all these contradicting views, the German soldiers continued to fight a war they could not win.

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World War I History in All Quiet on the Western Front. (2021, Feb 27). Retrieved February 6, 2023, from