Continuation of “All Quiet on the Western Front”

Western Civilization II

MWF 2:00-2:50

All Quiet on the Western Front tells the story of Paul Baumer, a 19 year old kid from Germany who fights in World War I and watches his friends die and ultimately experiences death himself. The inspiration for the book is derived from the life of the writer, Erich Maria Remarque, and his experiences in WWI fighting for the Germans. The book is a spectacular display of the horrors and struggles, both physical and mental, that a person experiences in war. When Paul dies he is at a very low point in his life; he is young, all of his friends are dead, his mother has died of cancer, and he fears life away from war. It seemed almost as though Paul dying in the last scene of the book was a blessing. Well what if Paul had not died on October 18, 1918? How would have Paul’s life turned out had he returned from the war safely?

Paul Baumer returned home from battle November 18, 1918, seven days after the German Republic signed its armistice. He was welcomed home with a little gathering of family and a few friends at his home. The parent’s of his classmate and war comrade Albert Kropp were present at this party and tried to talk to Paul, but Paul could not face them and ran to his room. He spent the rest of the night there refusing to come out[1]. This was very symbolic of Paul’s attitude about everything after the war. He was unable to find a job for the simple fact that he wasn’t skilled in anything other than combat, so he spent the majority of his time in his room pondering his existence and realizing all the more that the place he hated most was the only place he truly belonged.

“I went looking for a job again today. Unemployment is so high, especially for somebody as unskilled as me. My father is upset with me since I leave my room rarely, but I really don’t have much to say to him and the rest of my family. I think of my war comrades often and miss them and the war more and more each passing day.”

It was now late 1924 and Germany’s economy was at last beginning to improve. Gustav Stressman, whom Paul had been reading about, was the Chancellor of Germany and was doing a great job. The main political party in Germany, the Weimer Republic, had lost much of its popularity after being blamed for the Treaty of Versailles mess that put Germany in massive debt. There was a new radical group called the Nazis who were becoming more popular, they even unsuccessfully tried to overthrow the Weimer Republic about a year from this time. Paul knows little about this group but feels it might be interesting to learn more about them at some point. Paul still misses the war a great deal and spends the majority of his time in his room reliving the days of camaraderie and horror in his mind that he experienced during the war. He does at one point explain how he actually lives another life mentally, a life where his comrades are not dead and continue to fight alongside him. Paul desperately hopes for another war or anything to occupy his time that involves him interacting in a warlike setting.

“I’ve been reading of politics lately, trying to find a reason for why we fought that horrifying war in the first place. I have come across a man named Gustav Stressman who is the Chancellor of Germany and a member of the Weimer Republic. He is very intriguing and is doing some great things for our country. There is also another group called the Nazis who have been growing in Germany, a radical group that promises to fix the economy. They seem to be very focused on the military which I find captivating…I find myself fighting alongside Kat, Tjaden, and Haie in new battles daily, they live on in my mind.”

It is November of 1929 now and Paul is becoming very involved in the Nazi party. Earlier in the year, at a recruitment rally for the Nationalist Socialist