Tuesday, December 13, 2011

World War One and Erich Maria Remarque

In the beginning there was only space, (and man, earth, beasts and everything else). However, in 1914 the First World War started. Erich Maria Remarque was born on July 22 1898. Erich was 16 when the First World War started. Because the war lasted for four years, he had an excellent opportunity to join the war at the prime of his life. The great opportunity of going to war also gave him his background and ideas that would be expressed more than 15 years later in one of his most famous novels Im Westen nichts Neues. Now for those of us who are not fluent in German that roughly means The Western Front. However the title in English has been changed to All Quiet On The Western Front which is an ironic bending of one of the later lines in the book. His background and what he had done in his life to the point where he wrote All Quiet on the Western Front very strongly influenced his writings of the book.

            Erich Maria Remarque was a great man. This simple yet profound statement, leads us to ask ourselves what is true greatness and that is where the profoundness is spawned from. In the case of Erich, his greatness springs from the interesting view point of World War One. Rarely is a war looked at by the eyes of the losers, because well they lost. However, Erich is not a common person. He grew up moving eleven times and when he turned sixteen one of the two great wars this world has ever seen occurred..(Encyclopedia of age and war) World War One was a trench war. There was always troops in the trenches and the war was constantly being fought for four years on a ginormous border line. However Erich never actually saw the war. The most exciting thing he ever did in the war was drag his dead friend's body back to the infirmary. He constantly got leave because his mother had cancer. Finally he was hit with three bits of shrapnel sending him into the infirmaries for the rest of the war (Authors And Artists For Young Adults). The fact that he never really was in the war is very interesting, it makes one wonder how many people were like this and not actually in the war. It is not very surprising that a man who grew up essentially during the war who had interests in art would write a book about all the fallacies of the war and the way he saw it. In this way there is an undeniable connection to Erich Maria Remarque's life and his writings. However it could also be said that there isn’t a connection because he didn’t actually fight in the war. That is for every man in his own mind to decide.
           As I mentioned earlier, Erich had to carry the body of one of his friends out of battle thinking that he was still alive. When he got there, one of the orderlies told him the man was not still alive. Throughout the entirety of the book his view point on death and how terrible it is is expressed continually. At the beginning, it speaks of how there are only four left of their class of men that came to the battle front. In the middle of the book the narrator is saying; “stacked up against its longer side (a school house) is a high double wall of yellow, unpolished, brand new coffins. . . . 'That's a good preparation for the offensive'” (Remarque 98). This scene is as the men are coming back to the front where the head honchos have devised that the men in the front will go on an offensive against the other side. If one was to see a wall of coffins prepared for one that would absolutely scare one, especially if one knew that their side was about to make a go against the enemy. Erich took the war hard although he was “Discharged from the army as a private, he nonetheless took to parading the streets of his hometown in the uniform of a lieutenant, bedecked with medals” ( Biography in context). His disillusionment towards the military is very visible in his novel. He constantly speaks of the horrors of the war and how terrible boot camp.
       In the end, Erich Maria Remarque was unequivocally against the war and makes it obvious throughout his books. He constantly makes fun of the German officials and could care less for the ways of war. He makes known the horrors of war even though none of them he saw. He was a great, distraught man.

Works Cited
"Erich Maria Remarque." Authors and Artists for Young Adults. Vol. 27. Gale, 1999.Gale Biography In Context. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.
"Erich Maria Remarque." Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction. Ed. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.
John Merriman and Jay Winter. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2007. Gale Biography InContext. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.
Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. New York: Ballantine, 1982. Print.