Poem: Lie of the War

Inspired by All Quiet on the Western Front by E.M. Remarque

The story of many through the eyes of one.

First World War, through the sight of man

Testament of Paul Bäumer, a German soldier

His fight for life, run from death,

Until his final one last breath.

 

World War I, the Allied against the Central.

Assassination of one to bloodshed of many

Young men deceived by “Glory” of war,

Join into the pointless flood,

Of the unforgiving sea of blood

 

Convinced by his schoolmaster,

Paul falls in line to enter the war for his country.

To only find, the truth of the lie

Of a war that could never be weighed

He is one who has been betrayed

 

In a war without a climax, he will fight

Eyes of the tale, sight on the field

The clock ticks on for Paul Bäumer’s time

With Stanislaus “Kat” Katczinsky, the best friend,

Till he has meet his end.

Many will die, few will endure

From enemies to classmates, all will fall.

To those who survive,

Irreversible damage is done.

That will last long after the war is won.

 

Kemmerich, infection of his leg.

Müller, a shot in the stomach.

Detering, death by desertion.

Leer, a shrapnel to the hip.

One by one, their lives are more are gone in a blip.

 

Bit by bit Paul’s sanity fades away.

As each of his friends turn from life to the grave.

Blood smashed against the walls

Voices of every scream

The only thing that fills his dreams.

 

Paul lives on to see his friends die.

With death, comes surviving guilt.

“Home” is a torturous place

Without a person to understand.

Paul is alone with none to hold his hand.

 

The final blow is Kat’s death,

Paul’s best friend and brother

The one who taught him to survive, but

A bullet to the shin, then a shrapnel to the head

Leaves Kat out completely bled.

 

On the day, that was all quiet on the western front

With a face of calm and the happiness of end,

Paul Bäumer dies in October of 1918.

 

No one to support, No one for support.

Left alone with no will and no dream

A shadow without hope. Barely, able to cope.

The life of the “Lost Generation”

That Paul escapes.

 

Lies of the war creates the “Lost Generation”.

Young men tricked by “Glory”,

They survive without hope and a will.

All that they see is the death and the destruction

That will never fade as they live.

 

-Sarah J., 11th grade

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

allquiet_erichremarqueSet deep in World War I, All Quiet on the Western Front follows young German recruit Paul Baumer as he details his wartime experiences from signing up for the war with his graduating class to fighting in the trenches of the unforgiving Western Front. The war novel was written by German war veteran Erich Maria Remarque, and was published in 1929 to the dismay of the Nazi regime. It tackles ideas of loss, hope, adolescence and growth, and provides an in-depth look in the human condition.

One thing I noticed right away was Remarque’s uncanny ability to describe the setting at which the book was taking place, whether at a training camp, the Western Front, or Paul’s hometown in Germany. The author detailed descriptions of the hardships in the trenches, from the gnawing rats to the constant pounding of shells above, is so well written that you can’t help but get immersed into the setting.

The characterization is also very well done in this novel. You get a good feel for the camaraderie between the characters in war, and how important that is to survive in such a harsh setting. Remarque also introduces the various characters very distinctly so confusion wouldn’t be an issue. He lists certain traits they have at first, then elaborates and expands on those traits as the story goes on and different events take place. A few examples include:

  • Katczinsky- the oldest of the group, a crafty man who is a master at finding food and supplies
  • Tjaden- a defiant young man who loves to eat yet is somehow incredibly skinny
  • Detering- a peat digger who misses his life at home, works well with animals

The characters all interact with each other in a realistic, believable manner for the time and dialogue is heavy with dialect and references. The character development is great, and is one of the major themes of the story. The impact of the war on the soldiers is apparent and is shown subtly through differences in actions and speech.

I felt that the pacing of the story was excellent for the most part as well. The story starts o ff near the battlefield, then switches between the trenches, training camps, or in other locations far from war. This keeps the setting fresh and doesn’t drag on in one specific location for too long, except the hospital chapter where I felt it was dragged on for a little too long.

The effect of the war on the soldier is a huge theme. Men in war lose all identity and the futures of the young recruits are ruined. PTSD plays a role along with various coping strategies and defense mechanisms soldiers use to compensate for the horrors of war.

Because of these, the story has a lot of dark and mature themes, coupled with explicit violence that makes this a story that none under the age of 13 should be allowed to read.  For anyone else though, this is a phenomenal war novel that analyzes human race as a whole, I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an insightful, historical novel.

-Ahmed Hussaini, 11th grade

All Quiet on the Western Front is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library and Axis360