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All Quiet on the Western Front | Study Guide

Erich Maria Remarque

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All Quiet on the Western Front | Quotes


We distinguished the false from true, we had suddenly learned to see.

Bäumer, Chapter 1

The brutality of combat has opened the soldiers' eyes and schooled them in uncomfortable truths. They now realize that an appeal to patriotism was simply a tool that was used by people like Kantorek to get them to enlist, a falsehood. Military life is based on power and dominance, not patriotism. The violence and death they witness daily is the truth of war.


All ... other considerations, ... are artificial. Only the facts are real and important for us.

Bäumer, Chapter 2

Here, Paul Bäumer is thinking about the ruthless pragmatism demonstrated by Müller when he angles to inherit Kemmerich's boots before he has even died. Though his interest seems callous, survival is the most important thing to the soldiers, and good boots are key to that survival. To let their emotions about the death of their friends get the better of them would be to risk losing control, thus undercutting their ability to survive.


The army is based on that; one man must always have power over the other.

Katczinsky, Chapter 3

Katczinsky fundamentally believes that power corrupts men in the army, as it means they try to assert control over one another. This means that those with the most power have little idea of the conditions faced by those with little to no power, such as the soldiers.


Mighty fine fireworks, if they weren't so dangerous.

Katczinsky, Chapter 4

The bombardment has startled Paul awake, and he is momentarily unsure of where he is. He is glad when Katczinsky appears. Katczinsky's wry description of the bombardment is darkly satirical as he uses humor to expose the horror of the war's use of new technology. He suggests that the bombardment's exploding rockets, an example of the war's advanced technology, would create a sense of wonder if they didn't represent danger in the form of death and destruction. As Katczinsky knows, as weapons of mass destruction, the rockets can only represent danger, never beauty.


We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces.

Bäumer, Chapter 5

Using gunfire as a metaphor, Paul Bäumer's words express what all the soldiers are coming to believe: that the war has ruined any possible future for them, even if they survive. Paul and his friends are only 19 years old, but they feel old and weary. They've lost all hope at returning to a normal life with careers and families.


Formerly we should not have had a single thought in common—now we ... are so intimate that we do not even speak.

Bäumer, Chapter 5

The scene between Paul Bäumer and Kat (Katczinsky) in which they eat a goose together is one of the calmest and most intimate scenes in the novel. Though they are from different backgrounds, their shared experience in war has forged an intense bond between them, one of Paul's few solaces in the novel.


We have become wild beasts. We do not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation.

Bäumer, Chapter 6

In one of the first battle scenes of the novel, the reader witnesses the shift in Paul Bäumer and his comrades from men to "wild beasts." For them, the enemy is not the other country, or the other soldiers. The enemy is death, and the only chance of beating it is to survive as best they can by defending themselves. Here, Remarque wants to point out that the notion of another man as the enemy is pointless—only death is the true enemy.


We are here to protect our fatherland. And the French are over there to protect their fatherland. Now who's in the right?

Kropp, Chapter 9

Kropp considers what it means to battle soldiers from the "enemy side." He reasons that soldiers from both sides are just following orders, which puts them on an equal level with one another. Neither side is right or wrong. This places the whole motivation for the war in question.


Armoured they come rolling on ... more than anything else embody for us the horror of the war.

Bäumer, Chapter 10

Paul Bäumer describes the relentless line of tanks that represent the cold-blooded efficiency and power of the war itself. Tanks were used extensively for the first time during World War I. Paul's description of the tanks highlights the overall ruthlessness of the war itself, which simply rolls over everything, including human lives, and crushes it indifferently.


The war will be forgotten—and the generation that has grown up after us will ... push us aside.

Bäumer, Chapter 12

Paul Bäumer considers the fate of the soldiers who will survive the war. They are truly the "lost generation," stuck in a psychological No Man's Land where they have missed out on forging a life and future before the war, and yet their sacrifices will be forgotten by the generations to come who have their own lives to live. This only increases his sense of alienation and dread about returning to civilian life, where he feels he no longer fits in and has no real future to look forward to.

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