By Nina TorskaFri. 19 Apr. 20243min Read

Our Favourite All Quiet on the Western Front Quotes

In this blog, our team delves into some of the most poignant quotes from Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front".
Our Favourite All Quiet on the Western Front Quotes

Each time I immerse myself in Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front," I am deeply moved by its unflinching portrayal of the physical and psychological toll of war on a generation of young men.

Remarque, who was himself a veteran of World War I, captures the stark reality of the trenches with a clarity and emotional depth that few other novels on war have achieved.

"We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial—I believe we are lost."  – Paul Bäumer

This reflection by Paul Bäumer echoes the profound disorientation and loss of identity experienced by soldiers. It's a powerful statement on how war ages the young prematurely and leaves them feeling out of place in their own lives. As I ponder these words, I am reminded of the deep scars left by war, visible and invisible alike.

"I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow." – Paul Bäumer

Paul’s lament captures the essence of the novel's critique on the waste of youth and innocence. This quote always strikes a chord with me, highlighting the cruel irony of soldiers experiencing the extremities of human existence while being denied the pleasures of normal, peaceful life.

"Kropp on the other hand is a thinker. He proposes that a declaration of war should be a kind of popular festival with entrance-tickets and bands, like a bull fight."  – Narrator

Kropp’s cynical proposal underlines the absurdity with which society often treats war—as a spectacle rather than a tragedy. This darkly satirical view serves as a harsh commentary on how detached civilians can be from the realities of war, a recurring theme that challenges the romanticized perceptions of battle.

"But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship." – Paul Bäumer

In this poignant moment, Paul recognizes the shared humanity with an enemy soldier, illustrating one of Remarque's most central messages: the universal brotherhood among men that transcends the arbitrary divisions of war. It's a profound reminder of compassion's power to cut through the enmity of conflict.

"When we are at the front, we do not fight for the small pleasures of the moment but for a better world to live in."  – Narrator

This hopeful aspiration reflects the deeper motivations that soldiers cling to, suggesting that beneath the immediate survival, there is a longing for a meaningful peace. This line always reminds me of the tragic optimism that sustains soldiers through the horrors of war.

"The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts." –  Narrator

The metaphorical language here poignantly captures how the impact of war is as much emotional as it is physical. This line resonates deeply with me, emphasizing the internal battles that rage on long after the external ones have ceased.

"This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it."  –  Preface

The preface of the novel sets a solemn tone, clarifying Remarque's intent to neither glorify nor exploit his experiences but to simply bear witness to the truth of war. It’s a sobering reminder of the author's purpose and the seriousness with which he approaches this portrayal.

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

Paul's reflection on the destruction they had to inflict is heartbreaking. It underlines the cruel contradiction of young soldiers sent to destroy the very life they are just beginning to appreciate—a poignant critique of the losses that war demands.

"To forget is the secret of eternal youth. One grows old only through memory. There's much too little forgetting." – Narrator

This quote explores the idea that forgetting might serve as a protective mechanism against the traumas of war. It’s a complex contemplation of how memories can age us beyond our years, a theme that resonates in the quest for mental preservation amidst chaos.

"I am no longer a shuddering speck of existence, alone in the darkness;—I belong to them and they to me; we all share the same fear and the same life."  –  Paul Bäumer

Paul finds a sense of belonging and identity in the shared experience of fear and survival, highlighting the strong bonds formed between soldiers during the war.

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