All Quiet on the Western Front

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 film) poster.jpg
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"This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war."


All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen Nichts Neues) is a 1929 anti-war novel, set during World War I, by famous German author and war veteran Erich Maria Remarque. It's considered to be one of the greatest and most important works in the genre.

Many of the elements of the narrative correspond to Remarque's own experiences, and the book has strong autobiographic undertones.

The book was a best-seller when it was first released. In 1930, an American film adaptation was made, directed by Lewis Milestone. It won the Best Picture Oscar and is often considered to be the Trope Maker of the modern war drama. An equally good TV adaptation was made in 1979.

All Quiet on the Western Front is narrated by a young soldier, former grammar school student Paul Bäumer. The horrors of trench warfare are described in a brutally realistic fashion. Further themes are comradeship and the soldiers' detachment from civilian life.

Tropes used in All Quiet on the Western Front include:
  • An Arm and a Leg: Paul's former classmate Albert Kropp has his leg amputated when they're wounded together. This makes him contemplate suicide, but he eventually accepts his fate. Earlier, Franz Kemmerich, another classmate of Paul's has his leg amputated, but he doesn't survive.
  • Badass: Kat. Also, that one guy who was mortally wounded and lived long enough to make sure the enemy fleet was wiped out.
  • Big Eater: Tjaden.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Paul muses that they didn't learn anything useful at school: "nobody ever taught us how to light a cigarette in a storm of rain, nor how a fire could be made with wet wood - nor that it is best to stick a bayonet in the belly because there it doesn't get jammed, as it does in the ribs."
  • Bring My Brown Pants: A new recruit craps himself in his first fight. The veterans quietly tell him how to deal with it, and ask if he really thinks he's the first soldier ever to get the gun-shits.
  • But for Me It Was Tuesday:
    • At the beginning, Paul sits at the bed of his friend, Kemmerich, who had his leg amputated. When he realizes that Kemmerich is dying, he runs for the doctor:

Paul: Come quick, Franz Kemmerich is dying!
Doctor: (to an orderly) Which will that be?
Orderly: Bed 26, amputated thigh.
Doctor: How should I know anything about it? I've amputated five legs today!