By the summer of 1918, the few soldiers who have survived to this point are at the end of their endurance. Paul says,
"the summer of 1918 is the most bloody and the most terrible...every man here knows that we are losing the war...we have no more men and no more ammunition...stil the campaign goes on - the dying goes on."
The men are tortured by conflicting feelings. Knowing that the end of the war must be near, they are desperate to live; having endured so much already, it would be a shameful irony to be cut down when the hostilities are almost over. The order to return to the front at this time is more difficult to accept than ever, and to be subjected to the terror of enemy bombardment now is "more bitter and full of horror" because the cause is already lost, and the waste of life completely devoid of purpose. Because there is hope that the war will soon end, the men are constantly tormented by the "insensate question: Why?" To have come so far only to be killed when survival and release is tantalizingly within reach is the ultimate disappointment, and each man is desperate to make it through to the end, to life, which is so near and yet so far (Chapter 11).