While he and his fellow soldiers are on the front, Paul's ponderings reflect his days at school, especially the lofty, philosophical ideals he and his classmates learned from their professors who encouraged them in the noble cause of Germany. Once in battle, however, Paul's disillusionment comes as he witnesses one man whose feet have been blown off hurry on their stumps to the trench, another crawls, holding his intensines with one hand. others have no jaw, no hand.
The sun goes down, night comes, the shells whine, life is at an end.
The old life of Paul and his companions is "at an end." He and the others can never return to their ingenuous youth.