Why is All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque considered an anti-war novel?
All Quiet on the Western Front is considered to be a powerful anti-war novel. What particular aspects of the novel suggest this?
The novel All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, is indeed an anti-war novel. Remarque, who was a soldier during World War I, tells the story of Paul Baumer, a man who is urged to join the war effort along with his life-long friends. Remarque focuses on every negative effect of the war on the German soldiers, namely Paul and his acquaintances, during that time. Remarque focuses on the social ineptness that the soldiers developed during the conflict. He also talks about the tediousness of war when nothing happens, and yet, the perennial fear that the men continuously suffer, always expecting a shotgun, or an explosion to come out of nowhere.
Although the story does focus on the cons of war, Erich Maria Remarque is clear to point out at the beginning of the story that he does not condemn the military, nor a country's need to take action before a conflict. In his own words,
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. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.
Hence, you can safely argue that the story of Paul Baumer in All Quiet on the Western Front is a compilation of Remarque's personal experiences as a soldier, and he is clear in that he does not condemn nor condone anything: He just needs to say how this particular group of men were negatively impacted by it.