All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

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Chapter 8 Summary

Paul is back at the camp where he and his classmates were prepared by Himmelstoss and others for the realities of war. It is not the same and he knows virtually no one. When he is not involved in drills, Paul enjoys the beauty of the scenery and relaxes.

Next to the training camp, separated by a wire fence, is a Russian prison camp. They are in even worse shape than the Germans are. They pick through the miserable leftovers in the garbage tins along the fence. While Paul and his fellow soldiers feel deprived, these prisoners are suffering the crippling effects of deprivation. These Russians are always looking for a trade, and they do have good boots to barter. Several loaves of army bread or perhaps one loaf and a small sausage is enough to buy a pair of good Russian boots.

Paul often has guard duty and is dismayed at how apathetic and defeated the prisoners appear to be. He reflects that one stroke of a pen, one command, or one document might change their relationship from enemy to friend. The very anonymity of these men makes them less of an enemy to him than a teacher would be to a student or an officer would be to a recruit. These...

(The entire section is 428 words.)