Dehumanization of Warfare - All Quiet on the Western Front

Topics: World War II, World War I, Erich Maria Remarque Pages: 4 (1288 words) Published: December 18, 2005
"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, science for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignorable war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."

-Albert Einstein

Warfare has been prevalent throughout human existence, from the Stone Age up to the modern day; it has always been the ultimate way to solve quarrels between men. With warfare come destruction, death, injury, and suffering; there has never been a conflict without these four principles. World War One was the most horrific war up to its time, with more military casualties than any other war before it. Erich Maria Remarque wrote the novel All Quiet on the Western Front to portray the horror and carnage from a soldier's point of view. One of the major underlying themes in this novel is the universal effect of warfare on the soldier. The characters in the novel offer insight of how the war truly affects them and also reveal the true nature of war to the reader. War is a destructive force that, through artillery bombardments, gas and machine guns, permanently transforms a soldier, whether it is physical destruction (loss of limb or life), emotional or mental destruction (no longer portrays human-like qualities). Exposure to warfare destroys the common soldier emotionally, mentally and physically.

The relentless exposure to violence will ultimately destroy the common soldier's emotions and dehumanize him to the state of an animal. While dead or maimed friends and foe surround the soldier, he must shut out all feelings of grief and remorse in order not to collapse emotionally. If the soldier...

References: Remarque, E. (1929). All Quiet on the Western Front. Germany: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.
(2004). All Quiet on the Western Front: Study Guide. Sparknotes LLC.
(2004). All Quiet on the Western Front: Message Board. Sparknotes LLC.
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