Between the years of 1914 and 1918, the whole of Europe was locked in arms, not only for pride but also for survival. The years of war brought devastation upon all European societies. Men were massacred in droves, food stuff dwindled, and at times an end seemed non-existent. The foundation of the first Great War began when the Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serbian Nationalist, in Sarajevo. In battle, unlike previous wars, new weaponry caused drastic alterations in strategy. Armies will no longer stand face-to-face against their rivals to fight a Napoleonic style war, where one battle could turn the tide of an entire army. Now the war will be fought in trenches, hidden underground from the improved and long ranged artillery.
In many respects, World War I was a war of artillery, gas, and mechanization. Although as new weapons were becoming essential for battle, the leaders, on all sides, appeared too inept to fight this new style of warfare. Generals would send their troops in massive, front assaults, where whole divisions would be wiped out. Regardless of their losses there were no major deviations from the main tactic of artillery bombardments, followed with large frontal assaults. On an individual level, the scene of repeated assaults and mayhem of the front line did little to foster hope for their superiors or even for the naiveté of their fellow countrymen who were not fighting. For the lowly foot soldier, the war would have been extremely bleak and devastating for their psyches. Therefore, I submit that in times of sheer madness and destitution, as during World War I, men banded together to form make-shift families for support and companionship when all seemed lost; as exemplified in the novel All Quiet on the Western Front.
The reason for which I believe that camaraderie among our young German protagonists culminates through three main aspects of the war: the horrors of war, the distrust and dissatisfaction with superior officers, and the disillusionment of non-combative population. At one point during the story, Paul Baumer returns home for a short leave from the front line. While at home he is faced with a population whom are concerned for the soldiers’ well-being and some who want only to hear of the war and its progress. Those who want to hear the war and stories constantly put a strain on Paul’s psyche, promoting his sense of division from society. He describes in several occasions that when the conversation of war came up he would only others funny stories but nothing of his hardship. Some, like his mother, asked about the conditions of the front line. Paul is unable to describe world of the front line because of his fear from being unable to control his feelings. “I am afraid they [words] might then become gigantic and I be no longer able to master them” (Remarque, 165). This is paramount to the life a soldier; he must be able to control his emotions in order to survive.
In other circumstances, the older men wish...