All Quiet on the Western Front Discussion

All Quiet on the Western Front still image from film

Assignment

Read the article “War, Memory, and Politics,” and contribute to discussion in the comments field below this post.

89 Responses to “All Quiet on the Western Front Discussion”

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  2. Nick says:

    It’s a nice movie but it is insulting to Germany. The movie only focused on the misery of the German soldier and didn’t touch on misery of the French or British soldiers. To understand what I’m talking about, you have to remember your World War I history. The film was released in 1930, that’s twelve years after World War I ended. That means that the war is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Remember, that America fought against Germany in World War I and won, so it would be considered a propaganda film (just like Battleship Potemkin made in 1925). Also, Germany lost the war, lost land, had to pay reparations, etc.

    The only things that really bothered me were some scenes where it almost seems too sexual for my taste. I don’t know about you but I don’t go around kissing my mother or sister on the mouth. That’s pretty creepy and maybe one reason that it wasn’t liked in Germany because it borders on incest. There are a couple of other scenes too.

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  7. Breanna McCain says:

    This is the second time I have seen this film. I’m not much of an anti-war person but I personally enjoyed this film. They did a good job showing the difference between the new soldiers and the ones who had been there a while. The bombs, gunfire and dead bodies of their fellow soldiers do not faze them at all. The new soldiers give in to their anxiety and jump at every little noise. This is not what they thought they were getting into when they first enlisted. These soldiers could not mentally deal with the violence.

    I could see why Germany would be against the release of the film as it did make the German military sound wimpy. They were trying to come back from all of the negativity after the war. This film however would set them back if the film was released. As expected the film was met with outrage in Germany.

    I don’t feel like this movie was a good representation of World War 1. It was biased and created by the United States. I believe that each side experienced similar but also very different issues. These film writers could only know to a certain extent.

  8. Kristen Rose says:

    I would just like to comment on a scene which I particularly enjoyed. Early in the film when the elder is glorifying the honor of war to the room of German youths, as they stormed out of the room in celebration, the characters are throwing books and papers up into the air. I enjoyed the visual symbolism of the characters literally throwing logic and knowledge to the wind.

    • Maya says:

      I love that final shot of the scene as the parade moves outside of the window. It’s a beautiful shot and really well orchestrated to move us in heroic fevor into the battlefield.

    • Marie Gotti says:

      I really appreciated your comment, because I didn’t even think about that scene the way you did. I just saw excited youth who were happy to be done with school. Thank you for your insight!

  9. Sarah Post says:

    All Quiet on the Western Front was not my favorite movie ever, but I understand why it is so important historically, and the reading for the past week highlighted that. The film did a really brilliant job of illustrating the youth that went into this terrible war, and the fact that it was all for the sake of nationalism which in a historical context is seen as SUCH A HORRIBLE tragedy. We see the conditions that these kids were sent off into, we can imagine that it’s not just those kids but so many more from many other places on other sides of WW1 that are loosing their lives and their innocence so tragically and I think the movie really does say, “hey, this insane violence was in vain, war is in vain”.
    I am going to sound horrible and maybe a little bit bigoted in what I’m about to say, not that admitting that first makes it okay, but as a Jewish American person I don’t love German things. I’m just not fond of the language or culture or focusing on it much. I think that’s because of generational trauma and the Holocaust and I think lots of Jews could probably relate. However, the reading did sort of captivate me, and I’m not one to be easily captivated by sort of dry, academic reading material. I think I really got this point there that for Germany, or at least for the government or the middle class that war COULD NOT have been in vain, which is what the movie was pushing really. I think I get that, that their loss was too great and the consequences were too horrible for all of that to have been meaningless. Psychologically, humans don’t like ambiguity or meaninglessness. I understand where Germany protested some of the symbols and saw them as stereotyping them as a people, but ultimately I think that what made All Quiet on the Western Front just un-embraceable for them was the fact that their nationalism was so fierce, their losses were so great, and the film was just too real.

    • Marie Gotti says:

      I agree that we don’t want to believe “war is in vein.” Many people lost their lives in World War I and we don’t want to think that all of those men who lost their lives, lost them for no reason. I don’t think it was just Germany’s nationalism being so fierce, one could argue that the United States shares the same kind of nationalistic views. The movie even shows the audience how the German and French soldiers were the same. They both had young boys fighting in a war and they both believed they were serving and protecting their country. The movie could have focused on the French soldiers, and the story would still be the same.
      Also, I thought your response to the film as a Jewish American to be very interesting. It’s nice to see other perspectives on this film.

  10. cbroehl says:

    I have only seen snippets of this film before this class, and I have to say that was one of the most grueling two and a half hours of a movie I have ever watched. This film truly depicts the losses and depressions caused by war, and in turn shows the cyclical cycle that war has. I believe Germany was against it because they didn’t want people to be shown the hardships of war, which in turn would lead the general people to be against it. As depicted in the beginning of the film, war was often glorified and that those who serve would be honored and would be serving the father land. In reality however, like shown throughout the film, war (especially WWI with the trench warfare) was cruel, grueling, and unforgiving. Nobody was spared from the hardships and I believe the film did an excellent job showing the transformation of the characters from the beginning of the film to the end. How their entire demeanor changed, their spirits fell, and they literally became hollow shells of their original selves.

    At this point in time in history Germany was currently trying to rebuild itself from the loss of WWI, and Germany was looking at other people or countries to blame. Germany saw this film as hostile and viewed it as part of the ongoing war against Germany. It depicted people in real situations with real reactions, and didn’t glorify war in any manner. Germany wanted its people to see that their people were not weak, that they didn’t have the PTSD or depression like in the film. They were currently trying to build their nation stronger, and people were not happy with the losses from the war. By having the film viewed, just like how the characters in the film questioned why they were fighting and whose fault it was, it would most likely cause the German people to ask the same question, causing even more internal strife in Germany.

    The Nazi party was still in formation during this time as Hitler was starting to rise to power (although he wouldn’t become chancellor for another 3 years, he was already pulling strings), and one of the things the Nazis emphasized was necessary violence, and rebuilding the military (I learned this is my European history class last semester!) The Nazis hated this film because like it stated in the article, the Nazis shouted out during the screening, “German Soldiers have courage!” and they saw it as a scandalous insult to Germany and even called it a “Jewish obscenity”. Basically it was the exact opposite of what prominent powers wanted to have shown at the time, and they didn’t want the film to cause even more internal strife within in the national that was already occurring (at least that’s how I perceive it).

  11. Shelina Turner says:

    Why isn’t this film viewed more, and why was Germany against it?
    I feel that this film opened me up to a different way of thinking about Germany. Typically speaking you think Germans as a hard, stern people. This film was very grounding in the fact that they were just boys, straight out of the class room and into the battle fields. Before they had even had a chance to see the world as an adult they were seeing their friends die around them. I believe that Germans would like to think of their army as strong and fearless. When it is advertised to the world that they are just boys that are struggling with the death of their friends that it could be taken as a weakness. I did not view this film as a weakness in any way, but possibly the reasoning behind the uproar around this movie.
    Side note, I was impressed with the quality of video for being shot in 1930.

    • Marie Gotti says:

      I thought the film did a very good job of depicting these young men as heroes. I believe Germany’s biggest issue with the film and novel was the fact that it was advertising propaganda as being a big influence on these young boys who went to war. We saw in the beginning of the film how Professor Kantorek got all of the boys excited to join the war by telling them stories of grandeur. The school boys all become soldiers and we as the audience get to experience their unfortunate deaths throughout the film. I thought it was interesting how we see Kantorek doing it all over again later in the film, which just reiterates the influence this professor and many others like him had on these young boys. What’s even more interesting is the fact that Kantorek was never a soldier, but he speaks as though he’s been on the frontline.

      I don’t think the fact that the soldiers were just boys was an insult to Germany. In our reading, “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front” discusses how Germany cut out the scene where the soldiers blame the cause of war on the Kaiser (Eksteins, 63). That entire discussion on why the soldiers were fighting was most likely very insulting to Germany. It showed the German soldiers in a light that they were only there because they had no where else to go. The love for their country was not why they kept fighting; they were fighting to live. In addition, the question of the meaning of the war was most likely very insulting as well.

      Maybe the struggles depicted in the film were considered a weakness to Germany, and maybe they did not want to advertise the hardships, especially to young boys. I thought it was interesting how Germany censored scenes of the men “eating ravenously” (Eksteins, 63).

      The film as a whole was very emotional and it showed the realism of war and the losses that come with it. I thought the ending was beautifully done and I agree that the cinematic elements were well done for it being shot in 1930.

      • Marie Gotti says:

        Works cited:

        Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” Central European History (2001): p.60-82. Brill Academic Publishers. PDF file.

      • jjackovich says:

        I agree with the fact that the movie did a good job of seeing the soldiers as heroes. A thing that impacted me was how Paul felt when he was given these compliments. He didn’t feel good about himself or happy that he was fighting for his country. Instead he felt depressed. Like he was just fighting to eventually die. I think that is why Germany wasn’t a big fan of the movie.

  12. Ekaterina says:

    Question to think about:

    Why were Germans so much against the movie “All Quiet on the Western Front?”

    1)If Laemmle was of German-American origin and Germans sympathized him at this point… Doesn’t this origin imply that he simply could not have bad intentions towards Germany, when allowing this movie to be created?
    2) Even Remarque himself approved the movie! He did not get offended in any way, then how could others get?
    3) “Manchester Guardian” admitted that Americans had no bad intentions when screening Remarque’s story;
    4) The movie was about propagandizing peace and horror of war. Then how could it give birth to anti-pacifistic movement in Germany? It’s just irrational!
    5) The story that was screened was already written by German and the only debate his book raised was just a peaceful debate about the amount of realism in the story. Could the changes of content that took place in a movie be so different from what was written in the book that it created such a huge protest (that even the book itself could not create)? Or the problem here was that the movie was screened by foreigners who could use the weaknesses of “German personality” for their profit? Consequently, if the book was screened in Germany and by German, then there would be no “Remarque’s incident,” right (Milestone)?

    P.S.: Yes, turns out a question within a question…

    Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” Central European History (2001): p.60-82. Brill Academic Publishers. PDF file.

    • Ekaterina says:

      Oops, the quote and most of this information that I’m reflecting on I actually found it Eksteins, not in Milestone…

  13. Mikayla Hamlin says:

    The beginning of the film, “All Quiet on the Western Front”, portrays the young boys with their teacher who is encouraging them to enlist. as dancing and singing in excitement for the war. I believe this point in the movie is a great example of propaganda to sway others to join the war effort. The article, “War, Memory, and Politics”, stated that Germany had completely failed to properly exploit the power of the media since the war, and that America was a lot better at using propaganda in the film industry. So its no surprise that the Germans were infuriated after the film was released, because they were jealous of the influence America had on others. The film provoked controversy between those that thought it was an accurate representation of the war experience, and those that believed it was propaganda that showed a lack of respect and exploited the Great War. The Berlin Censorship Board rejected the film because they thought it was “damaging to Germany’s image and cast aspersions on the German army” (Eksteins).

    I believe the film just shows a true representation of what World War I was really like, and did a great job of creating an emotional response in anybody who watches it. I don’t believe the author or the film producer (who was German-American himself), were aiming to disrespect any German soldier. They just wanted to show that everyone involved in the war was human and could only endure so much. The boys in the film are immediately thrown into distress and were unprepared for what they were about to experience as soon as they got off the train at the battle front. It was sad to see the boys through out the film give up all hope and some immediately wanted to go home because it wasn’t at all what they were encouraged to sign up for. They were traumatized and many lost their sanity. The main character Paul, battles internal conflict when he stabs one of the enemy to death as they are both stuck in the same trench for many hours. Paul is begging for forgiveness as the guy is suffering for several hours and wants to do anything just to help him out. Another example when Paul is struggling internally is when he visits his friend in the infirmary and sees him die, later Paul recalls feeling happy to be alive when he leaves.
    Finally towards the end while Paul is on leave, he visits his teacher from the beginning and a new class of young boys. Paul may have seemed like a coward in this scene but he is speaking from his heart of what the war is really like, “Its dirty and painful dying for your country- when it comes to dying for your country it’s better not to die at all!” And again right before his last friend dies at the end, he states “death is stronger than duty to one’s country.”
    Based on these scenes, I get why Germany would be angered by a film that could be seen as trying to convince people not to join the war effort, but then again the film producer is just trying to create something that shows what these men actually went through and their struggle to survive.

    Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” Central European History 13.01 (1980): 60-82. Web.

  14. Jessica says:

    When “All Quiet on the Western Front” ended, the first thing I said to my husband was that it was a very depressing ending. I had not read the book, so I was unaware of the ending. I found it to be very insightful, while also leaving me feeling dismayed. It was interesting to watch as the young boys were sold on the ideas of being soldiers at war, and then watch their slow (and sometimes quick) demise. The realities of war quickly settled in, and for some, it was too much to handle/process.

    85 years after the initial release of the film, I find it comical that a representative of the defense ministry called for a rejection of the film, claiming the movie damaged Germany’s image. My interpretation of the article, “War, Memory, and Politics” made the determination to ban the movie an admittance of embarrassment.

    I will say that an issue brought to light in the article that I do agree with was the current state of mind of the Germans. Specifically quoting the delegate of the interior ministry, Dr. Hoche, as he described the internal situation of Germany as being of “profound spiritual distress and inner strife” and “destructive and lamentable ideological struggle”. Because of this, anything that could exacerbate these difficulties would likely “enflame passions and provoke further disorder”. I feel as though had this argument been stressed more so than the rest, it would have been better received.

    Having read Professor Payne’s comments regarding his son-in-law being a soldier, I have to say I agree that assessment on soldiers as a whole as well. My husband served in the Army for 7 years, with two overseas deployments, my dad is retired Air Force, and I’ve spent a handful of years working with the U.S. Military. Not once have I heard anyone boast about their involvement or experiences while serving our country.

    Works Cited
    Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.”

  15. Erik Rickards says:

    There was an ample supply of discussion material to be found in the film “All Quiet on the Western Front” and our related source “War, Memory, and Politics”, to be sure. From the impact of the film on an already-tumultuous society, lending itself to the development of a schism between left and right wings of German culture to the alteration on the larger scale of international cultural diffusion that would see Germany’s own film industry come into conflict with that of the United States, it’s very clear that there was a very real, very significant weight to this film.

    However, there was one thing in particular that stood out to me that I feel could have used more discussion in our reading– that of early film censorship. Personally I don’t know much of censorship laws in Europe at the time, but I feel it goes without saying that there were very few films released (in Germany, at least) that caused such civil unrest and clamor for banning. I think that the debate “All Quiet” spawned surrounding when to ban or edit a film must have been very precedent-setting in terms of what filmmakers would see as “safe” to produce, as well as what individuals in charge of censorship law would allow to be released. All in all, I think the film has intense historical significance not only for its content or immediate effects, but also for its influence on a still-young industry.

  16. djrupp says:

    The general cultural and political reaction described in Modris Ekstein’s article “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front,” is, to say the least, a rather enlightening look into the mindset of subsets of Germany’s population from the late 1920s going into the 30s. For as far back as my memory allows, German’s have generally been the go to villains for the majority of western war-based media. Whether you’re watching watching one of our numerous World War 2 based films (Inglorious Bastards, U-571, Saving Private Ryan) or playing Call of Duty: What the heck ever, you can bet that not only are Germans going to be portrayed in a rather negative manner from the get-go, but they may not even necessarily be considered human even, as evidenced by the rather rapid popularity growth of the “Nazi-Zombie” trope in recent years. Really, the only countryman trope western media mocks more then German soldiers are Russian ones, though Russian government seems to genuinely not care much since they’ve yet to actually ban a single video game as compared to Germany’s 13 or so.

    Moving back to the article and the film, it’s really not shocking, given historical context, that the film was banned. A lot of German citizens were basically experiencing a metaphorical kick to the cultural face after World War 1 played out, and if you have even a slightly agitated older generation, of course you’re going to have an agitated (and more reckless) younger one, which I quite enjoy the article pointing out. The fact that youngsters who were small children, at oldest, were then rioting over the portrayal of a war they were barely alive for is quite ironic, but really does make sense (to an extent) given the situation. If I felt like my government was being manipulated by outside forces and just generally failing as is, I may be a little mad too if I found out that the rest of the world (to my interpretation) was laughing at the pain of my country as a whole.

    Source: Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” CCC Central European History 13.01 (1980): 60-82. Web

    • Anonymous says:

      Good points both. Germans as villains, especially Nazis, have been so overplayed in the movies that at times it’s hard to remember how a real German might act and talk. At least the Russians got to spar with James Bond and other spies. It is true that in post-war shock, you don’t want to be criticized; those wounds take a long time to heal. Years later, usually, is when a populace starts to take stock of the atrocities its government has committed (with its complicity.)

  17. Aaron Walling says:

    The movie “All is Quiet on the Western Front” spoke volumes of how war was felt in the public eye during WWI. This movie brought all the circumstances that people dealt with in the early 1900s. Characters were bombarded on all fronts in terms of being patriotic for the fatherland, to enlist with your friends, and that the war would be over by Christmas.
    In the first scene the audience is treated to an important piece to this movie, patriotism. Without it, most of the characters wouldn’t have gone off to the war. The teacher spouts out powerful, moving speeches to entice the young men to fight for the Fatherland (Germany). He is successful in doing so, however the image of the teacher laughing maniacally represents the over-zealous patriots in the country who pushed the young men towards war. This era of thinking towards war wasn’t only a German thing, but a whole world issue. The British believed the war would be over in a month, the Germans believed by Christmas, even the Russians had false in believing they could take Berlin in six weeks. All the countries involved waltzed into a war not knowing what was going to happen to them.
    Jump forward to basic training at the German camp. You can see the excitement start to wane from the young Germans who run into a former teacher thinking all will be jolly. However, they start to realize all isn’t peachy with the man barking orders to them destroying the connections with the students. There wasn’t any time for these students to transition from real life to war, the government that is shown in the movie showed how it failed in the transition. While other countries may have been over-zealous about war, i.e. Great Britain, they didn’t allow things to get out of control in the public eye. Despite not winning the war in a month the British relied on propaganda to bolster morale and prevent what happened in Russia. For example, the British nurse Edith Cavell who helped over 1,000 people during WWI for both sides. In “The American Journal of Nursing” was an article written by Helen Judson who depicted Cavell that she was a popular icon for her being a woman, being a nurse, and her heroic approach to death.
    The Germans in the movie depict that everyone was excited for war at the beginning, however that slowly fell apart throughout the film. There is a scene in particular that shows a young German screaming as the rest of the troop rests, eats, and plays cards. In a time where people may have felt that isolationism was the proper way to deal with the world, this movie still moved people even if it depicted Germans. Working for the ‘Sunday Times’ in London when the movie came out, Sydney W. Carroll exclaimed,”The greatest of all war films.”
    He went on to write,”Realism reaches its zenith in this picture. I hate it. It made me shudder from horror. It brought the war back to me as nothing has ever done before since 1918…”
    However, it wasn’t the movie that spoke to me the most, but it was the article War, Memory, and Politics. To see that even after such an ugly time in world history that everyone could feel for each other. The movie had gripped audiences in Britain and France, the Americans flocked to the theaters to see it. It also helped that the movie expanded the role of “Talkies” in cinematic history. The fact that some of the military officials tried to prevent the movie from being shown in Germany. That they had quota acts to stop the flow of anti-war, anti-German movies from flowing into their country. Despite all the critical acclaim this movie received, it still didn’t come out clean. While others would be critical about the censorship of the movie, in Germany they felt like the movie showed them as barbaric creatures who only ate like animals, that they wanted war, forced young ones to fight for them with word of mouth propaganda, that they would steal the shoes of their comrades, etc. To them, why did the allied soldiers die with no music and heralded as patriotic, to them the Germans didn’t die with honor. They died being cowards with some running blindly into enemy fire.
    How do you adjust your life to think like how it was back in 1914-1918? It isn’t a very easy task, and to see this movie was a moving experience based on the raw human emotion.

    • Johnny Payne says:

      This is a good account of how the film depicts irrational optimism about the war as undergoing a slow degradation into bleak pessimism and moral failure. I always find the scene with the teacher especially disturbing. I sometimes observe those rah-rah attitudes in people around me. You never witness it in real soldiers, no matter how much they love their country or how well they have served. They’ve been there, and know there’s nothing to rah-rah about on the field. My son-in-law is a soldier, he served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and spent another 8 as a drill sergeant. A tough dude. But I have never heard him go on about it, or jump on a table to shout out “Yay, USA!” On the contrary, he keeps silence about it. He realizes what he does as a necessary evil, and would probably give that teacher a smackdown.

  18. Haley says:

    The Academy Award winning 1930 film, All Quiet on the Western Front, has deservedly won it’s place in film history as a timeless, quintessential war story. Following a group of young, idealistic German schoolboys from enlistment to injury and death, All Quiet illustrates the unraveling of the schoolboys’ romanticized patriotism in the face of the brutality of war and their descent into bleak realism. The film begins with showing the schoolboys in a flurry of patriotic sentiment, which results in their enlistment in the German Army at the beginning of WWI. Upon receiving marching orders, the schoolboys are quickly thrown into the wartime environment, which forces them to relinquish their idealism in favor of a more appropriate survivalist attitude. Their shift in attitude does not end with their first experiences of war, which included abuse from authority, physical discomfort, and the scarcity of food; when sent to the Western Front, the soldiers are met with physical peril and suffering, lack of food, prolonged containment, uncertainty of safety, mental instability, quiet desperation, insurmountable injury, and the loss of close friends, all of which remain themes of their continued wartime experience. Coupled with a total alienation from their families and communities, disconnect between their government, and an inability to ameliorate their situations, the soldiers become disillusioned with war; a mental state which offers them little comfort, and in fact, invites death.

    Upon it’s release in May 1930, the film brought polarized reactions. For some, the execution of illustrating the wartime experience was unparalleled, and yet for others, the film presented a biased portrait of Germans during the First World War. The latter attitude was held primarily by Germans themselves (a more vocal group being the Nazi Party, which denounced the film as “a Jewish obscenity”), who purported that the film’s goal was to make a mockery of the German army. Those supporting the film heralded it as a mastery of illustrating the wartime experience, with the London Sunday Times contributor, Sydney W. Carroll describing it as “the greatest of all war films.”

    After viewing the movie myself, I personally saw the soldier’s German identity almost incidental. Nothing about the characters, their experiences, or their discussions stood at as being particularly German in nature, nor were German war strategies or government opinions discussed beyond mention of where the soldiers were being stationed next. There was no explicit vilification or glorification, and in fact seemed pretty neutral. This is not to say that the German outrage over the film upon its release was surprising. The world had recently emerged from war, and Germany had emerged as the loser. As a German doctor working for the interior ministry described, Germany was amidst a “profound spiritual distress and inner strife” and “destructive and lamentable ideological struggle.” Germans were understandably sensitive about their international image, and the film’s (seemingly arbitrary, to me, anyway) choice of making the characters serve for the German army understandably invited criticism from Germans, who wished to see depictions of their army as positive as they themselves regarded them. Although the film remained banned for several years in Germany after its initial release, it seems as though time has softened this view, and the integrity of the film’s neutrality has been restored.

    Regarding the film’s efficacy in reproducing the wartime experience, many veterans of the war spoke to the accuracy of its portrayal. In an article written by Sydney W. Carroll, this sentiment was brought to point:

    Realism reaches its zenith in this picture. I hate it. It made me shudder with horror. It brought the war back to me as nothing has ever done before since 1918. ..No detail of horror has been spared to us. The dangers, the savageries, the madness of war, and the appalling waste and destruction of youth, the shattering of hopes, illusions, beliefs, the futility of patriotism and nationalism – all these are depicted with relentless veracity, unshrinking crudity, and on a scale as colossal as the world-war itself.

    As a viewer, although I have not experience war myself, the film made great efforts to make such experiences accessible. Cinematographically, a number of scenes in the film were shot in such a way that the viewer felt physically placed in the scene. Several of such techniques stand out to me, the first being the camera running through the fields alongside the soldiers as they advanced or retreated. In such scenes, the camera does not stop to focus on falling soldiers, or dropping bombs, but rather continues forward with the rest of the soldiers, as if to simulate the determination to continue moving when on the frontline. Additionally, several times the camera was set on ground level when filming advancing enemy troops. The low placement of the camera seemed to simulate the eye-level of soldiers positioned in the trenches, which again, places the viewer right in the scene. Selective audio use further bolstered the viewer’s feeling of placement, with unrelenting enemy fire, bomb drops, and marching constantly interrupting conversations, or rendering conversations completely inaudible.

    During a time where the wounds of of war were fresh, All Quiet on the Western Front brought a contentious mixture of healing and torture to a wartorn international public. For its veterans, the comprehensive portrayal of their emotional, physical, and mental strife was validating, and helped teach those who were not involved the real inhumanity of the war. For many Germans, All Quiet only made a mockery of German side of the struggle, and inspired a country-wide fear of a plummet in German’s already rocky reputation. For others, All Quiet served as a blistering reminder that the cost of war is not only counted in dollars. Regardless of its reception, it is rarely refuted that All Quiet does anything but translate the generations of soldiers’ pain and suffering to a general audience, and for that, it merits high regard.

    • Haley says:

      Forgot to cite our source

      Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” CCC Central European History 13.01 (1980): 60-82. Web.

    • Johnny Payne says:

      Excellent response! You analyze the film with sympathetic objectivity, understanding its aims and giving a good account of its success. Your examples of technical finesse show how the film grips us and gets us where it wants us to be. Over time, any great film graduates from the topical moment, and is just an example of cinema that, at best, will claim universal appeal–for war is a universal malady. However, as you cite, a soldier, doubtless many, was brought back into the experience via film.

    • Mikayla Hamlin says:

      I like how you made a point that the soldiers didn’t particularly stand out as being German. I’m pretty sure that I read the book or saw the movie a long time ago, and I don’t actually remember the boys in this depiction of World War I being German. They just look like any soldier in the war and I guess I originally just assumed they were American since that’s where the film was made.
      I also like your analysis of the different camera angles used in this film to engage the viewer more. I didn’t really think about that too much when watching the film.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The movie “All is Quiet on the Western Front” spoke volumes of how war was felt in the public eye during WWI. This movie brought all the circumstances that people dealt with in the early 1900s. Characters were bombarded on all fronts in terms of being patriotic for the fatherland, to enlist with your friends, and that the war would be over by Christmas.
    In the first scene the audience is treated to an important piece to this movie, patriotism. Without it, most of the characters wouldn’t have gone off to the war. The teacher spouts out powerful, moving speeches to entice the young men to fight for the Fatherland (Germany). He is successful in doing so, however the image of the teacher laughing maniacally represents the over-zealous patriots in the country who pushed the young men towards war. This era of thinking towards war wasn’t only a German thing, but a whole world issue. The British believed the war would be over in a month, the Germans believed by Christmas, even the Russians had false in believing they could take Berlin in six weeks. All the countries involved waltzed into a war not knowing what was going to happen to them.

  20. Shelly DeWilde says:

    All Quiet on the Western Front was a war movie that I felt distinguishes itself from others in that it describes more the emotional turmoil of the soldiers from the U.S., instead of trying to thrill the audience with action, and gave an accurate description of a part of the war which was the trenches. I felt like I was marching with Paul Bäumer throughout the film where he went from a man with pride to a man humbled by his experiences and at the same time hopeless because of it. One of his last lines “oh, I’m no good for back there Kat, none of us are” really got to me however when thinking of the article “War, Memory, and Politics” I also believe this notion was not largely held but instead one Remarque utilized and in which made those not in army realize the ugliness and brutality of war. He harnessed this well and I believe the message to not believe in the propaganda was greatly put across to the general public.
    Germany however felt otherwise and I believe it was in large part due to its success as a book and film and the fact it was told from a U.S. soldiers perspective in WWI. Germany at the time was still trying to move itself past the bad image the war brought to them so many of their harsh feelings towards the movie was defensive. This movie was truly extraordinary in that it made the production and revolution of film making a political move between countries in the idea that the more popular movies are in the one country can cause a change in the status quo in others. Unbelievable.
    A part in the article gave me a reaction in the fact that Remarque was said to use staccato, such as the ones used in silent films, in the more thrilling parts of his book. This told me one of three things that either he was using the popularity of staccato in order to make his book more of a success, that he was anticipating that his book was going to be used in a film or both. Well either way it was a success but even I believe Remarque did not anticipate the hype that his book would bring to the world.

    • Johnny Payne says:

      There’s no way he could have imagined the impact. Interesting point about the staccato. Style carries across genres, and in both cases points up the emotion.

    • Ekaterina says:

      I really liked your response. Especially the point where you write that you think Paul has changed into a humble guy. Haven’t noticed that. And, maybe, I will even debate on this point. You’re saying that it is war that made him less cheerful? But when talking with Himmelstross, for example, in one of the war scenes, he makes a joke by saying “I do! There’s going to be a big attack tonight and I’d just love to get out of it” to Himmelstross’s “Do you want to be court-martialed for this?” (“All Quiet on the Western Front”). Paul even smiles for some reason, from time to time, when no one else does. Moreover, the example you provide “oh, I’m no good for back there Kat, none of us are” to me seems kind of unconvincing as proof of Paul’s humbleness. I’d say it might be arrogance, it might be despair, but doubt that it can be humbleness.
      Also your words “it [the screened story] was told from a U.S. soldiers perspective in WWI” seem very interesting. Cannot agree with it more! Lewis Milestone did serve at war and, as I also found, used over 2000 extras for this movie and some Germans that also served in WWI! Although, when looking at the names of the actors, I got kind of stunned: most of them did not look “very German” to me at all. I found it very strange… Although, overall I really liked the professional approach of staging the movie, including jump cuts that I found to be of great importance, serving a great way to cover a lot of important moments and save time, when getting from one place to another. It is something that I am not surprised to see in modern movies, but interesting, how they were doing it at that time.

      All Quiet on the Western Front. Dir. Lewis Milestone. Perf. Lew Ayres and Louis Wolhem. Universal Studios. 1930. DVD.

  21. Hayley Chapman says:

    After its premier in 1930, Lewis Milestone’s film of “All Quiet on the Western Front” sparked one of the earliest controversies regarding a war film. The film is based on the beloved German classic book of the same name, which follows a group of young German men as they try to survive the western front during World War 1. The book goes to great lengths to describe the struggles they face as they go from being idealists spurred into action by their patriotic teacher and joining the military, to the group watching as they are killed off one by one in the fight. They continually question the point of the war, blaming their government for having people fight and die instead of talking out their issues, and they struggle to keep their humanity even as they face the horrors of war.
    Despite being a classic book originating from Germany, Milestone’s film was met with attempts to suppress the film in Germany. Germany had established two censorship in the 1920s to filter through the foreign films that were showing progressively more anti-German sentiments, and “All Quiet on the Western Front”, despite being a beloved German book, was also the focus of controversy in Germany. The rise of the National Socialist party was occurring at the same time, and despite the cuts of a few scenes of the film made by the German censors, riots broke out over the showing the film. One showing of the film had about a third of the house seats sold to Nazi party members, and the outrage against the film was so great that stink bombs, sneezing powder, and even mice were released into the theatre and caused the showing to be evacuated. A police presence was required to keep the peace as multiple riots occurred over the course of several days. In light of this and the growing outrage by members of the right wing, the German government sat down together and viewed the film again to decide whether the film should continue to be shown. Heinrich Brüning wrote in his journal after the viewing, saying, “[The film was] deeply shocking and yet accurate. In the end, nevertheless, I too favor banning the film. For peace and order would be affected by its showing.”(Eksteins, 75)
    In other countries, the film was met with fanfare and praise. French and English audiences praised the movie and agreed with its staunchly anti-war message. One showing in Brussels claimed that the uniforms of the main characters could easily be changed without affecting the story, which was no doubt true. For many people all over the world, it was a message that condemned war everywhere. But Germans staunchly believed that the film was meant to be anti-German and portray them as barbarians.
    The film was ultimately banned, but after Universal studio edited to remove some scenes and sent the film back to the censorship boards a year later, it was allowed to be shown again. But the German population had already started down the slippery slope into World War 2. The National Socialist Party was rejoicing that they had succeeded in suppressing the film. The German middle class blamed the first World War for their problems without examining why the war had even begun in the first place. In doing so, they ultimately missed the message of their own countryman because it was presented by American directors.

    Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” CCC Central European History 13.01 (1980): Pg. 60-82.

    • Shelly says:

      Thank you, when reading the article and watching the movie I did not really see the part where the movie was told in the perspective of a German soldier. I assumed because of the outrage from the German populace that it must have been a U.S. film so now I am even more shocked that they would restrict certain parts of the movie and ban it. You made an excellent point in the end where Germany seemed to miss the message for not examining why a war is started in the first place. I agreed with the critic in Brussels also in that the perspective given by the soldier could have easily been any other soldier in another army. During the scene where Paul stabs Gerard Duval he stated that they could have been brothers and that in the beginning he only did it because he was his enemy and was afraid but not anymore.

  22. Austyn Hewitt says:

    The article “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front” discusses the novel “All Quiet at the Western Front” written by Erich Maria Remarques and the movie “All Quiet at the Western Front” the American film that was based off of the novel. The novel and movie were both instantly popular.
    The movie shows a group of school boys joining the army because the teacher tells them that it is patriotic and the right thing to do. When joining all together they are very childish and immature with following things such as higher ranked soldiers. During the film they do still show some of that childish behavior but it fades the more they see war. This film shows real reactions to war and not the stereotypical tough man everyone thought the soldiers were really like. The film shows soldiers crying and scared and the reactions of actually seeing people dying in front of them. Struggle is shown throughout the whole movie of one by one each of the boys dying. Even though the movie is very old it does a really good job capturing the reality of what the soldiers went through. It shows great detail of what it was really like to be out on the active war grounds. With sound being a relatively new thing at the time it really adds to the dramatic impact the director wanted people to experience. After watching the movie I can really see why it was so popular when it was released.
    The article explains the issues Germany had with showing the film. As the popularity of the film grew Germany struggled with not showing or not wanting to release the American film in Germany. This movie shows the more realistic part of war and soldiers which can be interpreted as the soldiers looking weak which turns into Germany looking weak. This could be a reason why Germany did not want to show the film because they did not want the people of Germany to think that they were weak and emotional like the soldiers in the film were portrayed. The soldiers were not bad soldiers they fight like they are supposed to and died for their country but that is all over looked.
    In reality all of the soldiers on both sides of the war had emotional reactions to everything that they were experiencing. The movie “All Quiet at the Western Front” is very one-sided with just showing the German soldiers and I think that was the whole point of making the movie.

    Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” CCC Central European History 13.01 (1980): Pg. 60-82.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The article “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front” discusses the novel “All Quiet at the Western Front” written by Erich Maria Remarques and the movie “All Quiet at the Western Front” the American film that was based off of the novel. The novel and movie were both instantly popular.
    The movie shows a group of school boys joining the army because the teacher tells them that it is patriotic and the right thing to do. When joining all together they are very childish and immature with following things such as higher ranked soldiers. During the film they do still show some of that childish behavior but it fades the more they see war. This film shows real reactions to war and not the stereotypical tough man everyone thought the soldiers were really like. The film shows soldiers crying and scared and the reactions of actually seeing people dying in front of them. Struggle is shown throughout the whole movie of one by one each of the boys dying. Even though the movie is very old it does a really good job capturing the reality of what the soldiers went through. It shows great detail of what it was really like to be out on the active war grounds. With sound being a relatively new thing at the time it really adds to the dramatic impact the director wanted people to experience. After watching the movie I can really see why it was so popular when it was released.
    The article explains the issues Germany had with showing the film. As the popularity of the film grew Germany struggled with not showing or not wanting to release the American film in Germany. This movie shows the more realistic part of war and soldiers which can be interpreted as the soldiers looking weak which turns into Germany looking weak. This could be a reason why Germany did not want to show the film because they did not want the people of Germany to think that they were weak and emotional like the soldiers in the film were portrayed. The soldiers were not bad soldiers they fight like they are supposed to and died for their country but that is all over looked.
    In reality all of the soldiers on both sides of the war had emotional reactions to everything that they were experiencing. The movie “All Quiet at the Western Front” is very one-sided with just showing the German soldiers and I think that was the whole point of making the movie.

    Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” CCC Central European History 13.01 (1980): Pg. 60-82.

  24. Joseph says:

    I think the following observation in the German trade-union publication, “Zentralblat”, is an excellent summation of the social climate the film was released under:

    “The inner German national consciousness is crying for affirmation…” (p. 80)

    Though written about the economic and existential state of the German middle-class, it cuts to the root of the matter- international defeat and humiliation mere years before, and a poor post-war economic recovery. Coupled with the rise of so-called nationalism, it is not a far stretch to understand why elements of the German government responded so strongly against it.

    There is a correlation between “All Quiet on the Western Front” and a more modern tale of war and the human cost- Gulf War veteran Anthony Swoffard’s memoir, “Jarhead”. The latter, detailing his service during the 1991 Gulf war, was far from a flattering portrait of U.S. Marines kicking ass and taking names. Instead, he showed the complexities of being a junior enlisted service member, serving in a conflict he didn’t completely understand, with peers caught in the same nationalistic fervor as he.

    Critical response to “Jarhead” is positively banal compared to the uproar over “All Quiet”, yet not completely without controversy. Within the Marine Corps, opinions were divided between it being a timely reflection of small unit camaraderie, and it undermining good order and discipline. The official position of the Marine Corps was that:

    “the movie’s script is an inaccurate portrayal of Marines in general and does not provide a reasonable interpretation of military life.”

    Nothing foundational has changed since “All Quiet” and “Jarhead”- The powers that be are unwilling to examine the human cost war has on the individual soldier and the national consciousness, even as they hasten to justify “victory at all costs.” I wonder what would happen if they did?

    • brittanyhoch says:

      I completely agree with you regarding the refusal to see, or the desire to see, the soldiers as human, or at least admit it publicly. I think in the eyes of military leaders of all nations, it makes their army appear weaker to enemy countries because they are no longer the scary superhuman army, they are humans going through the same war, and possibly enemy troops may be able to better prepare themselves to fight other humans going through the same thing knowing that they aren’t superhuman and that they are scared too. It can be damaging to an armies image, the quote you used from the Marine Corps,

      “the movie’s script is an inaccurate portrayal of Marines in general and does not provide a reasonable interpretation of military life.”

      This seems to me to be a way to say that Marines are Superhuman and to show them as human is in accurate. Possibly they do that to protect their troops, because if the enemy sees them as more than human, they will be more scared and possibly less likely to engage or win in an engagement.

  25. Heather Corcoran says:

    I have never read the book “All Quiet on the Western Front” and although I knew from reading the synopsis what the movie was about I still wasn’t sure what to expect. When the first classroom scene came on I really expected a film full of nothing but sorrow. I knew that I was about to watch a bunch of boys go to war and struggle with it’s reality. Although that’s not completely untrue I was surprised to find that there was some joy throughout, however minor it seem. In the beginning some of the boys were scared to go to war and some joyous about the prospect of fighting for their country. Of course their joy seemed planted by their teacher whose job seemed to be to do nothing but persuade young men to go fight. Most of the joy quickly dissipated once they realized that ole Himmelstoss was no longer the kind post man they remembered, but a power hunger drill sergeant. Although they had struggles in dealing with this new life leaders came forward through the characters of Kat and Paul. Kat seemed to lead the men who had already been fighting for some time and quickly took the new recruits under his wing. He did not mock them when they had weak moments but shared that even he had them. Paul seemed to take note of this behavior and tried to imitate is as much as he could always trying to put a positive spin on things. Even while his friend lay dying in bed with his leg amputated he tried to encourage him that everything would be ok. Eventually even Paul realizes how much his life has changed and that the war has become his life. He no longer feels like he can live in the world he left behind where everyone talks like they understand his experience even though they will never understand the loss or comradery that he has known. In the closing scene Paul reaches for a butterfly and is killed. For a brief moment he seemed to be happy at the memory of his sister and I wonder if in that moment he wished he was home.
    Upon finishing the movie I read the article, “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front”. I was really surprised by the reaction from the German government towards this film. When I watched it I immediately felt like this book and movie should have been the beginning of aftercare for troops returning home. Instead it was seen to “endanger public order and security, injure religious sentiments, encourage brutality or immorality, harm the German image or Germany’s relations with foreign states.” It was incredible to me to read the list of deleted scenes, especially to find that “considerable sections of the scene concerning the boots of the dying Kemmerich.” The entire concept of Kemmerichs boots was, for me, one of the most powerful statements in the film. In the beginning it induces excitement that one will march in comfort, even though at this point Kemmerich has no idea of what discomfort he could have faced without them. After his death the boots are collected and passed to another boy and a montage begins with ever new owner of the boots perishing in them. I’ve tried to imagine what effect the film would have had on me if I had watched it in it’s fully shortened (censored ) version. Even still, I don’t think it would have had the desired effect.
    Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” CCC Central European History 13.01 (1980): 60-82. Web.

    • cedierolf says:

      I really like that you focused more so on the positives of the movie and how loyal these boys were. The war tore many down and killed many, but like you said it brought out leaders and strength in many as well. The last sentence of your second paragraph was beautiful and something I didn’t think about. I too now wonder if in that last moment Paul was wishing he was back home with family. Your statement, and that scene, reminds me of the short story “Bullet in the Brain.” As the bullet passes through the brain his last thought/memory is an unlikely one, maybe for Paul it was an unlikely one as well.
      I completely agree about how this movie should have helped to influence the proper way to help and care for soldiers that are returning home from war. This movie showed a glimpse into the psychological and physical trauma that soldiers go through. People should have rallied to help, understand, comfort, and come to the aid of the men that gave all they had for us.
      You did a great job in sharing your views of the movie and have made me think even harder on the message of this movie, as well as, what the military goes through. I am glad that things have progressed for homecoming soldiers but we still have veterans that are treated poorly. I can only hope that one day all veterans and active duty are honored properly.

    • Haley says:

      Awesome analysis. Your point about aftercare for troops in particular struck a chord in me! You’d think that after this triumphant film came out that, to many veterans’ agreement, accurately portrayed how horrible the war was for them, the general public would rally together and try and help out. The whole aftermath of the film release, warping into this debate about the German image, must have made veterans feel so defeated.
      Also, I hadn’t noticed the boot montage when I watched it, but you’re right, what a powerful concept! If you wanted to get all “English-class-analysis” on it, it could be a dark metaphor for the futility and relentlessness of war: the boots will continue doing their duty long after one man dies, much like the war itself. All Quiet definitely employed some excellent symbolism and poetry in depicting the war, in addition to the vivid realism that it is more often praised for.

  26. Oren Brown says:

    An idea that springs to mind in reflection of War, Memory and Politics and its actors is that in this feverish haste to prohibit All Quiet on the Western Front from being shown in Germany, the threat of being portrayed in a negative light overshadowed any other reason for the ban. Multiple times, War, Memory and Politics illustrates Germany’s reluctance to allow its image to be tarnished. The first time it is mentioned is in regards to the defense ministries opinion at the time: ”…A representative of the (German) defense ministry, invited to give expert opinion, called for rejection of the film on grounds that it was damaging to Germany’s image and cast aspersion on the German army. “ (P. 63) The next time it is mentioned is when describing the protest at the first public viewing by members of the national socialist movement. ” Goebbels…began delivering a speech claiming that the film was an attempt to destroy Germany’s image.” (P. 71)
    It could be noted that the French would have had just as much reason to be offended for the film’s portrayal of (their) women. It would be an understandable outrage, and yet no offense is indicated, and the following is reported “…British and French audiences were gripped by the film. School classes in England were taken to see it.” (p. 62) Not only does the film perpetuate a (then and still) sexist bias against women in general, but throughout War, Memory and Politics, German leaders only concern themselves with the idea that they may be seen as boorish, plundering, jaded or the like. At one point, the critique cites that “All Quiet was merely a refined version of the old propaganda films, in which the German soldier and Germans in general were caricatured, satirized and disparaged. In these pictures Germans only plunder, rape, and terrorize. They eat and drink like brutes.” I suppose it could be argued that these nations featured in the film were just continuing to play their roles, the French did not protest the depiction of the women from their nation because they were just women in an oppressed paradigm, particularly as French women, who are potentially fictitiously referred to the world over as exotic temptresses with only cardinal pleasures on the mind. Similarly in adhering to stereotype, the Germans simply could not sit idly by and bear witness to the world publicly and literally viewing them as insubordinates (as exemplified by the casual conduct between war-hardened former schoolboys and officers). It was just too deeply ingrained into the German cultural/ethnic identity to brazenly defend their reputation. Though true to identity, the German authorities only seemed to care about was egocentric concern, as exemplified by the indication that “Generally they (German state governments) argued that the film was an obvious threat to public order…and that the film would surely encourage negativism and hence political radicalism in young people. (P. 75)
    My interest was thoroughly piqued by this overwhelming lack of concern for legitimate degradation in the form of sexism of the film by the Germans, all they cared about was the selfish repercussions that the film may cause. The film even excludes an explanation of the intentionally “adult” interactions of the war-torn German soldiers and their fleeting relationship with these three French women. The fighting over the pick-of-the-littler while delivering loaves of bread from across the river helps the film to paint these women in a particularly objectified light. While I witnessed this perplexing scene, though confusing from directorial or narrative point-of-view, I was baffled by the conduct of the female characters. I had a hard time imaging just what justifications these women utilized to excuse their behavior, aside from simply being fictional characters in a story from a time of much different gender rights. I rationalized four possibilities. A) quid-pro-quo, the women were so desperately hungry that they would trade anything for food. B) Relativity, the women were so used to the ravages of war and their loins that friendly soldiers would be an improvement, and possibly a bit of protection. C) Widowed, the women were so lonely and exhausted from dealing with loss of their husbands/families that pleasure in any form would be a welcome release. D) Yolo, the women were genuinely attracted to these strapping young lads, and may well have been the only thing close to peers that they had seen in some time. While I experienced trouble in deciphering what the director was trying to impress about the women in the story, sexual situations are a common aside in conflict narratives. There are a number of times that this or similar situations come up in this type of cinema and even in just glancing at the list of films set for examination during this course, I have noticed a number of others that have similar content, and look forward to examining this theme that seems to be intertwined with conflict genre cinema/film. Notable contemporary pictures in addition to Apocalypse now and the fast runner that contain sexually conduct amongst conflict include the recent film Fury, the Land of Blood and Honey, and the Flowers of War. There are of course countless more, but examining them further only belabors the unfortunate point of sexual oppression in society and film.

    Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” CCC Central European History 13.01 (1980): 60-82. Web.

    • Johnny Payne says:

      Excellent response. This is an essay. You are especially strong on the analysis of how women are depicted. I’d say A,B,C and D are all plausible explanations. As you well point out, the only problem might be a lapse in the directorial view. Generally it is strong, but here, perhaps a desire for ambiguity just made it fuzzy, thus possibly objectionable. A point of view is of the utmost importance. These issues of women characterized in film, as you say, are still with us today.

  27. brittanyhoch says:

    I remember when I first read the book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, it had an eye opening effect on me even 80 years later and the movie had the same effect. Everyone knows that war is gruesome and horrific but All Quiet gives a firsthand view of what soldiers on the front line actually go through and not just that but gives a view of how, what was considered the enemy at the time, goes through the same terrible experience as the allies did.
    The German government felt that the movie made the German military look weak, no army wants other countries to see their army in a ‘human’ way, and it makes them seem vulnerable. But the effect it has on the allied nations was a recognition that the Germans also suffered and were human just like them, that everyone lost something in the war.
    The article War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front by Modris Eksteins does a good job of summing up the political issues of the time in Germany and the rest of the western world and the affect the film, All Quiet, had on the political conflict with in Germany. I don’t believe the film was the actual issue at the time it was just something to focus their political efforts on for both sides, the socialist left and the Nazi right. Like Chancellor Bruning said after seeing the film “Deeply shocking and yet accurate.”(pg75) He realized the film was an accurate representation of war but decided to ban it, “for peace and order would be affected by its showing.”(pg75)
    In the end, the film was again modified and shown in Germany with no issue a year later, proving the film was not the true issue. It was a good focal point for the Nazi party to convince more of the general public to join their side. Many German people had lost a lot to the war and did not want to feel that WWI was pointless and they felt the film portrayed that the war was pointless and that the end was just imagery to show that not only was it pointless but that Germany lost. This made it easier for the Nazi party to convince people that the allies were making a, “mockery of the sense of sacrifice,” Germans had faced by making movies like All Quiet on the Western Front.(pg73) They felt like the German people were constantly being portrayed as, “contemptible and laughable” by foreign film makers, and I can see this being the case, we do this even today with what we consider our enemies.(pg69) I don’t believe there anger was completely unfounded but that the reaction to this particular movie was a culmination of everything else that was going on including the Versailles Treaties restrictions on Germany, the Great Depression and the political conflict.

    Eksteins, Modris. (2001) War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front. Pages 60-82

    • Heather Corcoran says:

      I hadn’t really considered, until reading your entry, how parts of this movie would have been offensive to the Germans. However, when you mentioned the Germaan army coming across as “human” and that it might make them seem vulnerable, I started thinking about the scene where Paul is lying in a hole with a man from the other side. The dialogue from Paul here showed that while he knew he had to kill or be killed, he still regretted having to take a mans life and somehow hoped he could help. I imagine that if I was in charge of recruitment for an army that if i had watched this I would have thought, how unfortunate that now I have to do even more convincing that the men we are fighting are not men at all but beasts who are trying to take something from us and that there is no regret when fighting for the fatherland.

    • brittanyhoch says:

      Right, it works both ways now the enemy will see them as human and they see the other side as human where as before they seemed scary and more than human. I can see how it would hurt Germany’s military image and why the movie might have had this affect on the country, especially during such a trying political and economic time.

    • Johnny Payne says:

      It is so interesting that the Chancellor had the intelligence to understand the true nature of the film, yet bowed to censorship. I guess he thought that was a “higher goal” than artistic truth.

  28. Shelina Turner says:

    During all of my history classes or other social encounters with learning about Germany during the war you think of the greedy, land hungry leaders that were trying to push their way to concur what seemed like all of Europe. The movie All Quiet on the Western Front was very grounding for me. It showed high school boys that were pressured to go fight a war because their teacher found it to be patriotic, implying that it was unpatriotic to stay home. Watching the younger boys go to war and losing each other slowly, grasping for the smallest idea of not being at war such as the butterfly, you got to see that while the German leaders were greedy the individual soldiers were losing themselves. In the article it talks about the German censorship that lead to cutting out parts of the film that were offensive to them. This film did come out at a pivotal time after World War I, tensions were still high in Europe. I did not think that this would be offensive to Germans, on the contrary, I believe that showing that the German soldiers were just people, the same as everyone else, that they were just as torn up emotionally by the war, would ease the stigma of Germans faster.
    To defend the censorship, showing the world their soldiers had weaknesses could have been taken as an insult to their military and the veterans of that war. After being defeated in the war, this movie could have been taken more as an insult, kind of kicking them while they are down.
    I didn’t know much about the Film techniques at that time until after I watched this film. I found the filming and sound a lot better than the idea I had going into this movie, knowing it was from 1930. After watching it I found that the sound in films did not start until 1927, the book itself wasn’t released until 1929, and the movie was released in August of 1930. I could not find information on the filming start date for the movie, but even if it did start the same year as the release it was only 3 years after the start of sound with film. The transitions from classroom to training to battle were easy to follow. The movie flows well as a whole, I believe the chronological order helps with that, if they had followed more closely with the book and gone with flash backs it would have been difficult with the style.

    • cedierolf says:

      I agree very much with what you stated in the beginning of your discussion. When you think of Germany, especially related to war, you think evil, greedy, aggressive,and killers but All Quiet on the Western Front showed a whole other side to who Germany was. These boys went through so much to prove themselves to their country and show their patriotism but it was way more than what they could handle and realized they were fed lies.
      I feel as though this movie showed what these soldiers went through, actually went through. I do see the point that you are making how you don’t ever want to see the image of your heroes tainted and could be seen as insulting but I don’t feel as though this movie did that. Seeing what American soldiers did in Abu Ghraib is more shocking and image tainting but what the german soldiers did in a time of war and how they felt seems more normal to me. This movie/novel was able to show countries what it’s soldiers actually go through and perhaps how citizens can make their homecoming feel more welcomed and appreciated.

    • aahewitt says:

      You explain very well what my thoughts were about Germany during the time of the war. When thinking about Germany I initially think of this really tough, hard to beat enemy that countries were fighting against. The film shows the complete opposite of that. The film really shows how human the soldiers were and that even though war is such a brutal aggressive thing that the people fighting are not always like that. I had no idea that this film was such a big deal to Germany when it came out. Like you said that Germany cut out parts of the movie that was offensive to them so the German people would not have to see it. I understand why they did it and why the movie was so censored but in reality I do not think the movie was trying to make the German soldiers look bad but more of show how human soldiers are.

    • Johnny Payne says:

      You’re right that the film was in the vanguard, yet right in its time. It has remained remarkably fresh, and I think the film technique has a lot to do with that. The movie is generous, yet critical. It is written in a spirit of sympathy, but not sentimental.

  29. cedierolf says:

    All Quiet on the Western Front is a film directed by Lewis Milestone, based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque. The film is about a group of young men joining the German Army during World War I. Usually a story about warfare brings an overflow of emotions, feelings, and thoughts. This story did that and then some. The book brought much controversy to those who read it and the strongest voice against it happened to be none other than the Nazi party. The novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” ended up being one of the first books burned in public during the Nazi regime. The novel brought much controversy as the Germans felt as though the story was propaganda and told an untrue side of Germany’s role in the war, now the film, that brought about a political crisis.
    The movie went in chronological order showing the process of becoming enlisted, hardships of bootcamp, trying to prove oneself to the group, glimpse at PTSD, and the inevitable part of war, death. Personally I do not see as to why this story was considered so controversial, even for its time. Would not one want to know what their brother, father, or son is doing and going through while out serving their country? In actuality the film did not even show half of the true horror of what happened during World War I, but instead a mere glimpse. I do not feel as though this film was as controversial and discriminating, towards Germans, as many thought. It showed the stages of what war does to a human being from eagerness and willingness to serve, to the hardships of war, and finally to death. Many felt as though the film showed Germans as cowards, weak, unmotivated, and disrespectful but it did not do that. Audiences focused so much on what they thought was negative that they did not see what I did, the positives. I saw a group of men that were loyal, did not want to leave a man behind, and wanted to spread awareness of what really happens on the battlefield. No one likes seeing the images of their heroes tainted but “All Quiet on the Western Front” was able to show the true hardships, deprivations, emotions, feelings, and actions of those that served in WWI.

    Works Cited
    Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” CCC Central European History 13.01 (1980): 60. EBSCO Host. Web. 4 Sept. 2015.
    “Remarque Publishes All Quiet on the Western Front.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2015.

    • Joseph says:

      I think the following observation in the German trade-union publication, “Zentralblat”, is an excellent summation of the social climate the film was released under:

      “The inner German national consciousness is crying for affirmation…” (p. 80)

      Though written about the economic and existential state of the German middle-class, it cuts to the root of the matter- international defeat and humiliation mere years before, and a poor post-war economic recovery. Coupled with the rise of so-called nationalism, it is not a far stretch to understand why elements of the German government responded so strongly against it.

      There is a correlation between “All Quiet on the Western Front” and a more modern tale of war and the human cost- Gulf War veteran Anthony Swoffard’s memoir, “Jarhead”. The latter, detailing his service during the 1991 Gulf war, was far from a flattering portrait of U.S. Marines kicking ass and taking names. Instead, he showed the complexities of being a junior enlisted service member, serving in a conflict he didn’t completely understand, with peers caught in the same nationalistic fervor as he.

      Critical response to “Jarhead” is positively banal compared to the uproar over “All Quiet”, yet not completely without controversy. Within the Marine Corps, opinions were divided between it being a timely reflection of small unit camaraderie, and it undermining good order and discipline. The official position of the Marine Corps was that:

      “the movie’s script is an inaccurate portrayal of Marines in general and does not provide a reasonable interpretation of military life.”

      Nothing foundational has changed since “All Quiet” and “Jarhead”- The powers that be are unwilling to examine the human cost war has on the individual soldier and the national consciousness, even as they hasten to justify “victory at all costs.” I wonder what would happen if they did?

      • Johnny Payne says:

        Nationalism: the ideology that cuts the deepest. I must see “Jarhead.” I missed that one. I agree that nothing has changed. What did you think of “American Sniper”?

        • Joseph says:

          I didn’t watch that one- but I did read of the controversy over Seth Rogen’s comments comparing it to a Nazi propaganda film. Too bad emotionalism often trumps honest analysis.

      • Mikayla Hamlin says:

        Really cool comparison to Jarhead. Its pretty evident that most of these soldiers that enlist have no clue what they are signing up for at first, but it becomes all too real as soon as they are sent out on the first deployment.

    • aahewitt says:

      I agree with you completely about people seeing the negatives in the movie towards Germany instead of the positives. These boys joined at a young age and were scared but they still served for their country. Joining the army for any country is not a matter to take lightly because one could die and that is what happened to the school boys who joined. The movie did show how scared the soldiers were in return people associated that with Germany being scared but I feel like all soldiers in all the armies involved felt the same way, scared.
      I also agree that the movie that the movie did not show all the horror of what went on in the war. The movie did show enough to get a reaction from the audience who was watching and I think that was the whole objective.

    • Shelly says:

      While watching the movie I also believe that Germany got defensive and did not really watch the movie which clearly showed the perspective of a group of U.S. soldiers and young men who fell for an idea that they realized was really a curtain. They did not debase Germany or its soldiers and in many cases I’ve seen instances where the soldiers tried to familiarize themselves with them. In the article Germany felt that they needed to ban the movie in order to avoid social disorder which is fair considering the cultural times they were in and they needed to consider the safety of their citizens but at the same time other countries felt confused by this and others thought it was a message.

    • Johnny Payne says:

      It seems all would want to know. Sometimes people are scared by the truth; it hits too close to home. In retrospect, it feels safer, because then it happened to “them”, not us.

    • Ekaterina says:

      I would disagree with your statement that “The novel ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ ended up being one of the first books burned in public during the Nazi regime” and “The novel brought much controversy as the Germans felt as though the story was propaganda.” From here it’s pretty obvious that it is exactly the book itself, written by Remarque (and not the “screened story”) what you are actually implying. However, according to the article “War, Memory, and Politics” it was not at all the book itself that created the Remarque’s incident, but the movie, based on it (including “propaganda” that you’re mentioning).
      Actually, it was a matter of concern for me for a while: why it was only the movie that created such a protest in society, but not the book? Although, perhaps, the answer can be found in this citation of the article: “In short, American culture was penetrating Germany through the film, undermining indigenous cultural standards and values, and killing the German film industry” (Eksteins 65). I’d say it is the key point towards solving the mystery of this so specific (only towards the movie) hatred. In other words, it is just the fact that it was screened by foreigners that was the problem. The reasons behind it can be understood: nobody likes to show their weaknesses to other people if it is not their family or friends. Same situation happened here: for Germany it was about competition with other countries and becoming as strong as they are. In such situation Germans, probably, did not feel themselves confident and, consequently, did not feel safe. Therefore, I believe, they could not allow anybody to not take them seriously, even if Germans were, in fact, of the type “Let’s catch butterflies! Let’s be happy! Let’s help each other!” Like Paul, for instance, the major character in a story that somehow manages to survive till the end.
      Paul is a character with very good personality and very clever. Convinced by his teacher that “…it is beautiful and sweet to die for your country,” Paul goes with his classmates to the war to find out that it is not at all that romantic as he expected and he has to sleep in the trenches with rats, see his friends getting blind, loosing their legs through amputation and dying (“All Quiet on the Western Front”). He gets very terrified with war. He understands that he does not want to be here anymore and fight for the reasons he does not understand with enemies he does not even know (not even from which country they are)! The war starts to seem meaningless and peace – a tempting dream. From here it seems at first that it is peace what he should really be reaching in order to be happy, in order for everything to finally start making sense, but in the end it turns out backwards… During his leave and visiting the school at which he was a student once, he understands that he cannot belong to this “peaceful island” anymore, because here people are not able to understand the horror of real war, blindly believing in romance of it (just like Paul used to believe in it before) and not capable to see the difference between idealistic phrase “To die for your country” and the actual act of dying for it. Thus, being called a coward, Paul leaves the class and rushes back to war, as now he understands, that the only home and peace for his soul now is the one out there, under the “light ones” (“All Quiet on the Western Front”).
      Therefore, now I’m thinking: what if Germans were actually wrong, when classifying the movie “All Quiet on the Western Front” as one that propagandizes peace and worried about it so much? The soul of one, who chooses fighting over staying at home and studying at school can not be called “the one in peace”. It might not be longing for blood, but still in the “hot spot” it is not the one to ever be calm… And calmness implies peace… Therefore, I would say that eventually Paul chooses war anyway, when he gets back to it. War is his new home. War is his new friend. War is his new bed… In war he will find that (eternal) peace…

      All Quiet on the Western Front. Dir. Lewis Milestone. Perf. Lew Ayres and Louis Wolhem. Universal Studios. 1930. DVD.
      Eksteins, Modris. “War, Memory, and Politics: The Fate of the Film All Quiet on the Western Front.” Central European History (2001): p.60-82. Brill Academic Publishers. PDF file.

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