"All Quiet on the Western Front" was written in a first person style.
The story was told by Paul Baümer, a nineteen year old student, convinced
to enlist with the German army by his schoolmaster, Kantorek. Along with many of
his friends from school, he is trained under Corporal Himmelstoss, a strictly
disciplined commander who dislikes Paul because of his "defiance."
When sent to the front, Paul, along with his other friends, made new friendships
that would last throughout time. His newly made friend/commander, was a man
named Stanislaus Katczinsky. As a man of forty years of age he was an wise old
man as well as a friend to the young eighteen and nineteen year old recruits.
After visiting the front for long stretches Paul is given fourteen days of leave
where he can visit his ill mother at his own home. After this leave he is sent
back to training and then back to the front. His trip is lengthened when he
discovers that his unit has been reassigned to another area. Finding his unit,
he reunites with his friends and joins up with them again in the war efforts.
While searching in "no man's land," Paul is confined to a shell hole
for a long night.
During this night a French soldier falls in the hole and Paul
stabs him. The hours to come are very hard for Paul as he comforts and waits for
the Englishman to die. Paul's group has a stroke of luck when they were assigned
to defend a village. Since no inhabitants were left they were able to go through
the houses to take and use whatever they wanted. This luck, however, did not
last forever. One day the French came and began shelling the village.
evacuating Paul and his friend Albert Kropp were injured by gunshot wounds. They
were bandaged up and sent on a train back home. This ride home took a turn. When
Kropp got a fever he was scheduled to be dropped off at the next stop. In order
for Paul to stay with his friend, he had to convince the nurse that he also was
sick from infection. After being dropped off they were taken to a Catholic
hospital to be treated.
After a few weeks Kropp's leg is overcome with infection
and is amputated at the thigh. After a few more weeks Paul and Kropp parted,
Paul going back to the war and Kropp going home. Returning to the front was hard
for Paul. The days were getting cold and one by one he watched his friends die.
The hardest loss was that of Kat. After Kat had been shot, Paul had to carry Kat
to the nearest dressing station a few miles away. Stopping every few minutes to
rest, Paul frequently checked to make sure that Kat, even with his injury, was
ok. When at last Paul reached the dressing station the nurse told him that Kat
When Paul checked again a small shell fragment had just penetrated
that back of Kat's head. He was still even warm. Kat was the last of Paul's
friends to die in the war. Then, in October of 1918, Paul finally fell. The book
describes his death as, "..
.his face had an expression of calm, as though
almost glad the end had come." The war ended the next month.