This essay presents a critical and comparative response to two of the readings that have been covered in the seminar 4. The two are Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel. The concepts are presented in a manner that is specific, and examples from the texts are used where appropriate. The essay highlights how the differing accounts of Jünger and Remarque help to shed light on some of the major themes that have been looked at this term. It also shows how Jünger and Remarque appear to see the war and the trench experience differently, as well as how the two authors differ in their perception of the purposes of the war. Additionally, effect that the two authors believe the war has had on those who fought it is presented, along with what can be learnt about the role of the individual and the role of the peer group in war. The role of technology is also discussed and what might account for the stark differences in opinion between the two authors is shown.
Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel
Junger introduces his book without describing himself or how he lived before the outbreak of the war. This is different from most memoirs since they usually give a brief introduction and background of the author such as their childhood and how they participated in the war. However, Junger chooses to start his book with the sentence, “The train stopped at Bazancourt, a small town in Champagne, and we got out”. This style is crucial because it already signals that Junger has eliminated any possible trace of social or political agendas that are normally found in most memoirs. The beginning also introduces the first steps he made in the war (Jünger, 1929). This also creates the impression that the memoir is based on the conditions of life during the war. Additionally, Junger proceeds to describe the initial experience and contribution of new soldiers. At this stage, the reader understands that the new soldiers were enthusiastic and contributed to the war by fighting, with some of them been ready to die for their country. However, it was ironical how most of them were cowards who could easily be threatened by any loud noise around them.[“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
Junger also narrates that he was sent to undertake a course, forcing him to miss participation in the battle of Perthes. He became envious of the soldiers who had the chance to participate in the battle. He also grew curiosity on the unfolding of events during the war. As such, he would like the battle to be compared to any cases of artillery bombardments that would arise during their camp. This is an illustration of the dedication of the soldiers (Jünger, 1929). They also traversed across different tranches and cities as they sought to keep up with the various available front lines after they had been defeated by the French. At some point, Junger sustained a sharp wound that was caused by shrapnel. As a result, he was sent home so that he could resume duties once he had fully recovered. During his time to recover, he enrolled in an officer’s course in which he became an ensign. In this case, Junger pauses the action of the war so as to describe the experiences in the daily life of the soldiers in the trenches (Jünger, 1929). He claims that most of their duties included guard duty, lay out, and operation of the trench system. Evidently, he claims that soldiers had light duties at the trenches, and that their welfare was addressed.[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Junger also attended another trainining school I April 1916, after which he was sent to a place that was later referred to as the Battle of Somme. He was tasked with the preparation of a defense against attacks that would be launched by the British (Jünger, 1929). Much of the context of the book focuses on this battle. It was during this battle that Junger sustained injuries and missed to participate in the final large British assault that successfully captured the town of Guillemont and led to the death of most of its residents. Again, this shows that the youth actively participated in the war as soldiers who would launch attacks or stage defense against attacks. His military career ended when he was shot in the chest during his participation in the battles of Arras and Ypres in which he lead the group that was known as Storm Troopers. In this incident, he shows that the tasks would sometimes become dangerous for the military to participate.
Junger also highlights some of the perspectives that the civilians had on the war. An example is the incident in which Junger and his fellow solder had gone for a haircut in one of the local barber shops in the countryside in France. At that time, a local used French to incite the barber to cut the throats of Junger and that of his soldier, without knowing that Junger was fluent in French (Jünger, 1929). To the amazement of the local, Junger responded in French that it was the local who was just about to have his throat slit and that of Junger and his fellow officer spared. This humorous story is used to illustrate the nature of relationship that existed between the Germans and the natives. It is also a show of the perspective that Junger had on the war; he believes that it was less brutal as the Germans and the French had a cordial relationship. This also shows that the Germans aimed at developing good relations with the residents even when they moved to a new village (Jünger, 1929). Junger also claims that the soldiers were tasked with interacting with the locals so that they could identify and implement various ways that would promote the economic growth of the community. It is this interaction that enabled the Germans to learn French such that they could speak it fluently.
However, there are several criticisms of Junger’s work. For instance, he fails to illustrate and explain the political and social emotions to the war in his memoir. However, this is a form of literary style that Junger uses by leaving out such details (Jünger, 1929). He does this so as to ensure that he presents a satisfactory narrative on the life and experiences of soldiers during the war. He also shows less concern on any form of politics related to the war. However, despite the fact that the accounts seem emotionless, the reader can see various forms of emotions within the memoir. Junger does not react when he witnesses the death of his comrade. This could be interpreted in two ways. First, he was so hurt that he could not express his bitterness. Second, he could have accepted that death is common among soldiers and that his was also not too far from that time. As such, this contributes to the development of the common theme of comradeship among soldiers. [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front
Remarque presents another different approach to the war. He achieves the uniqueness of his narrative through the style that he uses. It could be described as edgy, direct, and reserved because of the manner in which it uses lots of words that are small, as well small phrases. Much of the narration of the story is done in first-person. After the death of Paul, Remarque adopts third-person (Remarque & Robinson, 1999). This is crucial because it enables the reader to identify with a single eyewitness account. This witness is based on the experience that he faced during his position at the western front. Paul is depicted as characterized by immaturity and bewilderment at times. He also engages in the war as a teenager filled with enthusiasm. He is also not prepared for the total obliteration of his comrades, the militaristic aims of his country, his ideals, and his fragile life to hold on. At this point, it is evident that people were expected to serve in the military even under the age of 18 (Remarque & Robinson, 1999). As such, they found the environment challenging since they were not mature enough to live to the expectations.
The painters of the later nineteenth century also claimed that Remarque uses various dramatic and fragmented moments in the life of Paul to enlighten and mould them into a whole that is impressionistic and stark. The most theatrical of the moments used by Remarque in this book include Kemmerich’s dying words, Paul’s first furlough, and the bombardment of the cemetery. Other similar moments include the pathos of hungry prisoners, Gérard Duval’s death, and Paul’s attempt to save Kat.
These scenes play a crucial role in giving the reader a sense of immediacy. It makes one to feel as if they were also honed bayonets and huddled in the trenches. It also shows that the experiences of the soldiers at the trenches were characterized by chaos, unlike the opinions of Junger in the previous case (Remarque & Robinson, 1999). The novel also uses the approach referred to as gestalt as it converges to a bleak pattern that shows that the war was also characterized by cases of loss of personhood because of the continued pounding of planes, artillery, as well as the Allied assault that the soldiers experienced.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
Remarque also shows that there was the spirit of comradeship in the camp, just like in the case of Junger. He illustrates this by indicating that there was male bonding among the soldiers. He also shows the brute nature of the war by claiming that some of such incidents were due to blind chance, something that the human beings could not control. This is to show that Remarque has an opposing opinion to what Junger had (Remarque & Robinson, 1999). According to Junger, there were few cases of deaths of soldiers. He also claims that the environment was conducive for the soldiers. On the other hand, Remarque claims that there were numerous cases of deaths and harsh living conditions of soldiers at the trenches.
Remarque also uses his intelligence to show that soldiers at the trenches could no longer be considered as noble warriors. On the contrary, it should that cases of decimation were common among the ordinary foot soldiers. Remarque also presents an uncanny gasp of mental breakdown that suggests that there was a personal involvement with the character. He also signals the time that he needed exorcism from the various terror of war (Remarque & Robinson, 1999). He claims that he continued suffering even ten years after he had stopped serving in the military. In this simple context, Remarque makes the claim that there were various after-effects of participating in the war. Unlike in the case of Junger where the residents were friendly and welcoming, soldiers in the context of Remarque faced hostility and some of them ended up sustaining long-term side effects. He also narrates the story of one of the German soldiers, Paul Bäumer. He portrays warfare as a case of hypocrisy and grimness, as well as waste and despair. He also tells of the roles that he played during the Great War. This is a general overview of the role that the youth played during the war.
He claims that soldiers loved their country and were driven by patriotism. As such, they had the courage to participate in any action in which they were required. However, he claims that they had developed the ability to different truths from lies. They also anticipated death at any time. They had learned this at a time that they had been deserted (Remarque & Robinson, 1999). In this way, Remarque’s claims conform to those of Junger in two ways. First, soldiers were driven by their love for the country and most of them were ready to die for their countries. Additionally, this contributes to the development of the theme of comradeship among the soldiers, as well as patriotism as suggested earlier.[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
It is also worth noting that Remarque uses a different style of writing and approach from that of Junger. In the case of Remarque, only one enemy soldier is dramatized by name and personality. He also claims that enemy fire should have been dealt with in a serious manner as if it were a demonic machine (Remarque & Robinson, 1999). It had causes deaths and anguish to a number of soldiers in the camp. He claims that the heinous killing machines were used to kill soldiers who had been crying for help. In this case, both Junger and Remarque acknowledge the fact that modern technology contributed to the number of deaths during the war. Their enemies had sophisticated machines that they used.
This essay presents a critical review and comparison between the two courses done in seminar 4. As shown, Junger and Remarque have different opinions on the experiences that the soldiers faced during the war. According to Junger, the natives were friendly and welcoming. As a result, they taught Junger and his fellow soldiers fluent French. On the other hand, Remarque claims that the trenches were terrible places to stay as various soldiers were killed. Both narrators also show that technology was applied in the form of deadly weapons. They also show that the role of the youth in such wars was to engage with the enemies or provide defense in the event of attacks. As such, there is a high level of similarity between the two cases. The difference that exists depends on the individual perspective of each of the authors.
Jünger, E. (1929). The storm of steel: From the diary of a German storm-troop officer on the Western front, trans. Basil Creighton (London: Chatto & Windus).
Remarque, E. M., & Robinson, G. (1999). All Quiet on the Western Front (pp. 291-291). Queensland Tape Service for the Handicapped..