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All Quiet on the Western Front
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Trench Warfare

A young German boy named Paul Baumer, his best friend Albert Kropp and most of his entire high school class volunteer for World War One after Kantorek, their teacher, preaches the over-glorified version of war and duty to one's country to the young, impressionable boys.  After going through basic training commanded by a brutal corporal named Himmelstoss they are sent to the Western Front. When they get there they realise that no one back home had a clue what they were talking about. 
 
Here on the Western Front, they learn to live by surviving and displaying a minimal amount of emotion.  They're classmates begin dropping, but they're guided by a 40 year old hardened veteran called Stanislaus Katczinsky (known as "Kat") who teaches them how to survive in this kind of war.
 
Paul experiences horrific battles and the brutal trench life.  He watches his friend Kemmerich die on a hospital bed after having his legs amputated.  He witnesses explicit death all around him and nearly loses his mind when he returns home to visit his family.  He understands then that his innocence has been robbed of him by the demon of war and that he'll never belong anywhere except the trenches. 
 
He trains at a camp for several weeks before returning to the front.  When he gets back, he's relieved to find that all of his friends still live.  His group of friends is then assigned to guard a supply depot in an abandoned town and for moment live a somewhat comfortable life as they salvage what they can from the surrounding town (i.e: food, beds, chairs, etc.).
 
When Paul and his best friend, Albert Kropp are wounded and sent to a hospital behind the lines, he experiences the horror that wounded men have to go through and the problems which face them.  Death is constantly surrounding him to the point where it no longer affects his mood.  Albert's worse fear comes to life when they amputate his leg.  However Paul recovers and after having to cope with leaving his best friend behind in his most desperate time is back on the front line in no time.
 
When he returns he watches all his close friends die one by one as the Germans lose ground to the Allied forces.  Eventually him and Kat, his closest comrade are the only ones who are left.  Their duet ends quickly when Kat is killed by a stray shard of shrapnel while Paul was carrying him to a dressing station for a routine limb wound.  Paul describes his feelings throughout the book and realises that his entire generation has been lost to rich, upper-class men who wage war on one another through the young men who wish nothing more than to serve their country.  In the end, Paul himself dies on a day that was referred to as "All quiet on the Western Front" because there was hardly any action taking place that day.  The war ended the month after.

westernfrontmap.jpg
Map of the Western Front

-Terror can be endured so long as a man simply ducks, but it kills, if a man thinks about it. - Chapter 7, paragraph 5.