Did Paul Baumer Survive The War In The Netflix German Film ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’?

Based on the popular 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque, “All Quiet on the Western Front” will take one through the brutalities of war as the title itself stands as a metaphor for pain and suffering. Well, it depicts the lives of soldiers who lost their youth to starvation and death. Many lives were compromised for the peace treaty between Germany and France. At first, the adversities of war went unnoticed, but facing it upfront brought several catastrophic changes that initially gave rise to violence in which the lives of these young men never mattered in the first place. As the war proceeded, new advancements came into action for which mankind had to face its worst fears. Throughout the whole movie, viewers will learn more about modernized weapons like poisonous gasses, tanks, and machine guns. Apart from physical damage, these young men had their minds subjected to fear of death as their bodies could be thrashed at any minute. Every day and every minute, these soldiers had to question their capabilities to withstand this fear since no one could determine what would come next. One day, these men would cheerfully spend time with their allies, but in the next instant, they would find themselves petrified or dead. Similarly, the story revolves around the life of seventeen-year-old Paul Baumer as his dreams are burned to ashes with his loss of ability to imagine a life without pain and war.

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The movie begins with the disturbing sight of the battlefield, where soldiers are lying lifeless. Even though they sacrificed their lives for their homeland, their lives simply didn’t matter. The same clothes, boots, and belongings were provided to the new batch of soldier’s recruitment. Finally, in Germany in 1917, the country was all set to witness new troops for war. Four friends, Paul, Fraz, Ludwig, and Albert were all set to explore the world of war. Little did they know that once they’d stepped in, they couldn’t turn their backs. Moreover, they’ll be wearing the suits that were stripped off of the bodies of other military officers who mercilessly lost their lives in the battle. Paul’s family didn’t allow him to participate in warfare activities, but he wanted to join his friends. So, Paul forged his mother’s signature to get in.

Back at their school, their principal falsely represented the glory of fighting in the war. He promoted the young men as the iron youth of Germany, but it was all a trap. According to them, being a part of the war will nourish the growth of their fatherland. But that was not the case. Their principal even motivated them to stay strong on the battlefield, even if their minds were filled with hatred and doubts. Well, all their opinions were changed once the four men entered the battlefield and represented the Western Front. As time went on, Paul was selected by the authorities on their very first day; they experienced a huge nightmare since they were surrounded by the corpses of forty men. Paul expected dignity and respect in the trenches, but he was saddened by the harsh realities that the soldiers had to face.

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Drenched in water, the soldiers were supposed to make a living with little food outside in the rain. These men were terrified of the sights as their hands turned ice cold, but they couldn’t find ways to conceal themselves from the numbness of the cold weather. Paul and his friends were unaware of the deadly terms since neither of them was trained. Since Germany was lacking in force, they abruptly placed men on the Western Front to fight with the experienced forces of France. But things changed once a sudden bombing took place in their trenches. Many men lost their lives, and Paul fell unconscious from the aftereffects of the bombing. Paul was devastated by the loss of his friend Ludwig when he spotted his corpse while collecting the badges of all the dead soldiers.

With time, Paul understood the consequences of losing dear ones in the war since he couldn’t spare a single minute to cry for his comrade. Well, Paul couldn’t figure out his future since death was always nearby. These soldiers could die for any possible reason since their trenches lacked food, water, and all the necessities that were essential for survival. Paul generated a healthy friendship with one of his seniors Stanislaus Katczinsky who was excellent with his combat skills. For years, he survived the wrath of war, and together with his partner, he stole poultry from a nearby farmer’s house. This time Paul was transferred to Champagne, France – a French-occupied territory. Here the conditions were worse since it was a French territory, these soldiers were starving, and 40,000 men lost their lives in the last two weeks of the war. 

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Paul was devastated to know that Katczinsky had lost his son to chickenpox, and Katczinsky was constantly bothered by the thought that he wouldn’t be able to go back to his wife. But still, he hoped for all of this to end. The next day, Paul and his comrades were looking for sixty young recruits who went missing without a trace. Paul found dead bodies in a room and understood that the opponents had launched gas bombs in that area; the men died since they had removed their gas masks too early. Meanwhile, Matthias Erzberger wanted to put an end to this war since it had depleted half of the German population. On the other hand, the French government was exerting more pressure on the Germans to surrender and enter into an armistice. The General was one of the most important personalities in the war. He allowed the German delegation to negotiate the armistice treaty in Compiègne.

But, in reality, the General believed that the German government was selling off their fatherland, and he clung to his motives to fight. Even though the country lost so many lives, the General wanted to hold on to the incoming troops. He had no mercy for the lives of all the young men, so he carried on with his stubbornness to strike at the French forces. By this time, Matthias was trying his best to convince the French government to sign a peace treaty to save the lives of all the young men. He put forward a proposal to Marshal Foch to endure a cease-fire. Paul couldn’t withstand the pressures of war, so he mercilessly stabbed several French soldiers. But soon, he realized that he was stuck in an endless circle as his hands were tainted with the blood of the innocent. Finally, both governments came to an alliance, and Germany accepted their defeat.

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Both parties signed the Armistice of Compiegne on November 11, 1918. There were a few hours left for the treaty to commence, and it was all set to take action at 11 a.m. Once again, the General forced the army to fight until the peace treaty was activated. This time, Paul lost all hope as Katczinsky was killed by the farmer’s son while trying to steal food from their house again. The man who survived the war was killed by a farmer’s child, and Paul couldn’t bear the pain of losing his only friend. He carried him back to their shelter, but Katczinsky lost his life from severe damage to his liver. Paul wanted to live, but he lost his life while saving the life of a young recruit. Well, Paul always remembered his mother’s words, as this time, he feared the future since death was always around. Even though he was just a few steps away from freedom, Paul couldn’t make it this time. He knew that their deaths would be forgotten by everyone in no time.


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Raschi Acharya
Raschi Acharya
Raschi Acharya is a Mass Media graduate and she is currently working and living in Mumbai. From a very young age, Raschi was heavily interested in reading and writing. She prefers to write everything that her mind nurtures her to do as shaping up her imagination is her forte!

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