All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, translated by Brian Murdoch

remarque

As we marked the 100th anniversary this weekend of the guns falling silent across the trenches of the First World War, time to revisit this classic indictment of war, and remind ourselves that conditions and experiences were the same for everyone, regardless of which side they were fighting on.

A vivid portrayal of patriotic fervour, the carnage and privations of trench warfare, and the utter alienation of young soldiers from those left at home, unable to comprehend the trauma of life at the front. During the Nazi era of the 1930s this book was banned and publicly burned; they believed it dishonoured the memory of their soldiers.

Read this account of the German experience, then watch Peter Jackson’s incredible ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’: restored, colourised archival footage from WW1. I challenge you to find a difference.

Another candidate for German Literature Month

Deli counter verdict: a taste of mouldy acorn bread to go with your ersatz coffee. Make sure you have some good comrades-in-arms with you.

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