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All Quiet on the Western Front

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All Quiet on the Western Front, first American editionFirst American edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication

Literature form

Literary, war novel

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 67,000 words

Translations into English1929 by A. W. Wheen, 1993 by Brian Murdoch

Notable lines

This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.

— Epigraph

We are at rest five miles behind the front. Yesterday we were relieved, and now our bellies are full of beef and haricot beans. We are satisfied and at peace. Each man has another mess-tin full for the evening; and, what is more, there is a double ration of sausage and bread. That puts a man in fine trim. We have not had such luck as this for a long time.

— First lines

We march up, moody or good-tempered soldiers—we reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals.


"What has Kantorek written to you?" Müller asks him.

He laughs. "We are the Iron Youth."

We all three smile bitterly. Kropp rails: he is glad that he can speak.

Yes, that's the way they think, these hundred thousand Kantoreks! Iron Youth. Youth! We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? Youth? That is long ago. We are old folk.


"When it comes to dying for your country, it's better not to die at all."


Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony—Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?


A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends. 


You may turn into an archangel, a fool, or a criminal—no one will see it. But when a button is missing—everyone sees that.


A hospital alone shows what war is. 


The room is dark. I hear my mother's breathing, and the ticking of the clock. Outside the window the wind blows and the chestnut trees rustle.

On the landing I stumble over my pack, which lies there already made up because I have to leave early in the morning.

I bite into my pillow. I grasp the iron rods of my bed with my fists. I ought never to have come here. Out there I was indifferent and often hopeless;—I will never be able to be so again. I was a soldier, and now I am nothing but an agony for myself, for my mother, for everything that is so comfortless and without end

I ought never to have come on leave. 


He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front. He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.

— Last lines


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