The Great War, otherwise known as World War I, lasted between 1914 through 1918. Nations all over the world were involved in this global conflict. The two sides composed of the Allies, which consisted of France, Britain, Russia, Italy, the United States and other nations against the Central Powers, which consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.
The novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” written by Erich Maria Remarque, spotlighted Paul Bäumer, a young German soldier, and his day-to-day experience during the war. This novel presented the horrors of warfare, scarce food and nutrients, medical care and the effect the war had on the soldiers’ humanity. “All Quiet on the Western Front” is an accurate and authentic portrayal of the lives of soldiers during World War I. In “All Quiet on the Western Front,” Paul and his friends operated in trenches. Trenches were a series of narrow ditches where soldiers lived and worked in and also served as a form of protection against the opposing side. In one event in “All Quiet in the Western Front,” Kat and Paul jumped into the same trench as another recruit. The recruit was anxious and became claustrophobic with Kat and Paul next to him and threatened to leave the trench. Paul described the trench to be “suffocating.
” During World War I, there was a lot of rainfall, similar to the novel where it often rained. Rainfall led to muddy and unsanitary conditions in the trenches. Due to precipitation, trench walls would collapse and shooting weaponry would get clogged. One of the most dangerous effects of rainfall was the formation of thick and deep mud and the water buildup on the trench floors. Often, soldiers would get trapped in this mud and were unable to escape. A medical condition, called trench foot, developed when soldiers stood in water for hours or days without changing into clean and dry socks or boots. Sometimes, trench foot led to the amputations of the entire foot. In the beginning of the novel, the importance of good boots was stretched when Kemmerich gave Müller his boots before he died because he wanted Müller to keep himself protected.
Clearly, living and working conditions in trenches were not ideal. Many soldiers died or received injuries during World War I. In the novel, there were several of occasions where Paul and his friends got hurt. One scenario was where both Paul and Albert Kropp were sent to a dressing station to get bandaged and were sent to a Catholic Hospital by a hospital train to be treated for their wounds. In the hospital room where Albert and Paul stayed at, there were six other men being treated in the same room. There were female nurses, otherwise called ‘sisters,’ who helped care for the patients. Throughout their stay, Albert received his artificial limb while Paul’s legs and arms injuries recovered.
After Paul got better, he got convalescent leave. These events from the novel portray the conditions presented in World War I. Firstly, wounded soldiers were sent to a battalion aid station where doctors applied splints and bandages.
Next, these wounded soldiers rode on hospitals trains to be taken to a hospital. At the hospital, female nurses helped feed and care for the patients. After patients received enough medical attention to be able to move on their own, they were released from the hospital, just like Paul was.Food was crucial to the German soldiers. Throughout the novel, Paul and his friends were constantly on the lookout for animals which could be eaten as food. For example, in the novel, Kat and Paul caught and roasted a goose and shared the goose with Kropp and Tjaden. Kropp and Tjaden called Kat and Paul “magicians” and appreciated the food. In another scenario, Paul and his friends explored around a reinforced concrete cellar.
Kat and Paul caught two young pigs outside of the cellar while two of their friends gathered crops like potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and green peas. Food was a necessity to the soldiers as it provided them with energy and the ability to heal from their injuries. Food was distributed in equal rations throughout the soldiers. These rations contained enough protein and carbohydrates to help strengthen the soldier’s stamina and efficiency. Soldiers also enjoyed wine, beers, pipes and cigars. These items were considered to be comforting to the soldiers.
One example was after Paul and his friends escaped the cellar, they smoked the officer’s cigars and cigarettes, drank cognac and rum and smoked long, fat cigars again. Paul considered this supply drop as “blessed” as they could easily enjoy drinking and smoking. However, food was not always available. As the conditions of the trenches worsened, there was the presence of trench rats.
These rats would steal and consume the soldiers’ bread, which was detrimental to their food supply because they could not afford to throw away food as they would have no bread available for consumption for the