All Quiet on the Western Front Quotes - Page 2 | Just Great DataBase

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Then we change our possy and lie down again to play cards. We know how to do that: to play cards, to swear, and to fight. Not much for twenty years;--and yet too much for twenty years.

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An hour passes. I sit tensely and watch his every movement in case he may perhaps say something. What if he were to open his mouth and cry out! But he only weeps, his head turned aside. He does not speak of his mother or his brothers and sisters. He says nothing; all that lies behind him; he is entirely alone now with his little life of nineteen years, and cries because it leaves him.

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It is very queer that the unhappiness of the world is so often brought on by small men. They are so much more energetic and compromising than the big fellows.

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Everything must have been fraudulent and pointless if thousands of years of civilization weren’t even able to prevent this river of blood, couldn’t stop these torture chambers existing in their hundreds of thousands. Only a military hospital can really show you what war is.

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Ah! Mother, Mother! You still think I am a child - why can I not put my head in your lap and weep? Why have I always to be strong and self-controlled? I would like to weep and be comforted too, indeed I am little more than a child; in the wardrobe still hang short, boy's trouser - it is such a little time ago, why is it over?

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Nobody taught us at school how to light a cigarette in a rainstorm, or how it is still possible to make a fire even with soaking wet wood – or that the best place to stick a bayonet is into the belly, because it can’t get jammed in there, the way it can in the ribs.

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We get back pretty well. There is no further attack by the enemy. We lie for an hour panting and resting before anyone speaks. We are so completely played out that in spite of our great hunger we do not think of the provisions. Then gradually we become something like men again.

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

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We have lost all feeling for one another. We can hardly control ourselves when our glance lights on the form of some other man. We are insensible, dead men, who through some trick, some dreadful magic, are still able to run and to kill.

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I say to the dead man, but I say it calmly, to-day you, to-morrow me. But if I come out of it, comrade, I will fight against this, that has struck us both down; from you, taken life—and from me—? Life also. I promise you, comrade. It shall never happen again.

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We are little flames poorly sheltered by frail walls against the storm of dissolution and madness, in which we flicker and sometimes almost go out.

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Shells, gas clouds, and flotillas of tanks—shattering, corroding, death. Dysentery, influenza, typhus—scalding, choking, death. Trenches, hospitals, the common grave—there are no other possibilities.

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Well, she can go to hell with her whispering and her words. You believe in a miracle, but really it just comes down to loaves of bread.

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The screaming of the beasts becomes louder. One can no longer distinguish whence in this now quiet silvery landscape it comes; ghostly, invisible, it is everywhere, between heaven and earth it rolls on immeasurably.

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The cries continued. It is not men, they could not cry so terribly."Wounded horses," says Kat.It's unendurable. It is the moaning of the world, it is the martyred creation, wild with anguish, filled with terror, and groaning.

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We loved our country as much as they; we went courageously into every action; but also we distinguished the false from true, we had suddenly learned to see. And we saw that there was nothing of their world left. We were all at once terribly alone; and alone we must see it through.

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We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts.

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A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends. At some table a document is signed by some persons whom none of us knows, and then for years together that very crime on which formerly the world’s condemnation and severest penalty fall, becomes our highest aim.

1

We are not, indeed, in the front-line, but only in the reserves, yet in every face can be read: This is the front, now we are within its embrace.

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Detering walks about cursing. ‘What have they done to deserve that, that’s what I want to know?’ And later on he comes back to it again. His voice is agitated and he sounds as if he is making a speech when he says, ‘I tell you this: it is the most despicable thing of all to drag animals into a war.

1

If we were not automata at that moment we would continue lying there, exhausted, and without will. But we are swept forward again, powerless, madly savage and raging; we will kill, for they are still our mortal enemies, their rifles and bombs are aimed against us, and if we don’t destroy them, they will destroy us.

1

Here lies our comrade, Kemmerich, who a little while ago was roasting horse flesh with us and squatting in the shell-holes. He it is still and yet it is not he any longer. His features have become uncertain and faint, like a photographic plate from which two pictures have been taken. Even his voice sounds like ashes.

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Trommelfeuer, Sperrfeuer, Gardinenfeuer, Minen, Gas, Tanks, Maschinengewehre, Handgranaten - Worte, Worte aber sie umfassen das Grauen der Welt.

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We don't act like that because we are in good humor; we are in a good humor because otherwise we should go to pieces.

1

We had fancied our task would be different, only to find we were to be trained for heroism as though we were circus-ponies. But we soon accustomed ourselves to it. We learned in fact that some of these things were necessary, but the rest merely show. Soldiers have a fine nose for such distinctions.

1

I glance at my boots. They are big and clumsy, the breeches are tucked into them, and standing up one looks well-built and powerful in these great drainpipes. But when we go bathing and strip, suddenly we have slender legs again and slight shoulders. We are no longer soldiers but little more than boys; no one would believe that we could carry packs.

1

The storm lashes us, out of the confusion of grey and yellow the hail of splinters whips forth the childlike cries of the wounded, and in the night shattered life groans painfully into silence. Our hands are earth, our bodies clay and our eyes pools of rain. We do not know whether we are still alive.

1

Things become quieter, but the cries do not cease. What’s up, Albert? I ask. A couple of columns over there got it in the neck. The cries continued. It is not men, they could not cry so terribly. Wounded horses, says Kat. It’s unendurable. It is the moaning of the world, it is the martyred creation, wild with anguish, filled with terror, and groaning.

1

It is very queer that the unhappiness of the world is so often brought on by small men. They are so much more energetic and uncompromising than the big fellows.

1

Cautiously, the mouth applied to the valve, I breathe. The gas still creeps over the ground and sinks into all hollows. Like a big, soft jellyfish it floats into our shell-hole and lolls there obscenely.

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How various is a face; but an hour ago it was strange and it is now touched with a tenderness that comes, not from it, but from out of the night, the world and the blood, all these things seem to shine in it together.

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While they taught that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing, we already knew that death-throes are stronger.

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Before my mother's tremulous anxiety I recover my composure. Now I can walk about and talk and answer questions without fear of having suddenly to lean against the wall because the world turns soft as rubber and my veins become brimstone.

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Our life alternates between billets and the front. We have almost grown accustomed to it; war is the cause of death like cancer and tuberculosis, like influenza and dysentery. The deaths are merely more frequent, more varied and terrible.

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There is one thing I’d like to know, though,’ says Albert, ‘and that’s whether there would still have been a war if the Kaiser had said no.’ ‘I’m sure there would,’ I put in. ‘After all, they say that he didn’t want to fight at all at the beginning.’ ‘Well, if not just him, then perhaps if, let’s say twenty or thirty people in the world had said no?’ ‘Maybe not then,’ I admit. ‘But they all did want a war.

1

I think it’s more a kind of fever,’ says Albert. ‘Nobody really wants it, but all of a sudden, there it is. We didn’t want the war, they say the same thing on the other side – and in spite of that, half the world is at it hammer and tongs.

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What do they expect of us if a time ever comes when the war is over? Through the years our business has been killing;-it was our first calling in life. Our knowledge of life is limited to death. What will happen afterwards? And what shall come out of us?

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The devil take all conventions, they were made for other times.

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The coffins are really for us. The organization surpasses itself in that kind of thing.

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He it is still and yet it is not he any longer.

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When a man has seen so many dead he cannot understand any longer why there should be so much anguish over a single individual.

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And so everything is new and brave, red poppies and good food, cigarettes and summer breeze.

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Below there are cyclists, lorries, men; it is a grey street and a grey subway;—it affects me as though it were my mother.

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Her mouth speaks words I do not understand. Nor do I fully understand her eyes; they seem to say more than we anticipated when we came here.

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We were never very demonstrative in our family; poor folk who toil and are full of cares are not so. It is not their way to protest what they already know. When my mother says to me "dear boy," it means much more than when another uses it.

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In this way the squad has merely made the turn-about and a couple of paces, while the squad-leader dashes backwards and forwards like a fart on a curtain-pole.

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Here I sit and there you are lying; we have so much to say, and we shall never say it.

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If only they would not look at one so-What great misery can be in two such small spots, no bigger than a man's thumb-in their eyes!

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The cries continued, it is not men, they could not cry so terribly. 'Wounded horses', says Kat. It is is unendurable, it is the moaning of the world, it is the martyred creation, wild with anguish, filled with terror and groaning.

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The wisest were just the poor and simple people. They knew the war to be a misfortune, whereas those who were better off, and should have been able to see more clearly what the consequences would be, were beside themselves with joy. Katczinsky

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