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THE FIRST WORLD WAR > 10. HF - ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT - CHAPTER NINE ~ (199 - 229) (07/04/11 - 07/10/11) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Welcome to the continuation of the wonderful book: All Quiet on the Western Front!

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque by Erich Maria Remarque Erich Maria Remarque

Elizabeth S is leading this discussion.

This is a May/June/July discussion so everybody has plenty of time to read this selection.

This week's assigned reading is as follows for Week Nine:

Week 10, July 4-10: Chapter Nine (pages 199-229)

This is the eighth historical fiction group selected book.

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers if you are catching up.

This book was kicked off on May 2nd.

We always enjoy the participation of all group members. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. Usually any book offered as one of our discussion selections can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle or even Audible. You usually can also check out Barnes and Noble or Borders and they have the books in stock in their stores and on line. Audible has a summer sale going on and this book is available for download; oddly - Kindle, Barnes and Noble and Borders do not have this book available as a downloadable version but hardcopies and paperbacks are available as noted above.

This is a non spoiler thread.

Welcome,

~Bentley

Here is a link to the introductory thread:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5...

Here is a link to the Table of Contents and Syllabus:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5...

Here is the link to the glossary which is a spoiler thread so beware if you do not like spoilers of any kind - but the links added here will be very useful in understanding the people discussed, their background, the events and the battles, or the environment itself, etc.

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5...

Here is a link to the Military History folder which deals with World War I: (there is a lot here)

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/group_...

Thank you for joining the History Book Club on this journey. And it is never too late to start.


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Hope everybody had a Happy Fourth.


message 3: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments With leave and training camp over, Baumer returns to the front but spends the first several days finding his regiment. He is relieved to see that Kat and Kropp and Tjaden and the rest have all made it through. They polish and shine for an inspection by the Kaiser, and debate who or what is responsible for the war. Baumer joins a patrol to see how the enemy is manned.

When in no-man's-land, Baumer is frozen by sudden fear for a while. Finally the thought of his buddies moves him onward, but he is disoriented and doesn't know which way to go to get back to his lines. He hides in a shell-hole and pretends to be dead. Suddenly someone jumps in with him and Baumer stabs him, repeatedly. As the man dies, he gurgles and just about drives Baumer crazy. When morning comes, Baumer gets water for the dying man, dresses the wounds as well as he can, and tries to comfort him. The man finally dies in the afternoon, and Baumer promises the dead-man all sorts of things. But when Baumer is finally able to crawl out of the hole, his only thought is self-preservation. He makes it back to his line and is received by Kat and Kropp. They talk him through his experiences. It helps, sort of, to watch a German sharp-shooter score hits.


message 4: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Bentley wrote: "Hope everybody had a Happy Fourth."

Happy fourth to you, too, and to everyone who celebrates the US Independence Day. Personally, I had a lot of exhausting fun today. I will sleep deep tonight!


message 5: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments I found this to be a very disturbing chapter. Not just that we see Baumer kill someone in hand-to-hand, but also that Baumer shows such humanity in his "promises" to the man he killed and yet knows he won't fulfill them and has to shrug it all off.


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 05, 2011 07:53AM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
It was a very sad chapter. I am not sure why Baumer felt obliged; it was war and it was either going to be a situation of killed or be killed.

But I also think it shows the psychological unraveling of Baumer himself which seems to have escalated over time. In war, you cannot try to keep these kinds of promises and Baumer at some level should have known that. I can see the other non war side of Baumer in this chapter. It was a very disturbing chapter at so many levels. You feel for Baumer and the situation he finds himself in, you feel in some respects for the soldier who got killed but you understand the circumstances and then you feel bad for what is happening to Baumer himself.


message 7: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1245 comments Again I finished this chapter before I could enter thoughts here and my notes are below - but what you all say before me is true - it is an unraveling of Baumer.

All Quiet on the Western Front – Chapter Nine comments

This is the chapter that makes me begin to, and maybe it is enough to totally, understand why the militaristic Third Reich banned this book.

The shams that conform the soldiers are revealed in the beginning of the chapter with the temporary ownership of good new uniforms. I say temporary ownership, as the men believed that they could keep them – not that they were just theirs for the visit of the Kaiser. (Did the Kaiser know these deceptions were put upon him?) (Were they more for any press coverage that might accompany him than for him?)

We begin to see real doubt in the purpose of the war – Tjaden asking, “why are we fighting?” & I think this is the first instance in the book of this direct question.

Then the battle, the experience of Paul, the being stuck in no man’s land (and the realization from Kat that this was not a unique experience), the fear & terror. The killing, almost unintentionally, of an enemy. The regret. The conscience.

It is the terror of the war – the hardness of it – the inhumanity.


message 8: by Baseni (new)

Baseni | 75 comments Elizabeth S wrote: "Bentley wrote: "Hope everybody had a Happy Fourth."

Happy fourth to you, too, and to everyone who celebrates the US Independence Day. Personally, I had a lot of exhausting fun today. I will slee..."


I wish you belated a nice happy fourth, too. Twenty years ago, I have experienced the day in Boston. It was around the obelisk on Bunker Hill, a huge ribbon tied like a cockade. Something like that is unforgettable.


message 9: by Baseni (new)

Baseni | 75 comments Vince wrote: "(...)This is the chapter that makes me begin to, and maybe it is enough to totally, understand why the militaristic Third Reich banned this book.(...)..."

The book was banned by the Nazis and burned. But earlier, during the Weimar Republic, the film was banned. The national movements saw it as a reduction of the military. The Nazis took over this movement, and strengthened it.
Hitler was only a private first class. He did not want to be compared with Paul Baumer.


message 10: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Baseni wrote: "...Hitler was only a private first class. He did not want to be compared with Paul Baumer."

That's a good point. Somewhat of a funny thought. I didn't think of that.


message 11: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Vince wrote: "Again I finished this chapter before I could enter thoughts here and my notes are below - but what you all say before me is true - it is an unraveling of Baumer.

All Quiet on the Western Front –..."


As always, great thoughts Vince. The first part of the chapter really shows a lot of military disorganization and deception--something that no militaristic government would want propagated.

The efficiency-expert part of me hated the days Baumer spent trying to find his unit. Hello! Why convict anyone of AWOL when half the time they probably just couldn't find their unit? We don't just see waste in materials and the lives of the men, we also see waste in their time.

Good question about whether or not the Kaiser knew the good uniforms were only temporary. I've wondered that as well. Is that something that is known?


message 12: by Baseni (last edited Jul 07, 2011 03:30AM) (new)

Baseni | 75 comments The Emperor inspected the front, or what he thinks of this. The gunfire is heard, but the front is miles away. They built for the emperor a "Potemkin village". Kaiser Wilhelm II uniforms love above all else. Up to six times a day he showed up in a new uniform. As emperor, he had the right to wear the uniform of any military unit. And Wilhelm made ​​extensive use of it. "All days fancy-dress ball" - jokes were made: "Serenissimus, in the bathroom burst a pipe. - Bring the admiral's uniform."
Therefore, the "value" of a force was read directly on the uniform. He had at this time no influence on the military. The real rulers in Germany were Hindenburg and Ludendorff. Kaiser Wilhelm was only a puppet and the Reichs-Chancellor formed a puppet government.


message 13: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Thanks, Baseni. That is so interesting. I guess if you are going to be a puppet, you might as well have fun dressing the part.


message 14: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Partway through this chapter, we see Baumer frozen with fear and unable to move. He just can't bring himself to move out of the hole he is in. Finally, it is the thought of his comrades that moves him. He doesn't want to let them down.

In what ways is Baumer's paralysis the same, and in what ways different, from Himmelstoss' a couple of chapters ago? Are either more or less to blame than the other?


message 15: by Baseni (last edited Jul 08, 2011 12:56AM) (new)

Baseni | 75 comments A section in this chapter, "Kaisergespräch" (Kaiser conversation) called in German literature. It begins with "At last the moment arrives we stood to attention and the Emperor appears," and ends with "Albert lies down on the grass and growls angrily: "The best thing is not to talk about the rotten business." "It won't make any difference, that's sure," agrees Kat."
In this conversation, the insanity of war is made clear. I think, Kat says it really:"I'm not so sure about that," contradicts Kat, "he has not had a war up till now. And every full-grown emperor requires at least one war, otherwise he would not become famous. You look in your school books." It is simply expressed, but characteristic of its time


message 16: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments I agree, this chapter is definitely showing the insanity of war. War really used to be a matter of seasonal campaigns. Countries could be "at war" for years and years without either launching an army for the summer. Read the history books, and you'll see that Kat is right. The ones who get mentioned are the ones who waged war. There are a lot more ways for a leader to get famous now. (Which can be a good thing or a bad thing. Or both.)


message 17: by Brian (new)

Brian Glasspoole (btg55) | 3 comments Paul's venture into no-man's land underscore's his total vulnerability. He is a lost soul and could be killed by foe or (accidentally) by his own comrades. Not until he rejoins his comrades, is he able to shake off the fears that have immobilized him and set aside his desires to atone for his self-defensive actions in the shell-hole.


message 18: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments I'm glad I re-read your comment, Brian, before I answered. At first I thought you said that Baumer *had* atoned for his actions in the shell-hole. Oops on my part! Obviously he didn't, and couldn't do that. But his desire to was eating him up. Only when he was back with his buddies, his support system, could he let go (at least partially) of that guilt.

By the way, the first time I read the book I thought it was going to turn out that Baumer had killed a countryman, maybe even one of his buddies. Really, all he knew was that someone jumped in with him.


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