THE AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTORY NOTE
Bearing in mind the political situation in Germany between the wars,
Remarque felt it necessary to provide a brief statement regarding the novel’s purpose.
He makes it clear that he is not aligned with any political party, and he
warns the reader that the book is also a statement on the relevance of war and not an exciting adventure.
Remarque was particularly concerned about the effects of war on young men -
those that had, like him, left school to go straight to the Front without having any adult experiences.
This generation was by and large destroyed by the war machine, whether they survived the conflict or not, for they had no other adult experience other than warfare. They never had the opportunity to have sweethearts, children, or careers. All this was lost to them, and all those that did survive the war to live on afterwards led lives that were tainted by the horrors they had lived through.
Remarque makes it clear that this war machine governs all who are consumed
They no longer think for themselves, but are driven on relentlessly against the conditions prevalent at the Front Line. They seldom looked their enemy in the face. They were killed by a distant enemy whether it is an artillery shell or an infected wound.
As a result of the Great War, the world would never be the same.
Those things that had been held sacred before the war, the ideals and beliefs that were so important then were seen in a new perspective by those that emerged from the trenches in 1918.
The 20th Century burgeoned with so much hope and expectancy, but it was crushed during the second decade due to the avarice drive of the chosen few who ruled prior to the Great War.