Friday, June 22, 2012

"The war has ruined us for everything" - Erich Maria Remarque

Erich Maria Remarque
(1898 - 1970)
Erich Maria Remarque was born today 114 years ago. The German writer was best known for his pacifist novels, especially All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues), published in 1928.

The son of a bookbinder was born in Osnabrück and originally named 'Erich Paul Remark'. In the 1920's he changed his name to Erich Maria Remarque. During the last two years of World War I, he was recruited to the Western Front at the age of 19. Right at the beginning, shrapnels hit him badly in legs and arms wherefore he spent the rest of his duty in hospitals. The trauma Remarque suffered from his incisive experiences during the war influenced most of his later works.

Ten years after World War I, the writer published his most remarkable work 'All Quiet on the Western Front', which was globally known after its movie-release by the American director Lewis Milestone in 1930. The story characterizes the war from the perspective of 'Paul Bäumler' an ordinary soldier. It describes the terror of war, the cruel fights at the battle front and the misery the soldiers had to go through in the trenches. Also the war-effects on the psyche of the soldiers and the loss of their ideals are pictured in the novel.

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.
(Erich Maria Remarque - All Quiet on the Western Front)

Not everyone on the globe shared the 'enthusiasm' towards this novel. In 1933, the Nazis burned 'All Quiet on the Western Front' along with many other "subversive" literature. From there, it got quite uncomfortable for Remarque in Germany. He first had to escape to Switzerland, then lived in the United States after his German citizenship had been cancelled. In 1938, Remarque met and began an affaire with the famous actress Marlene Dietrich. After World War II, Erich Maria Remarque stayed American citizen and lived in America as well as Switzerland until his death in 1970.

At Yovisto, Professor John Merriman gives a lecture about the emergence of modern France. The Professor of History at Yale University goes through the social, economic, and political transformation of France, the impact of France's revolutionary heritage, of industrialization, and of the dislocation wrought by two world wars. In the session Trench Warfare, he describes the Schlieffen Plan, the development of trench warfare, and explains the society during and after the war as well as the conditions on the front.
For the entire lecture, visit: France Since 1871



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