He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front.
A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends.
This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.
We march up, moody or good-tempered soldiers - we reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals.
It is too dangerous for me to put these things into words. I am afraid they might then become gigantic and I be no longer able to master them.
It is very queer that the unhappiness of the world is often brought on by short people. They are so much more energetic and uncompromising than the big fellows.
We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial - I believe we are lost.
We have so much to say, and we shall never say it.
Our knowledge of life is limited to death.
We were all at once terribly alone; and alone we must see it through.
Bombardment, barrage, curtain-fire, mines, gas, tanks, machine-guns, hand-grenades - words, words, but they hold the horror of the world.
It is just as much a matter of chance that I am still alive as that I might have been hit.
The things men did or felt they had to do.
Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony - Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?
Katczinsky says it is all to do with education - it softens the brain.
We are not youth any longer. We don't want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. 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. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.
They are more to me than life, these voices, they are more than motherliness and more than fear; they are the strongest, most comforting thing there is anywhere: they are the voices of my comrades.