Storm of Steel Vs All Quiet on the Western Front

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Storm of Steel
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front
  4. Comparing the Two Novels
  5. Conclusion


World War One broke up in the year of 1914, many soldiers were killed on the front-line of the battlefield. War took many lives away from their family and friends, taking away young soldiers’ dreams and leaving them no choice but to keep fighting in the war. Thus, some soldiers decided to write diaries during wartime to reflect their lives on the battlefield, and what war actually meant to them. During the period of time after World War One and before World War Two, there are two famous war-based novelists who write about their experiences and their perceptions of war. Both novelists described the war from totally different standpoints and perspectives, representing their own ideas and determinations. The two novels written by them were considered as famous novels based on World War One by many people. The two authors of the novels have different perceptions of World War One, as Ernst Jünger who was a pro-war front-line lieutenant during World War One that wrote the novel “The Storm of Steel”, and Erick Maria Remarque who was a young soldier fighting war at the front line for the first time that wrote the novel “All Quiet on the Western Front”. Both novels have distinguished perspectives, therefore, it is important to analyze the significance and outlook of both novels to understand the perspective of both authors. Remarque and Jünger were both writing their novels to influence the public and reflect their own experiences during World War One. The purpose of this paper is to describe the emotional state and demonstrate how a soldier is interpreting World War One, as well as determining which of the novel was written more rights during that period of time.

The Storm of Steel

First of all, In the novel “The Storm of Steel”, Jünger was a front-line lieutenant who knew the purpose of fighting during the war. Jünger described his experience on how he leads the team and fought the enemy at the front line during the First World War from a diary perspective. As rhetoric writing is not common in military soldiers, Jünger demonstrated his writing skill in this novel. His diary has highly regarded his heroic point of view, the value pursued by Jünger is epic heroism on himself, fighting for his country of Germany. As Jünger considered, the atmosphere of intense in war is amazing, as all soldiers considered themselves as superhuman and death lost its meaning and lives are determined by the country. (Jünger, 254)

Beyond heroism, Ernst Jünger's emotion in response to war and enemies is relatively simple, sometimes he is showing anger and hatred, however, these emotions are only impulses on specific situations. For example, once in his story, he stated, as he pointed a revolver at the British soldiers on the battle. The British soldier took a picture from his arms and gave it to him for preservation. After seeing this action Jünger restrained his action and ground his teeth while forced down his anger and walking away. Jünger might have demonstrated himself as a cruel Lieutenant on his novel, but his action showed his anger is not the whole emotion, he would also feel like a normal person. (Jünger, 256)

Ernst Jünger is full of praise for war and conflict, but also contains a contrast of peaceful life. It seems that in the minds of the soldiers who are full of German revival thoughts, only the life of violence and war are the only condition for one's survival. Jünger’s thoughts are holding a heroic aesthetic to the war, he considered to die for his country if he has to. (Jünger, 318-319) This novel demonstrates the relevance of being a real German soldier, showing the toughest, as Jünger would rather die in the war than to surrender, showing the spirit of the German army.

Compared with many styles of literary works, 'The storm of Steel' is more realistic in a certain sense, without writing over-dramatic stories. But what was interesting about this novel is that the most unusual thing like heroic, attitudes and academic style goes beyond many people's impressions from an ordinary soldier. He’s writing would include dramatic description, for example, describing a soldier being bombed as “A dish-shaped helmet was sent spinning high in the air”. (Jünger, 258) While experiencing the brutal war, carrying out serious and abstract thinking, Jünger maintained an academic thinking and narrative style in such an environment. Being able to write a novel in such dramatic detail is truly an honors for him being a lieutenant.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Erick Maria Remarque’s novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” has a general perception of a young front-line soldier stepping on the battlefield for the first time. Remarque reflected based on the young soldiers’ individual thinking and their curiosity towards the war. The novel is written from the narrative first-person point of view. Remarque did not use his own name but instead uses a soldier named Paul, as the entire novel reflected based on what Paul saw and heard. The novel described the simple concept of informing that the front-line young soldiers simply were not meant to be there, but they have no determination and no idea what they are fighting for. Remarque described how painful living in the trenches was like with rats, mould bread and lack of supplies causing many soldiers to have illusion and mental breakdown. (Remarque, 89-95). Remarque demonstrates from the perspective of soldiers who are just fighting the war for the sake of fighting the war. The physical torture and trauma suffered by ordinary soldiers in the war, on the frontline battlefield and realizing the brutality that was brought by war.

Erick Maria Remarque describes the heavy war in an influential way, accuses killing in war and showing his desire for life, while demonstrating his objection on World War I to a philosophical standpoint using poetic words. Rather than fighting to conquer the enemy, many soldiers fight for the purpose of not getting killed. As when the German soldiers get out of the trenches to fight the french soldiers, many soldiers lost their emotions as they would kill any enemies that appeared in front of them. “If your own father came over with them you would not hesitate to fling a bomb at him.” (Remarque, 100) This quote describes the French Soldiers as them, it means that even if the soldier’s father come and attempting to kill him, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill him back. This showed the dehumanization of soldiers from the war, and war has pushed them beyond their moral bottom line.

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As described by Erick Maria Remarque, some important events happened when Paul got home from war for the first time. As when he realized that ever since he came back from war, his mom care of him a lot more than what he’s dad does, who always just asks how it was like fighting at the front line. Paul’s mom was the only one that cares about him and considers him looking good in civilian clothes. Meanwhile, his dad is more patriotic and asked him to wear his uniform so he can show off visiting his acquaintances. As well, the father also cares only about the pride of being a soldier and the war. (Remarque, 142) As Paul also encountered his German master and a major general, German master judged him on his thinking, while he ran into a major general without a greeting of salute to him. The major general was humiliating Paul for losing his manners and respect. Paul was forced to apologize, but deep inside Paul, he thought that front-line soldiers should be honored and shown with a welcome by the public, but instead, he was getting treated like he should have won the war, he should be still fighting at the front-line. (Remarque, 141-142)

When Paul finally get back to the army, many of the other soldiers gathered around to think about the purpose of fighting in the war. This little plot on the novel demonstrated by Erick Maria Remarque was somewhat ironic as the soldiers imagined that the German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II would look much stronger or bigger than they are. (Remarque, 173-177) Some soldiers thought that the war is beneficial, while some think that war is not necessary, some even think that war is only created by some people. This demonstrates the different perspectives of soldiers and how soldiers are innocent and clueless about what they are fighting for.

Erick Maria Remarque has personal experience of war, so he demonstrated his writing so well in this novel. By showing the thinking from the individuals, the war not only destroyed the people who were hit by the gunfire, but even the survivors were spared. War will destroy everything, that's the message is sending. People can only give up thinking and learn to survive in the war. As the title of the novel is “All Quiet on the Western Front”, but realistically, it is an ironic symbol. All quiet on the western front as to meaning, it is normal to have chaos like gunfire bombs from front-line, it is a very common situation on a daily basis, therefore, ‘all quiet’ to mean ‘all as usual’.

Comparing the Two Novels

By analyzing both Erick Maria Remarque's and Ernst Jünger’s novel, it is clear that both authors were reflecting World War One from different perceptions. Remarque describes the individual thoughts of all soldiers, such as the confusions that the soldier has towards the war. What is the purpose of fighting? Why are sacrificing our lives? Where are the peace and freedom? As well Remarque indicated perception from other people who are not fighting at the front line, such as the father of Paul, showing off Paul in his uniform, the Major General who humiliated him. Jünger’s novel was also written from the perspective of a front-line soldier but as a lieutenant. He fought the English soldiers while showing a detailed description of how the war was fought, reinforcing a positive influence on the other soldiers.

Compared to Paul on Erick Maria Remarque’s novel, Ernst Jünger has much braver personnel. Jünger knew clearly what he is fighting for while killing the enemy, as well, he described the clear state that the brave soldiers faced daily. Soldiers in Remarque's novel are fighting for no purpose while soldiers in Jünger’s novel are fighting for the honour of the country. Also, the way two authors describe starvation is different. Remarque would describe from a narrative perspective, demonstrating what he saw and bring the reader into the environment of him. While Jünger would write like a novelist, making comparisons like “For four long years, in torn coats and worse fed than a Chinese coolie.” (Jünger, 268) As in terms of the similarity of both novels, Paul and Jünger went back to the war after their first attempt to go home, this shown the narrative expression of the endless war, as all soldiers were expected to have already been home before Christmas of 1914. Furthermore, Jünger’s book can also be justified as a representation of a peer group in war, while Remarque’s book represents more of the individual role.

By evaluating both novels, Ernst Jünger seems to have an advantage in terms of presenting a positive point of view, influencing the German population and reinforcing he’s bravery. But on the other end, Erich Maria Remarque is also considered to be brave for his attempt to write an anti-war novel during the time of period. As normally, German soldiers who fought in the war coming home alive would be pleased to receive honour and cheers from the public, they would be seen as warriors who succeed. However, Remarque wrote the novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” to spread the negative side of war and reinforce anti-war ideology concepts for the populations in German. This action would lead to obvious discourage to the younger generation to fight in the war knowing how dangerous it was. It would have seen by the German population as a betrayal action. It takes a lot of courage for Remarque to have written types of novels like this. Therefore, Remarque can also be considered just as brave as Jünger, Jünger was brave for fighting in the war, while Remarque was brave through his persuasion on his novel.


Overall, after analyzed the significant and outlook for both “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “The Storm of Steel” while reflecting the concepts shown by both authors, it is concluded that both authors are extraordinary. Both authors to their novels were written from a different perspective demonstrated World War One in general, and how it was impacting the population in German. Ernst Jünger’s “The Storm of Steel” would have likely to encourage more German population to fight for their country, knowing the bravery of Jünger during the War. It can be seen as a significant influence on the German nation especially knowing that the novel was written based on a real story. Although Erick Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” is a fictional novel, it demonstrated that the author wanted to spread the idea of the brutality of war on an anti-war position. By narrating the novel from a soldier’s perspective allowed the readers to feel like they are experiencing the same feelings and nervousness as Paul does. “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “The Storm of Steel” cannot be distinguished based on which was the more righteous one, since they both presented two different ideas and it is up to the interpretation of the readers.

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