Nationalism can be defined as having a sense of belonging and
loyalty to ones country or nation state. Of all the European nations,
France was the first to sport the idea of nationalism. Many countries
became influenced by the French's ideas of nationali sm, As a result
nationalism had spread throught out Europe by the nineteenth and twenteth
century. One result that nationalisn had on Europe was, the wanting of
unification. The people of nation states wanted their country to belong
to. This wanting lea d to the unfying of Italy and Germany. Soon
nationalism had increased the peoples confidedence., and a feeling of
imperialism ran through the unified countries. Unified countries such as
France, Germany, Russia wanted to extend their empires. But this
Imperialism in Europe led to many conflicts between countries. All this
Conflict eventually resulted in the begining of Worls War I
The causes of World War I were the intense nationalism that
dominated Europe throughout the 19th and into the 20th century, and the
establishment of large armies in Europe after 1871. Imperialism created a
rivaly between nations and empires. The build up
of armies and navies created fear between nations. France feared Germany,
Germany feared Russia, Austria-Hungary and Russia rivaled around Bulkans,
Britain feared German's expanding navy, Slovakia wanted to free Slavian
land from Astria-Hungary's apressi on. Italy was jealous of French and
English colonies in Africa. Ottoman Empire struggled to survive in a
hostile climate. Germany signed a secret alliance with Austria-Hungray and
Italy, thus creating a Triple Alliance. France and Russia signed an
agreement which was later signed by Britain, thus creating Triple
Entante. Then Europe was divided into hostile camps. During this time
nationalism had caused a golrified view of the war. Thise view showed how
inexpirence the people of Europe were in war far. In Erich Maria
Remarque's novel All Quiet on the Western Front, we can see that
eventhough this gorious view contradicted the Germans soildiers
expectations, they still stayed loyal.
In the Begining of the novel we read that Paul Baumer and his
class mates had volunteered to enlist in the war. But they were forced in
to volunteering. Their school master Kantorek had filled their heads up
with views of nationalism which glorified the war. Some students were even
under the pressure of thier parents to enlist. Not enlisting would be like
turning your back on your country. To the teachers and school masters,
going to war was the best thing a man could do for his country. When
Baumer and his friends get to boot camp, they find out all is not what
they expected it to be. In boot camp Baumer and his class mates are taught
to be soildiers. They Find out that everything that was learned in school,
has no meaning in the war. It was also in the
front line , were Baumer and his friends see the contradictions made by
the people at home. Paul and his commrades all expierenced the true
horror of the war in the front. Each one of the class-mates and German
soildiers expirenced death of other soildi ers, the agony of the wounded.
Baumer's group also faced hunger, fear, the destructiveness of the new war
technology. these technologies included the use of machine guns, gas,
falme throwers, bomding planes, and the tanks used by the Brittish.
Despite al l these contradictions Baumer's group and the German soldiers
seen, they stilled continued to stay loyal to the war .
One reason why the German soldiers continued to fight in the war
was the training they recieved. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Baumer
and his group had one of the strictess drill instructers, Corparol
Himmelstoss. Despite what seemed like abuse, Him mestoss' training
actually benifitted the soildiers. Himmelstoss training, made the soldiers
bitter, and their senses were sharpened. They soildiers needed to be
bitter, and more sharp, it they were to survive the war.
The will to survive is another reason why the German soldiers kept
fighting. During an counter attack, Baumer explains that the soldiers
undergo transformation. Baumer says that they become wild beasts in the
field. Baumers says that thier obejective is to to fight, but to defend
themselves against annihilation. The soilders also feel an anger from
within, which allows them to kill , and to then save them selves. Paul
also goes on to say that when they are in this rage, they kill. If the
soldiers don't k ill, their enemies will kill them. The German soildiers
have no choice, you eithier kill or be killed by you foe.
Commradeship is an other reason the Germans soildiers keep
fighting. In the story, Buamer's group is made up of a variety of people.
There is a peasant, farmer, locksmith, peatdigger, and students. In the
war these diverse people, who would not normally meet in civillian life,
are struggling to keep their country together. Also near the end of the
story, two flame throwers are getting closer to Baumer and his companions.
One of the junior officers then gets up and shoots the flamethrowers. In
the process , the junior officer gets killed. This act shows how close the
commradeship was inthe German army.
Another reason why the German soldiers kept fighting was, that was
all they knew what to do. In the story, Paul Baumer tells us that all the
older soldiers are stilled linked to their presnt lives. These older
soldiers have wives, children , jobs and int rests to come back to.
According to Baumer, all the younger soldiers have to come back to is
their parents and maybe a girlfriend. The young soldiers have no jobs and
no idea on what life beyond the war will be like for them. All the young
soldiers know h ow to do is fight in the war. And that is what they do
till they are injured, or killed. This war has totaly ruined the lives of
Buamer, his friends, and all the young German soldiers who fought in this
The fact that the German soldiers are forced to fight this war is
anther reason they continue to stay loyal to the war cause.
In All Quiet on the Western Front, Baumer and his group had a
dissccussion on why is there war, who started the war , and why must they
be there. During this discusion we find out that none of them actuaaly
wants to be at war. If they had the chance woul d leave the war to go
home. Baumer's group concluded that the cause of the war is because of
some general or ruler wanting to gain fame. They are stuck fightitng for
this cause none of them wants to fight for.
The most important reason why the german soldiers stayed loyal to
the war was the bit of nationalism still left inside of them. The fact
alone that they were continuing war that they couldn't win, was a signe of
the loyalty to thier country. Throughout t he entire novel, there was not
one indication of mutany. The German soldiers kept fighting and never
turned thier back on the war or their country. Eevn in the end of the
novel, Buamer shows his nationalism . Near the end Buamer tells us that
the german s oldiers are not beaten, because they are better and more
expirence than the other soldiers. It wa sjust they were driven back by
overwhelming superior forces. this statement by paul showed that the
German soldiers sill nationalisn, despite the contradict ions made by
their people at home.
In conclusion, because of the strong feelings of nationalism in
Europe, many conflicts broke out between the cuntries and empies of
Europe. The result of these conflicts eventually lead to World War I.
During the war, the peoples view of nationalism of ten contradicted what
the soildiers had to face in the war. These views showed how inexperienced
the people were in modern warfare. In Erich Maria Remarque's novel All
Quiet on the Western Front, we can see depite all these contradicting
views, that the G erman soldiers continued to fight a war could not win.
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