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  • Writer's pictureMetin Tiryaki

All Quiet on the Western Front – Remarque

…It is raining on our heads, on the dead at the front, on those little recruits with bigger wounds than his body, on Kemmerich's grave. The rain is falling inside us…

Erich Maria Remarque wrote the novel All Quiet on the Western Front (original title Im Westen nichts Neues) in 1929. The novel tells the brutal face of the war, which is unknown to most people, through the words of 19-year-old Paul Bauer, who enlisted in the army with his classmates and fought at the front for 3 years with the filling of his teachers. The character is likely to be Remarque himself, as he joined the war at the same age and was in the war at the same time.

The book was banned in Nazi Germany, an arrest warrant was issued for Remarque, and Erich Maria changed her surname from Remark to Remarque, which is of old French origin, when she was stripped of her citizenship. The book received such a reaction from the government during the nazi era that when they could not catch him, they had to do with killing his sister.

First of all, the war was described with all its nakedness through Bauer's eyes. Head and body torn, arms and legs cut off, people with their internal organs scattered around are ordinary daily landscapes, as well as hunger, filth, therefore lice, mice and many diseases have become a part of daily life. Although we did not hear any open criticism from Bauer's mouth, the meaninglessness of war, the conflicts of interest of the governments in the name of defending the homeland, and even the comments made on the grounds that the Kaiser was not as glorious as it was thought, drew the reaction of the government at that time.

Although the bombs dropped without seeing each other and the people dying due to bullets seem normal to Bauer after a while, he is upset by a French soldier whom he had to kill for the first time in a ditch. The scene in the pit with the French soldier, who was waiting to die in pain for a long time, is really striking. In fact, the movie All Quiet On The Western Front, which was transferred to the cinema in 1930, won the best picture Oscar of that year.

The book has been published in Turkish many times by different names (nothing new in the West, etc.) and by different publishers and translators. If you haven't read it yet, I recommend you to read Nurten Tunç's translation from Oda publications.

“We are not young anymore. We don't want to conquer the world anymore. We are fugitives. We are running away from ourselves now. from our lives. We were eighteen; We started to love the world, the life, we had to put a bullet in these things we love. The first bullets that exploded pierced our hearts. The doors of work, effort and progress have been closed to us. We don't believe in these anymore, we believe in war."

“The spines of the books stand side by side. I have not forgotten them yet. I remember how I placed it. I beg my books with my eyes, as if you would talk to me, understand me, take me away from the past time, and let me have good days with you again."

“What pain can accumulate in a pair of points called the human eye!”

“I want to enjoy those days comfortably again. When I get back to my books, I want that intrusive and relaxed exuberance that fills me. Let that old breath of enthusiasm that filled me with the colorful covers of the books stir again, wake up again and melt this dead, heavy lump in me! Let it revive that old enthusiasm, that old pleasure of thinking, the extinguished fire of my youth!”

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