All Quiet on the Western Front
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 nationalism. As a result nationalism had spread throughout out Europe by the nineteenth and twentieth century. One result that nationalism 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 unifying of Italy and Germany. Soon nationalism had increased the people's confidence, 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 beginning of World 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 rivalry 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 rivalled around Balkans, Britain feared German's expanding navy, Slovakia wanted to free Slavian land from Astria-Hungary's oppression. 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-Hungary and Italy, thus creating a Triple Alliance. France and Russia signed an Entente 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 glorified view of the war. These views showed how inexperienced the people of Europe were in warfare. In Erich Maria Remarque's novel All Quiet on the Western Front, we can see that even though this glorious view contradicted the Germans soldiers' expectations, they still stayed loyal.
In the Beginning of the novel we read that Paul Baumer and his classmates 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 their 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 classmates are taught to be soldiers. 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 comrades all experienced the true horror of the war in the front. Each one of the classmates and German soldiers experienced death of other soldiers, 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, flamethrowers, bombing planes, and the tanks used by the British. 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 received. In All Quiet on the Western Front, Baumer and his group had one of the strictness drill instructors, Corporal Himmelstoss. Despite what seemed like abuse, Himmelstoss' training actually benefited the soldiers. Himmelstoss training, made the soldiers bitter, and their senses were sharpened. They soldiers 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 a counter attack, Baumer explains that the soldiers undergo transformation. Baumer says that they become wild beasts in the field. Baumers says that their objective is to fight, but to defend themselves against annihilation.