Unforgettable Quotes From 'All Quiet on the Western Front'

Why Erich Maria Remarque's classic war novel broke ground

Scene from All Quiet on the Western Front

Getty Images/John Springer Collection

"All Quiet on the Western Front" is a literary classic, and this roundup of the book's best quotes reveal why. Published in 1929, author Erich Maria Remarque used the novel as a means to deal with World War I. Several parts of the book are autobiographical.

The book's frankness about wartime led to it being censored in countries such as Germany. Get a better sense of the groundbreaking novel with the following selections.

Quotes From Chapter 1

"The leader of our group, shrewd, cunning, and hard-bitten, forty years of age, with a face of the soil, blue eyes, bent shoulders, and a remarkable nose for dirty weather, good food, and soft jobs."
"The soldier is on friendlier terms than other men with his stomach and intestines. Three-quarters of his vocabulary is derived from these regions, and they give an intimate flavour to expressions of his greatest joy as well as of his deepest indignation. It is impossible to express oneself in any other way so clearly and pithily. Our families and our teachers will be shocked when we go home, but here it is the universal language."
"One could sit like this forever."
"The wisest were just the poor and simple people. They knew the war to be a misfortune, whereas those who were better off, and should have been able to see more clearly what the consequences would be, were beside themselves with joy. Katczinsky said that was a result of their upbringing. It made them stupid. And what Kat said, he had thought about."
"Yes, that's the way they think, these hundred thousand Kantoreks! Iron Youth! Youth! We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? That is long ago. We are old folk."

Highlights From Chapters 2 to 4

"We have lost all sense of other considerations, because they are artificial. Only the facts are real and important to us. And good boots are hard to come by."
(Ch. 2)
"That is Kat. If for one hour in a year something eatable were to be had in some one place only, within that hour, as if moved by a vision, he would put on his cap, go out and walk directly there, as though following a compass, and find it."
(Ch. 3)
"You take it from me, we are losing the war because we can salute too well."
(Ch. 3)
"Give 'em all the same grub and all the same pay/And the war would be over and done in a day."
(Ch. 3)
"To me the front is a mysterious whirlpool. Though I am in still water far away from its centre, I feel the whirl of the vortex sucking me slowly, irresistibly, inescapably into itself."
(Ch. 4)

Excerpts From Chapters 5 to 7

"The war has ruined us for everything."
(Ch. 5)
"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."
(Ch. 5)
"We lie under the network of arching shells and live in a suspense of uncertainty. If a shot comes, we can duck, that is all; we neither know nor can determine where it will fall."
(Ch. 6)
"Bombardment, barrage, curtain-fire, mines, gas, tanks, machine-guns, hand-grenades — words, words, words, but they hold the horror of the world."
(Ch. 6)
"There is a distance, a veil between us."
(Ch. 7)

Selections From Chapters 9 to 11

"But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. 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?"
(Ch. 9)
"I will come back again! I will come back again!"
(Ch. 10)
"I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another."
(Ch. 10)
"Our thoughts are clay, they are moulded with the changes of the days; — when we are resting they are good; under fire, they are dead. Fields of craters within and without."
(Ch. 11)
"Trenches, hospitals, the common grave — there are no other possibilities."
(Ch. 11)
"Do I walk? Have I feet still? I raise my eyes, I let them move round, and turn myself with them, one circle, one circle, and I stand in the midst. All is as usual. Only the Militiaman Stanislaus Katczinsky has died. Then I know nothing more."
(Ch. 11)

Selections From Chapter 12

"Let the months and years come, they can take nothing from me, they can take nothing more. I am so alone, and so without hope that I can confront them without fear. The life that has borne me through these years is still in my hands and my eyes. Whether I have subdued it, I know not. But so long as it is there it will seek its own way out, heedless of the will that is within me."
(Ch. 12)
"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. He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come."
(Ch. 12)
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Lombardi, Esther. "Unforgettable Quotes From 'All Quiet on the Western Front'." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/quotes-all-quiet-on-western-front-738509. Lombardi, Esther. (2023, April 5). Unforgettable Quotes From 'All Quiet on the Western Front'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-all-quiet-on-western-front-738509 Lombardi, Esther. "Unforgettable Quotes From 'All Quiet on the Western Front'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-all-quiet-on-western-front-738509 (accessed May 30, 2023).