Yes, another German book! It’s a novel that’s loosely based on the author’s time on the Western Front while serving in the German Army in the first world war.
It’s actually extremely well-written, for a novel in translation.
We are at rest five miles behind the front. Yesterday we were relieved, and now our bellies are full of beef and haricot beans. We are satisfied and at peace. Each man has another mess-tin full for the evening; and, what is more, there is a double ration of sausage and bread. That puts a man in fine trim. We have not had such luck as this for a long time.
You know what else, war sounds pretty bad? I mean, I guess it turns you into a man and everything, but all in all it seems very unpleasant and not at all productive. I mean, this is obvious to most people, but in most fiction–particularly SF–that lesson is overwritten by the fact that fictional wars generally only happen for a very good reason: some evil species or empire must be stopped! So all the awfulness of war is laid up at the doorstep of the enemy.
Here that is not the case. Remarque himself is pretty clear about laying the blame on the folks in the homeland. There are several hilarious riffs where he’s talking about the schoolteacher who convinced him and his friends to join up.